Eukaryotic cells from neurons and epithelial cells to unicellular fungi frequently rely on cellular appendages such as axons, dendritic spines, cilia, and buds for their biology. The emergence and differentiation of these appendages depend on the formation of lateral diffusion barriers at their bases to insulate their membranes from the rest of the cell. Here, we review recent progress regarding the molecular mechanisms and functions of such barriers. This overview underlines the importance and conservation of septin-dependent diffusion barriers, which coordinately compartmentalize both plasmatic and internal membranes. We discuss their role in memory establishment and the control of cellular aging.