Network Bandwidth vs Throughput

Bandwidth vs. Throughput

When it comes to the speed of packet delivery in a network, throughput and network bandwidth are two essential factors to determine network performance. Although throughput and bandwidth provide two different types of information about data, they are closely connected. For instance, pretend bandwidth is a pipe and data throughput is a grain of rice. The larger the pipe, the faster the rice passes through; contrarily, if you pour loads of rice through a much smaller pipe, it will pass very slowly.

What is network throughput?

When it comes to optimizing and troubleshooting network perfromance, measuring throughput is one of the prime ways to assess the causes of a poor or lagging network connection. Throughput, in simple terms, refers to the amount of data that successfully transmits across a network. It is the data transfer rate that goes from a source to a destination in a time frame.

When network users access an application or share a file, they expect a high-speed transfer rate to get the desired response as soon as possible. High throughput means high efficiency is maintained in terms of productivity. A high throughput rate means the network is transmitting huge amounts of data per second, indicating healthy network performance. Whereas, a low throughput rate shows that the network is not delivering data desirably, leading to poor network performance. This may be due to packet loss, high latency, or jitter.

Network throughput provides an average figure of the network performance and is measured by bits per second or data packets per second. Typically, throughput is measured by transferring a large file from a source to a recipient and measuring the time required to complete the transfer.

What is network bandwidth?

Bandwidth indicates the maximum capacity of a network. Simply put, bandwidth weighs the rate at which a network can transmit a data packet from a source to a destination successfully in a time frame. Bandwidth is measured in bits per second, megabits per second, or gigabits per second. Bandwidth generally determines how high of a network throughput rate the network can possibly handle.

Bandwidth gives a theoretical scale of the maximum number of packets that can be delivered over a period of time. It is essential to note that having high bandwidth doesn't always result in high network performance—faster bandwidth doesn't increase the speed of a network, it just appears to make the network faster. Bandwidth doesn't increase the transfer rate of data or change the speed at which packets travel. You can improve the bandwidth of your network but you won't be increasing the transmission rate of data—you will only increase the amount of data that can be sent at one time.

So, if bandwidth doesn't increase the speed of the network, why is it important for network administrators to monitor it? This is because monitoring bandwidth provides information about the network's health. With this information, you can detect any bandwidth bottlenecks and troubleshoot them, thus increasing the speed of the network. With bandwidth, the network is theoretically faster and not practically faster.

Network bandwidth vs. network throughput

The motive of network throughput is to calculate data transfer rate, whereas the motive of bandwidth is to calculate the network's capacity. As mentioned earlier, throughput is a practical criterion that measures actual packet delivery rate, whereas bandwidth is a theoretical criterion that measures potential packet delivery.

Both throughput and bandwidth's key yardstick is packet delivery, but packet loss, latency, and jitter negatively contribute to the throughput rate. In order to have packets reach their destination successfully, it is crucial to have a low latency rate. In other words, a high throughput rate is dependent upon a low latency rate, while bandwidth is least affected by latency.

Bandwidth is measured in bits per second; because throughput is determined by the bandwidth, it is also measured in bits per second. Bandwdth is usually not affected by a physical obstruction due to its theoretical property, but throughput can be easily affected by any minute interference such as network traffic, transmission errors, and network devices.

Throughput and NetFlow Analyzer

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a throughput monitoring tool that provides deep insights into your network. It provides real-time performance data and monitors performance metrics like jitter, packet loss, and latency. With these detailed insights, you can make informed decisions about your network to detect and troubleshoot issues faster.

Download a 30-day free trial of NetFlow Analyzer

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