How to Calculate a Subnet Mask from an IP Address

02 June 2023

Calculating a subnet mask from an IP address is an essential skill for network administrators. Proper subnetting ensures efficient use of IP addresses and enhances network security by segmenting larger networks into smaller, more manageable subnetworks. Here’s a streamlined guide to help you master this fundamental task.

Creating a subnet by dividing the host identifier

Identify a subnet by dividing the host identifier

Calculate the Subnet Size

First, identify the subnet size, which is usually expressed in CIDR notation.

CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) notation specifies the network’s prefix length, such as /24 for a subnet with 256 IP addresses. The prefix length indicates how many bits are used for the network portion of the address, while the remaining bits are used for host addresses within the subnet.

Translate the CIDR Notation to Binary

Next, translate the CIDR notation into binary form. For instance, /24 corresponds to 24 network bits: 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000. Each ‘1’ in the binary string represents a bit used for the network, while each ‘0’ represents a bit used for hosts. This step is crucial because it forms the basis for determining the subnet mask.

Populate the Subnet Mask

Fill the network bits with “1” and the host bits with “0.” For /24, this results in a subnet mask of in decimal form. To break this down further, the binary sequence 11111111 translates to 255 in decimal, and 00000000 translates to 0. Therefore, the subnet mask for a /24 network has three octets of 255 and one octet of 0.

Example Calculation of a Subnet

To calculate the subnet mask for

  1. Convert /24 to binary: 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000
  2. Resulting subnet mask:

Let’s see another example for better understanding. For a /26 subnet:

  1. Convert /26 to binary: 11111111.11111111.11111111.11000000
  2. Resulting subnet mask:

This process demonstrates how the subnet mask changes with different CIDR notations, offering varying numbers of host addresses per subnet.

In Conclusion

Understanding CIDR notation, binary conversion, and subnetting principles is crucial for defining network boundaries and managing IP address allocation. Mastery of subnet masks is vital for efficient IP network management and configuration. Proper subnetting prevents IP address exhaustion, simplifies network troubleshooting, and improves overall network performance. Stay informed, stay tech-savvy, and ensure your network is well-structured and secure.


Other Popular Blog Posts

NTIA approves BEAD plans for Colorado and New Hampshire2024
Comparing IPv4 Addresses & Bitcoin, the Rarest Digital Asset Classes
IPv4 Blacklist Service SORBs Shuts Down

Information for IPv4 addresses ranging from a /24 up to /12s

Get a Free Consultation