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Slow Start

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When a host in a TCP/IP network first starts to transmit onto a shared network, it can be either well mannered or "grabby" about its use of bandwidth. A well-mannered host will start by sending only a few packets and wait for an ACK (acknowledgment). If an ACK is received, it increases the number of packets it sends and keeps increasing in this way until it reaches a transmission rate that does not congest the network. This is called "slow start." Most hosts now use slow start. Those that don't may flood a link with packets that overfill a buffer, causing packets from other hosts to be dropped. Dropped packets require retransmissions that further affect network performance. Various congestion control mechanisms are available that work in the network to prevent unmannered hosts from flooding the network. See "Congestion Control Mechanisms."

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