There are two types of IP address protocols in use around the world: IPv4 (IP4) and IPv6 (IP6).
IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) was introduced in 1981, way before the huge growth of internet-connected devices. It uses a 32-bit address structure, which supports approximately 4.3 billion IP addresses.
Each IPv4 address is unique and will usually look like this:
192.0.2.235. The IP address is separated into four fields of digits, with each field representing a ‘byte.’
IPv4 is still the most-used Internet Protocol (78-80% penetration), however IP4 addresses are running out quickly. There just aren’t enough IPv4 addresses for every internet user.
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) was first introduced in 1995 to solve the supply problem of IPv4 addresses.
Differently to IPv4, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, which gives IPv6 a capacity of up to 340 undecillion IP addresses!
Here is an example of what an IPv6 address looks like:
IPv6 addresses aren’t as widespread as IPv4, but if you’ve been assigned one then you should experience faster, safer and more reliable internet data transfers.
According to a Google study, global IPv6 adoption currently sits between 20% and 22%. However, in the US IPv6 penetration is over 30%.
Be aware that a device using an IPv4 address can’t communicate with another device (or server) using IPv6.
If you’re on an IPv6-enabled network and you use a VPN that does not support IPv6, your personal IPv6 address may also leak.