Broadcast Storm

Broadcast Storm

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A broadcast storm refers to a network system phenomenon where the constant transmission of broadcast messages by all network nodes takes up all available network bandwidth and resources, thereby reducing or preventing other types of network traffic. This often results in a loss of network functionality.

In simple terms, a broadcast storm occurs when devices on a network are constantly broadcasting messages and responding to messages, overwhelming the network with traffic and slowing it down.

This phenomenon is most common in Ethernet networks, and it can occur for several reasons:

  1. Loops in the network: If a network loop occurs (a situation where there is more than one path between two nodes), broadcast frames can keep circulating the network indefinitely, creating a storm of traffic. This is often mitigated by using the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which is designed to prevent loops.
  2. Malfunctioning hardware: If a network device is malfunctioning, it could constantly send out broadcast messages.
  3. Misconfigured network software: If network software is configured to send out too many broadcast messages, a broadcast storm could occur.

To prevent broadcast storms, network administrators use techniques like loop avoidance mechanisms (like Spanning Tree Protocol), setting broadcast limits, and careful network design and configuration. They may also divide larger networks into smaller, isolated segments known as subnets to limit the impact of broadcasts.

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