IPv4 vs IPv6: What’s the Difference?

IPv4 vs IPv6

There is a debate going on whether ipv4 vs ipv6 and its becoming interesting. The former is internet protocol version 4, a protocol using packet-switched Link Layer Networks (like the Ethernet). This protocol provides an addressing capability of almost 4.3 billion addresses.

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) is an advancement over IPV4. Apart from improvements in features, it has the capability to give owners unlimited addresses. IPV6 is replacing IPV4 to accommodate a monumental rise in the number of networks around the world. It can even help solve the exhaustion issues faced by numerous IP addresses.

One of the key differences between both IPV4 and IPV6 is the appearance of IP addresses. The former uses four 1 byte decimal integers which are separated by a dot ( Whereas the latter uses hexadecimal numbers separated by a colon or two (fe80::d4a8:6435:d2d8:d9f3b11).

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What is IPV6?

IPV4 creates almost 4 billion IP addresses. Most developers believe this amount is enough. However, they are not correct in this matter. IPV6 is the new generation of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The main difference between it and IPV4 is that IPV6 has large IP addresses which are alphanumeric.

The former is a 32-bit address system. The latter is a 128-bit hexadecimal address system (slightly complex though). It provides a large space for the IP address and a simple header in comparison to IPv4 vs IPv6 provides transition tactics converting IPV4 into it. They are as under:

  • The dual stacking system in APV6 paves the way for entities to have both IPV4 and IPV6 on the same device.
  • The tunneling approach provides that all users who have IPV6 can communicate with IPV4 networks so they can reach IPV6 with ease.
  • The Network Address Translation allows communication between hosts having a different version of the IP address.

IPV6 has a hexadecimal address system using both alphabets and numbers. Since both are used, IPV6 can provide more than 340 undecillion addresses. It is a 128-bit hexadecimal IP address made of 8 sets having 16 bits each. They are separated by colons. Each hexadecimal character represents four bits. Hence each four bits need to be converted into a hexadecimal number in one time.

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What is the difference between IPv4 vs IPv6?

Both are different technologies and were developed during different eras of time. Here are some key differences between IPV4 and IPV6 which are explained in simple words in a tabular format:

Features IPv4 IPv6
The IP address’s length IPv4 utilizes a 32-bit IP address. IPv6 on the other hand is advanced. It uses a 128-bit IP address.
Fields It consists of four numeric fields separated by a dot. It is an alphanumeric IP address separated by one or more colons.
Classes It has five different classes namely A,B,C,D and E. It does not have any classes or class based system.
The amount of  IP addresses present in each IPV4 has a limited number of IP addresses in its registry. On the other hand, IPV6 has  a large number of IP addresses.
Support for Virtual Length Subnet Mask (VLSM) VLSM is supported by IPV4. As a result, it converts IP addresses into subnets of various sizes. VLSM is not supported by IPV6.
IP Address Configuration mechanism Both manual and DHCP configuration are supported by IPV4. IPV6 supports both manual, DHCP configuration, automatic configuration and  address renumbering.
Addresses and spaces supported IPV4 can generate upto 4 billion unique addresses. IPV6 generates 340 undecillion addresses of unique nature.
End to end integrity in connections Here, it is not achievable. IPV6 provides end to end integrity in connections.
Security features IPV4 provides security but on the basis of the application because IP addresses here do not consider security as a crucial feature. IPV6 has IPSEC developed specifically for security purposes.
Representation of addresses IPV4 represents addresses in decimals IPV6 represents addresses as hexadecimal.
Fragmentation It is done by senders and forwarding routers Only senders do fragmentation.
Identification of packet flow IPV4 has no mechanism for identifying packet flow. IPV6 utilizes flow label fields in headers to identify packet flows.
Checksum field provision IPV4 provides support for Checksum field. Not available in IPV6.
Scheme of Transmission IPV4 uses a broadcasting transmission scheme. A multicasting transmission scheme is used by IPV6. It helps in providing smooth network operations.
Authentication and Encryption Authentication and Encryption not provided by IPV4. Both are provided by IPV6.
Amount of Octets Comprises four octets only. Has 8 fields having 2 octets hence the total number of IPV6 octets is 16.

Is IPV6 faster than IPV4?

Here are some facts about IPV6 which can prove it is quicker than IPV4:

  • In comparison toIPv4 vs IPv6 makes the router’s work much easier.
  • IPV6 has more compatibility with mobile networks.
  • It paves the way for larger payloads in comparison to IPV4.
  • 99% of networks use IPV4. 1% use IPV6.

Hence it is proven that IPV6 is faster than IPV4. Being more advanced and supporting advanced authentication and encryption, it is also safer than IPV4.

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Some questions and answers regarding IPV4 and IPV6


Q: How good is IPV4?

A: IVP4 is an internet protocol and a very good one. Apart from being a connectionless protocol, it helps create an easy virtual layer of communication over an array of devices.

Q: How much memory does IPV4 need?

A: IPV4 usually requires less memory. It also eases remembering addresses.

Q: Is IPV4 supported by devices?

A: Yes, IPV4 is widely accepted. As an internet protocol, it is widely supported by millions of devices.

Q: What else does IPV4 have to offer?

A: IPV4 also offers video libraries and video conference facilities too.

Q: What does IPV6 have to offer which IPV4 doesn’t have?

A: IPV6 is the advanced version of IPV4. It offers Hierarchical addressing plus more advanced routing infrastructure.

Q: How is the configuration of IPV6?

A: IPV4 has a simple comparison where digits are separated by dots. IPV6 is alphanumeric separated by colons. It has both stateful and stateless configuration.

Q: How many Octets does IPV6 have?

A: IPV6 has eight fields with each having two octets. Hence the total number of octets in IPV6 is 16.

Q: Does IPV6 support virtual length subnet mask (VLSM)?

A: IPV4 supports VLSM wholeheartedly but IPV6 does not support VLSM.


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