At first glance, your IP address might look like a bunch of random numbers. However, there is a hidden logic behind this combination, and you don’t need to be a tech expert to crack it. It’s called a subnet mask, and if you’re wondering what a subnet mask is and how to find it, you’re in the right place.
There are millions of networks around the world, and they all vary in size. However, the larger a network is, the harder it is to manage and maintain. When a network is divided into smaller pieces, those pieces are called subnets. A subnet is a small network.
Subnetting is beneficial in many ways:
However, subnetting often requires additional hardware such as routers, so it also comes with a cost.
Just like every address is defined by a street name and a house number, an IP address consists of a network component and a host component (if you’re wondering what your IP is, this article will explain this in detail). Let’s take 192.168.123.132 as an example. The first three octets (192.168.123.) represent the network and the last octet identifies a machine on your network.
IP addresses consist of 32 binary bits (4 x 8), but since they are long and complex, we use a dot decimal system.
192.168.123.132 = 11000000.10101000.01111011.10000100
The subnet mask reflects the network portion in an IP address. It might look look something this:
255.255.255.0 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000
When you combine them, you get:
11000000.10101000.00000001.00000000 (network address: 192.168.123.0) 00000000.00000000.00000000.10000100 (host address: 000.000.000.132)
192.168.123.0 is your subnet, while 192.168.123.132 is a destination address (a device in your subnet). However, if you’re using a VPN, your IP will change depending on the server you’re connected to (check our “What is a VPN?” section for more information).
IP addresses are divided into three classes: A, B, and C. Classes D and E also exist, but they are not used by end users. Each class has a different default subnet mask, and you identify the class by looking at the first octet of an IP address. However, there are also different types of IP addresses: static, dynamic, public, and private.
Class A networks use a subnet mask of 255.0.0.0 and have 0-127 as their first octet. It allows 126 networks and almost 17 million hosts per network.
Class B uses a subnet mask of 255.255.0.0 and has 128-191 as its first octet. It is used by medium and large networks. Class B allows around 16,000 networks and 65,000 hosts per network.
Class C is used for local area networks (LAN) and allows 2 million networks with 254 hosts each. Class C uses a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and has 192-223 as its first octet.
Class D is reserved for multicasting (transmitting streaming media and other data for multiple users). It ranges from 224 to 239 and doesn't have a subnet mask as multicasting is not destined for a particular host.
Class E ranges from 240 to 255 and also doesn’t have a subnet mask. It is used for experimental and study purposes.
Subnet calculators give users a range of information: a subnet mask, network addresses, an IP class, usable host ranges, and more. There are different types of websites and apps designed to help manage your network and to allocate IP addresses to certain teams.
|CIDR||Subnet mask||Number of IP addresses||Wildcard mask|
Having your IP address publicly exposed is a risky business. It’s like driving around the city in a Ferrari with your home address written on the hood. Here’s why you should consider hiding your IP address:
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