IPv6 – what does it mean?

June 8th, 2011

You’ve most likely heard over the last few weeks that the Internet will soon be experiencing a big change. The modification you’ve been hearing about is the transition to IPv6, which many people are still unclear about. Read on for an explanation of IPv6 and what it could mean for you.

What it is

IPv6 is a version of IP (Internet Protocol) that has been developed due to the previous version having a limited number of addresses. IP is the method by which data is sent over the Internet. Running out of addresses essentially means that new websites will no longer be able to be created.

IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses as opposed to the 32-bit addresses used by IPv4. The longer number strings allow for more addresses because there are a greater number of possible combinations. 

How the transition may affect you

Most likely, you will experience most of your problems with IPv6, if any, during the initial migration from IPv4. The potential problems will likely depend on the browser you use and the Web server that is hosting the domain you wish to access. Some potential issues include:

  • If you’re using IPv6 and you try to access an IPv4 site, you may receive a “404” error.
  • If you are on a network that only supports IPv4, you may not be able to access IPv6 sites – you can reconfigure your network in order to fix this.

Despite the potential for problems, many people agree that you will likely still be able to view any site if you are using IPv6.

How to avoid IPv6-related problems

Fortunately, if you are concerned about problems you might come across during the transition, there are a few resources designed to help you out. http://omgipv6day.com/ and http://test-ipv6.com/ are two websites that will alert you if you are likely to see any problems due to the IPv6 transition. 

Although the transition to IPv6 may be confusing at first, it likely won’t cause too many major problems. For more insight into the IPv6 change, check out this PCWorld article.


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