As you begin looking into data networks and IP telephone systems, you will inevitably see the terms IPv4 and IPv6 thrown around as though everyone knows exactly what they mean. Although it may come as a surprise to many techies, conversations about the exciting innovations in the enthralling world of IP addresses are not likely to happen around the average office water cooler.
However, given the fact that a proper understanding of the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is absolutely crucial, let us get a better understanding of these technologies and how they can work for you.
At their core, IPv4 and IPv6 are merely ways to format information such that it can properly get from one computer to another. This functions on IP addresses, which are a series of unique characters that distinguishes each computer.
The IPv4 Problem
The problem is that the IPv4 method, which has been used since the 1970's, operates by placing these addresses in a 32-bit format. This means that each address is composed of 4 numbers, each ranging between 0 and 250. Consequently, this method can only provide approximately 4.3 billion unique IP's. And given the fact that we already have more than 4.3 billion computers which need addresses, we needed to find a solution.
This new way of creating IP addresses incorporates two important innovations. First, it is 128-bit, which means that each IP is composed of five unique four digit numbers. This alone dramatically increases the amount of addresses that can be produced. However, IPv6 also employs what is known as Hexadecimal lettering, which means that each digit can be either 0-9 or A-F. So each of the five numbers is composed of both numbers and letters.
Combining these two factors, the IPv6 format can produce approximately 340 undecillion IPs. That's 34 followed by thirty-seven zeros!
For this reason, every device is slowly shifting from IPv4 and IPv6. And before we know it, IPv4 will be a thing of the past.
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