What is an End System?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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An end system is a device that is connected directly to the Internet, creating an interface that individual users can access. End systems take numerous forms. They allow users to interact directly with the Internet to send and receive data and they may be used for everything from processing orders for a company to sending out photographs of a family vacation.

One example of an end system is a personal computer. The computer has applications that people can use to perform tasks like checking email, browsing the Internet, uploading files, and so forth. In addition to personal computers, devices such as cameras can also be connected to the Internet as end systems, as seen when people use webcams to chat with each other.

Other end systems are not accessed directly by users, but do facilitate Internet communications. This includes servers for data such as email and web pages. Users connect with such end systems through their own computers, which contact the server to access and transfer information. Together, these create an interconnected network of end systems, which makes up the Internet architecture that allows people to exchange information globally via a variety of channels.


The speed at which data can be transferred depends on a number of factors including the location of the computers involved, the types of connections that have been established, and whether or not there are access controls in place. Some Internet service providers, for example, limit bandwidth transfers by their customers. These companies may control their flows of traffic to ensure that their systems do not become clogged with requests from heavy users.

As a primary access point, an end system can be vulnerable. Viruses often target end systems, infecting them and establishing a foothold that can be used to infect other end systems as the infected computer exchanges data with them. They also create weak points in security, as a computer designed for data transfer can be penetrated and used to unauthorized individuals who wish to obtain proprietary information or access other private data.

In situations where an end system is used with sensitive data, there are a number of security measures that can be taken to make it safer. These measures include encoding data, limiting access to the device, and monitoring traffic for signs of abnormalities which might suggest that someone who is not authorized is accessing the computer. Regularly backing up data to protect it from viruses and changing passwords for security is also a critical part of maintaining security at the end system.


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