Is there any logic in using two different names for determining host ID and net ID?

For example, if you type print route in a Command Prompt you get things with netmask, but the IPv4 settings seems to use subnet mask.

Is there any significant difference between the two terms?

  • 3
    It is just slang.
    – KCotreau
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:01
  • 2
    then why should microsoft use 2 names for it ?
    – SpiXel
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:05
  • 3
    Why do we call William, Bill or Billy? We like to, and in some case, just lazy. The proper term is subnet mask, but they others are just used a lot, probably netmask more though.
    – KCotreau
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


The difference is very, very slight. 9 times out of 10, they will mean the exact same thing.

However, the terms can have a contextual meaning in cases where we're discussing the subnetting of a given network. In those cases, the two terms "network mask" and "sub-network mask" can have distinct meanings. That is, if we make a distinction between a "network" and a "sub-network" then "the mask of a network" and "the mask of a sub-network" mean different things because of the context. This distinction is a relative distinction.

For example, let's say you've been issued the network (using CIDR notation). Here, your "network mask" is Let's say you need to separate this network into 4 smaller networks, each as large as they could possibly be. In order to get 4 networks out of, you need to borrow two bits (00, 01, 10, 11) from the host address and use them for the subnet addresses. This will give you the following sub-networks:

Here, your "network mask" is still, but each "subnet mask" is

But, as I said, it's completely a relative term based on context. One could also talk about being a "network mask" and then being a "supernet mask" if in the same context we're talking about being a supernet of, say, It's all based on the context of what is being discussed.

  • I can bet you that this is one of the best answers I have read. Thank you.
    – learner
    Aug 22, 2015 at 20:05
  • 1
    Crystal clear explanation.Appreciation and thanks. Feb 15, 2017 at 16:10

The "Netmask", "subnet mask", or simply "mask" are all the same thing: A mask that tells software which IPs belong to that network an which don't.

  • 3
    @SpiXel: Darth Android is correct. This is not really even up for debate.
    – jftuga
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:06
  • @SpiXel: Dividing a network into smaller parts may consist of using VLANs to separate and/or isolate traffic, such as DMZs, servers, HR, Marketing, Developers, iSCSI, backups, etc.
    – jftuga
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:08
  • @jftuga: yes that's right for the smaller networks part,Thank You :)
    – SpiXel
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:11

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