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what is IPv4 and IPv6 Addressing: Compare

Created by Gautam Sharma in Articles 4 May 2024
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In the vast realm of the internet, where billions of devices communicate and share information every second, there exists an invisible network addressing system that acts as the digital equivalent of our physical addresses. Just as your home has a unique address allowing mail to find its way, every device connected to the internet possesses its own distinct identifier called an "IP address."

In this blog I am going to discuss about IP addressing in detail. 

Now let's talk about it. Most of the internet users did not know that IP addresses serve as the foundation of modern communication, enabling devices to locate and connect with each other across the global web. I think it is very important for any user involved in sending an email, streaming a video, or browsing a website, understanding the basics of IP addresses is essential for anyone embarking on a journey into the world of networking and the internet. Through this blog I am going to discuss about mysteries of IP addresses. I will explore their types, and shed light on their significance in today's digital landscape. 


What is IPv4 and IPv6

In the sprawling expanse of today's cyberspace, the backbone of digital communication lies in the form of IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. You will be thrilled to know these addresses enable devices to connect and interact seamlessly on the internet, much like the postal addresses we use in the physical world. There are two primary versions: IPv4 and IPv6. In this blog, we'll go through the key differences between IPv4 and IPv6, complete with illustrative examples.

IPv4

Did you know, IPv4 is the old, original and most widely used version of the Internet Protocol. It uses a 32-bit addressing scheme, which means it can provide approximately 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. Each IP address is written in a format like "192.168.1.1," where each of the four groups of numbers (separated by dots) ranges from 0 to 255. IPv4 played a crucial role in the early growth of the internet, but the rapid expansion of connected devices has led to a shortage of available IPv4 addresses.

IPv6

As an improvement to IPv4, IPv6 was created to solve some of the latter protocol's drawbacks, most notably the exhaustion of IP address space. With a 128-bit addressing system used by IPv6, there are roughly 340 undecillion distinct IP addresses available, a vastly increased number. The majority of you are aware that an IPv6 address is commonly expressed as an eight-group hexadecimal string, like "2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334." In addition to resolving the address shortage issue, IPv6's enlarged address space also delivers additional benefits, like improved security and easier network administration.


IP Address Classes and Ranges

Initially, IP addresses were classified into five groups, designated by the letters A through E. However, due to the implementation of Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR), which allows for more flexible IP address allocation, the concept of IP address classes is less significant in current networking. Understanding the historical IP address classes, on the other hand, might still provide insights into networking basics.

Class A Addresses:

Range: 0.0.0.0 to 127.255.255.255

Example: 10.0.0.1

Scenario: Class A addresses were typically allocated to large organizations or institutions, such as universities or government agencies, that required a significant number of hosts. For instance, a major university might have been assigned a Class A address range to accommodate its extensive network infrastructure.

Class B Addresses:

Range: 128.0.0.0 to 191.255.255.255

Example: 172.16.0.1

Scenario: Class B addresses were commonly assigned to medium-sized organizations. These organizations needed a moderate number of hosts but didn't require the vast address space of Class A. A regional company with multiple branches might use a Class B address range to connect its various offices.

Class C Addresses:

Range: 192.0.0.0 to 223.255.255.255

Example: 192.168.1.1

Scenario: Class C addresses were suitable for small organizations or home networks. They provided a more limited number of addresses compared to Class A and B but were sufficient for most smaller-scale networking needs. A small business or a household might use a Class C address range to connect computers and devices within their premises.

Class D Addresses:

Range: 224.0.0.0 to 239.255.255.255

Example: 239.1.1.1

Scenario: Class D addresses are reserved for multicast groups, which allow data to be sent to multiple hosts simultaneously. Multicasting is used for streaming multimedia content, video conferencing, and other applications where data needs to be distributed efficiently to a group of receivers.

Class E Addresses:

Range: 240.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255

Example: 255.1.1.1

Scenario: Class E addresses are reserved for experimental or future use and are not typically used in practical networking scenarios.


Subnetting

Subnetting is most important part in networking that is the process of partitioning a larger network into smaller sub-networks, each with its own distinct range of IP addresses.  Consider a scenario where a Class C address, such as 192.168.1.0, needs to be subnetted to meet specific demands. This address can be partitioned into several smaller subnets, each serving a specific number of hosts, by using subnetting techniques. For instance, if we divide 192.168.1.0 into four subnets, we could allocate the following subnets:

● Subnet 1: 192.168.1.0/26 (Accommodates up to 62 hosts)

● Subnet 2: 192.168.1.64/26 (Accommodates up to 62 hosts)

● Subnet 3: 192.168.1.128/26 (Accommodates up to 62 hosts)

● Subnet 4: 192.168.1.192/26 (Accommodates up to 62 hosts)

This subnetting approach allows the efficient utilization of the original Class C address space, as each subnet can now accommodate a specific number of hosts while ensuring more effective IP address management and improved network organization. 


Public vs. Private IP Addresses

Do you know, public and private IP addresses are the fundamental concepts in networking. To understand this let's explore the differences between public and private IP addresses along with scenarios that highlight their significance.

Public IP Addresses

A public IP address is a globally distinctive address that an Internet service provider (ISP) gives to a device. It gives the device an online identification and enables communication with other devices all around the world. Devices that require internet connection, including web servers, email servers, and consumer devices like laptops and smartphones, are given public IP addresses.

Scenario 1: Web Server Hosting

Imagine you're running a small e-commerce business. To make your online store accessible to customers worldwide, you set up a web server that hosts your website. This web server is assigned a public IP address. When customers enter your website's URL, their browsers use DNS (Domain Name System) to translate the domain name into your web server's public IP address. This allows customers to connect to your web server and browse your products.

Private IP Addresses

A private IP address is used within a local network (e.g., a home or business network) to identify devices and enable communication within that network. These addresses are not directly accessible from the internet. Instead, they provide a way for devices to communicate internally, and they help conserve the limited supply of public IP addresses.

Scenario 2: Home Network:

In a home network, you have multiple devices connected to a router, such as computers, smartphones, and smart TVs. Each of these devices is assigned a private IP address, such as 192.168.1.2, 192.168.1.3, and so on. These private IP addresses allow devices to communicate with each other within the home network, share files, and access shared resources like printers.


Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses

Static IP Addresses

A device on a network is given a static IP address, which is a constant, unchanging address. It's usually manually configured by a network administrator and stays the same over time. For devices that require a consistent and permanent address for a certain use, static IP addresses are very helpful.

Scenario 1: Web Server Hosting

Imagine you operate a business and host a website on a dedicated server. To ensure your website is always accessible at the same address, you assign a static IP address to the server. This way, users can reliably reach your website by entering the same IP address or domain name, regardless of when they access it.

Dynamic IP Addresses

A dynamic IP address, on the other hand, is assigned to a device automatically by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server whenever the device connects to the network. Dynamic IP addresses are temporary and can change each time a device reconnects to the network. They are commonly used for devices that do not require a fixed address and are part of a larger network.

Scenario 1: Home Network

In a home network, your devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets often use dynamic IP addresses. When your smartphone connects to your Wi-Fi network, the router's DHCP server assigns an available dynamic IP address to it. If you disconnect and reconnect later, you might receive a different dynamic IP address. This dynamic addressing helps manage IP address allocation within the network.


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Gautam Sharma

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