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Packet Switching in Computer Networks

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Prepbytes

Our world is running on data and organizations have to transfer the data on a regular basis. Packet switching in computer networks transfers data over a network. The primary data is split into various packets and then sent individually through various routes and once after reaching the destination they are reassembled. They are modern networks like the internet. While moving further in this article we will learn all about packet switching including its working, advantages, disadvantages, etc.

What is Packet Switching?

The data is broken into the form of small packets and then these packets are transferred to the destination using various routes without keeping a direct content or fixed route after reaching the destination all the packets are reassembled correctly in the order by using the information stored in the packet.

The packet is the unit of data that is transferred over the network in packet switching. This is the small block of data that includes both the data and the addressing information as we need the information to pass the data through the network and reassemble the packets once reaching the destination.
The packet contains the header and payload the header in the packet contains the source and destination address, the sequence number, and some other information required to properly route the packet through the network. The payload contains the actual data to be transmitted.

The packet consists of a header and a payload. The header contains information such as the source and destination addresses, the sequence number, and other information needed to properly route the packet through the network. The payload contains the actual data being transmitted.

Each packet is sent individually and through the individual path and then theta re reassembled at the destination.

Because they make data transmission over the network more reliable and efficient, packets are crucial in packet switching. Packet switching networks can more efficiently use network resources and respond to errors or congestion by dividing data into smaller packets. Additionally, packet-switching networks can route packets more effectively and guarantee that packets are delivered to the right location by including addressing information in each packet.

Working of Packet Switching in Computer Networks

We have studied packet switching in the above portion of this article. But we have not studied the steps involved in packet switching. The process of sending packets over the network is divided into several steps:

  • Fragmentation: This is the first step of the whole process of packet switching in computer networks where the data is divided into smaller packets. The size of the packets is determined by the maximum transmission unit (MTU) of the network.
  • Addressing: After breaking the data into smaller packets we have to assign an address to each packet that identifies its source and destination.
  • Routing: Each packet is sent to the destination through th best route which is found by applying various routing protocols.
  • Switching: Now each packet is switched from one network device to another until it reaches its destination. The switching is done by network switches.
  • Reassembly: Now after reaching the destination each packet is reassembled in the exact same order as they were in the original data.

Types of Packet Switching in Computer Network

There are two types of packet switching: connectionless packet switching and connection-oriented packet switching.

  • Connectionless packet switching: Datagram packet switching is another name for connectionless packet switching. Each packet is handled as a separate entity and routed to its destination separately using this method. The source and target devices are not connected in any way. This approach is used in networks with modest traffic volumes where the latency caused by packet routing is negligible. The Internet Protocol (IP) and User Datagram Protocol are two examples of networks that employ connectionless packet switching (UDP).
  • Connection-oriented packet switching: On the other hand, connection-oriented packet switching necessitates the establishment of a link between the source and target devices prior to the start of data transfer. Three steps make up the link setup: establishment, data transmission, and closure. The source and target devices trade control packets during the establishment period, during which they agree on the connection’s specifications. The real delivery of data packets takes place during the data transfer period. The link must be cut off during the termination period.

Some examples of networks that use this are Transmission COontrol Protocol(TCP) and Asynchronous Transfer Mode(ATM).

Advantages of Packet Switching:

Some of the advantages of packet switching in computer networks are given below.

  • Effective use of network resources: Packet-switching networks can utilize network resources more effectively because packets can be autonomously transmitted and routed through the network without requiring a designated channel. This makes it possible for various devices to share the bandwidth.
  • Scalability: Packet switching networks are very scalable, allowing for the addition of new devices without the need for major infrastructure changes. This makes it simpler to grow and modify for shifting requirements.
  • Robustness: Due to the ability to redirect packets in the event of network congestion, failure, or interruption, packet-switching networks are more resilient than circuit-switched networks. This guarantees that data transmission is still possible even if a section of the network is down.
  • Flexibility: Packet switching networks are capable of handling a variety of traffic types, including voice, video, and data, as well as a variety of protocols, including TCP/IP and UDP. They become more flexible to various communication requirements as a result of this.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Packet-switching networks are less expensive to operate than circuit-switched networks because they need less real equipment and can utilize available bandwidth more effectively.

Disadvantages of Packet Switching:

Some of the disadvantages of packet switching in computer networks are given below.

  • Latency: Packet switching can cause latency because packets must be routed through the network, which can cause delays in the transmission of data. For real-time apps like audio and video contact that demand minimal latency, this can be problematic.
  • Overhead: Additional processing is needed to break down and reassemble data into packets during packet switching. Higher processing demands and slower data transmission rates may follow from this.
  • Congestion: Packet loss, transmission delays, and decreased network performance are all possible outcomes of congestion in packet-switching networks, which occurs when too many packets are sent at once.
  • Security: Denial-of-service attacks and packet sniffing are two security risks that packet-switching networks are susceptible to. The confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of data may be jeopardized as a result.
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Packet switching networks may struggle to consistently deliver QoS for various kinds of traffic, including phone, video, and data. The connection quality may be impacted as a result of delay, jitter, and packet loss problems.

Packet switching in computer networks can be understood as a method of transferring data over a network. This is one of the most used modes of data transfer. We have studied packets along with that we have a step-by-step discussion on the working of packet switching in computer networks followed by the advantages and disadvantages of packet switching in computer networks. We have also discussed the types of packet switching in computer networks. It is widely used in the market including the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions on Packet Switching in Computer Networks.

Ques 1. What is a packet?
Ans. A packet is a unit of data that is sent over a network.

Ques 2. What is a router?
Ans. A router is a device that forwards packets between networks.

Ques 3. What is packet loss?
Ans. Packet loss occurs when one or more packets are lost during transmission.

Ques 4. What is jitter?
Ans. Jitter is the variation in the latency of packets as they are transmitted over a network.

Ques 5. What is a network interface card (NIC)?
Ans. A network interface card (NIC) is a device that connects a computer to a network.

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