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.
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 188.8.131.52.
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.