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What is IP?

Internet Protocol, aka IP, basically is the protocol by which data is sent from one device to another on the Internet. Each device connected to the Internet has one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers. IPs are essential to the infrastructure of the world wide web as without them computers would not be able to communicate between each other.

IPv6 vs IPv4 - How to Detect which IP Protocol I am Using?
IPv6 vs IPv4 – How to Detect which IP Protocol I am Using?

What is IPv4?

IPv4, or Internet Protocol version 4, is the most used Internet Protocol used to identify devices connected to the Internet. Given that the number of IPv4 addresses are limited, a new Internet protocol was needed. Hence, the birth of IPv6.

What is IPv6?

IP stands for Internet Protocol. IP version 6, or IPv6, is the newest IP protocol. Some ISP have begun replacing their clients’ IPv4 addresses with IPv6. At the moment, IPv4 and IPv6 coexist and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

IPv4 VS IPv6

IPv4 is based on a 32-bit address scheme which roughly translates into 4 million IPv4 addresses. An IPv4 address consists of four number which are separated by periods. Each of these 4 numbers can be zero to 255. An example of an IPv4 address would be

IPv6, on the other hand, are hexadecimal i.e. made of numbers 0 to 9 as well as letters A to F. The values of a IPv6 address are separated by a colon and not a period. An IPv6 address would look like the following example 1234:5678:9abc:def0. Given that IPv6 is based on a 128-bit address scheme, there are more than enough IPv6 addresses to meet the ever-growing demand.

Should I Be Concerned About IPv4 and IPv6?

Most computers, smartphones, as well as streaming devices support both IPv4 and IPv6. You Windows PC, Apple Mac, Android, iOS, PS4, or Amazon Fire TV should be able to operate regardless of which Internet Protocol you are using. Given that IPv6 is still relatively young, there are some bugs and security issues that need to be ironed out before it becomes more widely available.

How Can I Switch Between IPv4 and IPv6?

The large majority of Internet Service Providers currently supply their clients with IPv4. Some ISPs have indeed started to provide IPv6 as well. On a Windows PC, for example, you can check or uncheck IPv6 or IPv4 to disable/enable either of them. If your ISP does not support IPv6, there is no way you can manually switch IPv4 to IPv6.

Keep in mind that a lot of software, applications, and operating systems have yet to be updated in order to be compatible with IPv6. That means that these apps and programs will loose access to the Internet if you are solely using IPv6.



  • Darren Chaker

    Thank you for breaking down what an IP is and how the numbers all add up to create one. Great website too by the way, especially given the fact you promote internet security/privacy! Keep up the good work, Darren Chaker

  • Abrham Y. Chen

    This may seem to be after-the-fact. However, with so many twists and hurdles involved in rolling out the IPv6 because it was not designed with the fundamental engineering discipline of being backward compatible with the IPv4, we really should look at the whole subject seriously one more time. Below is the result of a study that we accidentally ventured into. It utilizes nothing more than the original IPv4 protocol RFC791 and the long-reserved yet hardly-utilized 240/4 address block. We have submitted a draft proposal called EzIP (phonetic for Easy IPv4) to IETF:


    Basically, the EzIP approach will not only resolve IPv4 address shortage issues, but also largely mitigate the root cause to cyber security vulnerabilities, plus open up new possibilities for the Internet, all within the confines of the IPv4 domain. In fact, this scheme may be deployed “stealthily” for isolated regions where needed. These should relieve the urgency to deploy the IPv6 for an appreciable length of time.

    Any thought or comment will be much appreciated.

    Abe (2018-07-15 11:40)

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