Do you know IPv6? Do you know its particularities and differences with IPv4? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to understand a little more about this internet protocol.
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the latest version of the Internet protocol. It was developed to solve some of the limitations of IPv4, which is the previous and most widely used version.
However, the main difference between them is the size of the IP address. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses, allowing for around 4 billion unique addresses. On the other hand, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, which allows the creation of a much larger number of IP addresses, in the order of 3.4 x 10^38.
When was IPv6 born?
IPv6 was officially launched in 1998, after years of development and testing. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), responsible for standardizing Internet protocols, began working on its specification in the mid-1990s. The search was on for a way to replace IPv4, which was already showing signs of limitations in terms of addressing capacity.
IPv6 was developed to meet the demands of a constantly growing Internet, with an ever-increasing number of connected devices. Since then, its adoption has been gradual but constant. Soon, many companies and organizations began upgrading their networks to support the new protocol.
How does it work?
IPv6 works in a similar way to IPv4, but with some differences. While IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses, version 6 uses 128-bit addresses. This allows a much larger number of IP addresses to be created. In addition, IPv6 introduces some additional features, such as encryption of data packets and support for quality of service (QoS), allowing data traffic to be prioritized based on the needs of specific applications.
Imagine you live in a neighborhood where all the houses have address numbers limited to two digits. In this case, there can only be 99 houses in the neighborhood. As the population grows and more people want to move into the neighborhood, there will soon come a point when there are no more numbers available for new homes.
Now suppose the authorities decide to adopt a new addressing system in which each house can have a three-digit address number. With this new system, the neighborhood will be able to accommodate a much larger number of homes, up to 999.
Thus, this change to the three-digit addressing system is similar to the adoption of IPv6. IPv4, which is the currently widely used addressing system, has a limited address space, with approximately 4.3 billion addresses available. As more devices are being connected to the internet, such as smartphones, tablets, smart appliances, connected cars, among others, the IPv4 address space is running out.
Differences with IPv4
Let’s say you’re setting up a home network and want to connect various devices to the Internet, such as computers, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. If you are using IPv4, you will have a limited number of IP addresses available to assign to these devices. This is because IPv4 uses a 32-bit address format, which means that there are only around 4.3 billion unique IP addresses available.
On the other hand, if you’re using IPv6, you’ll have a much larger number of IP addresses. IPv6 uses a 128-bit address format, which results in a colossal number of possible IP addresses – approximately 340 undecillion (3.4 x 10^38) IP addresses. This allows you to assign a unique IP address to each device connected to your network, even if you have numerous devices.
One of the main differences between IPv4 and IPv6 is the way addresses are written. While IPv4 uses a format of four octets separated by periods (for example, 192.168.1.1), IPv6 uses a format of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons (for example, 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334).
Another important difference is that IPv6 helps prevent the use of NAT (Network Address Translation), a technique widely used in IPv4 to allow devices on the internal network to share a single public IP address. Instead, IPv6 provides a unique IP address for each device, which facilitates identification and performance. In other words, it’s an improved version that we’re using more and more.
What are the advantages of IPv6 over IPv4?
Now that the meaning of IPv6 and its differences from IPv4 are clearer, it’s time to list the three main advantages of the latest version. Check it out:
- Greater addressing capacity. With a much larger number of IP addresses available, IPv6 allows for the creation of larger and more complex networks. This is especially important with the increase in the number of IoT devices, which require unique IP addresses to connect to the network.
- Better security. It has built-in security features, such as data packet encryption, which help protect information transmitted over the network. This is especially important in corporate and government networks, where information security is essential.
- Native support for mobile devices. IPv6 was designed to provide efficient connectivity for mobile devices, which require advanced network features such as mobility and temporary IP addresses. With IPv6, mobile devices can easily connect to the network and exchange information.
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