IPv4 vs IPv6 — What’s The Difference Between the Two Protocols?

ipv4 vs ipv6

Confused by the difference between IPv4 vs IPv6?

IP, an abbreviation for Internet Protocol, is a protocol that helps computers/devices communicate with one another over a network. As the “v” in the name suggests, there are different versions of Internet Protocol: IPv4 and IPv6.

In this post, we’ll dig into everything that you need to know to understand the difference between IPv4 and IPv6. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is the Internet Protocol (IP)?

Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of rules that help with routing packets of data so that the data can move across networks and make it to the right destination.

When a computer tries to send information, it gets broken down into smaller chunks, called packets. In order to make sure these packets all make it to the right spot, each packet includes IP information.

The other part of the puzzle is that every device or domain on the Internet is assigned an IP address that uniquely identifies it from other devices.

This includes your own computer, which you’ve probably encountered before. If you go to one of the many “What’s My IP Address?” tools, they’ll show you your computer’s IP address and a rough guesstimate of your location (which should be accurate unless you’re using a VPN).

The IP address that you’re most familiar with probably looks something like this:


By assigning each device with an IP address, networks are able to effectively route all these packets of data around and make sure they make it to the right spot.

What Is IPv4?

Despite the “4” in the name, IPv4 is actually the first version of IP to be used. It was launched all the way back in 1983 and, even today, it’s still the most well-known version to identify devices on a network.

The IPv4 uses a 32-bit address, which is the format that you’re probably most familiar with when discussing an “IP address”. This 32-bit address space provides almost 4.3 billion unique addresses, though some IP blocks are reserved for special uses.

Here’s an example of an IPv4 address:


What Is IPv6?

The IPv6 is a newer version of IP that uses a 128-bit address format and includes both numbers and letters. Here’s an example of an IPv6 address:


Why Did We Need a New Version of IP?

At this point, you might be wondering why IPv6 even exists.

Well, while the 4.3 billion potential IP addresses in IPv4 might seem like a lot, we need a lot more IP addresses!

There are a lot of people in the world with a lot of devices. This is an even larger issue with the rise of IoT devices (Internet of Things) and sensors, as these greatly expand the pool of connected devices.

Put simply, the world was running out of unique IPv4 addresses, which is the biggest reason why we needed IPv6.

There are also some



This article was written by Matteo Duò and originally published on Blog – Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.

Scroll to Top