What Is a Subnet Mask? A Beginner’s Guide to Subnetting


New member
Feb 13, 2021
Subnetting is the process of dividing a network into smaller networks (subnets), which can help make data routing more efficient and secure. IP addresses consist of two parts - the network address and the host address - which are indistinguishable without a subnet mask.

Understanding what a subnet mask is may be impossible until you begin to understand how IP addresses work and why networks use subnetting. That’s why the answer to what a subnet mask is isn’t completely straightforward.

With this said, you should now have basic knowledge of how IPv4 addresses communicate data between and within networks. The administrators of those networks may choose to use subnetting out of concern for security, routing efficiency, network speed or to preserve more public IPv4 addresses. Usually, it’s a combination of multiple reasons.

If you choose to utilize subnetting in your network, you’ll need to use subnet masks to ensure that inbound traffic is routed to and from the correct host devices. Even if you run a relatively small system, subnet masks can play an integral part in its reliable and smooth operation.

This is a beginner's guide to understanding subnet masks and their role in IP address networking. It explains why networks use subnets and how they work, as well as describing the benefits of using subnet masks in smaller networks.
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