Browse Definitions:

Differentiated Services (DiffServ, or DS)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The VoIP basics every enterprise should know

Differentiated Services (DiffServ, or DS) is a protocol for specifying and controlling network traffic by class so that certain types of traffic get precedence - for example, voice traffic, which requires a relatively uninterrupted flow of data, might get precedence over other kinds of traffic. Differentiated Services is the most advanced method for managing traffic in terms of what is called Class of Service (CoS). Unlike the earlier mechanisms of 802.1p tagging and Type of Service (ToS), Differentiated Services avoids simple priority tagging and depends on more complex policy or rule statements to determine how to forward a given network packet. An analogy is made to travel services, in which a person can choose among different modes of travel - train, bus, airplane - degree of comfort, the number of stops on the route, standby status, the time of day or period of year for the trip, and so forth. For a given set of packet travel rules, a packet is given one of 64 possible forwarding behaviors - known as per hop behaviors (PHBs). A six-bit field, known as the Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP), in the Internet Protocol (IP) header specifies the per hop behavior for a given flow of packets.

Differentiated Services and the Class of Service approach provide a way to control traffic that is both more flexible and more scalability than the Quality of Service approach.

This was last updated in April 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...

  • NetApp SolidFire

    NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.