The whole web is shifting to IPv6 and the world is going through this transformation. We are shifting to IPv6 as Internet usage and connected devices are growing by the day, which means we need more IP addresses. It's time we move to IPv6, which has been in development for over a decade now. Most of us don’t even know what it exactly means, but there are a ton of myths. We’re here to demystify them and make things a little clearer for you.
What is this IPv4 and IPv6 business?
For those who don’t know what this whole IPv4 - IPv6 mumbo jumbo is, they are protocols or standards for networking. Every device that’s connected to the Internet is assigned an IP address. Unfortunately, there are a set number of IPs that a particular standard supports. In the case of IPv4, there are some four billion IP addresses, but then, there are just so many of us and we have so many devices, including smartphones, notebooks, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and so on that eventually we're going to run out of IP addresses. IPv6 is now a new networking protocol that allows some 340 trillion trillion trillion IP addresses, which can be assigned to devices. That’s enough for a really, really long time to come. As for IPv4, we’re almost running out of IP addresses and we won’t have enough till the end of this year. Let’s move on to the myths that companies and people are spreading and see what the truth really is.
We will be out of IPv4 addresses soon...
Myth: IPv4 is fine, no need for IPv6
Truth: With the increasing number of mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets being connected to the Internet, IPv4 has almost exhausted its IP addresses. There will be a point soon when there won't be any IP address to assign. So, we have to shift to IPv6 for further IP addresses. IPv4 had its limitations due to 32-bit address, but IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and allows 2^128 addressess, compared to 2^32 by IPv4.
Myth: IPv6 sites can't be accessed from IPv4
Truth: The move from IPv4 to IPv6 is slow and it’s something that won’t take place overnight. This is a move that’s likely going to take years. Some services on the web switched over to IPv6 on the World IPv6 day, on the 6th of June 2012. These sites made up for a minute fraction of the entire landscape called Internet. All these sites will continue to operate on both, IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. Most of the hardware being used for IT and Internet infrastructure support some kind of tunneling facilities that let IPv4 pass over to IPv6, so there’s absolutely no chance of not being able to access IPv6 sites.
Myth: IPv6 means faster Internet
Truth: As much as we’d like the Internet to be faster, IPv6 isn’t going to change the way the Internet works. All of the information on the web is connected using the same hardware, with the same cables and with the same kind of servers, so you’re not going to see any kind of speed boost with IPv6.
For all practical reasons, the only change you’ll find is with the IP address. An IPv4 address used four sets of numbers, but in the case of IPv6, you’ll have six sets of numbers. Almost all of the time, you won’t even have to bother setting these IP addresses yourself - it’s done automatically, everytime you start your PC or connect to the Internet.
Myth: The Internet will be different with IPv6
Truth: Some people are under the impression that the internet is going to change and it’s a whole new Internet, but it’s not. All the sites will remain as they are, in the same form. You won’t need to change hardware or switch to a different web browser to access IPv6 sites.
Myth: IPv6 hardware is expensive, everyone has to upgrade now
Truth: IPv6 might be going into service now, that too slowly and in phases, but the fact remains that it has been an impending change. IPv6 as a technology was tried and tested back in the late 90s. Since then, there have been several hardware and software development cycles that have ensured that IPv6 is integrated into them. For example, IPv6 support has been added to Windows XP’s service pack. You only need to be concerned, if you’re using Windows 2000, Windows 98 or anything older and if you absolutely need to be on IPv6.
The Internet won't be different...
So, basically you don't need to worry or hurry with the IPv6 shift, yet. You won't notice any visible impact, whatsoever and most of the changes would be made on your ISP end.