IPv4 vs. IPv6: The Difference between IPv4 and IPv6?

January 1, 2019 by Zehra Ali

When studying about networking, you might’ve come across terms like IPv4 and IPv6. These two terms are common when you read about VPNs and their protocols of communication while they are subcategories of IP. Firstly, you should get to know what IP is. IP is a set of conventions on how data can be regulated over a network.

IPv4 and IPv6, in simpler protocols, only differ regarding their specific versions. IPv6 is new as compared to IPv4, and it has its perks. As time progresses, IPv4 is disappearing from the market and IPv6 is conquering it. Let’s delve on these versions provide us and what are their uses.

What Is IPv4?

Internet Protocol contains many versions, and IPv4 is its 4th version. IPv4 utilizes 4 bytes, i.e., 32 bits which means the combination made is 2^32 addresses (3.4*10^38). IPv4 is the first communication suite recognized for networking and telecommunication.

It operates in the link layer of the internet application model. Furthermore, it has a significant usage in packet-switching. One of its tasks is to route the data in the best path available. In IPv4 addresses, an IP address is written in decimals, separated by periods. 4 numbers are written thus creating 32 bits.

How IPv4 works?

The IP addresses were assigned to the devices needed to be interfaced. These tremendous number of IPs were allocated by the IANA, an acronym of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. IANA cooperated with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN.

Two techniques were utilized to enable IPv4, the first one was to use Private IPs, and the other was NAT. Specific IP addresses were assigned which were to be used under a private network. NAT, Network Address Translation, came to help where the connection with private and public IPs was to be made accessible.

Advantages of IPv4

One can dispute the fact that IPv4 is outdated. It is agreeable to a certain extent, but considering its benefits, they were appreciable. The most paramount advantage of IPv4 was that it was trustworthy when it came to security. IPv4 allows data to be secured with encryption. Moreover, security is enhanced when specific data packets hold a significance.

Some benefits that should be kept in mind is that IPv4 serves best when it comes to flexibility. Routing is made more efficient and flexible on multiple ports. Reputable organizations utilize IPv4 that cater to data communication multicast. Networking is made sure because interfacing is possible without the use of NAT. As of now, more than 80000 routers use IPv4 allocation.

Disadvantages of IPv4

Before the arrival of IPv6, it was IPv4 that ruled the internet market. Whenever networking and communication were concerned, but it had the limitations of its own. The disadvantages related to IPv4. You would get to know, why there was a need for IPv6?.

Restricted space: – With IPv4, there is a shortage of public IP addresses. Most offices cater IPv4 addresses as public. Thus regular users do not have the facility to have many IPs. This disadvantage cost private communication to a certain extent.

Difficult configuration: – The most significant drawback related to IPv4 is that it is strenuous to configure it. The setting can be performed either manually or automatically. For setup, one must have a sound knowledge related to DHCP infrastructure, and that isn’t a piece of cake.

Compatibility: – As the number of interconnected devices increased, more concentration had to be given to compatibility. There is a shortage of network infrastructure in IPv4 that doesn’t allow inter-connectivity to be achieved. So, IPv6 took the lead here.

What Is IPv6?

It is the recent addition in the family of Internet Protocols. IPv6 addresses are represented in eight groups of four. The numbering system used is hexadecimal, and the numbers are separated with colons. One fantastic feature of IPv6 is that the number of combinations of IP addresses it can provide.

Moreover, you should get ready to say farewell to DHCP as easier administration is available. Furthermore, some advantages enhance your communication experience. Auto-configuration, Easier header format and there are no more Network Address Translation.

How IPv6 works?

IPv6 operates by configuring itself automatically according to network standards. Since IPv6 contains a large number of IP addresses because communication is made easy. Multiple devices can interface at a single time. Thus, there is no use of NATs to allow the transmission of data. Additionally, due to headers data transmission is efficient than ever.

When the transfer of data packets is deemed unsuccessful, it is the responsibility of ICMPv6 to troubleshoot errors and get rid of bugs inside functions. Some other features that make the task of IPv6 successful are the NAT protocol translation, multiple levels of tunneling and a double tier IP stack.

Advantages of IPv6

This version of Internet Protocol eases the functionality of a router. In essence that, it has a variety of options to assign IP addresses to any device connected over it. Moreover, IPv6 has the capability of maximizing the number of bytes being transferred.

The file transmitter/sender has the authority to split the data into multiple packets. This feature is possible all thanks to IPv6. IPv4 has a lesser share in the market since more than 95% devices utilize IPv6. With all these advantages and traits discussed, it’s difficult to wonder the pace of data transmission, if IPv6 wasn’t there.

Disadvantages of IPv6

We have got to know the uncountable advantages that IPv6 promises. However, this great innovation in the digital domain has some of its drawbacks. The disadvantages that IPv6 has to offer mustn’t be sidelined at any cost.

Device Mobility: – The devices in which IPv4 operates are not mobile to run IPv6. This will be the foremost problem users will face when they wish to interface multiple appliances in their homes that are currently working on IPv4.

The range of addresses: – It is evident that when IPv6 takes over, there will be a tremendous amount of unused IP addresses. Thus, the standard length of an average IP will be extended. Hence, it will be challenging to remember entire IP addresses.

No Transitioning process: – There is much speculation on how the devices running IPv4 will rejuvenate themselves to IPv6. No such method or algorithm exists currently, that can enable the previous IP addresses to transform into a new one for IPv6.

How to switch IPv6 off?

When your VPN doesn’t protect your internet traffic and leaks your IP address, there’s one thing to do. You can turn off your system to not utilize it. Some steps are described ahead that will teach you how you can turn your IPv6 manually. Thereby, leaving no pathways for your traffic to get leaked.

  • Click on Windows > Settings > Network & Internet > Networking & Sharing Center.
  • Click on Change adapter settings > right-click on the network you are connected to > Properties.
  • Scroll on to Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) > uncheck the box.
  • If done, you have successfully disabled IPv6 on your system.

VPNs with IPv6

Most VPN services do not allow IPV6 over their traffic networking. The reason behind this action is that numerous VPN providers are not updating their hardware and software that can facilitate IPv6. What’s the advantage of using a VPN when your ISP can monitor your activity?

When you are skeptical that your VPN isn’t concerned about your IPv6 traffic, run an IP leak test. One website to do such an analysis https://ipleak.net/ for ensuring IPv4 and IPv6 traffic. When after completing the test without a VPN, run a test with it. If your original IP address is showing as the previous one, your VPN doesn’t support IPv6.

What’s there to come for IPv6?

IPv6 can comprise 3.4 * 10^38 combinations of IP address. That makes one thing for sure, and that is it’s a long time to come that we will run out of IP addresses. As defined in the table above that IPv6 covers uncountable advantages. More straightforward header format and sidelining NAT are just some examples of it.

Its fame rises with time. Many operating systems and modems do furnish their user’s experience with IPv6. ISPs regularly deploy services that support this modern version, at this moment redefining internet experience. There’s only one disadvantage to existing, and that is the cost which IPv6 comes up with.

Security with IPv6

Most tech geeks would delve into IPv6 straight away without giving a second thought of its shortcomings. The first and foremost drawback of IPv6 is that most VPNs do not support it.

In case your VPN compromises over anonymity, it’s time that you disregard it. You mustn’t choose such a VPN that leaks your IP address because it leaves you open to prying eyes.

When selecting a VPN, inspect the features that it offers. Pay close attention whether it offers IPv6 or not. If it doesn’t, there’s no big issue, but there is an issue when there’s one backdoor.

That is to ensure the security of a user by protecting him from IP leaks. Choose a VPN that offers the Kill Switch feature. It will cut your connection with the internet when your net drops.

Differences between IPv4 and IPv6

IPv4 and IPv6 encompass a lot of contrasts. The table below lists the significant differences these two versions of Internet Protocol that exist. Note: when comparing is them to keep a close eye on the number. Mostly, they differ in size and the features they provide.



Doesn’t provide Broadcast messaging Provides broadcast messaging
Addresses are the 128-bit length Addresses are 32 bit long
No checksum field available in the header Checksum field available
Binary represented in hexadecimal Binary represented in decimals
Placket flow identification is there Packet flow identification isn’t there


As internet users increase, the number of communication IP addresses increase, thus there is a need of trillions of addresses available. Therefore, this service can only be possible with it. It doesn’t mean that IPv4 will disappear, computer networking will still be in debt to it.

With IPv4 sidelined, IPv6 can also give a rise in the innovation of the IoT. To communicate with machines like refrigerators, washing machines, home appliances, etc., will need IP addresses as well to transfers signals successfully. Hence, it’s proved that IPv6 is the future of networking.

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