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Message switching

Message switching

(also store-and-forward switching)

Message switching definition

Message switching is a network switching technique that transmits the entire message from one node to another without breaking it into smaller parts (packets). Network switching is how data travels through the network, allowing multiple devices to share a network.

Message switching takes more time than packet switching. While packet switching is now more common, message switching is still used in military networks, ad hoc sensor networks, and satellite communications.

How message switching works

  • In message switching, the source and destination nodes are not connected.
  • The sender node integrates the destination address into the message.
  • The whole message is transmitted from the sender switching node to the destination node, one hop at a time.
  • Every intermediate network node stores the message before transferring it to the next node.

Message switching vs. packet switching

  • Message switching sends a complete message across the network; packet switching breaks it down into smaller parts (known as packets) and transfers each packet one by one from the sender to the receiver. These packets then get reassembled into the original message.
  • Message switching uses ASCII, morse, or Baudot computer languages; packet switching uses binary type.
  • Message switching has no switch block size limit; packet switching has a tight upper limit on block size (up to 512 bytes).

Further reading

Ultimate digital security