Data Transmission Methods

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If you’re planning on taking the Network+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of the different data transmission methods used by clients.

As an example, can you answer this question?

Q. Which of the following transmission methods allows a single computer to address data transmissions to multiple computers on a network without addressing all the computers on the network?

A. Unicast

B. Multicast

C. Broadcast

D. Switch

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation is available at the end of this post.

Different Data Transmission Methods

Networks connect computing devices together so that users can share resources such as data and devices. For example, a simple network can have two computers and a printer. Users on the network can access shared files and folders on each of the computers, and print documents through the networked printer.

Before networks were widespread, users shared files by copying them to a disk and carrying them to other computers – humorously referred to as “sneakernet.” People used their shoes (such as tennis shoes or “sneakers”) to transfer the data.

The most common type of device on a network is a desktop personal computer (PC). However, networks include many other types of devices such as servers, printers, laptop computers, smartphones, and tablets. You’ll often see a computing device on a network generically referred to as a client, host, or node.

Network devices such as hubs or switches connect these clients together within a network. Routers connect multiple networks together to create larger and larger networks. The Internet appears as a single huge network but in reality, it is a massive network of networks connected with routers around the world.

If you’re pursuing the Network+ certification, it’s expected that you have a basic understanding of clients or hosts on a network. A client, or host, is any device on the network  such as personal computers, laptop computers, printers, and servers.


Learn more about how devices connect and communicate over a network.

Sign up for the free Networking Components course here.


Before knowing these network devices, it’s useful to understand three different methods that clients use to transmit data. They are:

  • Unicast. You can think of this as one-to-one traffic. One computer sends data to one other computer on the network.
  • Broadcast. You can think of this as one-to-all traffic. One computer sends data to all other computers on the network.
  • Multicast. You can think of this as one-to-many traffic. One computer sends data to multiple computers on the network, but not all of them.

Data Transmission Methods

Remember This

Unicast traffic goes from one computer to one computer. Broadcast traffic goes from one computer to all other computers on the network. Multicast traffic allows a single computer to address multiple computers on a network simultaneously without addressing all of them.


 

Q. Which of the following transmission methods allows a single computer to address data transmissions to multiple computers on a network without addressing all the computers on the network?

A. Unicast

B. Multicast

C. Broadcast

D. Switch

Answer is B. One computer can address multiple computers on a network without addressing all the computers with multicast data transmissions.

One computer can address one other computer with unicast transmissions.

One computer can address all other computers on a network with broadcast transmissions and it’s important to remember that most broadcast transmissions are not passed by routers.

Switches connect computers win a network but a switch is not a transmission method.

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