Subnet is short for subnetwork. The concept of subnet IDs was invented decades ago and has become standard practice on most modern computer networks. Subnets are vital for wide-scale networks like those large enterprises use, where IT administrators need to closely monitor the flow of data into and out of their network to prevent overloading any single channel.
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Subnets help your network manage traffic better. Instead of taking the long way around through unnecessary routers, network traffic can use subnets as shortcuts and arrive at its destination faster. That’s great for easing the burden on your network, but subnets can have a few downsides if you also use proxies for web scraping.
What Exactly Is a Subnet?
So, what exactly is a subnet, and how does it operate? A good way to think of a subnet is as a network within a network that relays information between individual internet-connected devices and the server that’s storing the data you’re trying to access. Networks are made up of multiple subnetworks that divide them into more manageable smaller subnetworks to efficiently and quickly deliver the correct data packets — such as the website you’re trying to access — to computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices each time a device sends a request to the network server.
If you’re wondering about the benefits of subnetting and why a subnet intermediary component exists and is needed in the first place, think about how many people are potentially connected to popular websites at any given moment.
Each website runs on a network. If the network becomes overloaded with too many users, the data may take a long time to load. Additionally, if the network is overloaded with requests from many devices located all around the world, the data will have to travel long distances without losing its integrity or becoming corrupted.
Think of a network as a post office. However, instead of local post offices dispersed throughout the region and world, one post office in the country handles every piece of mail to every recipient. If this were the case, it would be incredibly taxing on the postal system. Mail and packages would take a long time to reach destinations far from the central post office. If there weren’t local post offices, the postal workers delivering the mail would have to travel to far-flung destinations that they’re unlikely to be familiar with. Your packages would likely be lost, or they might be misdelivered to an incorrect destination.
Subnets are automatically enabled and configured as a default setting on most personal devices like laptops and the routers they’re connected to. Each Wi-Fi network connected to an internet service provider uses a subnet of its own, which means many devices are under the subnet, from tablets, laptops, and desktop computers to smartphones, televisions, and more.
What is a subnet ID?
So, now that you have a basic understanding of a subnet, let’s cover what a subnet ID is and how it helps a subnetwork operate.
Subnet IDs are unique identifiers within a greater range of IP addresses. They are the house numbers in a specific neighborhood within a specific city, state, or country. Every house in the neighborhood has its own identity, just as every subnet has its own subnet ID. Subnet IDs help subnetworks organize and manage each IP address that is sending and receiving data and requests.
How Do Subnets and Subnet IDs Operate?
We’ve covered what a subnet and subnet ID is on a basic level. But if you want to thoroughly understand how a subnet operates, it’s essential to know the basics of IP addresses, too.
An IP address is a string of numbers assigned to each device connected to a computer network. The point of an IP address is to locate and identify devices connected to or attempting to connect to a network.
With subnets, network requests and connected devices are divided between the most appropriate subnets, ensuring data reaches the correct IP addresses, whether the address is associated with a device near the network’s home servers or on the other side of the planet.
It’s cumbersome and inefficient for the servers running computer networks to route data to the correct final destination on their own. All of these subnets are responsible for routing the correct data between your computer, smartphone, or other internet-connected device and the network server. The subnets forward the correct information to your device with the help of its IP address and keep the network’s main channel running smoothly.
What is a local subnet?
Local subnets are a subnetwork where all the devices connected to the local network, such as your computers, printers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices.
What is a private subnet?
A private subnet is a subnetwork used by backend servers that don’t accept any traffic from the internet. Private subnets are associated with a route table that doesn’t have a route to the internet. This makes it more secure than other types of subnets.
What is a public subnet?
The most common type of subnets, public subnets, are associated with a route table that has a route to an internet gateway, connecting the VPC to the internet.
How do IPv6 subnets work compared to IPv4?
IP addresses are essentially divided into two versions: IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 4) and IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4). IPv6 is the newer of the two and is replacing IPv4. Both consist of one part that identifies the network and a second part that identifies the host. But there are a few differences between the two.
IPv4 subnets use a 32-bit address scheme, meaning they’re capable of providing an approximate number of 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. Each eight-bit segment of an IPv4 address is separated by a period — for example, 203.0.113.111. The first part of the IPv4 address designates the network that the IP address is associated with. The second part specifies which device within the network that IP address belongs to. Depending on the network’s class, the length of the first part of the IPv4 address can change.
IPv4 addresses used to be divided into classes A, B, C, D, and E based on the leading bit:
- Class A: Class A networks begin with “0.” These networks are capable of simultaneously connecting to millions of devices and are the largest of the network classes.
- Class B: Class B networks will begin with “10” as the first two bits. Class B networks are smaller than Class A and aren’t capable of handling as many simultaneously connected devices. These networks are powerful enough for many networks that don’t require access for millions of simultaneous users.
- Class C: If a network begins with “110,” it is a Class C network. Class C networks are progressively smaller than class A and class B networks.
- Class D: The first four bits of Class D networks are “1110.” These networks are not commonly used.
- Class E: If a network begins with “1110,” it is considered a Class E network. Class E is another rarely used network class.
These classes were introduced in 1981 to delay the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses by expanding the pool. Though 4.3 billion IP addresses may seem like a lot, the number of devices connected to the internet has grown exponentially since the advent of the internet. A solution was needed, and so IPv6 subnets came into play.
IPv6 subnets utilize a 128-bit address scheme instead, which is capable of providing and handling an enormous number of unique IP addresses. They’re designed to help ensure that there are more available IP addresses than needed and that the world never runs out.
IPv6 subnet addresses are much longer than IPv4 addresses and can include letters as well as numbers. They also have an increased level of security compared to more outdated IPv4 subnets, although IPv4 subnets still exist.
Subnet IDs and Proxies
You can run into a few issues with proxies and subnets, as many proxies share a subnet and subnet ID. Data center proxies, in particular, often supply multiple IP addresses that use the same subnet.
If you’re running a big web scraping project or using bots to grab in-demand, limited-run merch (such as sneakers), the last thing you need is for all of your proxies to be out of commission at once. But that’s exactly what can happen if your proxies have the same subnet ID.
Websites aren’t always enthusiastic about web scraping, and they’re developing more advanced anti-scraping and anti-bot measures. Some sites can block all IP addresses from one subnet, so your best course of action is to make sure your proxy provider can provide a diverse range of IP addresses from several subnets.
Avoid Subnet Blocks With Scraping Robot
Subnets keep internet traffic running smoothly, allowing your data to get from Point A to Point B quickly and preventing data loss. Though they’re convenient and efficient, they can present a problem when it comes to proxies that use the same subnet ID. A mix of proxies from various subnets will decrease your risk of getting blocked, but juggling proxies can get complicated.
Let Scraping Robot make things easier. The Scraping Robot API was built by developers for developers and specializes in web scraping solutions that are designed with top-of-the-end infrastructure capable of scraping websites more efficiently than any other scraping solution. Scraping Robot can handle proxy management for you and deal with CAPTCHAs and other pesky anti-scraping measures. Get started with 5,000 free scrapes today.
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