What Does Sneakernet Mean?

Sneakernet is a slang term that refers to the transfer of data and electronic files between computers through removable media (like hard drives, flash drives and optical disks), which are physically transported between computers and on foot. This method is used in lieu of a computer network file transfer.


The term sneakernet (meant to sound like Ethernet) refers to sneakers worn by the person carrying files between computers.

Techopedia Explains Sneakernet

The term sneakernet is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying there is no network. Oftentimes, simply plugging in a USB drive is the best way to get data from point A to point B. There are also genuine uses where networks may be cost prohibitive, as well as in environments where security is a top priority. This prevents outside access to files because the computers are not connected to a network (commonly known as an air gap). Thus, there is no network to hack or breach.

Sneakernets are ideal when high throughput, rather than low latency, is required. Although they suffer from high latency, sneakernets can achieve huge throughput directly proportional to transferred data file size, which means that hundreds of gigabytes of data may be transferred in a relatively short period by transferring storage devices, versus sending through a network.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…