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Routers can get quite complicated.

At a first level, routers will cache information about what machines are on which port of the router. This enables them to not forward a packet to every port on the router (reducing network load). This is normally done using MAC Addresses.

On more expensive routers, the router can understand IGMP, or multicast and route based on multicast joins. This enables an optimization on simple broadcasts because not every machine on the network needs to see these packets, but multiple machines might want to.




Never mind when you start adding fault-tolerance and failover setups/configs to the mix.

It gets really complex really fast, and even the slightest lapse in attention to extreme detail can be disastrous and a nightmare to troubleshoot.

For instance, I once had a router reboot for some unknown reason, and the firmware/config wasn't properly flashed, so it reverted to the last point release of the firmware. That was enough to cause the failover heartbeat to be constantly triggered, and the master/slave routers just kept failing over to each other and corrupted all the ARP caches. Makes for a lot of fun when things work and then stop working in an inconsistent manner.

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