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What is the Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6 Protocols? Explained 2019

If you are computer user you must know about IP address, a unique address that uses every network devices 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 other. Let’s start with




What is IP address?

An IP address is a short form for Internet Protocol address is unique identifying number for every network device. And each device 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 151.101.65.121 (for IPv4), and 2001:4860:4860::8844 (for IPv6). In the OSI model, IP address is considered part of the network layer that traditionally used in conjunction with a higher-level protocol, most notably TCP.

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 the 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 68.149.3.230.




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, in fact, coexist with the older IPv4 for some time. IPv6 is designed 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 differences between IPv4 and IPv6?

  • 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 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 has the capability to 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. 192.168.1.1). 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). See image below for better understand.

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 the exact difference between the IPv4 and the IPv6 version

IPv4IPv6
Address32 bits (4 bytes)128 bits (16 bytes)
Example :  12:34:56:78Example: 1234:5678:9abc:def0:1234:5678:9abc:def0
Packet size576 bytes required, fragmentation optional1280 bytes required without fragmentation
Packet fragmentationRouters and sending hostsSending hosts only
Packet headerDoes not identify packet flow for QoS handlingContains Flow Label field that specifies packet flow for QoS handling
Includes a checksumDoes not include a checksum
Includes optionsExtension headers used for optional data
up to 40 bytes
DNS recordsAddress (A) records,Address (AAAA) records,
maps hostnamesmaps hostnames
Pointer (PTR) records,Pointer (PTR) records,
IN-ADDR.ARPA DNS domainIP6.ARPA DNS domain
Address configurationManual or via DHCPStateless address autoconfiguration (SLAAC) using Internet Control Message Protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) or DHCPv6
IP to MAC resolutionbroadcast ARPMulticast Neighbor Solicitation
Local subnet group managementInternet Group Management Protocol (IGMP)Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD)
BroadcastYesNo
MulticastYesYes
IPSecoptional, externalrequired

So which one is better IPv4 or IPv6? Since IPv4 is now used 99% devices and its here for a long time, But when comes to security IPv6 holds the stakes. Almost every big websites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia..etc all are now using IPv6 and its the feature of network industry. Did you find this post helpful? let us know on comments below, Also read SSD vs HDD Speed and Performance Comparison.

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