IPv4 versus IPv6: the difference explained

There are many differences between IPv4 and IPv6. Find out what you need to know in our in-depth article.

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IPv4 versus IPv6: the difference explained

With the world increasingly moving online, it's more important than ever to have a firm understanding of how the internet works. In this blog post, we'll be taking a closer look at two different types of address spaces used for internet protocol (IP) addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. We'll cover the basics of each address space and discuss the key differences between them.

What is an IP?

An IP address is a numerical label assigned to every device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. IP addresses are necessary for devices to be able to communicate with each other on a network. There are two main types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6.


IPv4 addresses are 32-bit addresses that are typically expressed in decimal notation. An IPv4 address looks like this: This type of IP address can accommodate 4 billion unique addresses.


IPv6 addresses are 128-bit addresses that are expressed in hexadecimal notation. An IPv6 address looks like this: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. This type of IP address can accommodate 3.4 x 10^38 unique addresses—that’s a lot!

IPv4 depletion

So IPv4 is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the standard that defines how computers connect to each other. IPv4 was released in 1981, and it's been the primary protocol for internet traffic ever since. However, IPv4 has a limited supply of addresses, and the IPv4 address shortage is a looming problem for the internet. IPv6 was released in 1998 as a replacement for IPv4, but it hasn't been widely adopted. As a result, a heated IPv4 market has emerged, reflecting the high demand and limited offers. This IPv4 address shortage could have a major impact on your business’ ambitions, so it's important to be aware of the issue.

The difference between IPv4 and Ipv6

The main difference between IPv4 and IPv6 address space is the number of available IP addresses. With the world's population continuing to grow and more devices connecting to the internet every day—as a consequence of e.g. IoT-trends—we will eventually need to start using IPv6 addresses in order to avoid running out of IP addresses entirely. Additionally, IPv6 addresses are not backward-compatible with IPv4—which means that devices with IPv6 address cannot communicate with devices using IPv4 (and vice versa). So far, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 has been gradual; most devices still use IPv4 addresses today but support for both is becoming more common as we move forward into the future.

The benefits of using IPv4 addresses

One benefit of using IPv4 addresses is that they are compatible with all current hardware and software applications. Additionally, most internet service providers (ISPs) still use IPv4 because it is the most widely adopted standard. For these reasons, many businesses choose to stick with using IPv4 over upgrading to IPv6, even though they lose out on some of the benefits associated with using IPv6 addressing system.

The benefits of using IPv6 addresses

One benefit of using an IPv6 address is that it allows for a much larger number of unique addresses than an IPv4 address—3.4 x 10^38 to be exact! This is beneficial because as more devices are connected to the internet, the need for additional unique IP addresses continues to increase at a rapid pace. Additionally, while an IPv4 address is 32 bits long, an IPv6 address is 128 bits long. This longer length allows for greater security when compared to an IPv4 address because there are more combinations that can be used—making it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to find your, and gain access to your network without permission.

IPv4 vs IPv6 usage

Deciding whether to use an IPv4 or an IPv6 addressing system ultimately comes down to compatibility and security concerns. If you have older hardware or software applications, you will want to stick with using an IPv4 addressing system because it is compatible with everything. However, if you are looking for greater security, want to be ready for the future or need more unique IP addresses, then you should consider using an IPv6 addressing system instead.

IPv4 and IPv6 market

Prefix Broker specializes in navigating the IPv4 market as well as registering for IPv6 address space. Whether you want to buy IPv4 address space or looking to sell IPv4 addresses, Prefix Broker is your trusted partner in dealing with rules and regulations concerning the transfer. We provide a simple, straightforward platform for buying and selling IPv4 addresses and managing IPv6 address space.

Reach out to our committed team and tell us what you need. Contact us via sales@prefixbroker.com or +31 85 902 0417.

Andrew Rogers

IPv4 Broker

“I coordinate with both seller and buyer in order to find the best deal using my in-depth knowledge of the market. The end-to-end support for our partners is what excites me about my role as an IPv4 Broker. Whether it's advising them on their assets and discussing the transaction process or securing a buyer (or seller) and providing all necessary details to initiate the transfer request at the RIR.”

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Andrew Rogers

IPv4 Broker
Why use Prefix Broker?

Buying IPv4 addresses can be complicated and risky. Work with a knowledgeable, experienced broker who can guide you through the process start to finish. Prefix Broker has over a decade of experience in coordinating IPv4 address transactions. We ensure that transfers proceed in a fast and secure manner.

Relax while we handle the details
  • Research the supplying party to confirm they own right-to-use.
  • Check for any other limitations on the use of the IP addresses.
  • Negotiate agreement on price, timing, governing law and currency.
  • Assist in obtaining approval for the transfer by the RIR.

Contact us to discuss an IPv4 purchase today!

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