differences, advantages and the future of the Internet

When it comes to connecting our devices to the Internet, IP addresses play an important role. There are two main types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. But what is the difference between the two and why should we deal with it sooner rather than later? Let’s take a closer look at what IPv4 and v6 are and what advantages and disadvantages you can expect with them – IPv4 vs IPv6.

IPv4 vs IPv6

IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) is the older of the two IP address types and was introduced back in 1983 and has been in use since the ARPANET of the time. It allows for the assignment of up to 4.3 billion unique IP addresses on the World Wide Web or the public part of the Internet. This may sound like a large number, but with the increasing prevalence of internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart home devices, the number of IP addresses still available is decreasing. Still, this is currently less of a threat than you might think. After all, you normally only use a single IP address on the public WWW. Your devices themselves are located in the private LAN and occupy only one private IP, such as This type of private addresses can easily be assigned by any router or DHCP server. Public addresses are not recorded for this purpose.

IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) is the younger of the two types, was standardized in 1995 and first introduced in 1998. It allows the allocation of 340 six billion unique IP addresses. This unimaginable number is intended to ensure that sufficient IP addresses will be available for all devices and applications on the Internet in the distant future.

The differences between IPv4 and IPv6

One of the most obvious differences between versions 4 and 6 is the number of available IP addresses. As previously mentioned, IPv4 allows the allocation of up to 4.3 billion IP addresses, while IPv6 allows the allocation of 340 six billion IP addresses. Another difference is the length of the IP addresses. IPv4 addresses consist of 32 bits and are represented in the form It is still relatively easy to enter such an address manually. However, IPv6 takes the cake in terms of length. These addresses consist of 128 bits and are represented in the form xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:xxxx. Not only digits are possible, but sometimes also HEX values, i.e. all characters from a to f and digits from 0 to 9.

Prefer IPv4 over IPv6?

Both IPv4 and IPv6 are valid Internet protocols and are in use right now. But as the number of available IPv4 addresses becomes scarcer, IPv6 is increasingly seen as the future of the Internet, even if the transition could take several more years. Since both types exist simultaneously, the transition is smooth. As an end user, however, it does not matter to you which protocol you use on the WWW.

Although IPv6 is the newer and more future-proof option, IPv4 is still widely used. Many older devices and networks only support IPv4, and switching them to IPv6 can be difficult. However, it is important to note that IPv4 addresses are becoming scarce and it may become increasingly difficult to obtain new IPv4 addresses in the future. Therefore, it is recommended that you support both IPv4 and 6 and gradually migrate to IPv6. If your provider already delivers v6, you can of course already use the new standard.

IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time on a Fritzbox

Many modern routers and networks, such as the Fritzbox, support both standards – IPv4 and IPv6. This means that both IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses can be assigned when setting up the Fritzbox, and therefore both variants can be used. However, this also means that you have to enable or disable the desired standards in your network settings in Windows 10 or 11. If both are active at the same time, all traffic goes over v6.

Pros and cons

Both protocols offer very specific advantages and disadvantages, so even using both standards at the same time is often the more sensible solution. IPv4 has the advantage of being widespread and widely supported, while IPv6 has the advantage of having more addresses available and is generally easier to manage. However, IPv4 has the disadvantage that the number of available addresses is very limited compared to v6, while IPv6 has the disadvantage that it may not be supported by older devices and networks.

Is IPv6 faster than IPv4?

Although IPv6 offers greater functionality and improved capabilities, it does not offer an advantage over IPv4 in terms of speed. Rather, it depends on other factors such as the speed of your Internet connection and the performance of your internal network. IPv6 vs IPv4 performance therefore turns out to be virtually identical. Both protocols are capable of transferring data quickly and in packets. However, a major advantage of IPv6 is its support for a larger number of devices and easier address management.

Convert internet protocol

One way to convert IPv6 traffic to IPv4 is to use so-called tunneling technologies. An IPv6-over-4 tunnel or IPv4 to IPv6 tunnel allows IPv6 packets to travel through an IPv4 network by embedding the v6 data into IPv4 packets. This allows IPv6 endpoints to access IPv4 resources even if the IPv4 network does not have native IPv6 support. There are a number of different tunneling protocols that can be used, such as Teredo, 6to4 or ISATAP. However, a disadvantage of tunneling technologies is that they can add overhead, which affects speed and latency.

Changes IPv6 to IPv4

Switching from IPv6 to the older IPv4 protocol, also known as a downgrade, may be necessary for a number of reasons. A common reason is that certain applications or devices are only compatible with IPv4 and therefore do not work as desired on an IPv6 network. Another reason could be that the IPv6 network is not running stably due to errors or problems and therefore needs to be temporarily switched back to IPv4. To switch from IPv6 to 4, IPv6 support can be disabled on the router or network device, or special software can be used that allows tunneling of IPv6 packets to IPv4 packets. However, it should be noted that downgrading to IPv4 is not the optimal solution in the long run, as IPv4 addresses are becoming scarce and may not be sufficiently available in the future.

If you want to use a specific protocol in your Windows 10 or 11 or just want to see the current setting, you can easily do this via the network settings.

IPv4 vs.  IPv6: Access network settings
IPv4 vs. IPv6: Access network settings

Search for “Show network connections” in the start menu, click it, then right-click your currently used network connection. Select “Properties” to open another window with information about your selected connection.

Properties of the network connection
Open the properties of your network connection

Now you can see in the list which protocols are activated. In a standard Windows 11 installation, both protocols, ie. v4 and v6 already activated at the same time. This not infrequently leads to problems in the network – especially in mixed environments. For example, computers do not appear in the network environment, or open games in the LAN do not appear because your game does not run on the same protocol as another computer.

List of Internet Protocols (IPv4 vs. IPv6)
List of Internet Protocols (IPv4 vs. IPv6)

If you want to change this, you can simply check or uncheck the desired protocol. In the local network, for example, you will hardly be able to use IPv6. On the contrary, it is an effective way to bypass all firewalls on your computer, especially third-party ones. So it might make sense to disable IPv6 and continue to use v4 on your LAN, as this standard is sufficient and you don’t need to enter long IP addresses.

Where is the trip going?

IPv4 vs IPv6 is an important topic as Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) has been the primary method of identifying and connecting devices on the then ARPANET and today’s Internet respectively since its introduction in 1983. But with the rapid growth of the Internet and the increasing number of devices online, IPv4 addresses are gradually becoming scarce. To solve this problem, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) has been created.

IPv6 offers a much larger number of possible addresses, improving the efficiency and scalability of the Internet. Another important aspect when considering IPv4 vs IPv6 is also security, as IPv6 offers built-in support for security protocols such as IPSec. Overall, IPv6 offers a number of advantages over IPv4, which is why it is important that businesses and organizations migrate their networks and devices to IPv6 sooner rather than later. In any case, communication and networking of all devices remains the decisive factor for success in the digital world.

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