Network throughput definition
Network throughput is the amount of data that can be transferred over a network in a given period of time, usually measured in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second (Bps). Throughput is one of the crucial metrics to measure the performance of a computer, telecommunications, or data network.
Factors affecting network throughput
- Bandwidth. The maximum rate of data transfer across a given path. Limited bandwidth can act as a bottleneck, constraining the network’s throughput. Sometimes internet service providers (ISP) intentionally throttle the bandwidth available for online activities like streaming video content.
- Network congestion. The more traffic there is on a network, the lower the throughput tends to be. This is due to more data packets being lost or delayed (which then need to be re-sent), slowing down the overall data transfer rate.
- Hardware limitations. The speed and capacity of network devices like routers, switches, and cables can limit throughput.
- Software performance. The efficiency of the protocols and software used for data transfer can also affect throughput.
- Network architecture. The way a network is structured can have an impact. For instance, star networks may have higher throughput than ring networks because data can be sent directly between nodes.
- Interference. Especially relevant for wireless networks, where interference from other devices or physical barriers can decrease the network’s throughput.