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Next hop

(also next-hop address, next-hop router)

Next hop definition

The next hop is the next immediate router or gateway in the path taken by data packets as they travel through a network. It is an essential concept in routing and helps routers determine the best path for forwarding data packets to their final destination efficiently. The next hop is identified by its IP address, which is stored in the routing table alongside the associated network prefix and other routing information.

See also: default gateway, routing table

Next hop examples

  • In a small home network, if a device wants to communicate with another device outside the local network, the next hop is usually the home router that connects the local network to the internet service provider (ISP).
  • In a larger enterprise network, the next hop could be an internal router that forwards data packets between different network segments or branches.

Next hop vs. default gateway

The next hop and default gateway are related concepts but have distinct roles in networking. The default gateway is the router or device that a host uses to access other networks when no specific route is available in its routing table. In contrast, the next hop is the next router or device in the path to a specific destination, as determined by the routing table.

Pros of next-hop routing

  • Efficient routing: Next-hop routing enables routers to choose the best path for forwarding data packets, reducing network congestion and improving performance.
  • Scalability: Next-hop routing allows networks to grow and adapt, as routing tables can be updated to accommodate new devices and connections.

Tips for optimizing next-hop routing

  • Regularly update routing tables to ensure accurate and efficient routing.
  • Use dynamic routing protocols, such as OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) and BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), to automate routing table updates and improve network performance.