Differences between ipv4 and ipv6 Explained 2024

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support up to 4.3 billion unique addresses, while IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and can support an almost unlimited number of unique addresses.


If you are a computer user, you must know about IP address, a unique address that uses every network device to communicate with each other. But did you know there are two versions of IP that currently coexist in the global Internet: IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6). Let’s discuss more details about IPv4 and IPv6. What are the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 and will find out which is better over others? Let’s start.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a short form for an Internet Protocol address is a unique identifying number for every network device. And each device is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. IP addresses are binary numbers, but they are usually stored in text files and displayed in human-readable notations, such as (for IPv4), and 2001:4860:4860::8844 (for IPv6). In the OSI model, IP address is considered part of the network layer that is traditionally used in conjunction with a higher-level protocol, most notably TCP.

- Advertisement -

IP address pools into 5 different classes—A, B, C, D and E. you can find more details from the below chart.

IP class

Definition of IPv4

Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth revision of the IP and a widely used protocol in data communication over different kinds of networks. IPv4 is a connectionless protocol used in packet-switched layer networks, such as Ethernet. It provides a logical connection between network devices by providing identification for each device. An IPv4 address is a 32- bit binary value, which can be displayed as four decimal digits. (Via Wiki)

An example of an IPv4 address is

Features of IPv4

  • Connectionless Protocol
  • Allow creating a simple virtual communication layer over diversified devices
  • It requires less memory, and ease of remembering addresses
  • Already supported protocol by millions of devices
  • Offers video libraries and conferences

Definition of IPv6

IPv6 – is a new (sixth) version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6 is the successor to Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) which is going to replace the current fourth version IPv4. It was designed as an evolutionary upgrade to the Internet Protocol and will coexist with the older IPv4 for some time. IPv6 is intended to allow the Internet to grow steadily, both in terms of the number of hosts connected and the total amount of data traffic transmitted.

IPv6 addresses have a size of 128 bits. Therefore, IPv6 has a vastly enlarged address space compared to IPv4. IPv6 address is represented as eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, each group representing 16 bits (two octets, a group sometimes also called a hextet). The groups are separated by colons (:).

An example of an IPv6 address is: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

Features of IPv6

  • Hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure
  • Stateful and Stateless configuration
  • Support for quality of service (QoS)
  • An ideal protocol for neighboring node interaction

What are the differences between IPv4 and IPv6?

Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6 Protocols

  • IPv4 and IPv6 both refer to IP address standards that define how an IP address is allocated and what it will be. Here the numbers i.e. 4 and 6, indicate the version number.
  • IPv4 is the older version that’s run out of IP addresses to allocate and IPv6 is the new version that was released to meet the growing demand for IP addresses.
  • IPv4 has IP addresses that are 32-bit numerical values written in the decimal system while IPv6 has 128-bits written in the hexadecimal system.
  • The Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is more advanced and can provide an infinite number of addresses.
  • IPv4 uses four 1 byte decimal numbers, separated by a dot (.) and each part contains a number ranging from o to 255 (i.e. while IPv6 uses hexadecimal numbers that are separated by colons and contain 8 parts having 4 numbers each. You may see alphabets there (A-F). But they are actually numbers (A=10 B=11 C=12 D=13 E=14 F=15)  (i.e. fe80::d4a8:6435:d2d8:d9f3b11). For better understand refer the image below.

IPV4 and IPv6

  • IP version 4 (IPv4) generates 4.29 x 109 unique network addresses which is insufficient in quantity. IP version 6 (IPv6) produces 3.4 x 1038 addresses and is a scalable and flexible solution to the current problem.
  • IPv6 is used by less than 1% of the networks, while IPv4 is still in use by the remaining 99%.
  • IPv6 is better suited to mobile networks than IPv4.

Here is the exact difference between the IPv4 and the IPv6 version

IPv4 IPv6
Address 32 bits (4 bytes) 128 bits (16 bytes)
Example :  12:34:56:78 Example: 1234:5678:9abc:def0:1234:5678:9abc:def0
Packet size 576 bytes required, fragmentation optional 1280 bytes required without fragmentation
Packet fragmentation Routers and sending hosts Sending hosts only
Packet header Does not identify packet flow for QoS handling Contains Flow Label field that specifies packet flow for QoS handling
Includes a checksum Does not include a checksum
Includes options Extension headers used for optional data
up to 40 bytes
DNS records Address (A) records, Address (AAAA) records,
maps hostnames maps hostnames
Pointer (PTR) records, Pointer (PTR) records,
Address configuration Manual or via DHCP Stateless address autoconfiguration (SLAAC) using Internet Control Message Protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) or DHCPv6
IP to MAC resolution broadcast ARP Multicast Neighbor Solicitation
Local subnet group management Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD)
Broadcast Yes No
Multicast Yes Yes
IPSec optional, external required

So which one is better IPv4 or IPv6? Since IPv4 is now used 99% of devices and it’s been here for a long time. But when it comes to security, IPv6 holds the stakes. Almost every big website like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia..etc all are now using IPv6 and it’s the feature of the network industry. Did you find this post helpful? let us know on the comments below,

Also read

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

Popular posts