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Over the years we have always taken care to improve the performance of our customers' websites, taking care to adopt all the technologies and configurations available on the market in order to offer a pleasant and profitable user experience, as well as to offer the best conditions to search engine crawlers, especially Google.
We have covered on several occasions concepts that affect the Time To First Byte, better known by the acronym TTFB, however we have never focused on a secondary aspect, but also important, such as the use of IPv6 in conjunction with IPv4.
What is IPv6 and IPv4?
If you're a technology and internet enthusiast, you've surely heard of IPv4 and IPv6.
Already at the dawn of the 2000s, in the first year of University at UNICAM there was a lot of talk about how IP addresses were running out, generating curiosity and a pinch of interest that we would have somehow just mentioned in the Networks Course.
Many years have passed, meanwhile, and the fear of running out of IPv4 addresses has always been perceived as a sort of urban legend, at least until these last 2 or 3 years.
To date, in fact, on the threshold of 2024, we are increasingly aware of how what at the time seemed like a prophecy (depletion of IP addresses ed), is an increasingly real and present problem, and if there let's forget it, there are always invoices from Hosting Providers that remind us that IPs that were once free, today have an ever increasing cost precisely because of the scarcity and difficulty in finding IP addresses.
What led to IPv4 becoming a valuable commodity
The IPv4 market is driven by scarcity and presents a challenge for companies looking to grow their business. While we haven't technically run out of IP addresses completely, the available IPv4 resources are rapidly running out. Less than 1% of world supply remains to be allocated. However, much unused IPv4 remains in the hands of large organizations.
It's worth noting that some organizations returned large blocks of IPv4 addresses. Including Stanford University which returned its block of Class A IP addresses in 2000, making 16 million IP addresses available. Other organizations that have done so include the US Department of Defense, Interop and BBN Technologies.
All in all, the pool of 4,29 billion IPv4 addresses is nearly depleted. As a result, the cost per IP address is skyrocketing. In December 2014, the average price for a single IPv4 address was around $10. As of January 2017, the average price for the same resource had risen to around $15 per IP. By February 2018 – $20 per IP.
On average, IPv4 prices increase by 25% every year and in 2022 the average was around $45-$50. Needless to say, we can expect further increases in the years to come.
The rapid depletion and high market demand for IPv4 addresses has contributed significantly to the ever-increasing prices. Back when IP prices were around $5 per IP, no one thought they would go up fivefold. And even with those prices, telecom companies have struggled to get on board with customers due to a shortage of IPv4 addresses. Naturally, decreasing supply and growing demand for IP addresses increases their value.
What are the differences between IPv4 and IPv6?
First, IPv4 is the original IP protocol that has been used by the Internet since the 80s. However, as the number of devices connected to the Internet has grown exponentially, the limitations of IPv4 have become increasingly apparent. In particular, the limited number of available IPv4 addresses (about 4 billion) is rapidly running out.
That is why IPv6 was developed. This protocol uses a larger address format (128 bits as opposed to IPv32's 4 bits), allowing for a virtually unlimited number of IP addresses. This not only solves the problem of scarcity of IPv4 addresses, but also allows for a number of improvements in terms of DNS resolution and connection speed.
For example, IPv6 allows for faster DNS resolution by using DNS AAAA (IPv6) records instead of DNS A (IPv4) records. Additionally, IPv6 supports direct connection between devices, eliminating the need to use a network address translation (NAT) server to connect to the Internet. This means that the connection can be established faster and more reliably.
Finally, IPv6 can significantly improve TTFB (Time To First Byte), which is the time it takes for the server to send the first piece of data in response to an HTTP request. With IPv6, TTFB can be reduced due to increased network efficiency and reduced latency.
How does IPv6 affect server responsiveness?
To better understand how IPv6 can affect server response speed and therefore TTFB, it is important to make a comparison between the two protocols. There are several studies and benchmarks that have analyzed the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 in terms of TTFB.
A study conducted by Google found that the average latency between client and server was lower on IPv6 than on IPv4. In particular, the average latency on IPv6 was 14,5 milliseconds, while on IPv4 it was 22,5 milliseconds. This means that TTFB can be significantly improved by using IPv6.
Another study conducted by Sucuri also analyzed the differences between the two protocols. The test involved 50 popular websites, including Google, Facebook and YouTube. The results showed that TTFB was on average 3% lower on IPv6 than on IPv4.
Additionally, the test found that TTFB over IPv6 was consistent and predictable, while over IPv4 it was more variable and less reliable. This is mainly due to IPv4 network congestion, which can cause server response delays.
Finally, another study conducted by Akamai showed that TTFB over IPv6 was on average 22% lower than over IPv4. The test involved 32 websites and used a variety of analytics tools to measure the performance of the two protocols.
In conclusion, the benchmarks and studies conducted so far show that IPv6 can significantly improve TTFB compared to IPv4. This means that websites and applications using IPv6 can offer a better user experience, with faster response times and improved reliability. It is therefore important that hosting services support IPv6 to offer the best possible service to their customers.
Managed Server Srl natively offers IPV6 in all High Performance Hosting solutions.