Are you a network administrator who’s feeling a bit overwhelmed with the task of calculating subnet masks? Don’t worry it’s not as daunting as it may seem. In this blog post I’m going to break down the process of calculating subnet masks into easy-to-understand steps. So grab a cup of coffee settle in and let’s get started!

Identifying Subnet Mask Components

Before we can calculate a subnet mask it’s important to understand the components that make up a subnet mask. Subnet masks are composed of four octets each of which can contain a value between 0 and 255.

Octet Value Range
1 0 – 255
2 0 – 255
3 0 – 255
4 0 – 255

How to calculate subnet mask

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Calculating Subnet Mask Basic Notation

So you already know what a subnet mask is and why it’s important but now it’s time to figure out how to calculate it. Don’t worry it’s not rocket science! Calculating the subnet mask may seem daunting at first but with a few basic notations at the ready you’ll be a subnet pro in no time.

At its most basic level a subnet mask uses binary numbers to determine which portion of an IP address is used for the network and which portion is used for the host. For example a basic subnet mask of will use the first three blocks of a four-number IP address for the network and the last block for the host. To determine the subnet mask you’ll need to convert a decimal notation or a slash notation.

To calculate a decimal notation you’ll need to take the numbers entered in the slash notation and convert each of them to its corresponding decimal number. For example a subnet mask of ‘/24’ would translate to ‘’. To find out the slash notation of a subnet mask you’ll need to convert the decimal numbers to the corresponding binary numbers and count the number of ones in each block. A subnet mask of ‘’ would translate to ‘/24’. Calculating a subnet mask might sound tedious but with a bit of practice you’ll be able to do it in no time!

Determining Network & Host Addresses

Now that you know how to calculate subnet mask it’s time to take a closer look at how you can use it to determine the network and host addresses. This might sound like something only a computer expert would understand but don’t be worried! It’s actually a lot simpler than you think.

When it comes to subnet masks they’ve got a few nifty tricks up their proverbial sleeves. By analyzing the binary numbers in the subnet mask you can determine the number of network and host addresses you have. The number of bits which are set to a binary 1 determine the number of network addresses while the number of bits set to a binary 0 determine the number of host addresses.

Let’s take a look at a simple example. If the subnet mask for a certain network is then you can instantly see that there are 24 bits set to a binary ‘1’ and 8 bits set to a binary ‘0’. That means you have 24 network addresses and 256 – 2 = 254 host addresses.

Basically this means you can use the subnet mask to filter out all the machines and networks in your vicinity and focus on the ones that you’re looking for. This can make some complex network configurations a lot easier to manage. So don’t be afraid to dig in and explore the power of a subnet mask!

Implementing Subnet Masks for Network Protocols

If you’re trying to understand how to calculate subnet mask you’ve come to the right place — but trust us we don’t expect you to learn this stuff while doing back flips or juggling! The key to interpreting subnet masks and implementing them in your network protocols is patience research and a bit of practice.

Subnet masks even though they initially appear to be complicated are relatively straightforward once you break them down into the individual components. The mask is made up of a series of bits and a series of octets that are used to identify traffic within a particular IP address range. By calculating the number of bits and octets you can accurately determine the boundaries of the network and the exact size of the network.

To better understand this concept let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you are using a Class C network which means that the subnet mask is This tells us that the first three octets are assigned to a particular subnet and that the fourth octet is available for hosts on that particular subnet.

To determine the boundaries of the subnet you must understand how each octet works. Each octet is made up of 8 bits and each bit is represented by a number. For example the octet 255 has all 8 bits turned ‘on’ and is represented by the number 11111111. This indicates the very first subnet and the maximum number of hosts that can be assigned to that subnet.

To determine the size of the subnet you must take the complement of the octet. This is done by subtracting the octet number (in this case 255) from a maximum octet number (256). The resulting number (in this case 1) is called the host portion or the CIDR block.

So using this example the boundary of the subnet starts at and ends at The CIDR block for this subnet is /24. This means that there are 24 bits assigned to this network with the maximum number of hosts being 256.

Once you understand how to calculate the subnet mask you can easily implement them in your network protocols. The process is fairly straightforward as it only involves adding the identified subnet mask to the IP address as an argument. Subnet masks also make it easy to classify certain traffic types and control where they can go so only authorized individuals can access the network.

It’s definitely worth taking the time to understand and properly implement subnet masks in your network protocols — it’s well worth the effort! The learning curve may appear a bit steep at first but don’t let that deter you. With a bit of dedicated practice you’ll be a network subnet pro in no time.


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