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Load balancing is an even division of processing work between two or more computers and/or CPUs, network links, storage devices or other devices, ultimately delivering faster service with higher efficiency. Load balancing is accomplished through software, hardware or both, and it often uses multiple servers that appear to be a single computer system (also known as computer clustering).
Management of heavy Web traffic relies on load balancing, which is accomplished either by assigning each request from one or more websites to a separate server, or by balancing work between two servers with a third server, which is often programmed with varied scheduling algorithms to determine each server’s work. Load balancing is usually combined with failover (the ability to switch to a backup server in case of failure) and/or data backup services.
System designers may want some servers or systems to share more of the workload than others. This is known as asymmetric loading.
Large telecommunications companies and others with extensive internal or external networks may use more sophisticated load balancing to shift network communications between paths and avoid network congestion. Results include improved network reliability and/or the avoidance of costly external network transit.