What is subnetting?

Subnetting is the practice of dividing a network into two or more smaller networks. It increases routing efficiency, enhances the security of the network and reduces the size of the broadcast domain.

Consider the following example:

subnetting example 1

In the picture above we have one huge network: All hosts on the network are in the same subnet, which has following disadvantages:

  • a single broadcast domain – all hosts are in the same broadcast domain. A broadcast sent by a device on the network will be processed by all hosts.
  • network security – each device can reach any other device on the subnet, which can present security problems.
  • organizational problems – in a large networks, different departments are usually grouped into different subnets. For example, you can group all devices from the Accounting department in the same subnet and then give access to sensitive financial data only to hosts from that subnet.

The network pictured above could be subnetted like this:

subnetting example 2

Now, two subnets were created for different departments: for Accounting and for Marketing. Devices in each subnet are in a different broadcast domain.

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