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Sneakernet definition

Sneakernet refers to a term used to describe the transfer of electronic information, especially large computer files, by physically carrying removable media such as magnetic tape, CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives, or external hard drives from one computer to another.

The term is a play on Ethernet, a system for connecting computers together in a local area network (LAN) as opposed to sneakernet, which refers to the footwear that a person might wear while transporting the data.

See also: ethernet

History of sneakernet

It is unclear who coined the term, but sneakernet has been used in the IT world since at least the early 1980s, when floppy disks were the primary way of data storage. It reflects a humorous acknowledgement of the sometimes-practical need to bypass network data transfer in favor of physically moving media from one place to another.

The term and the practice it describes have remained relevant even in the age of the internet and cloud computing. This is especially true when dealing with large volumes of data or operating in areas with poor network connectivity. In these cases, it's still sometimes faster or more practical to physically transport data on storage media, effectively using a sneakernet.