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What are the differences between IPv4 and IPv6?

The two types of internet protocol are IPv4 and IPv6. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

IPv4 also known as Internet Protocol Version 4 is a type of protocol used in Link layer networks. This internet protocol has over 4 billion IP addresses.

Internet Protocol version 6 or IPv6 is another addressing scheme that is more recent than Ipv4. It comes with advanced features and will not run out of addresses.

The growing demand of networks globally led to the introduction of IPv6 as it's a good platform that creates room for an infinite number of IP addresses.

A notable difference between these two types of protocols is their address appearance. For instance, IPv6 uses hexadecimal numbers with colons separating them while IPv4 addresses four numbers separated by dots.

IPv4 format: 191.167.1.1

IPv6 format: fe90::d3a9:6435:d1d9:d8d2b22

In the table below, you'll find a summary of differences that exist between the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

IPv4IPv6
Decimal formatHexadecimal format
Maximum 4.3 billion addressesNearly limitless number of IP addresses
32 bit Address128 bit address
Optional IPsec supportInbuilt IPsec
Fragmentation is done mainly by the forwarding router and the senderThe sender does the fragmentation
Available checksum fieldChecksum field unavailable
Availability of option fieldsNo option fields
Availability of broadcast messagesBroadcast messages are unavailable

What are the advantages of using IPv6?

  • This Internet protocol simplifies the work done by a router.
  • It is compatible with many mobile networks compared to IPv4.
  • IPv6 is new while IPv4 has a 95% usage.

In the last few years there has been a mass exodus from IPv4 to IPv6 because of it’s a new protocol with extra features and larger space for addresses.

It's actually true to say that exodus from IPv4 to IPv6 is inevitable considering the fact that IPv6 has a larger address space. While IPv4 is 32 bit, IPv6 is 6128 bit and has a different text representation as we saw earlier.

Ipv4 and IPv6 packets vary and these two protocols can support packets that are up to 64Kb. However, these protocols can be used in different transport systems with varying limits normally specified by what is known as Maximum Transmission Unit.

IPv4 and IPv6 have varying requirements when it comes to the maximum transmission unit. This requirement stands at 1280 bytes in IPv6 and 576 bytes in IPv4.

In order for large data packets to be shipped over the network it is important to fragment the packets into smaller units. This is normally determined by routers if you are using IPv4 and if you are using IPv6 it is done mainly by the host.

The header is the other main difference between these two protocols. This is mostly seen in the way extensions and fields are handled. For IPv6, the header has 40 bytes which can also be followed by unlimited header amount and finally the data.

Will IPv6 and Ipv4 co-exist?

It is believed that the two protocols will continue to co-exist despite one being more advanced than the other. This is because of the existence of techniques that will continue relying on IPv4 and IPv6 systems. This coexistence is expected to continue thanks to mechanisms such as NAT, PSS, and SIIT.

Ability of networks to accommodate both Ipv4 and IPv6 all at the same time will also boost this co-existence. The unfortunate thing about dual traffic of these two protocols all in the same network is the fact that there might be differences and it will be very difficult for them to work together.

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