IPv4 Vs IPv6: What’s the difference?

ipv4 vs ipv6

IP is a short form of Internet Protocol. IP is just like a numerical label that is assigned to every device that is connected to a computer network that uses the IP for communication.

Internet Protocol (IP) address acts as an identifier for a particular machine on a specific network. The IP address tells us the technical format of the addressing scheme. Before digging more about what is the actual difference between ipv4 vs ipv6, lets have a look at the IP address.

What is an IP Address?

So basically, IP address is a number that is usually assigned to every device. Every device should be connected to a computer network (that uses the Internet Protocol for data communication). An IP address has two primary roles:

  1. It has to host or network interface identification.
  2. It has to do the location addressing.

According to Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), an IP address is a 32-bit number. However, because of many reasons such as the growth of the Internet and the depletion of available IPv4 addresses, a new version of IP (IPv6), using 128 bits for the IP address, was standardized in 1998. IPv6 has been in use since the mid-2000s.

IP addresses are written in a manner so that they are human-readable, for example, in IPv4, and 2901:fb8:0:1934:0:567:8:1 in IPv6.

The IANA manages the IP address space worldwide. It does so by the five regional Internet registries (RIRs), which are responsible for their designated territories. These are responsible for assignment to local Internet registries, like the Internet service providers, and many other such end-users.

The IANA initially gave iPv4 addresses to the RIRs in blocks (approximately 16.8 million addresses each). But they exhausted at the IANA level since 2011. As per my knowledge, only one of the RIRs still has a supply for local assignments in Africa. Some of the IPv4 addresses have now been reserved for some private networks and are thus they are not globally unique.

It is the work of the network administrators to assign an IP address to each device connected to a network. The choice of the administrator to have the assignments as static (fixed or permanent) or dynamic basis. It depends on their network practices and software features.

IP versions

There are two versions of the Internet Protocol, which are generally in everyday use on the Internet today. The older and original version of the Internet Protocol, which was first brought into use in 1983 in the ARPANET, is Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4).

IPv4 address space was used so excessively for assignment to end-user organizations and the Internet service providers by the starting of 1990. Because of this, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) had to explore new technologies to expand the addressing capability on the Internet.

That massacre led to the redesign of the Internet Protocol. It eventually came to be known as Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) in 1995.

Now, in today’s date, these two different versions of the Internet Protocol are used simultaneously. Among all other technical changes which the world has been through, each version defines the format of addresses differently.

IP address assignment

IP addresses are basically given to a host in two ways:

  1. First is dynamical as they join the network.
  2. Second is persistently by the configuration of the host hardware or software.

A persistent configuration of IP addresses is also known as using a static IP address. On the other hand, if a computer’s IP address is assigned each time it restarts, then this is known as using a dynamic IP address.

On the other hand, dynamic IP addresses are usually assigned by the network using a protocol named DHCP. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol has now become the most frequently used technology for assigning addresses to the devices.

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Using this protocol, we can avoid the heavy burden of assigning static addresses to every device on a network. Using this, we can also allow devices to share the limited address space that we have on a system. We can say that a dynamic IP configuration is enabled by default in many of the computers which we have these days.

What is IPv4?

The first version of Internet Protocol (IP) was called IPv4. It was made for production in the ARPANET in 1983. In today’s date, IPv4 is the most widely used IP version. Its primary function is to identify the devices on a network with the help of an addressing system.

This version of IP uses a 32-bit address scheme, which allows it to store 2^32 addresses ( which is more than 4 billion addresses ). Still, it is considered to be the primary Internet Protocol, and even today, it carries 94% of the Internet traffic.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP). An Internet Engineer Taskforce started with it in the 1994s. After the design and development, it is now called IPv6.

This IP address version, IPv6, is now being used to fulfill the need for extra Internet addresses. It was originally aimed at resolving issues that are linked with IPv4. It has a 128-bit address space, unlike IPv4, which has only 32-bit address space, so it allows 340 undecillion unique address space. IPv6 is sometimes also called IPng (Internet Protocol next generation).

Features of IPv4

  • It is a connectionless protocol.
  • It allows creating a simple virtual communication layer over different devices.
  • Needs very little memory and also eases the process of remembering addresses.
  • It is already a supported protocol by millions of devices worldwide.
  • It also offers video libraries and conferences.

Features of IPv6

  • It has a hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure.
  • It has a stateful and stateless configuration.
  • Supports the quality of service (QoS)
  • It is an ideal protocol for neighboring node interaction.

The Benefits of IPv6

  • Now, no more NAT (Network Address Translation) is required.
  • Now, users get auto-configuration, which makes it super easy.
  •  no more separate address collisions will be there.
  • Now, better multicast routing will be there.
  • Now, a more straightforward header format will be there.
  • The simplified, more efficient path will be there.
  • Now, the actual quality of service (QoS), also called “flow labeling,” will be there.
  • Built-in authentication and privacy support will be there.
  • Now, flexible options and extensions will be there.
  • Now, easier administration (say good-bye to DHCP) will be there.

How Do IPv4 and IPv6 Work?

  • The classification of 128-bits in the IPv6 address is as follows: eight 16-bit hexadecimal blocks separated by colons. For example, 2dfc:0:0:0:0217:abcd:fe8c:0.
  • IPv4 addresses are usually divided into five classes with Class A networks for a few huge networks, Class C networks for thousands of small networks, and Class B networks that are in between. IPv6 requires sub-netting to adjust the network sizes with a given address space assignment.
  • IPv4 uses class-type address space for multicast use ( IPv6 also requires an integrated address space for multicast.
  • IPv4 requires a broadcast address that usually forces each device to stop and look at packets. IPv6 uses multicast groups.
  • IPv4 treats as an unspecified address, and also uses class-type address ( for loopback. IPv6 uses:: and::1 as unspecified and loopback address, respectively.
  • IPv4 also uses globally unique public addresses for private and traffic addresses.
  • IPv6 also uses globally unique uncast addresses and local addresses.

Let’s compare IPv4 VSIPv6?

In principles, they both are the same. They only differ in the ways of their work.

  1. IPv4 is a 32-bit address space, whereas IPv6 is 128-bit address space.
  2. In IPv4, the addresses are separated by dots, whereas in IPv6, the lectures are separated by colons.
  3. IPv4 is binary bits, whereas IPv6 also has hexadecimal.
  4. IPv4 has 12 header fields, whereas IPv6 has eight header fields.
  5. In IPv4, the length of the header field is 20, whereas it is 40 in IPv6.
  6. IPv4 has checksum fields, whereas IPv6 doesn’t have checksum fields.
  7. Types of addresses in IPv4 are unicast, multicast, and broadcast, whereas types of addresses in IPv6 are unicast, multicast, and anycast.
  8. IPv4 offers five classes of IP addressing ( A to E ) whereas IPv6 offers storage of unlimited numbers of IP addresses.
  9. For configuration of IPv4, we need to configure a newly installed system before it can communicate with other systems, whereas in IPv6, the configuration is optional.
  10. IPv4 supports a Virtual length subnet mask (VLSM), whereas IPv6 does not support it.
  11. In IPv4, fragmentation is done forwarding/sending routes. In IPv6, fragmentation is done by the sender itself.
  12. Routing information protocol (RIP) is a routing protocol supported by the routed daemon in IPv4, whereas IPv6 does not support routing information protocol. IPv6 uses only static routes.
  13. In IPv4, networks need to be configured either through DHCP or manually. IPv4 has several overlays, and thus they require more maintenance. IPv6 has capabilities of autoconfiguration.
  14. The best feature of IPv4 is that it gives a widespread use of NAT devices ( Network Address Translation ). In this single NAT address can mask thousands of non – routable addresses. It makes end-to-end integrity achievable. The best feature of IPv6 is that it allows direct addressing because of the vast address space.
  15. In IPv4, the address mask is used for designated networks from the host portion, whereas in IPv6, the address mask is not used.
  16. In IPv4, SNMP is a protocol used for system management, whereas SNMP does not support IPv6.
  17. IPv4 is not compatible with mobile devices as it uses dot-decimal notation whereas, IPv6 is represented by hex and uses colon-separated notations, so they are suitable for mobile devices.
  18. IPv4 uses address resolution protocol (ARP) to map itself to the MAC addresses, whereas IPv6 uses neighbor discovery protocol (NDP) to map itself to the MAC addresses.
  19. When using IPv4, clients have a DHCS (dynamic host configuration server ) whenever they want to connect to a network. When using IPv6, a client does not require approaching any server as they have been given permanent addresses.
  20. In IPv4, IPSec ( Internet protocol security ) is optional, whereas network security is mandatory when using IPv6.
  21. IPv4 has optional fields, whereas IPv6 does not have optional fields. Although extension headers are available in IPv6.
  22. IPv4 has an internet group management protocol (GMP), whereas IPv6 has multicast listener discovery (MLD).
  23. In IPv4, IP to MAC is done using broadcast ARP whereas, in IPv6, IP to MAC is done using multicast neighbor solicitation.
  24. Address configuration in IPv4 is done manually or via DHCP, whereas in IPv6, stateless address auto-configuration is done using internet control message protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) or through DHCPv6.
  25. Regarding mobility and interoperability, IPv4 has relatively constrained network topologies whereas, IPv6 provides us with interoperability and movement, which are embedded in the network devices.
  26. While using IPv4, security depends on the applications as IPv4 was not constructed for security purposes. On the other hand, IPSec is built into the IPv6 protocol, which is usable with proper key infrastructures.
  27. The packet size required in IPv4 is 576 bytes, and fragmentation is optional, whereas in IPv6 packet size required is 1208 bytes that too without fragmentation.
  28. IPv4 allows packet fragmentation from sending host and routers whereas, on the other hand, IPv6 allows packet fragmentation only from sending hosts.
  29. IPv4 does not identify packet flow for QoS handling, which also includes checksum options. On the other hand, the IPv6 packet head contains a flow label field that specifies packet flow for QoS handling.
  30. In IPv4, DNS records are Address (A) records, which maps hostnames, on the other hand, in IPv6, DNS records are Address (AAAA) records, which maps hostnames.
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So, it was all about ipv4, ipv6 and the difference between ipv4 vs ipv6.

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