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IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol which is a unique number assigned to each device. A device can be either computer or printer or laptop which is a part of computer network and uses Internet for communication. IP addresses have two parts: Host address (also known as network address) and the location address. The name indicates what the computer seeks, and the address indicates the location. There is also a route defined which indicate how to reach to the location.

IP address has been defined as 32 bit number and it is known as Internet Protocol Version 4 (also known as IPv4). As the growth of Internet use kept on increasing, the number of IPv4 addresses kept on reducing, and hence a new version was introduced. This new version is called IPv6 or Internet Protocol version 6 which has 128 bits for the address. It was developed in the year 1995 but its deployment is still under progress.

Internet protocol is a technical format of data packets which are addressed in such a way that computers can communicate on a particular network. The networks help in combining the Internet Protocol with the high level protocol which is called TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP makes a virtual connection between a destination and the source. It can be compared with the postal system.

There are two versions launched till date for IP addresses. They are IPv4 and IPv6. IPv6 is a new version and is a revolutionary upgrade for the IPv4 version.

IPv4 or Internet Protocol version 4: It is the fourth version of Internet Protocol and it is used to differentiate devices which are present on the network. This unique address is provided for communication purpose. Through IP address, packet switched communication networks can be established. It is the most widely used protocol to connect electronic devices to the internet. It uses 32 bit address which allows 2 to the power of 32 addresses (the value is more than 4 billion addresses). But as the usage of Internet is growing, the number of IPv4 address will keep on increasing, and the count of unused addresses will keep on reducing. As the number of computers, smart phones, game consoles etc. is getting increased, the number of IPv4 address getting used is also increasing. Hence there is a need of a new version of Internet protocol with a new set of addresses.

IPv6 or Internet Protocol version 6: This is a successor of Internet Protocol Version 4. It was developed as the internet usage got increased. It is also known as next generation internet standard and is under development till date. It has a 128 bit address which is a hexadecimal address and is separated by colons. IPv6 has many advantages, they are:

- No more NAT (Network Address Translation)

- Auto-configuration

- No more private address collisions

- Better multicast routing

- Simpler header format

- Simplified, more efficient routing

- True quality of service (QoS), also called flow labeling

- Built-in authentication and privacy support

- Flexible options and extensions

- Easier administration (say good-bye to DHCP).

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