Stands for "Border Gateway Protocol." BGP is a protocol used for routing data transmissions over the Internet. It helps determine the most efficient path, whether sending data down the street or across the globe.

BGP manages the flow of data similar to how the post office handles the delivery of physical mail. For example, when a user in Los Angeles accesses a website in New York, BGP first routes the data from the New York-based server to the Internet backbone. The data travels through large fiber optic cables across state lines, then through smaller networks until it arrives at the user's ISP in Los Angeles. The ISP then routes the data locally to the user's device.

Each router along the data transmission route is called a "hop." You can view the hops between your location and a server using a traceroute command, such as the ones below:
Unix - traceroute
DOS - tracert

Fundamental to the Border Gateway Protocol are routing tables, which are plain text files that list available routers by IP address. BGP routers use these tables to determine the best path for each data transmission. Routing tables are frequently updated since the fastest route can change based on network traffic and outages. High-traffic routers may request updates once a minute or even every few seconds.

Benefits of BGP

  1. A standard means of communication between routers
  2. Efficient routing of data over the Internet
  3. Adaptability for network congestion
  4. Redundancy when network outages occur
  5. Scalability to add or remove routers
  6. Autonomous operation

NOTE: While BGP enables efficient routing of data across long distances, CDNs provide an even greater benefit by hosting data at "edge nodes" around the world.

Updated March 18, 2022 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Which of the following statements best describes a virtual IP address (VIP)?

It is a public IP address shared by multiple devices connected to the Internet.
It is a private IP address assigned by a router via DHCP.
It is the static IP address of a "localhost" device.
It is an IPv4 address converted from an IPv6 address.
Correct! Incorrect!     View the VIP definition.
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