IPv4 and IPv6 - the difference between Internet addresses explained in simple terms

In order to identify, assign, address and supply a device with data on the Internet, it needs an IP address. IP stands for "Internet Protocol", the network protocol on which the global network is based. I think that is part of the basic knowledge for most of them. But what fewer people know is what IPv4 and IPv6 are all about. What is the difference in internet addresses? Here is the answer to that question.

IPv4 and IPv6 in comparison - what is the difference between the generations of Internet addresses? Here you get the answer!
IPv4 and IPv6 in comparison - what is the difference between the generations of Internet addresses? Here you get the answer!

That's IPv4

An IP address with the suffix v4 goes back to the "RFC 791" standard from 1981 and its number refers to the exponent of two. 24 is 32 and that brings us to the number of bits of this protocol. An IPv4 address consists of 32 bits and a maximum of 12 digits. These 12 digits are divided into four blocks with numbers from 0 to 255. Here are three examples: 

  • 127.0.0.1 (mostly used as localhost)
  • 85.13.161.12 (Sir Apfelot's IP address)
  • 255.255.255.255 (just one example)

Because the IPv4 is equipped with four blocks, each with 256 different numbers, there are 2564 and 232 Combinations possible. There are 4.294.967.296 combinations written out, which is around 4,3 billion. With half of the world's population that is just enough for one Internet device per person. And that's exactly why there is IPv6.

That's IPv6

The IP address with the suffix v6 goes back to the "RFC 2460" standard from 1998. Here, too, the number can be used for the exponent of 2; because such an IP address consists of 128 bits and offers a total of 32 characters, which are represented in eight blocks of four characters each. In addition to numbers, there are also letters here. Here are three examples:

  • 2001: 0db8: 85a3: 08d3: 1319: 8a2e: 0370: 7344 (written out in full, since all blocks are described)
  • 2001:0db8:0000:08d3:0000:8a2e:0070:7344 (ausgeschrieben, obwohl 0-Blöcke vorhanden sind)
  • 2001: db8: 0: 8d3: 0: 8a2e: 70: 7344 (blocks with zeros can be combined to form 0 and initial zeros, as before the 70, can be removed)

With IPv6 (formerly also called IPng), many more combinations are possible thanks to the 32 characters, which can be letters as well as numbers. A total of 2128 Different addresses are assigned, which is 340.282.366.920.938.463.463.374.607.431.768.211.456, in short: a little more than 340 sextillion. So a bit more than the previous generation of IP addresses;)

IPv4 and IPv6 in comparison - much more information

Now you know where the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 lies for laypeople (including me). However, there is much more background, information and details about the two protocol variants. From the exact application to special addresses to terms such as unicast or multicast ... There is a lot that I could go beyond the scope of at this point. But then I would just copy the following Wikipedia articles: D

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