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Top 10 IPv6-Ready Home and Small Business Devices
Here’s a list of devices that support IPv6, ways you can check, and the different types of IPv6 support vendors are touting.
We test a lot of networking devices, and quite a number of them still lack IPv6 support. Networking vendors, one would assume, would be the first to incorporate IPv6 compatibility into their products, and indeed, there are vendors in the networking space who are taking a proactive approach to IPv6. They have products on the market that either support IPv6 entirely or at least allow IPv6 traffic to pass into the network.
Why should you care? Most home users will have few issues with connecting to IPv6-enabled sites and content on the Internet. Traffic routing is largely handled by our ISPs; the entities most responsible for getting us connected to destination websites.
Additionally, most of us are using home devices with operating systems that have long supported IPv6 including Windows, Mac OS, and just about all of the major Linux distros.
Apple iOS 4 does support IPv6 although support is largely dual-stack; that is IPv4 is still required for IPv6 support. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has support for IPv6 but how extensive that support is could depend on the specific device on which the OS is installed. With mobile devices, you want to definitely check with the manufacturer to be sure.
IPv4 is predicted to run in tandem with IPv6 for several years. So even if a client device does not explicitly have support for IPv6, if your ISP and your networking devices, such as a router, support the IPv6 protocol, those client devices should have no problem accessing the Internet.
Home or small business users with more advanced needs such as hosting their own websites, or small business networks that need to control traffic with firewall rules and content filtering, will definitely want to know about the IPv6 capabilities of their devices or in any devices they may want to purchase in the future.
IPv6 Passthrough Versus Native Support
IPv6 is incorporated into networking devices in one of two ways. There’s full, native IPv6 support and there’s a feature called IPv6 passthrough.
More vendors are offering IPv6 passthrough, especially with consumer devices, as opposed to full IPv6 support. With IPv6 passthrough, IPv6 traffic is allowed by default into your network and passed to connected clients. Simply put, it’s a bridging mode to connect devices. There’s no actual IPv6 protocol built into the device.
The benefit of IPv6 passthrough is that it will allow your network clients to access websites that are IPv4 and IPv6 enabled. Routers and networking devices that only support IPv6 passthrough could conceivably have issues connecting to IPv6-only sites, but according to Leon Rishniw, senior vice president of engineering at Cloudmark, the likelihood of encountering Internet content that would only be viewable via IPv6 is unlikely. Cloudmark’s DesktopOne spam service has full support for IPv6. Although the focus here is on hardware, small business owners dependent on cloud services, would be wise to check with those service providers about their IPv6 strategy.
One of the disadvantages of IPv6 passthrough is that you have little control over IPv6 traffic. That means you can’t create content filtering or access rules to manage IPv6 traffic. Also, if you host your own website, for example, having a router with VPN passthrough alone does not ensure that IPv6-enabled external clients can access your content.
Keep in mind that because you have more control over your network with fully supported IPv6 devices deployed, you can tighten security with more than just IPv6 passthrough. There are some security implications with devices simply allowing IPv6 traffic to flow pretty unregulated throughout your network. Passthrough is more for convenience than security and management.
For full IPv6 capability for firewalls, as well as security and hosting purposes, networking devices – especially Wi-Fi routers with native IPv6 – are more desirous. These routers will allow for greater management over inbound and outbound IPv6 traffic.
Some vendors are providing firmware upgrades for older networking products that should at least provide IPv6 passthrough. For those users who want more control over the security and access on their networks, or who host their own sites and services; to truly future-proof those networks, their best investment is in devices that have full IPv6 support.
However, not all devices for consumers and smaller businesses have the same level of—if any— IPv6 support. Click through to the next page for a list of some top-rated networking devices we’ve tested that support IPv6 natively or have IPv6 passthrough capability:
Top-Rated IPv6 Networking Devices
Buffalo AirStation AC1300/N900 Gigabit Dual Band WZR-D1800H
Buffalo’s latest 11ac draft router has IPv6 passthrough support. A tip to keep in mind: Buffalo products, especially the routers that can run DD-WRT firmware tend to attract geekier types who may want full IPv6 support for their networks. Read the full review ››
Cisco Linksys EA4500 App Enabled Dual-Band Wireless Router with Gigabit and USB
Cisco’s latest line of EA routers have native IPv6 support. Read the full review ››
Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router WNDR4500
Netgear’s latest 802.11n dual-band is not only a powerful router, but it has native IPv6 support as does Netgear’s N750. Read the full review ››
Amped Wireless High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Router (R20000G)
A relative newcomer to the networking space, the R20000G has IPv6 passthrough support. Read the full review ››
Synology DiskStation DS712+
Many NASes now offer features that extend way beyond network storage and include FTP, email, and website hosting, making IPv6 a desired feature on them as well. Synlogy’s latest NASes such as the DS712+ has native IPv6 support. Read the full review ››
Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 6
$900, Street, diskless
Netgear’s line of ReadyNAS devices either have IPv6 support in them, or can be upgraded as IPV6-ready with firmware updates. The Ultra 6 is made IPv6 compatible with the RAIDiator 4.2.16 (x86) firmware. Read the full review ››
This list is by no means inclusive of all the vendors that currently provide IPv6 support in their devices. These are just a few of the supported devices, as well as manufacturers that are really keeping on top of the IPv6 transition. As always, check with your device’s manufacturer to find out if your gadgets support IPv6 passthrough or full IPv6. If not, find out what the vendor’s plans are for future IPv6 support.
For more on the topic, check out What is IPv6?
By Samara Lynn, PCMag