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IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference? | Avast
IPv4: a brief history
Before we get into the differences between the two IP address protocols, what’s IPv4? Well, an IP address is a string of numbers that is assigned to a device to identify it on the internet. It is an address, just as the number and street of your home is an address. While your home address is used to send you mail, your IP address is used to send packets of data that you request.
Internet Protocol version 4, generally referred to as IPv4, was developed in the early 1980s. An IPv4 address comprises four numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, which are separated by periods. For example, Avast’s IP address is 5. 62. 42. 77. There is more to IP addresses, and it helps to understand the essentials of TCP/IP as well, but these are the basics.
Every website has an IP address; we just don’t use them anymore, typically. In the early days of the internet, it was necessary to know a website’s IP address in order to navigate to it. Then, the Domain Name Service (DNS) came along, which translates numbers into names. So when you type in “ the DNS translates that back to 5. This enables us to navigate the web much more conveniently, as it’s much easier to recall a website’s name than its IP address.
Have we run out of IPv4 addresses?
IPv4 has a theoretical limit of 4. 3 billion addresses, and in 1980, that was more than enough. But as the internet grew and went global, we quickly ran out of addresses, especially in today’s era of smartphones and IoT devices.
The internet has been running out of IPv4 addresses since the 1990s. While clever engineers have found ways around the problem, it wasn’t long before a more permanent fix became the goal. Developed to solve these capacity issues for good, IPv6 was needed when IPv4 could no longer support the load.
At present, IPv4 coexists on the internet with its newer version, though eventually, everything will use IPv6. Replacing old IPv4 equipment would be prohibitively expensive and disruptive, and so IPv6 is being slowly rolled out as older IPv4 hardware is retired.
IPv6: the future of the web?
Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, was first introduced in the late 1990s as a replacement for IPv4. Even then the builders of the internet realized IPv4’s limitations and the eventual shortage.
IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, allowing for a theoretical 340, 282, 366, 920, 938, 463, 463, 374, 607, 431, 768, 211, 456, or 340 undecillion addresses. IPv6 addresses are represented as eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, with the groups being separated by colons. One example might be “2002:0de6:0001:0042:0100:8c2e:0370:7234, ” but methods to abbreviate this full notation exist.
In addition to increasing the supply of IP addresses, IPv6 also addressed IPv4’s many shortcomings — chief among them being security, which we’ll delve into more later.
IPv4 vs. IPV6
The advent of IPv6 brought more functionality, in addition to more IP addresses. For example, IPv6 supports multicast addressing, which allows bandwidth-intensive packet flows (such as multimedia streams) to be sent to multiple destinations simultaneously, reducing network bandwidth. But is IPv6 better than IPv4? Let’s find out.
IPv6 has a new feature called autoconfiguration, which allows a device to generate an IPv6 address as soon as it powers up and puts itself on the network. The device begins by looking for an IPv6 router. If one is present, the device can generate a local address and a globally routable address, allowing access to the wider internet. In IPv4-based networks, the process of adding devices often has to be done manually.
IPv6 allows devices to stay connected to several networks simultaneously. This is due to interoperability and configuration capabilities that enable the hardware to automatically assign multiple IP addresses to the same device.
Next, we examine the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 through the lenses of speed and security.
IPv4 vs. IPv6: Speed comparison
How do IPv4 and IPv6 compare when it comes to speed? The security blog Sucuri ran a series of tests in which they found that in direct connections, IPv4 and IPv6 delivered the same speed. IPv4 occasionally won the test.
In theory, IPv6 should be a little faster since cycles don’t have to be wasted on NAT translations. But IPv6 also has larger packets, which may make it slower for some use cases. What really makes a difference at this point is that IPv4 networks are mature and thus highly optimized, more so than IPv6 networks. So with time and tuning, IPv6 networks will get faster.
IPv4 vs. IPv6: Security comparison
IPv6 was built with more security in mind. IP Security (IPSec) is a series of IETF security protocols for security, authentication, and data integrity, and it’s fully integrated into IPv6. The thing is, IPSec can also be fully integrated into IPv4. It’s up to ISPs to implement it — and not all companies do.
IPv6 is designed for end-to-end encryption, so in theory, widespread adoption of IPv6 will make man-in-the-middle attacks significantly more difficult.
IPv6 also supports more-secure name resolution. The Secure Neighbor Discovery (SEND) protocol adds a security extension to the Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP), which handles discovery of other network nodes on a local link. By default, NDP is not secure, so it can be susceptible to malicious interference. SEND secures NDP with a cryptographic method that is independent of IPsec.
Thanks to native IPSec, IPv6 provides two security headers which can be used separately or together: the Authentication Header (AH) and Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP). Authentication Header provides data-origin authentication and protection against replay attacks, while ESP delivers connectionless integrity, data-origin authentication, protection against replay attacks, and limited traffic flow confidentiality, as well as privacy and confidentiality through encryption of the payload. IPv4 can also have this protection if IPSec is implemented on the network.
IPv4 has been significantly updated over the years, so the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 security is not extraordinary. The same IPSec in IPv6 is now available for IPv4; it’s up to network providers and end users alike to embrace and use it — so a properly configured IPv4 network can be as secure as an IPv6 network.
Avast SecureLine VPN is currently compatible only with IPv4, but keeps your IP completely hidden with bank-grade encryption to maintain safety and anonymity online.
Additional benefits of IPv6
IPv6 allows for binding a public signature key — one-half of an asymmetric encryption system, the other being the private key — to an IPv6 address. The resulting Cryptographically Generated Address allows the user to demonstrate “proof of ownership” for a particular IPv6 address and validate their identity. It is impossible to retrofit this functionality to IPv4 with the current 32-bit address space constraint.
The new protocol also enables end-to-end connectivity at the IP layer by eliminating the need for Network Address Translation (NAT) — one of the workarounds designed to conserve IPv4 addresses. This transition opens the door for new and valuable services. Peer-to-peer networks are easier to create and maintain, and services such as VoIP and Quality of Service (QoS) become more robust.
Also, IPv6 brings the ability to belong to many networks simultaneously, with a unique address on each network, and the ability to combine multiple enterprise networks without readdressing.
Ultimately: Is IPv6 better? Usually, but not always. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I use IPv6? ” read on before making your decision.
How to disable IPv6 on Windows, Mac, and Linux
Since very few VPN services support IPv6, IPv6 traffic on your physical NIC may leak information about your online activity or your hardware MAC address. For that reason, if your ISP does support IPv6, but you use a VPN like SecureLine VPN, you should disable IPv6 on your system.
The first thing to do is determine if your ISP supports IPv6. Comcast most notably does and makes a lot of noise about it. However, plenty of big-name ISPs do not, such as Spectrum (which you may know as Time Warner or Road Runner). This site will help you determine if your ISP supports it.
If the IPv6 connectivity test says “Not supported, ” then you are OK and your IPv6 address isn’t leaking. Spectrum falls into this category. If the test for IPv6 connectivity says “Supported, ” then you should consider disabling the IPv6 in your operating system.
Instructions for disabling IPv6 are available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Why don’t we switch to IPv6 permanently?
We will, in time. Legacy technologies take a long time to die off, and the switch to a replacement is never as fast as its supporters would prefer. There will be a permanent migration to IPv6, but it will take decades to achieve. The Internet Society reported last year that there are 24 countries in the world where IPv6 totals more than 15% of overall IP traffic, and 49 that have topped the 5% threshold. So migration from IPv4 to IPv6 is progressing very slowly.
How to Protect your IP address
Why protect your IP address? With your location showing, you expose yourself to a variety of security and privacy issues, such as:
Packet sniffing: Hackers can observe your IP traffic to find out sensitive information about you such as your online banking activity.
Surveillance: Your ISP, snoops, and even governments can spy on your web Websites can see your location and discriminate against you based on it. They can block content and even raise prices.
Avast SecureLine VPN hides your IP address and anonymizes your online activity to keep you safe online. Take back your online privacy in just one click.
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IPv6 benefits: Faster connections, richer data | Network World
The benefits of IPv6 over IPv4 are many, but to reap them enterprises need to enable their networks to support the newer protocol, starting with Wi-Fi upgrades.
Mikko Lemola / Getty Images
The business advantages of IPv6 are many, including direct customer access to websites, faster end-user experiences with Internet applications, and the opportunity to gather data about visitors to applications as well as measure visitors’ engagement and conversion. Without NAT, IPv6 is faster than IPv4If your organization offers a public website or internet or mobile applications, then it is likely that your site will function faster when using IPv6 vs IPv4. That’s in part because of the proliferation of network-address translation (NAT) by service providers for IPv4 Internet rriers lack sufficient public IPv4 addresses to provide unique addresses to all of their subscribers so they channel them through a massive NAT using a pool of public IPv4 addresses. IPv4 traffic that hits carrier networks typically goes through one or more NATs and is backhauled through centralized carrier-grade or large-scale NATs where customer connections compete for TCP/UDP port space, connection limits, and bandwidth. All this NATing requires recomputing TCP and UDP header checksums which introduces delays in the delivery of contrast, most mobile and broadband subscribers now have native IPv6 on their devices. The IPv6 packets don’t pass through carrier NAT systems and instead go directly to the Internet. The lack of NAT usage by IPv6 means that TCP and UDP header checksums do not need to be re-computed like with IPv4.
IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference? | HideMyAss Blog
→ IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference?
BlogPost 32098338764 IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference?
The internet is not as modern an invention as we have been led to believe. Indeed, the first ‘internet protocol’ (or IP) was first established in the 1970s. Since then, IP addresses have been what allow computers and devices to communicate with each other over the internet. But there are actually now two versions of this protocol that exist: IPv4 and IPv6.
IPv4 is still the standard protocol for the vast majority of the internet (IPv4) and was first deployed in 1981. But what is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? And why are we still using this same protocol 40 years later? Is it because IPv6 offers no real benefit to everyday users? Or is it simply a case of better the devil you know?
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a digital ‘location’ (that’s the address part) that allows digital devices to communicate. Without a valid IP address, computers simply wouldn’t know how to communicate over the internet because they wouldn’t know where to look.
What an IP address literally is, however, is a string of numbers that are assigned to each device. IPs can either be static or dynamic, with the former being an address that doesn’t change and the latter being an address that is more flexible. If you want to find out your own IP address (which has the potential to be either an IPv4 or IPv6 address), then it’s as simple as clicking on our IP checker. You’ll be told not only your IP address but the color of your pants too (or an educated guess, at least).
So, what is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? IPv4 is a 32-bit numeric address whereas an IPv6 address is 128-bit and hexadecimal. There is a theoretical limit of 4. 3 billion IPv4 addresses available, which we started to run out of in the 1990s, leading to the need for IPv6.
IPv4: The old-timer
Today, almost four decades after it was first introduced, the IPv4 protocol continues to route the vast majority of internet traffic.
Ipv4 was first launched in 1981
It is a 32-bit protocol made up of four numbers ranging from 0 to 255, each separated by a period
You’ve probably seen them thousands of times without even realizing it and typically they look like this – 184. 75. 216. 21
Every website and online device has an IP address
Although that last point is true, in many ways we’ve evolved past them in the last few decades. It used to be the only way people could find their way around the internet (imagining memorizing the IP address of every site you visit), but we now use more memorable web addresses to navigate. This is thanks to the Domain Name Service (DNS), which effectively translates an IP address into a name such as
For decades, IPv4 has been a standard that’s served the internet well, but there is a (relatively) young upstart waiting in the wings ready to seize the throne.
IPv6: The upstart
Whenever a new standard is created in any industry, there is always a transition period – and when one standard has held sway for so long, that period tends to drag on. That’s what has happened with IPv6, which was first introduced around the turn of the 21st century and has spent 20 years playing catch up.
It’s telling that even 20 years ago when the internet was really in its infancy in terms of mainstream adoption, engineers were already looking at ways to push past the limitations of the 32-bit fourth-generation protocol in IPv4.
IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, allowing for a theoretical 340 undecillion addresses (that’s 36 zeros, in case you were wondering)
An IPv6 address is far more complex than IPv4, written hexadecimally and separated by colons, rather than periods
A typical, unabbreviated example of an IPv6 address might look like this — 4003:0ef4:0006:0053:0200:9d1e:0590:8145
Of course, size and variety aren’t the only reasons IPv6 is seen as ‘the future, ’ the security features are also vastly superior. However, currently only around a quarter of the top 1, 000 websites are available over IPv6. The world seems unwilling to move on yet, but in the coming years, it’s going to become more of a necessity than an option.
Why are we switching from IPv4 to IPv6?
When IPv4 was first created in the late 1970s, there were over 4 billion addresses available. That might seem like an incredible number (and it certainly was in the 1980s) but 40 years of exponential internet growth, as well a huge increase in the number of devices hooked up to the internet, later and we’ve almost run out. We’ve actually been running out of addresses since the 1990s — a phenomenon known as IPv4 address exhaustion — and that’s around the time when a new protocol became not only desirable but necessary.
Of course, nothing is stopping people from buying, selling and exchanging their IP addresses but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re down to the crumbs when it comes to new ones. Even the smartest workaround solutions are band-aids on bullet wounds at this point; IPv4 simply cannot support the load any longer and that’s why the new protocol needs to start taking its share. And that’s where the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 comes in.
IPv4 vs. IPv6
The technology behind IPv6 has several tangible and significant benefits. For starters, whereas IPv4 needs to be configured manually or via DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), IPv6 supports autoconfiguration. This means devices can automatically generate an address as soon as they power up as long as they can find an IPv6 router.
IPv6 also supports multicast addressing, which reduces bandwidth by allowing more intensive packets to be sent to multiple destinations at the same time. For media streams (high definition video, particularly) this is a godsend. It’s also possible for IPv6 to connect to several networks simultaneously, too.
340 trillion trillion trillion addresses over 4. 3 billion IPv6 networks provide autoconfiguration capabilities Has untapped potential for triggering innovation and assisting collaboration Supports multicast addressing Can connect to several networks simultaneously
So, while there are similarities between the two, IPv6 is more flexible, more powerful and infinitely more future-proof, but is IPv6 faster and more secure than IPv4?
Which is faster: IPv4 or IPv6?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. There’s a common misconception that, just because it’s the newest protocol, IPv6 is faster than IPv4. Sure, it was built to be faster, but in real-world performance tests the results have not been quite so conclusive. In fact, one security blog ran several tests and found that both protocols delivered very similar speed results and that IPv4 actually beat the younger standard in some instances.
Granted this was back in 2016 and things might have moved on in four years, but it still proves that, because IPv6 is still in its infancy, it doesn’t yet provide enough of a definitive speed boost to warrant an immediate upgrade.
When it comes to IPv4 vs IPv6 speed, IPv6 is thought to be faster because of the lack of network-address translation (NAT). That’s because:
Carriers can’t provide unique IPv4 addresses to all subscribers (because there simply are not enough left to go around)
Instead they channel them through a NAT that uses a pool of public addresses
IPv4 traffic hitting carrier networks ends up going through multiple NATs, which can result in delays
IPv6 packets, meanwhile, can be delivered directly, which means, on paper at least, they are guaranteed to be faster
Of course, that’s not always the case in practice, particularly given the fact that IPv6 has much larger packets to send. However, as IPv6 continues to be tuned and optimized, it’s difficult to see a near future where IPv4 can compete in terms of sheer speed. For now, though, performance improvements are negligible in the vast majority of situations.
Is IPv6 safer than IPv4?
IPv6 was built with integrated safety features that IPv4 doesn’t have. When the IPv4 standard was created, there was very little in the way of cybercrime. Indeed, the term had yet to be coined — much has changed since then and anonymous browsing is now more important than ever. In contrast, IPv6 was built with the IP Security (IPSec) security protocols at its beating heart and although IPSec can be integrated into IPv4, it’s not natively supported. Instead, it’s up to each individual company to do so and most are quite content to continue using SSL.
When it comes to IPv4 vs IPv6 security, IPv6 is safer on a basic level, simply because it’s easier to hide amongst 340 undecillion possible addresses than it is 4. 3 billion. But, as with most things, it’s not quite that simple. During the transition stage between the two protocols, some experts have even stated that IPv6 users are at a security disadvantage due to the use of ‘IPv6 tunnels’ that can be targeted by hackers using packet injection and reflection attacks.
With IPv6 utilizing auto configuration, this also means that devices will be generating addresses using the unique MAC address of their devices, creating unique identifiers that can be tracked and traced by nefarious third parties. Of course, most modern operating systems will already use privacy extensions to mitigate this risk, but they can’t get rid of it entirely. That’s why so many users use either proxy servers, VPN, Tor or a combination of the three to hide their IP addresses.
All in all, the expert consensus seems mixed: IPv6 may well be more secure in the future, but it’s still relatively untested and less reliable while adoption is low. Many VPNs are as-yet incompatible with IPv6 and until those VPN providers start widely adopting IPv6, there will continue to be those who give one answer and those who give another. For now, at least, let’s say both are right.
The HMA VPN has always been at the cutting edge and whilst it isn’t yet compatible with IPv6, it keeps your IP completely hidden with the use of world-leading encryption. HMA also has one eye clearly on the future, so will almost certainly be ready when the standard finally starts to take hold on a wider scale.
So, why not get ahead of the curve and sign up today?
Is IPv4 or IPv6 better for gaming
When it comes to gaming, speed is everything and up until now, IPv4 has been more than capable of keeping gamers satisfied. However, with address depletion mounting by the day and modern games requiring more bandwidth to function, that might not be the case for much longer.
Microsoft officially recommends enabling IPv6 for optimum performance on their Xbox Live gaming service and as it’s a protocol built from the ground up for speed and security, logic would surely dictate that it’s the right route to go down for serious gamers? But Microsoft has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the online gaming world. They were the first company to launch an online console gaming service with Xbox Live, after all. It’s also true today that many Xbox gamers are smart enough to use a VPN as it’s remarkably simple to set up a VPN with your Xbox.
However, it’s up to the individual games and companies behind them whether or not to actually make the most of the advantages of the IPv6 protocol. Many high-profile games, such as World of Warcraft and EVE Online use it, but many more don’t. Whilst Microsoft appears to be sticking its head up above the pulpit on this one and Sony’s PS4 might configure itself with an IPv6 address, most games and apps don’t support transport over the protocol yet. Whether or not that will change with the upcoming PS5 remains to be seen.
Online games use the peer-to-peer model of TCP/IP and must provide provision for authentication, privacy and payments over both fixed and mobile networks. This is certainly possible over IPv6, though, as ever, it’s up to the individuals whether or not the leap is made.
Other IPv6 benefits
Improved routing effectiveness and efficiency, not to mention simplification No need for triangular routing, which means it will work better on mobile devicesMulticasting can allow one packet to be transmitted to multiple destinations at the same time IPv6 simplifies aspects of address configuration, network renumbering and router announcements It’s easy to switch to (as long as you have the requisite technology in place) Because it eliminates the need for NAT, peer-to-peer networks are easier to make and maintain, which also means services become more robust as a result IPv6 can bind a public signature key to your IP address, meaning the user can demonstrate proof of ownership for an address. This is impossible due to the space constraints of IPv4
What you need to use IPv6
IPv6 is not something that we will all be able to use just yet, it’s a protocol that requires the right groundwork in order to function. Only those that can tick the following boxes will be able to set up IPv6. Alternatively, you can head to this IPv6 test site.
1. An ISP that enables IPv6
To connect to the internet using IPv6 your ISP must enable it.
2. A router that supports IPv6
Whilst several modern home routers do support IPv6, it might be disabled by default. Check the manual of your router or contact your ISP for more information.
3. An operating system that supports IPv6
All modern OSs support IPv6, but if you’re using an older OS, such as Windows XP, will not be able to use it.
So, should I use IPv6?
The expert consensus here would appear to be a firm “maybe”. If your setup already matches all of the technical requirements then you could potentially see some performance benefits, but probably not enough to warrant investing in new hardware or changing your ISP.
Again, the answer here will depend on the individual circumstances. Ultimately, the biggest factor holding back IPv6 deployment in the vast majority of cases is cost – both in time and money. Switching to IPv6 is simple as long as you have the requisite tech in place and your service provider allows it. It could be as simple as enabling it on your computer or smart device.
But whether or not you should enable it just because you can is another question entirely and will perhaps depend largely on whether or not you are using a VPN (which you definitely should be, by the way), given the widespread current incompatibility between VPNs and IPv6.
Will IPv4 ever go away?
Legacy technologies often take a while to die off, particularly when they’ve been around for multiple decades. Currently, IPv4 happily coexists with its younger sibling. This is due to various reasons, not least of which is the fact that switching IP addresses is an inherently slow process and it’s not as if the entire internet can be switched in one fell swoop. That’s why, for the time being, it’s more of a gradual process.
For many, the cost of replacing IPv4 equipment is prohibitively expensive, not to mention incredibly disruptive. So, it’s very much a case-by-case situation where some are making the change gradually whilst others are riding the wave and waiting until the issues with IPv6 are completely ironed out until they finally retire their old hardware and take a brave, bold step into the future.
Use a VPN, whatever your protocol
No matter what protocol you’re using, it’s never been more important to utilize a VPN for all your online browsing. An IP address is more than just an address; it’s a digital fingerprint that can store an incredible amount of information about your online activity. A VPN works to essentially disguise that fingerprint by redirecting traffic and encrypting your information.
Without a VPN, it’s remarkably simple for hackers to discover not only your IP location but access your emails and even see which websites you’ve been visiting and when you’ve been visiting them. That’s why a VPN exists; to disguise your online activity from hackers.
Investing in a VPN is an incredibly small price to pay for your privacy and for your peace of mind and is just as relevant whether you’re chilling with the old-timer or busting out the upstart.
It’s not something you can afford to put off any longer and if you try the HMA VPN today, you’ll be able to enjoy a free trial period, enjoying completely anonymous browsing via one of the fastest VPNs on the market completely free of charge. Once you’ve experienced that (not to mention the other VPN benefits, such as being able to access region-free streaming content), you’ll never look back.
Frequently Asked Questions about ipv4 or ipv6 faster
Is IPv6 faster than IPv4?
Without NAT, IPv6 is faster than IPv4 That’s in part because of the proliferation of network-address translation (NAT) by service providers for IPv4 Internet connectivity. … The IPv6 packets don’t pass through carrier NAT systems and instead go directly to the Internet.Jun 10, 2019
Is IPv6 faster than IPv4 for gaming?
When it comes to IPv4 vs IPv6 speed, IPv6 is thought to be faster because of the lack of network-address translation (NAT).Jul 9, 2020
Is it better to use IPv6 or IPv4?
IPv4 provides an addressing capability of approximately 4.3 billion addresses. The Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is more advanced and has better features compared to IPv4. It has the capability to provide an infinite number of addresses.