Flow control is the management of data flow between computers or devices or between nodes in a network so that the data can be handled at an efficient pace. Too much data arriving before a device can handle it causes data overflow, meaning the data is either lost or must be retransmitted. For serial data transmission locally or in a network, the Xon/Xoff protocol can be used. For modem connections, either Xon/Xoff or CTS/RTS (Clear to Send/Ready to Send) commands can be used to control data flow.
In a network, flow control can also be applied by refusing additional device connections until the flow of traffic has subsided.