Subnetting in Decimal (Fast Way)

In the previous lesson I showed you a lot of binary numbers so let’s work some more with decimal numbers. We can do subnetting just by working with decimal numbers.

As you have seen in the binary examples, the rule of “powers of 2” is very useful. By taking an extra bit the decimal value doubles every time:

  • For every host bit you borrow the number of subnets you can create doubles.
  • Every host bit left doubles the size of the subnet.

Instead of thinking/working in binary, we’ll start thinking in “blocks”.

Take this 192.168.1.0 network with subnet mask 255.255.255.0 as an example:

We know because the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0 we have 8 bits left, and with 8 bits the highest “number” we can create is 256.

128 + 64 + 32 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1 = 255.

Don’t forget about the 0! The 0 is being used so the highest value you can create is 256.

Visualize this as a block:

256 bit block

We want to subnet our 192.168.1.0 network, so we’ll chop our “block” in two pieces.

When we chop this block in two pieces, this is what we get:

128 bit blocks chainsaw

So now we created 2 subnets out of our Class C network, the next questions are:

  • What are the network addresses?
  • What are the broadcast addresses?
  • What is the subnet mask?
  • What are the usable host IP addresses?

We can write down the network addresses, they are both blocks of “128”. We’ll start at 192.168.1.0 and the second subnet will be 192.168.1.128 (.0 – .127 = 128)

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128

The second question is: what are the broadcast addresses? We know that the broadcast address is the last address within a subnet, so we can just write those down:

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.127
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.255

The third question: what is the subnet mask?To solve this question I’ll teach you a new trick:

256 – “block size” = subnet mask.

So in our example that will be:

256 – 128 = 128.

The subnet mask will be 255.255.255.128

One question left: what are the usable host IP addresses?

  • The first usable host IP address comes after the network address.
  • The last usable host IP address comes before the broadcast address.
  • Everything in between is a usable host IP address.

Let’s fill this in:

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
    • first host: 192.168.1.1
    • last host: 192.168.1.126
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.127
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128
    • first host: 192.168.1.129
    • last host: 192.168.1.254
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.255

That was pretty fast right? We just subnetted this class C network, calculated the network address, broadcast address and the usable host IP addresses.

Let’s try one more!

We’ll take the 192.168.1.0 class C network but now we’ll chop it into four pieces so we get 4 “blocks”:

64 bit blocks

We have the same set of questions to answer:

  • What are the network addresses?
  • What are the broadcast addresses?
  • What is the subnet mask?
  • What are the usable host IP addresses?

Let’s write down the networks, all “blocks” of 64:

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.64
  • Subnet 3:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128
  • Subnet 4:
    • network address: 192.168.1.192

Now we know the networks we can write down the broadcast addresses:

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.63
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.64
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.127
  • Subnet 3:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.191
  • Subnet 4:
    • network address: 192.168.1.192
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.255

What is the subnet mask?

256 – “block size” = subnet

In our example: 256 – 64 = 192

The subnet mask will be 255.255.255.192

One more step, we need to fill in the usable host IP addresses:

  • Subnet 1:
    • network address: 192.168.1.0
    • first host: 192.168.1.1
    • last host: 192.168.1.62
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.63
  • Subnet 2:
    • network address: 192.168.1.64
    • first host: 192.168.1.65
    • last host: 192.168.1.126
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.127
  • Subnet 3:
    • network address: 192.168.1.128
    • first host: 192.168.1.129
    • last host: 192.168.1.190
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.191
  • Subnet 4:
    • network address: 192.168.1.192
    • first host: 192.168.1.193
    • last host: 192.168.1.254
    • broadcast address: 192.168.1.255

And that’s it. Once you understand the rules, calculating in decimal is a lot faster than doing it in binary.

Can we apply this same method for class B networks? Sure! The only difference with a class C network is we have more space because we are now playing with the third octet.

Let’s take the 172.16.0.0 network and create eight subnets.

We still have the same questions to answer:

  • What are the network addresses?
  • What are the broadcast addresses?
  • What is the subnet mask?
  • What are the usable host IP addresses?

We start with our block of “256” but now we are playing with the third octet:

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Forum Replies

  1. Wonderful explanation. thanks

  2. I finally found my ‘ah ha!’ moment with subnetting. Thank you so much!

  3. Thank you for this, first time someone described subnetting in a way that makes sense. I also had that aha moment with this lesson.

  4. Pretty minor, but just to point out on your class B and A examples subnet 2 has network address twice instead of broadcast. Just a heads up, thanks for the explanation.

  5. Thanks for letting me know, just fixed them!

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