IPv4 vs IPv6 — Differences Between the Two Protocols

IPv4 vs IPv6 — Differences Between the Two Protocols

The Internet Protocol is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite. It is used for transmitting datagrams across network boundaries. Its routing function establishes the Internet and makes internetworking possible. Thanks to the IP addresses assigned to whoever is connected to it.  

Every domain or device that connects to the internet has a unique IP address. 

What is an IP address? 

Every device that is connected to a network that uses Internet Protocol gets an IP address, which is a string of unique numbers. It manages the connection between devices that share information over a network and identifies each device on the internet. IPv4 and IPv6 are the two versions of an IP address from which you can choose. 

READ: What is an IP Address – Meaning and Types 

What is IPv4?  

The first version of IP, IPv4, was released in 1983 and is still the most widely used version for identifying network devices. It has a 32-bit address, which is the standard format for referring to an “IP address.” There are billions of unique addresses in this format, with a few IP blocks reserved for particular applications. = 

An IPv4 address might look like this: 32.253.431.175 

What is IPv6? 

IPv6 is IP’s newer version that uses a 128-bit address format and includes both letters and numbers. 

An example of IPv6 is: 3002:0bd6:0000:0000:0000:ee00:0033:6778 

What was the need for a new version of IP? 

You might wonder why IPv6 exists at all. 

Well, there is a need for additional IP addresses, despite IPv4 containing billions of potential IP addresses. Many people around the world use multiple devices. Due to the rise in the number of connected devices and the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, the issue is becoming increasingly pressing. 

Simply put, the world ran out of unique IPv4 addresses, so we needed IPv6. 

IPv4 vs. IPv6 

1. Common Differences 

IPv6 

IPv4 

It has a 128-bit address length   It has a 32-bit address length  
It is a numeric address consisting of 4 fields that are separated by dot (.).  It is an alphanumeric address 
It supports renumbering and auto address configuration  It supports DHCP and manual address configuration 
End-to-end connection integrity is achievable   End-to-end connection integrity is unachievable  
The IP address is represented in hexadecimal  The IP address is represented in decimal 
Fragmentation is done only by senders  Fragmentation is done by forwarding routers and senders 
The checksum field is not available  The checksum field is available 
It is multi-casting, which provides efficient network operations  It is broadcasting 
It provides authentication and encryption  It doesn’t provide authentication and encryption 

 2. Difference based on speed 

By and large, there is no huge contrast somewhere in the range of IPv4 and IPv6 speeds. Be that as it may, in principle, IPv6 ought to be a little quicker as the cycles don’t need to be squandered on NAT (Organization Address Interpretation). However, IPv6’s larger packets also make it slower for some applications. At this point, the fact that IPv4 networks are more mature and highly optimized than IPv6 networks makes a difference. However, IPv6 networks are expected to get faster with time and tuning. 

3. Difference based on security 

IPv6 was created with safety in mind. Therefore, when properly implemented, it is safer than IPv4. Additionally, IPv6 comes with built-in IP Security (IPsec), a set of IETF security protocols designed to improve data security, authentication, and security. 

IPsec, a well-known encryption standard, was required to encrypt internet traffic when IPv6 was first introduced. Because the content of your internet traffic is encrypted in such a way that no one can decipher it, this makes IPv6 even more secure. 

However, IPsec can be applied to IPv4, indicating that IPv4 may be as secure as IPv6 (at least theoretically). However, this strategy has not been widely adopted due to the potentially high cost of implementation. 

Naturally, as we move from IPv4 to IPv6, we anticipate a rise in IPsec usage. However, even though IPv6 will be more secure in the future, some experts assert that IPv6 users are more susceptible to security issues than IPv4 users. 

What number of addresses are in IPv4 versus IPv6? 

There are 588,514,304 reserved IP addresses, 232 of which are IPv4 addresses, according to Reserved IP Addresses. 

There are a total of 2128 (roughly 3.41038) addresses that IPv6 permits. However, the actual number is slightly lower because several ranges are either not used at all or are only used for specific purposes.  

IPv6 versus IPv4: IPv4 will be around for a long time due to the compatibility and cost issues associated with switching to IPv6. The two versions cannot coexist forever. However, IPv6’s adoption is crucial to the internet’s long-term health, so its widespread use is only a matter of time. A permanent switch to IPv6 should already be on your IT radar and business planning, even though the gradual transition may take years. 

Final Thoughts 

Despite their differences, both protocols are used to identify every device that is connected to the Internet Protocol.  

But the Internet’s long-term health depends heavily on IPv6. The Internet will have a significantly larger pool of IP addresses when it switches from IPv4 to IPv6. Instead of hiding behind a NAT router, it ought to let each device have its own public IP address. Despite their current coexistence, IPv4 and IPv6 are not intended to be interoperable. IPv4 may continue to exist for some time due to the cost and compatibility issues of IPv6, but IPv6 addresses will eventually become the norm. 

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