What is a network loop?

A network loop occurs when a network has more than one active path carrying information from the same source to the same destination. This looping of information amplifies itself using the additional path instead of stopping when it reaches its destination. Network loops might cause a slow, irregular Internet connection or network failure.

The Impact of Network Loops

When a network loop overwhelms broadcast traffic and degrades network performance, it is termed a “broadcast storm”. Some NETGEAR switches use Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) to identify and remove network loops and prevent broadcast storms.

Switching Loops: A Closer Look

A switching loop or bridge loop occurs in computer networks when there is more than one layer 2 path between two endpoints (e.g., multiple connections between two network switches or two ports on the same switch connected to each other). The loop creates broadcast storms as broadcasts and multicasts are forwarded by switches out every port, the switch or switches will repeatedly rebroadcast the broadcast messages flooding the network.

The Effect of a Switching Loop on Network Performance

When there is a switching loop on your network, the destination will be unreachable until the switching loop disappears because to join the next network hop you have to pass by the previous one. This can take several minutes depending on the routing protocol that is used (i.e., OSPF, RIPv2, etc.). Switching loops also generate broadcast storms, since the broadcast packets are forwarded to every port on the switch; the switch will repeatedly rebroadcast the broadcast messages, thus flooding the network.

Common Network Loop Examples

Let’s take a look at some common network loop examples, including resolutions.

Network Switch Connected to Itself with an Ethernet Cable

Problem: Both ends of an Ethernet cable are plugged into the same network switch.

Solution: Unplug the Ethernet cable.

Router Connected to Itself with an Ethernet Cable

Both ends of an Ethernet cable are plugged into the same router.

Problem: Both ends of an Ethernet cable are plugged into the same router.

Solution: Unplug the Ethernet cable.

Wireless Device Connected to a Router Using Both WiFi and Ethernet

A wireless device is connected to a router using both WiFi and Ethernet.

Problem: A wireless device is connected to a router using both WiFi and Ethernet. The wireless device could be an IP camera, a computer, a printer, a smart home hub, or any other device that supports both wired and wireless connections.

Solution: Disconnect the Ethernet cable from your device or turn off your device’s WiFi.

Wireless Device Connected to a Range Extender Using Both WiFi and Ethernet

A wireless device is connected to a wireless extender using an Ethernet cable, but the device’s WiFi is not turned off.

Problem: A wireless device is connected to a wireless extender using an Ethernet cable, but the device’s WiFi is not turned off. The wireless device could be an IP camera, a computer, a printer, a smart home hub, or any other device that supports both wired and wireless connections.

Solution: Disconnect the Ethernet cable from your device or turn off your device’s WiFi.

Orbi Satellite Connected to Itself with an Ethernet Cable

Both ends of an Ethernet cable are plugged into the same Orbi Satellite.

Problem: Both ends of an Ethernet cable are plugged into the same Orbi Satellite.

Solution: Unplug the Ethernet cable.

Conclusion

Understanding network loops and their potential impact on network performance is crucial for maintaining a stable and efficient network. By identifying and resolving network loops, you can prevent broadcast storms and ensure a smooth, reliable Internet connection.

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