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Understand the Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6

One of the most significant communication protocols in the Internet Protocol Suite is the IP or Internet Protocol. It is used for routing and addressing data packets for networking devices like laptops, computers, and fibre switches across one specific network or a series of interconnected networks. The two different versions of IP include IPv4 and IPv6. In this IPv4 vs IPv6 guide, we will discuss what is IPv4 and IPv6 and the major difference between IPv4 and IPv6. 

Understanding the Concept of IP Address

An internet protocol address or IP address is allocated to every device connected to a network. Devices use the IP address for communication, and the IP address can also be used to identify devices on a network. An IP address describes the technical format of data packets. 


Usually, the IP and the TCP are combined, and they are called a TCP/IP. It helps set up a virtual connection between the source and the destination. An IP address contains two parts, including the network address and the host address.


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Versions of IP Address

You will come across two types of IP addresses: IPv4 vs IPv6. Before we dig into the difference between IPv4 and IPv6, let us understand what is IPv4 and IPv6.


What is IPv4?

IPv4 sets out the rules for computer networks operating according to the concept of the packet exchange. While scrolling through every IPv4 and IPv6 difference, you will realise that IPv4 was introduced in 1981 by DARPA. It was deployed for the first time in 1981 for SATNET production. Next, it was used in 1983 on the ARPANET.  


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What is IPv6?


When you compare IPv4 vs IPv6, an important thing to remember is that IPv6 is the latest version of IP. The Internet Engineering Task Force initiated IPv6 in December 1995. It was deployed in 1999 because of the rising concern that the demand for IP addresses would exceed the available supply. If you compare IPv4 vs IPv6, you will see that IPv6 is much more efficient than Ipv4. 


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IPv4 vs IPv6: Major Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6

Once you understand what is IPv4 and IPv6, it will be easier to spot the difference between IPv4 and IPv6. We will compare IPv4 vs IPv6 on the basis of the factors below:


  • Address Length

The address length is one of the most prominent IPv4 and IPv6 differences. The address length of IPv4 is 32-bit. The recently updated version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6, has an address length of 128-bit. 


  • Address Configuration Settings

A significant difference between IPv4 and IPv6 can be found in terms of configuration requirements. The fourth version of the Internet Protocol needs manual and DHCP configuration to support network communication. You will have to configure IPv6 according to the requirements of the system. IPv6 supports both manual and auto-configuration.


  • Address Size

When you compare IPv4 vs IPv6, the address size of IPv4 will be approximately 4 billion. On the other hand, IPv6 includes 320 undecillion addresses. 


  • Address Fields

The number of fields is also a major difference between IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 is numeric based, with 4 fields separated by a dot. IPv6 is alphanumeric-based and includes 8 fields separated by a colon.


  • Address Encryption and Authentication

It’s crucial to compare IPv4 vs IPv6 in terms of encryption and authentication. IPv4 addresses are not encrypted or authenticated. But IPv6 offers proper encryption and authentication services for addresses. 


  • IP Classes

A major IPv4 and IPv6 can be noted in the number of IP classes. IPv6 does not include any IP class. But IPv4 comes with 5 classes, including Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E. 


  • Address Integrity

After understanding what is IPv4 and IPv6, you must check out the available integrity settings. While IPv6 allows integrity setting configuration, IPv4 does not.


  • IPv4 vs IPv6: Type of Addresses

When you compare IPv4 vs IPv6, you will realise that the two support different address types. IPv4 supports unicast, broadcast, and multicast addresses. Meanwhile, IPv6 supports unicast, multicast, and anycast addresses. 


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  • Security Features

The difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is also visible in terms of security. The security feature of IPv4 is dependent on the application. IPv6 comes with an automatic security feature called IPSEC. 


  • Network Configuration

When you compare IPv4 vs IPv6, manual or DHCP configuration will be suitable for IPv4. But IPv6 supports manual as well as automatic configuration.


  • Routing Information Protocol (RIP)

One significant IPv4 and IPv6 difference can be spotted in terms of routing information protocol. IPv4 is supported by the routed daemon. But RIP is not suitable for IPv6 because it runs on static routes. 


  • SNMP

You should also understand the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 in terms of SNMP. In IPv4, SNMP is the protocol useful for system management. But IPv6 does not support SNMP. 


  • Mobility & Interoperability

While comparing IPv4 vs IPv6, you will have to carefully evaluate the two versions in terms of mobility and interoperability. The constrained network topologies of IPv4 restrict mobility and interoperability issues. IPv6 supports mobility and interoperability capabilities embedded in network devices. 


  • VLSM support

While IPv4 supports VLSM, IPv6 does not support it. 


  • Number of Octets

The difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is also prominent in terms of the number of octets. IPv4 includes 4 octets. Meanwhile, IPv6 comes with 8 fields, each of them containing 2 octets. Therefore, IPv6 contains a total of 16 octets.


  • Packet Fragmentation

While comparing IPv4 and IPv6, you will realise that packet fragmentation in the two versions is done differently. In IPv4, data fragmentation takes place by sending and forwarding routes. In IPv6, data fragmentation is executed by the sender. 


  • DNS Records

While understanding the difference between IPv4 and IPv6, you will see that they both have pointer records. In IPv4, it is IN-ADDR.ARPA DNS domain. In IPv6, it is IP6.ARPA DNS domain.


  • Transmission scheme

While comparing IPv4 vs IPv6, IPv4 emerges as broadcasting, and IPv6 is multicast to support efficient network operations. 


  • Quality of Service

Pv4, QoS enables you to request packet priority and bandwidth for TCP/IP applications. But the implementation of QoS is not compatible with IPv6.


IPv4 vs IPv6 are the two versions of Internet Protocol. IPv4 is the fourth version of the internet protocol and has an address length of 32-bit. IPv6 is the latest version and is more advanced than IPv4. IPv6 addresses have a length of 128-bit. Once you understand what is IPv4 and IPv6 clearly, you will be able to better understand the difference between IPv4 and IPv6.
The network layer of the TCP/IP protocol stack is where IPv4 operates. The protocol's primary function is to transport data blocks between sending and receiving hosts. Computers with distinct IP addresses represent the senders and receivers. IPv6 can offer multiple addresses by replacing the 32-bit addresses of IPv4 with 128-bit. IPv6 addresses are represented by eight groups containing four hexadecimal digits, separated by colons.
The address format for IPv6 is x:x:x:x:x:x:x:x. Every x represents the hexadecimal values of the eight pieces of the address. Each piece in the address is 16-bit.
The primary difference between IPv4 and IPv5 is the IP address size. While IPv4 address is 32-bit, IP6 is 128-bit.
IPv6 is more advanced and has improved features than IPv4. It can offer an infinite number of addresses. IPv6 is replacing IPv4 to accommodate the rising number of networks worldwide and can solve the issue of IP address exhaustion.
A significant difference between IPv4 and IPv6 can be spotted in terms of speed. IPv6 is faster than IPv4 because it can skip the network address translation process. IPv6 is perfect for people who need high speed for processing their networks.

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