IPV4 vs IPV6: Difference Between IPV4 and IPV6

What Is an IP Address?

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a numerical identification assigned to each device connected to a computer network that communicates using the IP protocol. An IP address performs its role as a unique identification on a network for any single device. An IP address is also known as an IP number or an Internet address.

The technical format of the addressing and packet mechanism is specified by the IP address. The majority of networks use IP in conjunction with TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). It also enables the creation of a virtual link between a destination and a source.

IP addresses are commonly written in dotted-decimal format, with four sets of integers separated by periods (for example, Each set can have a value between 0 and 255. IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) or IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) addresses are available. IPv4 is the earlier and more extensively used form, whereas IPv6 was created to address the expiration of available IPv4 addresses as the number of devices connected to the internet increased.

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Versions of IP Address

Due to the rapidly growing demand for IP addresses for network devices, the original IP version- IPv4 (IP address version type 4), was not able to meet the needs of users, so IPv6 (IP address version type 6) addresses were established to overcome the situation of IP address unavailability.

IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4):

  • IPv4 is the original and most extensively used IP address format.
  • It used a 32-bit address format, with four sets of numbers ranging from 0 to 255 separated by periods.
  • IPv4 addresses provide around 4.3 billion unique addresses, which may appear to be a large quantity, but due to the internet’s fast growth and the increasing number of connected devices, IPv4 addresses have become limited.

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6):

  • IPv6 was introduced to solve the limited availability of IPv4 addresses.
  • It employs a 128-bit address format consisting of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons.
  • IPv6 delivers an immense amount of unique addresses, roughly 340 undecillion, ensuring that addresses are available for a virtually infinite number of devices.

Wondering what is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? In order to navigate contrasting distinctions between these two versions, let’s take a look at the various IPv4 and IPv6 differences across diverse aspects.

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IPv4 vs IPv6

IPv4 and IPv6 are two Internet Protocol (IP) versions that are critical in identifying and connecting with devices on computer networks. While all versions fulfil the same basic function, IPv4 vs IPv6 difference greatly varies in several ways, including address length, security measures, and routing efficiency.

Compare IPv4 and IPv6

Ipv4 Ipv6
Address length It has a 32-bit address format, resulting in approximately 4.3 billion distinct addresses. It has a 128-bit address format and provides roughly 340 undecillion distinct addresses.
Address Configuration Settings Manual configuration or DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is usually required to assign addresses to devices. It supports both stateless (SLAAC – Stateless Address Autoconfiguration) and stateful (DHCPv6) address configuration. 
Address Fields IPv4 addresses are in decimal format (for example, and are made up of four octets (eight bits each). IPv6 addresses are in hexadecimal format (for example, 2001:0dk8:88a3:0000:0000:8a3e:0380:7344), with eight groups of four hexadecimal digits.
Address Encryption and Authentication Does not contain encryption or authentication features by default. For security, other protocols (such as IPSec) can be used. Includes built-in IPSec capability, which provides encryption, authentication, and data security services.
Address Routing Performance Routing tables can grow in size and complexity, reducing routing efficiency. IPv6 routing is generally more efficient due to its hierarchical addressing structure and more efficient routing protocols.
Address Security Function Security features such as IPSec are optional and frequently necessitate additional configuration. IPSec is a protocol suite that provides a better level of security for network communications.
IP Classes Classful addressing is used, with IP addresses divided into five classes (A, B, C, D, and E) with fixed-size allocations. Classless addressing is used, which eliminates the concept of preset classes and enables efficient address allocation and aggregation.
Address Integrity There are no built-in measures to ensure address integrity. Address integrity is improved via auto-configuration, neighbour discovery, and duplicate address detection techniques.


In conclusion, knowing the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 is crucial for navigating the complexities of modern computer networking. While IPv4 has long served as the internet’s backbone, the advent of IPv6 has resulted in considerable improvements, particularly in terms of addressing capacity, security features, and routing efficiency. As the internet grows and more devices connect, the move to IPv6 becomes increasingly important to ensure the global network’s continuing seamless operation. We can pave the road for a more secure, scalable, and sustainable future of internet communication by embracing IPv6 capabilities. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is IPv4, and why is it widely used in networking?

Since its standardisation in 1981, IPv4 has been one of the primary protocols for Internet communication. It was widely embraced early on, owing to its ease of use, interoperability, and ubiquity.

Can you explain the key limitations of IPv4 that led to the development of IPv6?

The following are the primary limitations of IPv4 that have led to the development of IPv6: limited address space, NAT complexity, security problems, hierarchical routing, and manual configuration. With a bigger address space, built-in IPSec, efficient routing, and auto-configuration, IPv6 overcomes these concerns.

What are the main advantages of IPv6 over IPv4?

IPv6 has the following advantages over IPv4: Greater address space. The header structure has been simplified for more efficiency. Routing and aggregation that is efficient. IPSec support is built-in for added security. And Auto-configuration (SLAAC) for simpler installation.

How do IPv4 and IPv6 differ in terms of address format?

IPv4: a 32-bit decimal address (for example, IPv6: 128-bit hexadecimal address (for example, 2011:0dk8:85a4::8a2e:0380:7374). IPv4 addresses are shorter, whereas IPv6 addresses are longer and provide a much broader address space.

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