Load Balancing and Session Affinity for Network+ and Security+

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If you’re preparing for the Network+ or the Security+ exam, you might like to review some information on “load balancing” and “session affinity” and try your hand a couple of practice test questions.

Load Balancing

A load balancer can optimize and distribute data loads across multiple computers or multiple networks. Organizations commonly use a load balancer when hosting a web site among multiple servers in a web farm. The following configuration shows a typical configuration.

When a user connects to the web site, the load balancer uses an algorithm to direct the user to a specific web server. Different users are connected to different web servers and the overall result is that the load is balanced among each of the servers.

Load balancers can be hardware based of software based. In a hardware-based cluster, the hardware device controls all of the traffic to the servers in the load balancing cluster. In a software-based load balancer, each of the servers in the load balancing cluster includes software to support the cluster.

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Example Practice Test Question

Q. A web site is hosted on four different web servers. What would you use to ensure each web server has an equal amount of traffic?

A. Load balancer
B. Proxy server
C. TDR
D. Throughput tester

Answer and explanation below


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Session Affinity

Many times when a user is browsing through a site, they create an active session. Session data is maintained to ensure that the user experience is consistent.

In a load balancing cluster, it’s important for the user to always use the same server in the load balancing cluster during a session. This is referred to as session affinity or sometimes as server affinity. The load balancer is responsible for maintaining session affinity.

As an example, imagine a user decides to purchase the You Can Do Anything (Three Simple Steps to Success) book from darrilgibson.com. Several steps and several web pages are included in the session. The user adds the item to the cart, clicks a button to checkout, enters shipping and billing information, and completes the sale. During this session, the user needs to connect to the same server for each step.

If the user added the item to the shopping cart on Web Server A, but was then redirected to Web Server B after clicking the checkout button, the shopping cart would be empty. Web Server B doesn’t have the session information from Web Server A. The problem is avoided by using session affinity to ensure the user connects to the correct server for each step in the session.

Example Practice Test Question

Q. Of the following choices, what does a load balancer provide? (Choose all that apply.)

A. Content filtering and web page caching
B. Internet usage reports and web page caching
C. Distribution of network requests and increased availability
D. Session affinity

Answer and explanation below

Practice Test Answers

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Up-to-date Content

New multiple-choice and performance-based questions added regularly

Pass the first time with quality practice test questions, performance-based questions, flashcards, and audio.

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60 Days Access

Need more time? You can easily renew for another 60 days at a significantly reduced price.

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

Our online Security+ study materials are the perfect complement to the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. They can also be used to help ensure you're ready no matter what study guide you're using.

This exam is expensive.

Make sure you're ready before exam day. 

Here's what you'll get:
  • All of the multiple-choice questions from the best-selling CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. See a demo here. All questions have full explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.
  • Over 40 new multiple-choice questions we've added after publishing the study guide.
  • Over 30 performance-based questions. See a demo here.
  • All of the flashcards from the study guide. View them in any Web browser.
  • All of the audio from the study guide. Listen to a sample here.
  • Access to a free discount code for 10% off your Security+ voucher.

Buy The Full Access Study Package Today

60 Days Access

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

1 – Load Balancer

Q. A web site is hosted on four different web servers. What would you use to ensure each web server has an equal amount of traffic?

A. Load balancer
B. Proxy server
C. TDR
D. Throughput tester

Answer: A is correct. A load balancer can balance the amount of traffic (the load) among multiple servers. A load balancer can be a hardware appliance, or
software installed on each of the systems.

B is incorrect. A proxy server provides Internet access to internal clients and includes web site caching to improve performance.

C is incorrect. A time domain reflectometer (TDR) is used to identify the location of a break in a cable.

D is incorrect. A throughput tester measures how much data can be transferred between two systems to identify the bandwidth.

Objective: 4.1 Explain the purpose and features of various network appliances.


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2 – Session Affinity

Q. Of the following choices, what does a load balancer provide? (Choose all that apply.)

A. Content filtering and web page caching
B. Internet usage reports and web page caching
C. Distribution of network requests and increased availability
D. Session affinity

Answer: C is correct. A load balancer will balance the load among several network devices (such as several web servers). It can also sense when any of the devices fail
and stop sending traffic to the failed device, which increases availability.

D is correct. A load balancer uses session affinity to ensure that a client will always contact the same server during an active session.

A is incorrect. A content filter can filter traffic based on content such as specific web site addresses or key words. A proxy server can also filter traffic based on web site addresses and will cache web site pages to improve performance.

B is incorrect. A proxy server can track user statistics such as web site visits, and cache web pages.

Objective: 4.1 Explain the purpose and features of various network appliances.

Other Study Resources

Here are some links to more resources to help you pass the Network+ exam the first time you take it.

Good Luck with the Exam

I hope you’ve found this information on load balancing and session affinity useful. Good luck on the exam.

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