What are IPv4 and IPv6 and What’s the Difference Between IPv4 vs IPv6?

Apr 1, 2023 | Blog

What are IPv4 and IPv6 What's the Difference between IPv4 vs IPv6 and Why it Matters

Concerning network communication, the proper mode of communication is none other than the Internet Protocol (IP). This protocol contains unique numeric identifiers, which greatly assist in handling communication by helping identify devices on the World Wide Web. These numeric identifiers are also addressed as IP addresses and come in two types: IPv4 and IPv6. Historically speaking, most people have routinely utilized Internet Protocol version 4 or simply IPv4 when it comes to internet address schemes. Nevertheless, due to the rapid expansion of internet-connected devices, IPv4 addresses have become scarce. IPv4 has limitations in its address capacity, which prompted the invention of a newer variant known as Internet Protocol version 6 or simply IPv6. Unlike its predecessor, which operates on small-scale addressing techniques, IPv6 offers a more comprehensive range of identifiers. This article will differentiate these two protocols and discuss why adopting IPv6 is critical to the future of the internet.


What is IPv4 Address?

An IPV4(Internet Protocol version 4) address is a numerical label assigned to any device connected to the internet, including laptops or smartphones, printers, and even gaming consoles. It’s essential because it enables these devices to communicate effectively with others on the network – without confusion! The address format consists of four sets of numbers separated by periods – called octets – each ranging from zero to two hundred fifty-five (0-255). For example, shows an IPV4 address used worldwide as a private IP number series.

How to find my IPv4 address on Windows and Mac computers?

To find the IPv4 address on a Windows computer?

To locate IPv4 address details, which are located on a Windows computer, It only takes a few uncomplicated steps listed below:

  1. Firstly head over to and click on the Start Menu button.
  2. Once there, type “cmd” into its available search box.
  3. Upon finding the Command Prompt item, select it by clicking or pressing enter via the keyboard.
  4. Within CMD’s pop-up window, enter “ipconfig” without parentheses or spaces, then press ‘Enter.’
  5. Results are almost immediate. Search for the data displayed beside “IPv4 Address“. Your IP address should be displayed next to it.

To find the IPv4 address on a Mac computer?

Using these simple steps will make finding that information much less daunting than before:

  1. First, you can find the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen and proceed to click on it.
  2. The second step involves clicking on the “System Preferences.”
  3. The third step involves clicking on the “Network” option (it won’t take long). 
  4. Last, select whether you are connected through Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Your IP information can be found directly under “Network Status.” Voila! Your desired IP address shall appear right next to it.

Alternatively, you can also visit a website that displays your IP address, such as whatismyip.com, which will show your public IPv4 address.


What is IPv6 Address?

An IPv6(Internet Protocol version 6) address is 128-bit in eight hexadecimal groups separated by colons. For example, 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334 is an IPv6 address. The 128-bit address space provides approximately 3.4×10^38 unique addresses, a significantly larger address space than IPv4.

How to find IPv6 address?

To find the IPv6 address on a Windows computer?

For all those who need help figuring out their IPv6 address in a Windows environment, look no further than these easy-to-follow instructions! 

  1. Begin with opening up the Start menu using both the Windows key + X keys simultaneously; 
  2. Once inside its contents list, select “Network Connections.” 
  3. Next comes finding your existing Network Adapter – upon discovery, perform a right-click followed by accessing “Properties.” 
  4. Continuing to locate a specific section titled “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)“. Then click the “Properties” button.
  5. This section will then provide access to their IPV6 details, such as whether they were automatically assigned one or if they had manually requested one themselves.

To find the IPv6 address on a Mac PC?

To obtain your IPv6 address on a Mac PC effectively, take note of these steps: 

  1. Click on the Apple menu located at the top-left of their monitor.
  2. The second step is opting for “System Preferences.” 
  3. The next step requires selecting “Network” in order to view a list that encapsulates all relevant connections established with a respective current network configuration. 
  4. Towards its bottom right-hand side, discover and click on the “Advanced” option waiting for activation, which will allow you to view details about an available internet connection(s) or allow one to connect (if none are currently existing) manually. 
  5. Look for and open up any present informational tabs featuring specifications regarding TCP/IP protocols.
  6. Upon finding your way to the IPv6 settings, peruse for “IPv6 Address,” which will clearly show your listed address.

Users may struggle when trying to find out their IP address version, as there often seems to be no easy way to do so without substantial technical knowledge. Luckily, numerous websites now simplify this process for beginners or anyone needing a quick overview of their current IP settings. For example, “whatismyipaddress.com” has become one such popular resource providing in-depth data on users’ network connections. At the same time, sites like “ipv6-test.com” offer extensive testing and diagnostic features.


What’s the Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6?

Internet Protocol (IP), being the foundation for all online communication, plays a vital role in enabling devices connected across networks to share and send information seamlessly. It allows identification within each system using assigned IP addresses that allow data packet transmissions between them. Amidst escalating numbers of interconnected units that require exclusive identification on the Internet, IPv4 is becoming increasingly limited in its ability to assign unique addresses. This is where IPv6 comes in.

Below is a table that offers a detailed comparison between IPv4 and IPv6, outlining their respective features and specifications.

Address Length32 bits128 bits
Addressing SchemeDecimalHexadecimal
Address SpaceLimited to 4.3 billionUnimaginably large
Address ConfigurationManual or DHCPAutomatic or DHCPv6
End-to-End ConnectivityNoYes
QoS SupportNoYes
SecurityWeakStrong. Built-in Support for IPSec
Header FormatFixed LengthVariable Length
Routing EfficiencyLess efficientMore efficient
DNS SupportRequiredOptional
Adoption RateWidely adoptedSlowly gaining adoption
Network Address Translation (NAT)Widely UsedNot Required


Why is IPv6 important for the future of the internet?

Address Space 

IPv6 carries immense importance for the evolution of the internet, primarily due to its large and robust address space. The underlying architecture in IPv6 provides a practically infinite number of unique IP addresses, ensuring seamless growth of the internet alongside an ever-increasing number of connected devices. 


Furthermore, this cutting-edge protocol includes IPsec, a built-in feature that ensures network traffic authentication and encryption. Administrators can take full advantage of these inbuilt security features and adequately secure their networks without relying on third-party solutions. 


Among the features that IPv6 boasts is its enhanced network efficiency, primarily through its application of optimized routing, simplified packet headers, and minimized broadcast traffic. With such improvements, networks can reduce congestion and enhance their overall performance.


In summary, IPv4 and IPv6 both serve as foundations for an efficient network infrastructure that supports communication between computers on a global scale. Despite their similarities in this aspect, there exist distinct differences between these two Internet Protocols in terms of address length, structural design, and other unique features supporting their implementations globally. Therefore following the diminishing availability of IPv4 addresses worldwide due to increasing numbers in direct allocation demands from networks around the world – businesses and organizations must consider planning toward transitioning towards implementing IPv6 resulting from its enhanced security offerings alongside increased efficiency to ensure continued connectivity and growth in the future.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is an IP address?

An IP address stands as a numeric identifier with unparalleled uniqueness, indicating any internet-connected device’s identity of interest.

Why is there a need for IPv6?

The growth in internet-enabled devices has led to an insufficient supply of IPv4 addresses. This limitation arises because IPv4 follows a 32-bit numbering system resulting in about four thousand million available Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses worldwide. To address this challenge thoroughly, experts developed IPv6, which operates on a 128-bit numbering system capable of supporting trillions of unique IP identities globally.

Can IPv4 and IPv6 coexist?

Yes, IPv4 and IPv6 can coexist. Coexisting seamlessly, IPv4 and IPv6 can operate in harmony on networks worldwide. There has been a trend towards integrating both types of internet protocol into functioning system infrastructures where devices may have dual capabilities in communicating with one another.

How do I know if I am using IPv4 or IPv6?

It often helps to inspect the structure of the numerical values used to determine what IP addresses we use—IPv4 or IPv6. Typically, an IPVv4 will have four sections separated by dots containing groupings consisting only of digits from zero to nine. Comparatively, one could expect to see eight sets-letter (ranging from A-F) and number combinations divided via colon for any typical IPv6.

Will IPv6 make my internet faster?

IPv6 has been designed with multiple features aimed at enhancing network efficiency and facilitating faster internet connectivity. However, it is important to remember that the speed of one’s connection cannot solely depend on such advancements; other influencing factors like network congestion, device performance, or individual ISP strategies affect it too.

Do I need to upgrade to IPv6?

While conventional networks currently operate with both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols, upgrading to IPv6 remains critical in the near future. Considering increasing demands from multiple devices entering networks, IPv6 readiness becomes inevitable by adopting newer web technologies.

How do I configure my network for IPv6?

Configuring a network for IPv6 requires different methods, including Stateless Address Auto Configuration (SLAAC), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol version 6 (DHCPv6), or manual configuration. Assistance in configuring an IPv6 network should be available from a qualified network administrator.

Are there any downsides to IPv6?

IPv6 represents a significant step forward for internet communication protocols, but adopting this updated standard is not without challenges. One potential downside is that companies must purchase newer hardware and software to support it effectively. This can strain budgets at firms already operating on tight margins or having difficulty attracting investment capital from external sources. Additionally, compatibility issues between existing applications and IPv6 may hinder otherwise smooth operations.

Last Updated on April 3, 2023


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