Network Bottleneck

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What Does Network Bottleneck Mean?

A network bottleneck refers to a discrete condition in which data flow is limited by computer or network resources. The flow of data is controlled according to the bandwidth of various system resources. If the system working on a network is delivering a higher volume of data than what is supported by the existing capacity of the network, then a network bottleneck will occur.


A common computing bottleneck culprit is network data interruption caused by microprocessor circuitry or TCP/IP.

A network bottleneck is also known as a bottleneck or hot spot.

Techopedia Explains Network Bottleneck

As the name implies, a network bottleneck results in slow communication speeds and limits user efficiency and productivity on a network. To avoid all these problems, systems are built to support a particular data flow capacity so that work can continue without any issues. On a network, each system is able to work according its processor speed, its memory size, its cache speed and its network interface card speed. These discrete systems do not rely on other network resources to accept their incoming data at the rate they are sending because these objects only receive data according to their own capacity.

A bottleneck occurs when bandwidth is unable to accommodate large amounts of system data at designated data transfer rate speeds. Road traffic is a common bottleneck analogy. For example, bottlenecking is inevitable when only one of two busy road lanes is passable.

Bottlenecks are caused by multiple factors, including:

  • Hardware components, like CPUs
  • Graphical processing units
  • RAM memory

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.