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IPv4 vs IPv6 - What's the Difference

Updated Dec 23, 2019

You might be wondering what an IP is in the first place. An Internet Protocol address is also colloquially referred to as an IP. It is a number assigned to every single device connected to a computer network, which uses the number for communication. An IP is an identifier for a particular machine or device on a network. It is also called an IP number or an Internet Address. The IP address specifies the format required for the addressing and the packet scheme. An IP usually works with a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), which allows a connection to establish between the destination and the source. As of today, there are two versions, which are very widely used. The first is IPv4, and IPv6 is the second one. The first was used as a means to deploy the first version of the internet called the ARPANET in 1983 and has been in use even today. IPv4 accounts for nearly 4 billion addresses today and handles about 94% of internet traffic. It is based on a 32bit scheme, which allows storage of 2^32 addresses.

The IPv6 is rather recent, as it was created in 1994. It was called the internet engineer task force; they have been begun deployment to fulfil the need for more addresses. It also resolves specific issues that came along with IPv4. The IPv6 uses around 128b bit scheme, which means 2^128 addresses can be generated, or 340 undecillion unique address spaces can be made. Such massive numbers indicate that there will and can be IP addresses for years to come, decades or centuries even. IPv6 is also termed as IPng or IP next generation.

Ipv4 and Ipv6 Difference

Features IPv4 IPv6
Addressing method IPv4 is numeric, and a dot separates its binary bits. IPv6 is alphanumeric, whose binary bits are separated by a colon (:). It also has hexadecimal.
Number of classes IPv4 offers five different classes of IP Address, namely A to E. lPv6, on the other hand, allows storing of unlimited addresses.
Fragmentation Fragmentation is done by sending and forwarding routes. Fragmentation is done only by the sender.
Network Configuration Networks have to be configured either manually or with DHCP. IPv4 requires more maintenance efforts. IPv6, on the other hand, supports auto-configuration
Best feature There is a widespread usage of NAT (Network address translation) devices which allows a single NAT address to mask thousands of non-routable addresses, making end-to-end integrity achievable. It allows direct addressing because of the sheer number of addresses available.

What is IPv4?

When the internet was in its developmental stages, the engineers used a system called ARPANET, herein, to create unique addresses for each computer and network; they came up with a 32-bit numbering system called the IP address. The IPv4 is the first version that exists today. The premise of using this system and not having more than 4 billion possible combinations was that initially, nobody thought that would be possible. But as time went on and the internet rapidly shot up, 4 billion addresses were quickly filled up. Today there is also the existence of IPv6, which can house significantly more addresses and also stirs up a debate if all existing IPs should switch to it. In this article, you can easily compare IPv4 and IPv6 and see for yourself if the change is necessary. There is also a noticeable difference between IPv4 and IPv6 in the computer network.

For now, let us look at the key features of IPv4 and what made it so robust and withstanding to changes.

Features of IPv4

  • IPv4 allows the creation of a simple virtual communication layer over multiple and unique devices; this allows for seamless transmission of information.
  • Connectionless Protocol, which means that once your computer and network have an IP, it does not ever need to change.
  • It requires less memory, which is due in part to the fact that it is only 32-bits long, and there is also the ease of remembering addresses, which comes from the fact that all IPv4 addresses are only eight digits long.
  • Since its usage is highly widespread, it is already being used as a standard of the protocol by millions, maybe even billions of devices.
  • With IPv4, you can access video libraries and video conferences with ease. This is also a critical diff between IPv4 and IPv6.

What is IPv6?

Before we address the all-important IPv6 vs. IPv4 problem, we shall take a look at IPv6 and what it is. When ARPANET turned into the internet that we know today, it quickly became mainstream, and its usage spread like wildfire. When this happened, engineers on the original solution decided to work on a newer version, which addressed specific gaps they felt were present in IPv4. When looking at the difference, the first thing you need to consider is, what is IPv4 and IPv6? When it comes to IPv4 IPv6, the most significant and most substantial difference is the complexity. The number is far more complicated than a simple 32-bit address. Before we dive into what is the difference between ipv4 and ipv6? Let us look at the features of IPv6.

Features of IPv6

  • There is dedicated support for quality of service (QoS), unlike IPv4, which does not get any such addition.
  • There is also a noticeable hierarchy addressing and routing infrastructure present in IPv6, which makes it more robust than IPv4.
  • The presence of an ideal protocol for neighbouring node interaction allows more options with connectivity when it comes to all kinds of networks.
  • Stateful and Stateless configuration is also available on IPv6 as compared to IPv4.


Put only IPv6 looks a far better option than IPv4, it addresses its current issues, and the difference between ipv6 and ipv4 is quite massive. If you are still on the tossup between ipv6 and ipv4, this guide is designed to defeat all your issues and queries, by giving you a true ipv4 vs ipv6 comparison.