IPv4 vs IPv6 Explained and Compared

This Itechguide explains and compares IPv4 vs IPv6. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique numeric value assigned to each device in a computer network.

IPv4 vs IPv6 Explained and Compared

This allows devices that communicate via IP addresses to be uniquely identified and able to communicate with each other.

In computing, a Protocol defines communication rules between two computer devices. IP defines rules that guide communication between two devices that communicate via IP.

There are two versions of IP address – IPv4 and IPv6. This guide starts with a detailed explanation of IPv4.

Then, it explains IPv6. Finally, it ends with a summary table comparing the differences between the two Internet Protocol (IP) technologies.

What is IPv4?

IPv4 vs IPv6 Explained and Compared - What is IPv4?

To effectively compare IPv4 vs IPv6, this section explains what IPv4 is and how it works.

Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) was designed in the 1980s. It is used to identify IP devices in an interconnected computer network via an addressing system.

IPv4 uses a 32-bit address scheme allowing up to a total of 2^32 addresses – about 4 billion addresses. It is still the most popular and primary addressing Internet Protocol.

An address is a numeric value assigned to an IP device. To make it easy to understand, compare this to your home address. Without your home address, it will be impossible for you to receive your deliveries. In the same way, without an IP address, a computer will not be able to receive packets of data sent to it by other IP devices.

An IP address is made up of 4 numbers, separated by a period (.). Every website, for example, is hosted by a computer. Each website on the server is assigned a unique IP address.

As an example, the IP address of www.itechguides.com is It is made up of 4 numbers, separated by “.”.

Earlier in this section, I mentioned that an IPv4 allows a total 2^32 addresses – a little above 4 billion addresses. Bearing in mind that every *device that connects to the internet requires one of these 4 billion addresses, we may run out of IPv4 addresses at some point.

This is why IPv6 was created.

*Computers, printers, smartphones, smartTV, and more

What is IPv6?

IPv4 vs IPv6 Explained and Compared - What is IPv6?

Before we can effectively compare IPv4 vs IPv6, this section explains what IPv6 is and how it works.

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was introduced in the 1990s. IPv6 was designed to address the possibility that we may run out of version 4 at any time.

In comparing IPv4 vs IPv6 addresses, while IPv4 uses 32-bit address, IPv6 uses 128-bit address space. This allows for 2^128 addresses – allowing up to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 (340 undecillion*) addresses.

*undecillion is 1, followed by 36 zeros.

Another important comparison of IPv4 vs IPv6 is this: while IPv4 is made of 4 numbers separated by a periods (.). However, IPv6 addresses are written as eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, separated by colons (:).

An example of Inter Protocol version 6 address is 0:0:0:0:0:ffff:43e3:9de4.

IPv4 vs IPv6: Summary

Finally, to compare these 2 Internet Protocol versions, here is a summary of the differences between the 2:

Features IPv4IPv6Notes
Addressing Method4 numbers, separated by a period (.)eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, separated by colons (:)
Addressing Bits and Available Addresses32-bits, with 2^32 addresses (about 4 billion addresses)128-bits, with 2^128 addresses (about 340 undecillion addresses)
SpeedOccasionally performs better than IPv6Delivers about the same speed with IPv4. They offer about the same speed.
SecurityLess secure in comparison to IPv6IP Security (IPSec) is fully integrated into IPv6 by default. IPSec is also available for full integration into IPv4 but it is not always fully integrated.
ConfigurationManual or DHCPSupports autoconfiguration

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