What is ICPSR doing in regards to IPv6?

Short Answer

When you provide them, we enter IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) ranges into our database — in addition to IPv4 — but we don't really do anything with them currently. When we do switch over to IPv6, we'll have those ready.

ICPSR can't move to IPv6 on its own; we are waiting for the University of Michigan campus to support IPv6. This is expected in 2014. When we have more information, we will communicate it to ORs so you have plenty of warning. No immediate action is required on your part.

You can find more information on IPv6 by visiting Wikipedia.

Long Answer

Let's start with a basic explanation of IPv4 and IPv6. Every computer has an IP (Internet Protocol) address, and IPv4 addresses look something like this:

An IP address is like a phone number for your computer; it enables a computer to send and receive data from other computers (and thus the Internet).

Unfortunately, four three-digit numbers going from 0 to 255 means a finite number of addresses for computers (around 4.3 billion), and the IT community ran out of new addresses years ago. IPv6 was created to ensure there is room for more networked computers. IPv6 addresses look like this:


IPv6 allows for 3.4 x 1038 unique addresses, so we probably won't have to deal with IPv7 in our lifetimes.

As of September 2013, roughly 2 percent of users are on computers/networks that support IPv6, according to Google. Institutions supporting IPv6 basically are using networking software/hardware that supports IPv6 and IPv4 concurrently.

When they're provided, we enter IPv6 ranges into our database — but ICPSR doesn't utilize them yet. That's because we're using U-M's network, which hasn't migrated to IPv6. When U-M upgrades to software/hardware supporting both IPv6 and IPv4, that will be our official transition date. Here's how it will affect our member institutions:

  • Institutions on IPv4 will not be affected.

  • Institutions on IPv6 and IPv4 that have provided us with IPv6 ranges will not be affected.

  • Institutions on IPv6 and IPv4 that have not provided us with IPv6 ranges probably will lose access, meaning they won't be able to download member-only data until they provide us with IPv6 ranges.

We will announce the transition far ahead of time and will warn the ORs. When that warning happens, your task will be to contact your central IT staff and ask: "Are we on IPv6? If so, please provide me with our new IP ranges." When you provide the new IPv6 ranges to ICPSR, access will be restored. For now, however, no action is required.