An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a set of numbers that enables computers and other devices to communicate on the internet. That means without the IP address, it is not possible to send or receive information online.
Currently, there are two main IP types – IPv4 and IPv6. What is the difference between the two? How does each function? This article will compare IPv4 and IPv6 in detail and show how to protect your online connections.
What is IPv4?
Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) was introduced in 1981 as the fourth internet protocol version. However, despite the advent of IPv6, most of the world’s traffic is routed through IPv4. The protocol uses a 32-bit address supporting more than 4 billion IP addresses.
Usually, an IPv4 address contains four numbers ranging from 0 to 255, separated by full stops. Most likely, your current IP address is an IPv4 address.
Here is a typical example of an IPv4 address
- Easier to read and remember
- Most web pages use IPv4
- Long-standing technology
- Subnetting problems
- Fewer IPv4 address
IPv4 existence for around 40 years presents a significant issue. The limit was set at 4.3 billion addresses, which seemed more than sufficient in the early 80s. After that, however, the addresses began running out as the internet grew exponentially. This prompted engineers to start developing more IP addresses.
Most people use multiple internet access devices, including laptops, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Also, as the Internet of Things grows, more IP addresses will be needed than ever before. So, developers had to invent a more permanent solution.
What is IPv6?
Internet version 6 (IPv6) is the sixth version of the internet protocol. It was developed to address the problem of shrinking IPv4 addresses. However, the functionality is similar to IPv4, which provides a numerical IP address required to establish an internet connection.
Generally, an IPv6 address is made of more numbers than an IPv4 address, making it possible to develop more addresses than IPv4. For example, it uses a 128-bit address and can produce up to decillion IP addresses, while IPv4 can only provide 4.3 billion addresses.
IPv6 IP addresses contain eight groups of hexadecimal numbers separated with colons instead of full stops like IPv4 addresses.
Here is an example of an IPv6 address: