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IPv4 vs IPv6

IPv4 vs IPv6: Decoding the Difference

In the constantly changing realm of internet technology, it's crucial to comprehend the basic distinctions between IPv4 and IPv6. This understanding not only allows you to grasp how the internet functions but also assists in making informed choices regarding network setups. Let's explore the nuances of these two Internet Protocol versions and unravel the disparities between IPv4 and IPv6.

What is IPv4 and IPv6?

What is IPv4?

IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) is the fourth iteration of the Internet Protocol and the first widely used version. Introduced in the 1980s, IPv4 uses a 32-bit address format, creating a numeric address that looks something like This addressing system supports around 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. Given the exponential growth of internet devices, the limitation in address space quickly became a significant concern.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6), on the other hand, is the successor designed to overcome the limitations of IPv4. IPv6 uses a 128-bit address format, producing a vastly larger address space. An IPv6 address looks something like 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. This alphanumeric address format allows for an almost inexhaustible number of unique addresses, thus accommodating the continuous expansion of connected devices.

Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6

IPv4 and IPv6 differences

Address Space

One of the most critical differences between IPv4 and IPv6 lies in their address spaces. IPv4’s 32-bit address format allows for about 4.3 billion unique addresses. In contrast, IPv6’s 128-bit addressing system supports approximately 340 undecillion addresses. This expansion is crucial for the future growth of internet-connected devices.

Address Format

IPv4 addresses are written in decimal format, divided into four octets separated by periods (e.g., IPv6 addresses use hexadecimal format, divided into eight groups of four characters, separated by colons (e.g., 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334). This change in format is essential for accommodating the larger address space in IPv6.

Network Configuration

IPv4 requires manual or DHCP configuration for network devices, whereas IPv6 supports auto-configuration capabilities. This self-configuring feature makes IPv6 networks easier to manage and more efficient, reducing the need for manual intervention.

Security Features

IPv6 was designed with security in mind. It natively supports IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), a suite of protocols for securing internet communications by authenticating and encrypting each IP packet in a communication session. While IPv4 can also use IPsec, it’s an optional feature and not natively supported.

Performance and Speed

A common question is, "Is IPv6 faster than IPv4?" Theoretically, IPv6 can be faster because of its simplified packet header and improved routing efficiency. However, real-world performance differences may be minimal and depend more on network infrastructure and configuration than on the IP version itself.

IPv4 vs IPv6 Example

Example of IPv4 and IPv6

To explain the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 with a real-world example, let's consider this scenario:

Imagine a small company that operates on an IPv4 network. In this setup, the network administrator manually assigns IP addresses to each device or uses a DHCP server for automation. Devices are given addresses like, and so forth. As the company expands and needs more IP addresses, it may run out of available addresses quickly.

By switching to IPv6, the network can support a large number of devices without running into address exhaustion problems. Devices can assign their own IP addresses automatically, usually in the format 2001;0db8;85a3;;8a2e;0370;7334. This approach not only simplifies network management but also ensures readiness for potential future growth.

What About IPv4 Proxies and IPv6 Proxies?

Amount of IPv4 and IPv6 IPs

IPv4 Proxies

An IPv4 proxy uses IPv4 addresses to mask a user's original IP address. These proxies are widely used due to the extensive adoption of IPv4. However, as the available IPv4 address pool diminishes, finding IPv4 proxies can become more challenging and potentially more expensive.

IPv6 Proxies

IPv6 proxies operate similarly but use IPv6 addresses. Given the vast address space of IPv6, these proxies are more abundant and can offer better performance and reliability. For users and businesses transitioning to IPv6, utilizing IPv6 proxies can be advantageous, ensuring compatibility with the latest internet technologies.

Should I Use IPv4 or IPv6?

Deciding whether to use IPv4 or IPv6 depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Here are a few considerations:

Network Size and Growth

If you expect significant growth in the number of connected devices, IPv6 is the way to go. Its vast address space ensures you won’t run out of IP addresses. With IPv4, the limitation of 4.3 billion unique addresses can quickly become a bottleneck, especially in environments with numerous devices or IoT implementations. The IPv6 protocol, designed with future expansion in mind, can handle an almost infinite number of devices, making it ideal for growing networks. This is particularly crucial for large enterprises, data centers, and service providers who anticipate rapid scaling.

Moreover, the ability of IPv6 to support auto-configuration makes it easier to manage large networks. Devices can automatically generate their own IP addresses and communicate with each other without the need for manual configuration or reliance on DHCP servers. This not only simplifies network administration but also reduces the risk of address conflicts and configuration errors. For businesses planning to expand their network infrastructure significantly, adopting IPv6 early can provide a seamless and efficient growth path, avoiding the headaches associated with the limited address space of IPv4.


IPv6 was created with contemporary security issues in consideration, integrating IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) as a key element of the protocol. IPsec offers encryption and authentication from end to end at the IP level, enhancing security by default during communications. In contrast, IPsec is an optional feature in IPv4, requiring manual setup and integration as it is not inherently embedded in the protocol. The inherent security measure in IPv6 guarantees a stronger basic level of security for all devices within an IPv6 network, which is especially advantageous for sensitive and crucial functions.

Furthermore, the expanded address space provided by IPv6 not only accommodates a greater number of devices but also poses challenges for scanning and infiltrating networks. The limited address space in IPv4 makes it simpler for cyber attackers to pinpoint and target active devices for potential threats. In contrast, IPv6's extensive address range complicates such scanning efforts and prolongs the time required, ultimately minimizing the vulnerability to attacks. This strengthened security aspect when paired with IPsec, positions IPv6 as a more resilient and secure choice for contemporary network setups, particularly those managing sensitive information and necessitating stringent security protocols.


In terms of speed, a common question is whether IPv6 is quicker than IPv4. Theoretically, IPv6 may provide improved performance thanks to various design enhancements. IPv6 simplifies the packet header, lightening the processing burden on routers and other network equipment. This simpler header could lead to more effective packet handling, potentially resulting in speedier data transmission. Additionally, IPv6 does away with the need for Network Address Translation (NAT), which is necessary in IPv4 to expand the limited address space. By avoiding NAT, IPv6 reduces the delays and complications associated with converting private addresses to public ones, potentially boosting overall network performance.

Nevertheless, the speed disparity between IPv4 and IPv6, in practical terms, may not be as significant. Several factors other than the IP version itself impact network performance, such as the state of the network infrastructure, the effectiveness of routing protocols, and the overall setup of network devices. The adoption of IPv6 may not necessarily lead to noticeable speed enhancements in many instances unless the underlying network infrastructure is properly fine-tuned. Therefore, although IPv6 holds promise for improved performance, the actual speed benefits largely hinge on the unique characteristics of the network environment and how well it is adapted to leverage the features of IPv6.

Understanding the variance between IPv4 and IPv6 is crucial for individuals involved in network management or planning. While IPv4 has been a reliable component of the internet for many years, its limitations are becoming more evident with the increasing number of internet connected devices. On the other hand, IPv6, equipped with a vast address space and contemporary features, is well equipped to cater to the future requirements of the internet.

Whether you're contemplating whether to opt for IPv4 or IPv6 or simply curious about how IPv4 addresses differ from those of IPv6, this guide aims to provide essential clarifications. It is inevitable that as we progress, the prevalence of IPv6 will rise significantly, offering improved capabilities and performance for the expanding network of interconnected devices.

For network administrators, incorporating considerations like using IPv6 proxies and comprehending IP addressing intricacies will be pivotal in ensuring smooth and secure operations. While transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6 may appear challenging, it signifies an essential progression needed to uphold and enhance the global internet infrastructure for years to come.

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Matas has strong background knowledge of information technology and services, computer and network security. Matas areas of expertise include cybersecurity and related fields, growth, digital, performance, and content marketing, as well as hands-on experience in both the B2B and B2C markets.


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Should I use IPv4 or IPv6?

It depends on your use cases, but considering the fact that IPv6 is a newer version of IP, it would be better to use IPv6.

Does IPv6 make internet faster?

In theory, IPv6 could give a boost to your internet performance and speed.

Why do we need IPv6?

IPv6 is mostly needed because of its nearly unlimited amount of IP addresses. Whereas IPv4 has a limited number of IP addresses that could be assigned, IPv6 and its address format allow for an almost unlimited number.

What is IPv6 used for?

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