IPv4 vs IPv6: Understanding the Differences

What is IP?

An Internet Protocol (IP) is a numerical label attributed to every device connected to a computer network that uses the IP for communication.

Also known as IP address, it acts as an identity card for a specific machine/device on a particular computer network. An IP address attends to two principal functions, which are network interface identification and location addressing.

The word protocol usually refers to a procedure or a set of rules; this says a lot about the definition of Internet Protocol. An IP address is a digital address that enables a connection of the user device to the internet’s systematic and interconnected grid. 

 The IP address is also referred by many names like IP number or internet address. 

What is IPv4?

Short for Internet Protocol version four, IPv4 is one of the most core protocols in the standardized internetworking etiquette. IPv4 was the first version of IP to be deployed in ARPANET and SATNET in the early 80s. 

IPv4 is the underlying technology that enables users to connect and communicate with multiple devices safely. Whenever a device connects the internet, it is assigned with a unique 32-bit address scheme; when sending the data packets across the devices, both the device’s IPv4 address should be present with the datagram.  

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With more than 4 billion functional Ipv4 addresses, it is considered to be the most basic internet protocol to surf the web. The IPv4 is so widely used that it carries more than 94% of internet traffic. 

What is IPv6?

Short for Internet Protocol version Six, IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol. Initially, this communication protocol was invented to cover all the disadvantages the IPv4 has.

Every mobile phone, computer, Television, IoT sensors, automation equipment, etc. requires a numerical identity to use internet services to its full extent. Since IP addresses are supposed to be unique, we are running out of IPv4, which most of the devices are still a part of, and hence, IPv6 is replacing IPv4.

This 128bit Communications protocol provides identification and location system for digital networks and routes traffic across the internet. The IPv6(128-bit) address is bigger than the IPv4(32-bit)address. Besides, IPv6 is alphanumeric in nature, unlike IPv4, which is numeric.

IPv4 – Features

  • Connectionless Protocol
  • Based on the best effort delivery model.
  • Stateful and Stateless configuration
  • An exemplary protocol for neighboring node interaction
  • 32-bit address.
  • Allows building a superficial virtual communication layer covering diversified devices
  • Generally used and paired with TCP.
  • Requires less memory, and ease of remembering addresses
  • Around more than 4 Billion combinations possible.
  • Already supported protocol by Billions of devices
  • Provides video libraries and conferences

IPv6 – Features

  • Follows the key design of IPv4.
  • Provides better end-to-end connectivity.
  • Relatively faster routing.
  •  Provides ease of administration.
  •  More secure for applications and networks.
  • Offers better Multicast and Anycast abilities.
  •  More reliable mobility features.
  • Hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure.
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Advantages of IPv4

  • The best thing about IPv4 is that it is compatible with every device i.e. almost every device in the world can handle IPv4 routing.
  • IPv4 can quickly fill into the topology drawings.
  • IPv4 routing is scalable. 
  • IPv4 routing is getting more flexible with evolving technology.
  • It is easy to connect multiple devices without NAT, which is used in IPv6. 

Advantages of IPv6 

  • IPv6 is more secure and provides confidentiality.
  • Automatic configuration, i.e., when connected to other IPv6 devices, it can auto-configure itself.
  • Supports multicast 
  • Increased capacity, more permutations of IP addresses can be generated then the IPv4.
  • It can send large data packets simultaneously.

Disadvantages of IPv4 

  •  Not designed keeping user’s data confidentiality in mind.
  • Since the internet was initially.
  • Not ideal for mobile devices.
  • Requires manual configuration or use DHCP, which requires infrastructures, thus ups the overall project budget.
  • The IPv4 is of insufficient size with the modern-day requirements, and hence outdated.
  • Around 50% of IPv4 has distributed the US because it ran and introduced the world to the internet.
  • Without NAT, IPv6 is faster.

Disadvantages of IPv6

  • IPv6 is the minority in the world full of IPv4
  • IPv6 is not available to machines that run IPv4.
  • The transition of IPv4 to IPv6 is tough and slow.
  • Hard to memorize and share the 128-bit address.
  • IPv6 can be Complicated for the subnetting process.
  • Complex network topology.

Applications of IPv4

  • Used in ARPANET in 1983, 
  • The foundation of the internet for decades, it made the internet the way it is now.
  • The device from which you are reading this article is most probably an IPv4 device.
  • Initially used for military operations.
  • Used in almost every device, as an identity of the device that can access the internet.
  • IPv4 Was and is used for most of the wireless or connectionless communication.
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Applications of Ipv6

  • Replace IPv4 and do all the work the IPv4 has been doing all the years.
  • Used for many wrapper applications. 
  • Many networking applications are based in the Linux/BSD world.
  • Upcoming networks like Nokia wireless networks, Liason smart house networks, etc.

Difference  between IPv4 vs IPv6 

Mode of comparisonIPv4IPv6
Nature of IPNumericAlphanumeric
Size of IP32 bit128 bit
Supporting configurationManual and DHCP address configurationAutomated and renumbering address configuration
ChecksumPresentAbsent
Maximum number of header fields1340
Size of header fields20-60 bytes40 bytes
End to end connection Not possiblePossible
SecurityDepends on the host applicationDepends on the host application + inbuilt security 
Number of classes5Unlimited
Packet flow identificationNot providedProvided
VLSMSupportedNot supported
Supporting packagesCan support relatively smaller packagesCan support relatively larger smaller packages
SpeedSlower in theoryFaster in theory, but larger packets can slow down the process.
Routing information protocol(RIP)Supports RIPCannot support RIP but use static routes
Compatibility with Mobile networksNot ideal for mobile networksBetter then IPV4 for mobile networks
IPsecOptional and externalMandatory
BroadcastYesNo
Local subnet group managementIGMPMLD
SNMPSupportedNot supported
MappingARP(Address Resolution Protocol)NDP(Neighbour discovery protocol)
Example15.823.233.1922012:0db7:0000:0000:0000:ffg0:0022:9371

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