Subnet Mask: What Is It and How It Works

Marketing 15 minute read 14th April 2023

As a small business owner, you rely heavily on your internet connection for many aspects of your business. However, if your internet connection is fast and reliable, it can positively impact your business operations and customer satisfaction. The subnet mask is a vital aspect of essential networks that can help improve your internet connection.

In this article, you will learn what a subnet mask is, how it works, and why it is essential for small business owners. You will also find a practical cheat sheet to help you with the settings.

What Is a Subnet Mask

subnet mask

Let’s start by defining what a subnet mask is.

A subnet mask (or netmask) is a numerical code used in internet communications to divide a more extensive network into smaller subnetworks. It helps to identify which part of an IP address belongs to a specific network or subnetwork.

A netmask consists of four numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, and separated by dots.

With these masks, managing large networks and ensuring data moves efficiently and securely would be easier. By dividing a larger network into smaller subnetworks, network administrators can better manage network traffic, improve security, and use resources more efficiently.

It is worth noting that it is possible to use masks in conjunction with the default gateway. This gateway route data between different networks while the netmask determines which devices are on the same network.

Nonetheless, a netmask is a technical concept. If you want to improve the performance of your internet, check other elements that affect the performance:

  • DNS settings
  • WiFi frequencies and network congestion
  • Router capacity
  • Location of the router
  • Bandwidth

You can improve your internet performance with just a few tweaks, like using WiFi extenders.

Understanding the relationship between IP address and subnet mask is important if you want to get the most out of your WiFi.

An IP address consists of four sets of numbers separated by periods, and it uniquely identifies a device on a network. On the other hand, the subnet mask determines which part of the IP address belongs to the network and which part identifies the host.

When a device sends data to another device on a network, it uses the IP address of the destination device. Instead, the netmask determines whether the device is on the same or a different network.

If the destination device is on the same network, the data go directly to that device. Otherwise, the data go to the default gateway.

Notice that Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks are different concepts. If you want to improve your internet’s performance, you should also dive into the topic.

Let’s now explore the different types of netmasks. Understanding this concept can help you determine what you need to improve the performance of your internet.

The Different Types of Subnet Masks

There are different types of subnet masks. The main difference between the different types of masks is the number of bits used to identify the network and the host.

The most commonly used mask is the 255.255.255.0, also known as the Class C mask. This mask uses 24 bits to identify the network and 8 bits to identify the host.

Other common netmasks include the 255.255.0.0 mask, also known as the Class B mask. This mask uses 16 bits to identify the network and 16 bits to identify the host.

There is also the 255.0.0.0 mask, also known as the Class A mask. This mask uses 8 bits to identify the network and 24 bits to identify the host.

To determine which mask to use, consider the number of hosts on your network and the potential for future growth. If you have a small number of hosts, you can use a Class C netmask. These are the standard ones, and you are likely using them now.

If you have a more significant number of hosts or you are growing, you may need to use a Class B or Class A.

You can create other netmasks. Depending on your needs, these might help manage or create subnetworks of different sizes. However, the choice can significantly impact network performance.

In general, it’s important to work with a qualified IT professional to determine the appropriate subnet mask and configuration for your needs.

Now that you know what a netmask is and how it works, let’s see what benefits it can provide to your business.

Why Is Subnetting Important?

There are many reasons why you should take into consideration your subnet mask. Here is why subnetting is important.

  • Improved network performance: Subnetting can help reduce congestion and improve overall network performance. As you divide a larger network into smaller subnetworks, the data transmission will be faster and more stable. This can help to reduce the amount of broadcast traffic on the network and improve the speed and efficiency of data transmission. Creating a guest wireless network for your customers is an everyday use case for subnetting.
  • Enhanced security: Subnetting can enhance network security by isolating sensitive data and devices on separate subnetworks. This can prevent unauthorized access and limit the potential impact of security breaches.
  • Better network management: Subnetting can make it easier to manage a large network by dividing it into smaller, more manageable subnetworks. This can help network administrators to identify and isolate network issues more quickly and effectively. It will also optimize network monitoring and maintenance.
  • Efficiency of IP addresses: Subnetting can make more efficient use of IP addresses by allowing multiple subnetworks to share the same IP address range.
  • Scalability: Subnetting can help make a network more scalable by adding new devices and subnetworks. This can accommodate growth and changes in the network over time.

However, if you care about improving your network performance and management, using WiFi marketing software is simpler than dealing with subnetting. Such software does not require IT skills and is simple to use.

Now that you know why your netmask is important, let’s see how you can find it.

How To Find a Subnet Mask

Managing your netmask can help you optimize your network performance. This can positively impact your small business operations and customer satisfaction.

However, finding your subnet mask can be challenging. It is important to notice that you must carry out these operations with awareness. Otherwise, you might create issues that will make your internet slower and less performing.

To find your netmask, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Command Prompt (on Windows) or Terminal (on Mac or Linux) on your computer.
  2. Type the command “ipconfig” (on Windows) or “ifconfig” (on Mac or Linux) and press Enter.
  3. Look for the line that says “Subnet Mask” or “netmask” in the output. You will find a number separated by periods. For example, “255.255.255.0”. That is the netmask you are currently using.

Alternatively, if you are using a Windows computer, you can also find your netmask through the graphical interface by following these steps:

  1. Click on the Start menu and type “Control Panel” in the search bar.
  2. Click “Network and Sharing Center” and then “Change adapter settings.”
  3. Right-click on your network connection (such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi) and select “Properties.”
  4. Scroll down and find “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” and click on “Properties.”
  5. You will find your mask under “Subnet mask.”

These steps may vary slightly depending on your operating system and network configuration. In general, they should help you to find your netmask.

Once you find the netmask, you can change the setting and use a different one.

Subnet Mask Cheat Sheet

A subnet mask cheat sheet is a reference table that provides a quick and easy way to determine the appropriate subnet mask. As mentioned earlier, you must carry out these activities with awareness. If you are not comfortable using this cheat sheet, contact an IT specialist that can help you figure out the best settings.

Heading

/25 – 2 Subnets – 126 Hosts/Subnet

25 -- 2 Subnets -- 126 Hosts Subnet

/26 – 4 Subnets – 62 Hosts/Subnet

26 -- 4 Subnets -- 62 Hosts Subnet

/27 – 8 Subnets – 30 Hosts/Subnet

27 -- 8 Subnets -- 30 Hosts Subnet

/28 – 16 Subnets – 14 Hosts/Subnet

28 -- 16 subnets

/29 – 32 Subnets – 6 Hosts/Subnet

29 -- 32 Subnets -- 6 Hosts Subnet

/30 – 64 Subnets - 2 Hosts/Subnet

30 -- 64 Subnets -- 2 HostsSubnet

What To Do After You Improve Your Internet Performance

Subnet masks are an essential component of computer networks that allow for dividing a larger network into smaller subnetworks.

Subnetting offers many benefits, such as improved network performance, enhanced security, and better network management. However, dealing with netmasks might require technical expertise if you don’t know what you are doing.

Before dealing with a subnet mask to improve your internet performance, checking other aspects that might slow down the connection might be useful. Therefore, start checking simple things like the position of your router before changing your network’s core settings.

Are you looking for a way to streamline your marketing efforts and connect with your customers more effectively? With Beambox, you can get the most out of your WiFi:

  • Collect valuable customer data, including contact information, demographic details, and behavioral insights
  • Automate your marketing initiatives, including email campaigns, social media promotions, and personalized offers
  • Improve your online reputation and boost your ratings on popular review sites
  • Secure your network from common cyberattacks and ensure the safety of your customers’ data
  • Enhance your customers’ in-store experience with customized WiFi splash pages

By using Beambox’s WiFi marketing platform, you can unlock the full potential of your in-store WiFi and take your marketing strategy to the next level. Start your free thirty-day trial today!


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