IPv6 is a long-standing upgrade for the regular Internet Protocol we’ve been using for decades. The earlier version IPv4, while still in widespread use, doesn’t have enough IP addresses to serve the current global needs, hence the upgrade. An IPv6 address is slightly more complicated than its predecessor, but allows for a larger range of combinations.
All modern phones and computers support both versions as while IPv6 is new, it’s still a decade old. In addition, an IPv6 address can be both public and private. We’ll go through all of the changes the newest Internet Protocol brings to the table.
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What is a public IPv6 Address?
A public IPv6 address is essentially the one you deal with every day. Both IPv4 and IPv6 create unique local addresses that are shared whenever a machine attempts to communicate with another one through the internet. The IP address is sent as a pointer from which (and to where) network traffic is traveling.
Since public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are visible to essentially anyone, each one that’s generated needs to be unique, which is exactly the problem with the earlier version. IPv4 was intended for about 4 billion addresses. We have long since gone over the limit and various workarounds had to be implemented, but they don’t solve the problem.
To solve the issue, IPv6 addresses were created. There can be so many of them that we should be set for the coming century. Additionally, IPv6 addresses have categorization based on their scope:
- Global Unicast Addresses – Routed on the internet, fully visible publicly. These are sometimes also called Global Network Addresses. This is the IPv6 address you’ll see most frequently.
- Unique Local Addresses — Intended for the internal network or VPN, but not routed on the internet.
- Link Local Addresses – Intended for single-link operations such as network component configuration.
Additionally, IPv6 addresses support three types: unicast, multicast, and anycast. A unicast address delivers information to a single network interface. A multicast address, as the name suggests, sends a packet to many machines. Finally, anycast delivers information to all nearby machines.
What is a private IPv6 address?
Private IPv6 addresses arise from the categorization outlined above. Most of them will fall either under unique local or link local addresses. Such an IPv6 address is never broadcasted publicly and is usually available only within certain networks.
Usually, organizations or companies will be the ones using a private IPv6 address. Such an IP address can be used to set up an internal website or any other piece of content that’s only visible within the network.
For regular internet users, a public IPv6 address will be the one that’s most useful. Since most households have no use for internal networks, setting up a private IPv6 address is usually not worth the hassle.
Finally, there can be some private IPv6 addresses in use even in regular households. Link local IPv6 addresses can be generated for configuration purposes, but these will usually happen without much intervention and will often go unnoticed.
What’s the difference between public and private IPv6 addresses?
Public IPv6 Address
Private IPv6 Address
Connects through the internet
Connects through LAN only
Registered with the Network Information Center
Not registered with the Network Information Center
Requires a modem
Requires a network switch
Assigned by the Internet Service Provider
Allotted by the user and their switch
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How do I get a public IPv6 address?
Getting such an IP address is quite easy. As long as your machine supports the protocol, all you might have to do is enable it to get an IPv6 address. We’ll outline the steps for Windows users below, but everything will be quite similar for other operating systems as well.
1. Open network settings
Press the “Windows” button at the bottom left of your screen or use the keyboard shortcut. Start typing “Network Status” and click on the corresponding button that appears.
2. Click on “Properties” for the connected network
A new window will appear, showing off various data. You should be connected at least to a single network, which will be shown in the upper part of the screen. Click on the “Properties” button.
3. Scroll down and edit IP settings
Another window will appear where you will find various settings and data, such as the MAC address, of your device. Scroll down to nearly the bottom to find “IP settings”.
They are likely set to “Automatic” with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. If it is, that means your ISP automatically assigns an IP address to you. This will include an IPv6 address if necessary.
If it’s manual, click on the “Edit” button and check whether IPv6 is set to on. If it’s not, do so and fill in the data. Click on “Save” and close off the menu. You’re done!
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