8 Steps to Understanding IP Subnetting


Whew! We have covered a lot of ground. Let's recap what we've learned:

  • For components to communicate on a network, each needs a unique address. For computer networks using the Internet Protocol, these addresses are numeric and are commonly referred to as IPs .
  • To make efficient use of IP addresses we also need logical groupings of devices. A subnet then, is a logical organization of connected network devices.
  • Binary numbers look very confusing but it's really just because we use the base10 numbering system day to day. The concept of binary numbering is the same.
  • Think of the Internet Protocol as simply the rules of communication.
  • IP addresses are written in the form of XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX, where each IP address belongs to a certain class depending on the first octet.
  • Subnetting involves dividing the network into smaller portions called subnets. In a sense, the IP address then has three components - the network part, the subnet part and, finally, the host part.
  • All a subnet mask does is indicate how many bits are being "borrowed" from the host component of an IP address.
  • Some IP addresses are used for special purposes.
  • Public versus private IPs are similar in theory to public telephone numbers versus private extensions.
  • CIDR is used to adapt the concept of subnetting to the entire Internet. It's sometimes referred to as supernetting.
  • Variable length subnet masking (VLSM) is another concept that essentially refers to subnetting a subnet.
  • IPv6 is the future. It not only adds to the number of available IP addresses but also eliminates the need for CIDR and network masks in IPv6.
  • There are three ways to write an IPv6 address: Preferred, compressed and mixed.
Hopefully that helps shed some light on the subject of subnetting. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to drop us a line.

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Written by Dale Janssen
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Dale Janssen is a co-founder of Techopedia and has been involved in the IT Industry for most of his career. He purchased his first computer in 1978 - an Ohio Scientific computer with a whopping memory size of 48K, operating a relic of an operating system called CPM. In fact, his roots go so far back in the computing biz that when he graduated from university, there was no such thing as a computer science department.