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(also subnetwork, subnet mask)

Subnet definition

A subnet (also known as a subnetwork) is a small network within a large one. Large networks are generally difficult to maintain. Furthermore, traffic must travel a longer distance and pass through unnecessary routers to reach its destination. Subnetting –– or dividing the network into smaller pieces –– is used to make the network easier to maintain. While it has many benefits, subnetting requires additional hardware (e.g., routers), potentially costing extra to implement.

Benefits of subnetting

  • Reduces network traffic. When a network is divided into subnets, different devices communicate with each other separately rather than all network devices communicating simultaneously. This reduced amount of communication makes management and maintenance more efficient.
  • It makes a network easier to manage. Subnetted devices are divided into logical groups. When a problem arises with a device in a subnetted network, administrators can locate the issue more easily. Additionally, hosting on subnets is more efficient.
  • Provides advanced network security. Subnetting allows network administrators to isolate compromised networks and more effectively contain the problem. This helps prevent further damage to the network.