Message Switching


Message switching is a communication technique where a complete data message is received, stored, and forwarded by an intermediary node, or switch, in a telecommunication network. The intermediary node determines the best route for the message based on the network’s status, congestion, or priority. This method allows for optimized resource utilization, reduces transmission delays, and ensures reliable message delivery on the intended route.

Key Takeaways

  1. Message Switching is a communication technique where messages are routed through intermediate nodes to their final destination.
  2. In this method, the complete message is temporarily stored and then forwarded as a single unit when the next node is available. This is also known as a store-and-forward technique.
  3. Message switching provides improved reliability and fault tolerance, as it can handle network congestion and node failures more effectively than circuit switching.


Message Switching is an important technology term because it refers to a mode of communication where data is transmitted and stored between nodes before reaching its final destination.

This method uses intermediate nodes, or switches, to efficiently route and control the flow of information, contributing to improved communication management, especially in environments with high traffic or limited bandwidth.

In addition, Message Switching supports various data types, such as files or emails, across different networks and infrastructure.

Furthermore, it increases the reliability of data transmission, with error checking and retransmission capabilities to minimize data loss and corruption.

Overall, Message Switching plays a significant role in optimizing communication within computer networks and facilitating smooth information exchange across diverse systems.


Message switching, often regarded as one of the primary methods of communication in computer networks, revolves around its key purpose of effectively transmitting messages from a sender to a receiver. The fundamental concept involves storing a message temporarily within a switch and forwarding it to the intended recipient. This intermediate node, commonly known as a switch, acts as a buffer between communicating devices.

In doing so, it allows for greater control and flexibility in communication by thoroughly examining and directing messages only when the communication channels are free, thereby avoiding transmission clashes. Moreover, message switching is highly reliable, as it aids in safeguarding vital information from being lost or interrupted by congestion or other technical issues. One of the notable applications of message switching is in email communication, where messages are directed through a series of intermediate nodes or electronic mail servers before they eventually reach the recipient’s mailbox.

This method facilitates seamless correspondence between parties regardless of differing connection speeds or capacities, as it temporarily stores the message before forwarding it. In addition, message switching lends itself to several other domains, including control and management systems, remote access services, and messaging applications, greatly evolving its benefits and importance in the realm of technology. As technological infrastructure progresses, message switching continues to play a significant role in managing, optimizing, and enhancing various communication mediums.

Examples of Message Switching

Message switching is a telecommunication technique in which data is routed in its entirety from the source to the destination as stored units, and the message is only forwarded to the next intermediate node when there is a clear communication path to the destination. Here are three real-world examples of message switching:

Email: Email communication is a prime example of message switching. When a user sends an email, the entire message is sent to the email server, which temporarily stores it. When the recipient checks their inbox or when a fetch request is initiated, the email server forwards the message to the recipient’s device. This process does not require a continuous connection between the sender and receiver.

Store-and-Forward Fax: In a store-and-forward fax service, the sender’s fax machine sends the entire fax message to a fax service provider, which stores the message temporarily. When the intended recipient is ready to accept the fax, the service provider forwards (or “switches”) the stored message to the recipient’s fax machine. This approach ensures successful transmission even if the recipient’s fax machine was busy or temporarily unavailable when the message was first sent.

Packet Switching Networks (older version): In the early stages of packet switching networks, such as early ARPANET systems, message switching techniques were utilized. The entire message would be stored in a buffer and forwarded as a whole unit to the next intermediate node when a clear path was available. As packet switching evolved, this approach was replaced by more advanced methods like circuit switching and data packet switching, which allow for smaller chunks of data to be transmitted independently.

FAQ – Message Switching

What is message switching?

Message switching is a communication technique where an entire message is received at an intermediate node (known as a switch), stored, and then forwarded to the next node in the path of the destination. It occurs in a store-and-forward manner, ensuring that messages are delivered correctly and in sequence.

How does message switching work?

In message switching, when a sender wants to transmit a message, the message is first sent to the nearest switch in the network. The switch then stores the message temporarily and searches for the optimal route to send the message to the recipient. Once the path is determined, the switch forwards the message to the next switch in the path, and the process repeats until the message reaches the recipient.

What are the advantages of message switching?

Some advantages of message switching include:

  • Efficient use of network resources, as data is sent in a store-and-forward manner only when the route is available.
  • Increased reliability, as each switch can verify the correctness of the message before forwarding it.
  • Automatic path determination, as switches can determine the best route for message transmission.
  • Ability to handle network congestion, as switches can store messages until the next route becomes available.

What are the disadvantages of message switching?

Some disadvantages of message switching include:

  • Potential delay in message transmission, as each switch stores the message before forwarding it.
  • Increased processing requirements at each switch to store and forward messages.
  • Potential for messages to be delayed due to network congestion or switch failures.

What is the difference between message switching and circuit switching?

In message switching, data is transmitted on a store-and-forward basis, whereas in circuit switching, a dedicated communication path is established between the sender and receiver for the entire duration of their communication. This means that in circuit switching, resources are reserved for the entire conversation, regardless of whether data is being transmitted or not. In contrast, message switching uses network resources more efficiently, as data is only transmitted when the path is available.

Related Technology Terms

  • Store-and-Forward Networks
  • Routing Algorithm
  • Intermediate Nodes
  • Buffer Storage
  • End-to-End Delivery

Sources for More Information


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