What is meant by default gateway?



Let’s say, you are a general user experiencing some connectivity issue with your desktop computer. The problem is you can connect to resources within your own subnet, but unable to connect to any resources outside your own network.
So, you call a desktop support technician, who looks at your IP configurations. And the first thing the technician examines is the default gateway configured for your computer. The default gateway could have been incorrectly configured, which caused the problem. So, what is a default gateway?

Simply put, a default gateway is a node on a computer network that enables a seamless connection between networks, allowing a machine to communicate with another machine that is outside of its own network. It’s a parameter included with the router’s IP address that provides access off of the network.

On a Windows computer, how do you check the network configuration? You open the command prompt and type in ‘ipconfig’ and the output will show you the IP address, subnet mask, and the default gateway that’s been assigned to the computer. So, a default gateway is the address of a host on the network that offers a pathway to reach any destination that’s not on the local subnet.


How is default gateway assigned?

If a host needs to access the resources that are not on the local network, the default gateway must be configured. The default gateway address is ether defined statically by the user or learned by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) process. Regardless of the method, the default gateway is used as the next hop address for the default route that’ll be created to reach remote destinations.

If the default route is not defined on the router or the default gateway is incorrectly configured on the host computer, then communication between the two computers or endpoints in different networks is not possible. A default gateway simply allows devices from one network to communicate with devices on another network.

Configuring the IPv4 Default Gateway

Go to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center. Click on the active connection and hit Properties. A small window will open.

  1. Choose Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties. Another small window will open.
  2. Choose Use the following IP address, and specify an IP address, Subnet mask and Default gateway. Click OK.
  3. After you hit OK, the configurations get applied and saved immediately.

What is the default gateway on PS4?

  1. Go to the Settings menu in the PS4 dashboard.
  2. Choose the Network from the list of options.
  3. Select the View Connection Status option. The page will show you the IP address, Subnet Mask, and the Default Gateway.

Are default gateway and subnet mask the same? How do I find my IP and subnet gateway?

A subnet mask is used to distinguish the Network ID from the Host ID. It is used in the network for a computer or a router to determine the IP address portion that is for the network it belongs to and the portion of the IP address that is for the host. The practice of dividing a network into multiple networks is called subnetting.

A subnet mask is basically a 32-bit number that segments an existing IP address by setting host bits to all 0s and setting the network bits to all 1s. Each network running TCP must have a unique number and each machine on the network must have a unique IP address. The IP address is further classified into two parts: the network part and the host part.

A subnet mask reveals how many bits in the IP address are used for the network by masking the network part of the IP address. That being said, the first three sets are the network part and the remaining is the host part. Consider the following table to visualize this in binary address formats:

Binary Form

Decimal notation
IP address11000000.10101000.00000000.00000010192.168.0.2
Subnet mask11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000255.255.255.0


Is default gateway same as router? Why is my default gateway and DNS server the same?

Default gateway is used as a door to direct all traffic that is not on the same subnet. If the destination is on the local network, TCP/IP can communicate directly with the destination host. However, if the host is not a different network, the TCP/IP sends the packet through the default gateway. So, in a small office or home network, the default gateway is the router that connects the local network to the Internet. The router is basically the first point of contact for traffic to the machines outside the local area network.

The default gateway is the point to which your network request is routed when the destination IP is outside the subnet. DNS server is where the domain names are translated into IP addresses; it is like the phonebook of the Internet. So, your gateway is the same as the DNS server because your router is the default gateway which makes all DNS calls for your LAN. Your router is most likely set to DHCP so it could get its address from the ISP.

A default gateway is what you need to reach a remote network. But, if you want to communicate locally within the same network, you do not need a default gateway. It is the address of a host on the network that offers a path off of the network.

The TCP/IP communication process is pretty much the same as the mailing system. If you want to send a package to someone who lives nearby, you are most likely to deliver it yourself. If the recipient lives on some other county or state, the package goes to the post office, which then delivers the package to the destination. A default gateway is very much like the post office.