On a local area network, computers compete to use network bandwidth. If too many computers try to communicate simultaneously, the heavy load can cause the network to slow down. The Spanning Tree Protocol is an algorithm meant to reduce the likelihood of this problem. By creating a defined tree for bridges or switches within a network, the algorithm is able to streamline pathways to different network switches. When there is a situation that impedes the network, the STP will change its algorithm to fit the situation and maintain the quality of the network.
Simplification of Bridging Logic
One of the most important aspects of STP is that it avoids the bridging logic problem that comes into play when many computers are using a local area network at the same time. Each device uses different active paths that approach the same network address, confusing the logic of the network and preventing information from getting to where it needs to go. The algorithms for STP eliminate this confusion by establishing a root bridge that sees all traffic in the network and ensures efficient data forwarding.
Prevention of Loops
Enterprising Networking Planet states that, in addition to the STP algorithm allowing information to flow safely between devices, it also stops the potential for loops. When there are multiple network paths open to a device, loops may occur, and data can potentially be sent to a single source several times (or to the wrong place entirely). Loops can clog or crash a network. The STP algorithm creates a diagram that limits the number of open paths and arranges them in a way where information is sent from one device to another and then changed. This diagram helps devices to both communicate with each other and send data among each other freely.
Preventing Connection Problems
STP offers various backups that become active when the main connection experiences technical hiccups. These backups are possible because the STP has several paths from which to choose. According to Orbit Computer Solutions, at any given moment there is only one open path for each device to access the different switches of a network. When one path is functioning poorly or not functioning at all, the STP closes it and opens another path. This pattern explains what it means when the STP changes its algorithms in the event of a change in the network.