What is a Class A IP address?
A Class A IP address reserves 8 bits for a network with 24 bits dedicated to hosts. Its IP address spans from 0 to 126. The Class A subnet mask is 255.0.0.0. Accordingly, Class A IP addresses are best used to serve incredibly large networks.
In comparison to Class A, Class B IP addresses are better suited to serving smaller networks since they reserve 14 bits for a network, which leaves only 18 bits for hosts. Network addresses for these range from 128 to 191. Consequently, the default subnet mask for Class B is 255.255.0.0. In addition, Class C IP addresses are normally assigned to a very small-sized network. Their IP addresses range from 192 to 233 and their default subnet mask is 255.255.255.0.
It’s important to keep in mind that although it seems counterintuitive, the less bits an IP address reserves for a network, the more apt it is to serve subnets on bigger networks. This is because subnets are implemented on the host side of an IP address (so more network bits means less bits for the host to offer a subnet mask).
What is the use of Class D and Class E IP addresses?
The uses of Class D and Class E IP addresses are mostly reserved for experimental purposes. For instance, a Class D IP address is almost exclusively reserved for multicasting applications. (Multicasting is a method of routing data on a computer network that allows a single or group of senders to communicate with a group of receivers). Unlike Classes A, B, and C, Class D is not available for use in normal networking operations. They don’t have subnet potential because there are no host bits within the Class D address space.
Class E is often cited as having been created for future use, research, and development. Although these IP addresses are reserved, their actual use has never developed. As a result, most network implementations disregard this class altogether. In fact, Class E is sometimes classified as illegal or undefined. The one exception is IP address 255.255.255.255, which can be used as a broadcast address (a network address in which devices connect to a multiple-access communications network).
Getting started with networking
If you are an MSP, you should be sure to do your research on the nuances of IP so you can help your customers take advantage of what subnetting offers. Developing a strong understanding of what goes into these network improvements is the first step in serving customers when they come asking for help with their networks.
Once your subnets are established, SolarWinds® RMM can help you with a number of networking tasks, for example using NetPath can help you ensure that all your subnets are running as expected and to spot any issues and quickly remediate them.