The Data Link Layer

The Data Link layer provides the physical transmission of the data and handles error notification, network topology, and flow control. This means the Data Link layer ensures that messages are delivered to the proper device on a LAN using hardware (MAC) addresses and translates messages from the Network layer into bits for the Physical layer to transmit.

The Data Link layer formats the message into pieces, each called a data frame , and adds a customized header containing the destination and source hardware addresses. This added information forms a sort of capsule that surrounds the original message in much the same way that engines, navigational devices, and other tools were attached to the lunar modules of the Apollo project. These various pieces of equipment were useful only during certain stages of flight and were stripped off the module and discarded when their designated stage was complete. This is a great analogy for data traveling through networks because it works very similarly.

It’s important for you to understand that routers, which work at the Network layer, don’t care about where a particular host is located. They’re only concerned about where networks are located and the best way to reach them—including remote ones. Routers are totally obsessive when it comes to networks, and in this instance, obsession is a good thing! The Data Link layer is responsible for the unique identification of each device that resides on a local network.

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