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MTU
Last modified: Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Short for Maximum Transmission Unit, the largest physical packet size, measured in bytes, that a network can transmit. Any messages larger than the MTU are divided into smaller packets before being sent.

Every network has a different MTU, which is set by the network administrator. On Windows 95, you can also set the MTU of your machine. This defines the maximum size of the packets sent from your computer onto the network. Ideally, you want the MTU to be the same as the smallest MTU of all the networks between your machine and a message's final destination. Otherwise, if your messages are larger than one of the intervening MTUs, they will get broken up (fragmented), which slows down transmission speeds.

Trial and error is the only sure way of finding the optimal MTU, but there are some guidelines that can help. For example, the MTU of many PPP connections is 576, so if you connect to the Internet via PPP, you might want to set your machine's MTU to 576 too. Most Ethernet networks, on the other hand, have an MTU of 1500, which is the default MTU setting for Windows 95.

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