Differences, advantages and future of the Internet

When it comes to connecting our devices to the internet, IP addresses play an important role. There are two main types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. But what is the difference between the two and why should we deal with it sooner rather than later? Let’s take a closer look at what IPv4 and v6 are and what advantages and disadvantages you can expect with them – IPv4 vs IPv6.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) is the older of the two types of IP addresses and was introduced in 1983 and has been in use since ARPANET at that time. It allows up to 4.3 billion unique IP addresses to be assigned on the World Wide Web, or the public part of the Internet. This may seem like a large number, but with the increasing proliferation of Internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smart home devices, the number of IP addresses that are still available is becoming more and more scarce. However, this is currently less of a threat than you might think. After all, you usually only use one IP address on the public WWW. Your devices themselves are in the private LAN and occupy only one private IP address, such as 192.168.0.xxx. This type of private address can be assigned by any router or DHCP server without further ado. Public addresses are not occupied for this.

IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) is the newer of the two, standardized in 1995 and first introduced in 1998. It allows the assignment of 340 sextillion unique IP addresses. This unimaginably large number is intended to ensure that in the distant future there will be enough IP addresses for all devices and applications on the Internet.

Differences between IPv4 and IPv6

One of the most noticeable differences between versions 4 and 6 is the number of IP addresses available. As mentioned earlier, IPv4 allows for up to 4.3 billion IP addresses to be allocated, while IPv6 allows for 340 sextillion IP addresses to be allocated. Another difference is the length of IP addresses. IPv4 addresses are 32 bits long and are represented as xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. It is still relatively easy to manually enter this address. However, IPv6 takes the cake in terms of length. These addresses are 128 bits long and are represented as xxxx: xxxx: xxxx: xxxx: xxxx: xxxx: xxxx. Not only numbers are possible, but sometimes HEX values ​​are, i.e. all letters from a to f as well as numbers 0 to 9.

Do you prefer IPv4 over IPv6?

Both IPv4 and IPv6 are valid Internet protocols and are currently used equally. However, as the number of available IPv4 addresses becomes scarce, IPv6 is increasingly seen as the future of the Internet, although the transition could take several more years. With both types present simultaneously, the transition is seamless. However, as an end user, you don’t care what protocol you use on WWW.

Although IPv6 is the newer and more secure option for the future, IPv4 is still widely used. Many older devices and networks only support IPv4 and it can be difficult to convert them to IPv6. However, it is important to note that IPv4 addresses are becoming scarce and it may become increasingly difficult to obtain new IPv4 addresses in the future. Therefore, it is recommended to support both IPv4 and 6 and gradually migrate to IPv6. If your provider already provides version 6, you can of course already use the new standard.

IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time on Fritzbox

Many modern routers and networks, such as Fritzbox, support both standards – IPv4 and IPv6. This means that both IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses can be assigned when setting up Fritzbox, so both variants can be used. However, this also means that you have to activate or deactivate the required criteria in the Windows 10 or 11 network settings. If both are active at the same time, then all traffic is via v6.

Advantages and disadvantages

Both protocols present very specific advantages and disadvantages, so even using both standards at the same time is often the most sensible solution. IPv4 has the advantage of being widespread and widely supported, while IPv6 has the advantage of having more addresses available and is generally easier to manage. However, IPv4 has the disadvantage that the number of available addresses is very limited compared to v6, while IPv6 has the disadvantage that it may not be supported by older devices and networks.

Is IPv6 faster than IPv4?

Although IPv6 provides greater functionality and enhanced capabilities, it does not offer an advantage over IPv4 in terms of speed. Rather, it depends on other factors such as the speed of your internet connection and the performance of your internal network. So it turns out that the performance of IPv6 versus IPv4 is pretty much identical. Both protocols are capable of transferring data quickly and in packets. However, the main advantage of IPv6 is its support for more devices and easier address management.

IP switching

One way to convert IPv6 traffic to IPv4 is to use so-called tunneling techniques. An IPv6-over-4 tunnel, or IPv4 to IPv6 tunnel, allows IPv6 packets to travel over an IPv4 network by enclosing v6 data in IPv4 packets. This allows IPv6 endpoints to access IPv4 resources even if the IPv4 network does not have native IPv6 support. There are a number of different tunneling protocols that can be used, such as Teredo, 6to4, or ISATAP. However, one of the drawbacks of tunneling technologies is that they can add overhead, which affects speed and latency.

Convert IPv6 to IPv4

Switching from IPv6 to the older IPv4 protocol, also known as downgrade, may be necessary for a number of reasons. One common reason is that some applications or devices are only compatible with IPv4 and therefore do not work as well as they should on an IPv6 network. Another reason may be that the IPv6 network is not working stably due to errors or problems, and thus you need to temporarily switch back to IPv4. To switch from IPv6 to 4, IPv6 support can be disabled on the router or network device, or special software can be used that allows IPv6 packets to be tunneled into IPv4 packets. However, it should be noted that downgrading to IPv4 is not the optimal long-term solution, as IPv4 addresses will become scarce and may not be sufficiently available in the future.

If you want to use a specific protocol in Windows 10 or 11 or just want to see the current setting, you can easily do so via Network settings.

IPv4 vs IPv6: Access Network Settings
IPv4 vs IPv6: Access Network Settings

Find “Show Network Connections” in the Start menu, click on it and right-click on the network connection currently in use. Select Properties to open another window containing information about your chosen connection.

network connection properties
Open the properties of your network connection

Now you can see the list of enabled protocols. In a standard Windows 11 installation both protocols i.e. v4 and v6 are already enabled at the same time. This does infrequently cause network problems – especially in mixed environments. For example, computers are not shown in the network environment or games open in the local network are not displayed because your game is not running on the same protocol as another computer.

List of Internet Protocols (IPv4 vs. IPv6)
List of Internet Protocols (IPv4 vs. IPv6)

If you want to change this, you can simply select or deselect the desired protocol. In a local network, for example, you won’t be able to take advantage of IPv6. On the contrary, it is an effective way to bypass all firewalls on your computer, especially those of third parties. So it might make sense to disable IPv6 and keep using version 4 on your LAN, since this standard is enough and you don’t have to enter long IP addresses.

Where is the flight headed?

IPv4 vs. IPv6 is an important topic, as Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) has been the primary method for identifying and connecting devices on the ARPANET and today’s Internet, respectively, since its introduction in 1983. However, with the rapid growth of the Internet and the increasing number of devices across the Internet, IPv4 addresses are gradually becoming scarce. To solve this problem, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was created.

IPv6 provides a much larger number of possible addresses, which improves the efficiency and scalability of the Internet. Another important aspect when considering IPv4 vs IPv6 is also security, as IPv6 provides built-in support for security protocols such as IPSec. In general, IPv6 offers a variety of advantages over IPv4, which is why it is important sooner rather than later that enterprises and organizations migrate their networks and devices to IPv6. In any case, connectivity and networking of all devices remains the determining factor for success in the digital world.

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