Network Traffic

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What Does Network Traffic Mean?

Network traffic refers to the amount of data moving across a network at a given point in time. Network data is mostly encapsulated in network packets, which provide the load in the network. That data can be anything, from text to music, video, or VoIP services.


Network traffic is the main component for network traffic measurement, network traffic control and simulation.

The proper organization of network traffic helps in ensuring the quality of service in a given network. Network traffic is also known as data traffic.

Techopedia Explains Network Traffic

Network traffic is the main component for bandwidth measurement and management. Moreover, various topologies of the network can only be implemented based on the amount of network traffic in the system.

Network traffic can be broadly classified into the following categories:

  • Busy/heavy traffic – High bandwidth is consumed in this traffic
  • Non-real-time traffic – Consumption of bandwidth during working hours
  • Interactive traffic – Is subject to competition for bandwidth and could result in poor response times if prioritization of applications and traffic is not set
  • Latency-sensitive traffic – Is subject to competition for bandwidth and could result in poor response times

Proper analysis of network traffic provides the organization with the following benefits:

  • Identifying network bottlenecks – There could be users or applications that consume high amounts of bandwidth, thus constituting a major part of the network traffic. Different solutions can be implemented to tackle these.
  • Network security – Unusual amount of traffic in a network is a possible sign of an attack. Network traffic reports provide valuable insights into preventing such attacks.
  • Network engineering – Knowing the usage levels of the network allows future requirements to be analyzed.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

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.