A node is any computer or other device connected to a network that sends, receives, or redistributes data. For example, computers, file servers, network-connected printers, and routers are all nodes on a local area network.

A typical network has two types of nodes — endpoints that both send and receive data, and redistribution points that direct data along its way to its destination. Most devices on a network, like computers, tablets, printers, and file servers, are endpoints where data starts or ends its journey. Redistribution points are network infrastructure devices like routers, wireless access points, modems, and switches that route data to its next stop, whether that is an endpoint, the next router on the network, or another stop on the Internet.

Each node on a network has two addresses that identify it. Each device has its own MAC address, which it shares with the network router to uniquely identify itself. The router then assigns an IP address, which it uses to direct network traffic to the correct node.

Updated December 6, 2022 by Brian P.

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