A Guide to IPv6 for the Everyday Internet User

Every device that has access to the Internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) address. This is used to identify each device that accesses the World Wide Web.  An internet-ready computer needs an IP address to work, so having enough spaces available is vital. The IP address tells a website where to send information, and this allows the website to load on your computer.

The current IP address standard is known as IPv4, but a new ‘version 6’ standard has now been released. There are several reasons for this development; and as a user you may have to do a few things to keep up with this. Computer companies have made this as painless as possible, however, and you shouldn’t have to do much to prepare.

The following information has been compiled on behalf of Melbourne Hosting.

What is IPv6?

And why was it made? Let’s start at the beginning: IPv4 is a set of numbered addresses that is capable of creating about four billion different addresses. The major problem with IPv4 is that the addresses available are dwindling in numbers as more and more devices, and people using them, emerge into the virtual internet space. There are still many addresses available, but at this rate of uptake they will soon run out. The digital world is starting the upgrade process now to make it easy as possible for everyone and avoid reaching breaking point.

IPv6 is a different standard that allows for many new addresses. It allows for about four times more addresses, and there are many other benefits as well.

Benefits of IPv6

There are other benefits to IPv6 aside from ensuring that you will have an IP address in the future. IPv6 can be automatically configured, and the security is much better than with IPv4. Another benefit is that network address translation (NAT) devices will no longer be required.

Upgrading to IPv6

Upgrading your computer to IPv6 isn’t that difficult. Most modern operating systems are currently prepared for the transition, and they are dual-stacked. This means they can run on both IPv4 and IPv6. If you are running Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 on your computer, then you are ready to go. If you are running a Mac, then you need OS X 10.7 to get your computer prepared for IPv6.

You will also need to upgrade your router or cable Internet. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) plan to upgrade your technology for free, so that you don’t need to spend any extra money.

Is IPv6 Mandatory?

At this very moment IPv6 is not mandatory. You don’t need to worry about upgrading right now, and the upgrade will be painless when you decide to do it.
At the same time, IPv6 will be required at some point. There has been no statement as to when this will be mandatory, but it is expected in the coming years. You can either get yourself ready now, or you can wait until it is absolutely necessary.

Guest Author Bio: Laura Kay is freelance copywriter and researcher for Melbourne Server Hosting (UK).