Broadcast Storm

Definition - What does Broadcast Storm mean?

A broadcast storm occurs when a network system is overwhelmed by continuous multicast or broadcast traffic. When different nodes are sending/broadcasting data over a network link, and the other network devices are rebroadcasting the data back to the network link in response, this will eventually cause the whole network to melt down and lead to the failure of network communication.

There are many reasons a broadcast storm occurs, including poor technology, low port rate switches and improper network configurations.

Techopedia explains Broadcast Storm

Although computer networks and network devices are very intelligent and efficient, networks and network devices sometimes fail to provide 100% efficiency. The broadcast storm is one of the major deficiencies in computer network systems.

For example, let's suppose there is a small LAN network consisting of three switches (Switch A, Switch B and Switch C), and three network segments (Segment A, Segment B and Segment C). Two nodes are attached within this network. Node A is attached to Segment B, while Node B is directly attached to Switch A. Now, if Node B wants to transmit a data packet to Node A, then traffic will be broadcast from Switch A over to Segment C; if this fails, then Switch A will also broadcast traffic over Segment A. Because Node A neither attaches to Segment C, nor Segment A, these switches would further create a flood to Segment B. If neither device/switch has learned the Node A address, then traffic will be sent back to Switch A. Hence, all devices/switches will keep sending and resending the traffic, eventually resulting in a flood loop or broadcast loop. The final result is that the network will melt down, causing failure in all network links, which is referred to as a broadcast storm.

The following elements play an active role in the creation of a broadcast storm:

  • Poor network management
  • The use of cheap devices, including hubs, switches, routers, cables, connectors etc.
  • Improperly maintained network configuration and inexperienced network engineers
  • The lack of a network diagram design, which is needed for proper management and to provide guidelines for all network traffic routes. This can be done on paper and with the help of application software that creates an automated network diagram.
  • Poor monitoring of the network
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