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Error control is the technique of detecting and correcting blocks of data during communication. In other words, it checks the reliability of characters both at the bit level and packet level. If proper error control is in place, transmitted and received data is ensured to be identical, as in many cases communication channels can be highly unreliable.
Data can be corrupted while in transmission. In order to retain reliable communication, errors must be detected and corrected. Several error control protocols are available and make use of error detection and retransmission of corrected frames. Some of the common techniques used in error control is acknowledgements, timeouts and negative acknowledgements. In a network, two types of errors occur: single-bit errors and burst errors. With a single-bit error, only one bit of data is altered; in a burst error, two or more bits could be altered.
Forward error control and feedback error control are the two types of error-control mechanisms used in communications. In forward error control, additional redundant information is also transmitted along with the data. This helps the receiver to detect and determine the location of the error in the transmitted data. In backward or feedback error control, along with each character, a little additional information is provided for the detection of errors; the receiver in this technique performs no error correction. If the received data is found to contain errors, the entire data is retransmitted. Forward error control is less commonly used due to the amount of additional redundant information which is transmitted.