When data is transmitted across a network it is broken down into small blocks of data called packets. Along with the block of original data, each packet contains a header with some key information:
- Sender – the IP address of the origin computer
- Destination – the IP address of the final location
- Packet Number – so the data can be reassembled.
- Error Detection – to ensure the all the data arrives as it was sent.
Go to Teach-ICT for an excellent description of packet switching. Or click here for a demonstration of multi-path routing.
Advantages of Packet Switching
Efficient – the packets are always sent along the fastest route. The packets can take alternative routes if there is congestion on the network.
Reliable – the packets can take alternative routes if some parts of the network are down.
Secure – the packets can take different directions across a network and so even if data was intercepted at one point, it is unlikely that all the data would be accessed.