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Network bridge

(also bridging, layer 2 bridging)

Network bridge definition

A network bridge is a device or software that connects two or more network segments, allowing devices on separate networks to communicate as if they were on the same network. It operates at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model, forwarding traffic based on the MAC addresses of devices. Network bridges help to extend network coverage and reduce collision domains, improving network performance.

See also: default gateway, routing table

Network bridge examples

  • Hardware bridge: A standalone device that connects two network segments, such as wired and wireless networks, or two Ethernet networks using different protocols.
  • Software bridge: A software-based solution, often used in virtual environments, that connects two or more network segments, allowing virtual machines to communicate with each other or the host system.

Pros and cons of network bridges


  • Extends network coverage.
  • Reduces collision domains.
  • Improves network performance by filtering traffic based on MAC addresses.
  • Easy to set up and maintain.


  • Limited scalability compared to network switches.
  • Not as efficient in handling large volumes of traffic.
  • May introduce security vulnerabilities if not properly configured.

Tips for using network bridges

  • Use network bridges to extend coverage in areas with limited connectivity.
  • Implement network security measures, such as firewalls and VPNs, to protect bridged networks from unauthorized access.
  • Consider using network switches for larger networks that require greater scalability and performance.