IPv6 is going to be the next big thing and there is a countdown on the number of days IPv4 is going to last. Some number it at around 150 days and that is quite scary. IPv4 has a much smaller network load and the end of IPv4 will result in a slowdown of the existing infrastructure of Internet for a few days initially. Not only this, the existing Internet networks have been built with routers and other hardware that are not IPv6 compliant. In short, IPv4 might be ending, but it is so deeply hardwired into the current Internet backbone, it will be extremely hard for us to move to an IPv6 Internet.
IPv4 vs. IPv6
IP stands for Internet Protocol and the number beside it indicates the version number. It is at the heart of the very metabolism of the Internet. All data that you send over the Internet is put inside an IP packet and is transmitted in continuous parts. Every IPv(X) is the Xth revision of the Internet Protocol and IPv4 and IPv6 are the only ones that are commercially used. IPv4 addresses are of the format xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx and look like 126.96.36.199. Each xxx is a number from 000 to 255. You can imagine how limited the number of IP addresses are that we can use globally in IPv4. Every website has an IP address and with so many websites at the Internet level, this limited number of IPs is nearing exhaustion. We are in need of larger numbers. Here, IPv6 comes into play, which has larger addresses. In a binary number format, where IPv4 allows 32 digits, IPv6 allows 128 digits. On a comparative scale, IPv6 will allow enough IP addresses to last for a lifetime and its implementation is even more efficient than IPv4.
Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft enabled the support for IPv6 by default and it has made its way to Windows 7. IPv6 cannot be uninstalled from Windows Vista or Windows 7. However, the feature can be turned off, but it comes back on after a reboot if done temporarily. Therefore, we will see two methods of turning IPv6 off, one permanent and another temporary.
Even before tuning IPv6 off, I would like you to know why you should do it. IPv6 is already in use in some corporate environments but it is irrelevant for a home network because most of the routers that make up your internet connection do not understand IPv6. Some applications like Firefox have options to use IPv6, which might use system resources and do nothing at the end of the day.
Whether IPv6 uses considerable resources or not, is a huge debate. Being on the safe side, I advise you turn it off because it does no harm being turned off.
Turning off IPv6 Temporarily
First, we will look at the temporary hack that allows us to turn off IPv6. However, this remains turned off only until the next reboot. We need to open Windows network and sharing center to make any network changes. My windows installation might look different because of the theme I am using but it behaves the same way as it would for you.
Step 1: Go to the Start menu and click on it, in the search box enter Network and sharing. In the result that appears, click on the topmost result labeled Network and Sharing Center.
Alternatively, you can look for the small network icon in your taskbar and click on it to get to the Network and Sharing center.
Step 2: At the Network and Sharing Center, you will see a window like this. On the left panel, click on Change adapter settings to get settings for different network adapters that are present in your Windows.
Step 3: Now, double click the Local area network connection or any connection you want to change the IPv6 setting for.
Step 4: In the window that appears, uncheck the box next to Internet Protocol Version 6 to disable IPv6 temporarily. In this image, I have not yet clicked on the checkbox, so yours should not look like this. Finally, press OK to confirm the changes.
Now, you have successfully disabled IPv6 on your computer for the selected network. If you want to disable IPv6 on other networks like a Wi-Fi connection, the procedure is same. This is a temporary method and IPv6 will fire up again the next time you restart your computer. Next, we will see a permanent method to disable IPv6.
Turning off IPv6 Permanently
This is a permanent method to disable IPv6 and can be safely undone too. Thus, it is permanent in the sense that Windows will not turn IPv6 back on after a reboot. However, it involves modifying the registry. To save yourself hours of trouble (in case something goes wrong in the process) I strongly recommend creating a backup of your registry using this method. After backing up the registry, come back here to continue at step 1.
Step 1: Go to the Start menu and type in Regedit. Click on the result link that appears.
Step 2: Now, in Regedit, Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\tcpip6\Parameters\. Here is how you do it. Double click on the folders along the path as shown here and stop at Services.
Now, on double clicking Services, a huge list comes up. The list is in alphabetical order. Scroll down to the letter T, where you will find Tcpip6. Double click on it to expand. In the list, select Parameters. Your window should look similar to this.
Step 3: Right click on an empty area and select New > Dword.
You will get a new value as shown. Set its name to DisabledComponents.
If you have clicked somewhere else by mistake, select the New Value#1 and press the F2 button on the keyboard to change its name.
Step 4: Next, you will get a screen like this. This is your final screen and after this, you are good to go.
Now, click on OK and close the Regedit window. Finally, restart for the change to take effect. You can revert to an enabled IPv6 by simply deleting the new entry you created from the same path in Regedit.