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What is Message Queueing?

By Bridget Wright
Updated May 16, 2024
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When messages are stored in a queue, they are parked at intermittent points, called nodes, until they are ready to be forwarded to the recipient. The most commonly used form of message queueing is in electronic mail, more commonly known as email. Queueing is also often used in processing data in networks.

In an email system that queues messages on its servers, the recipient does not have to retrieve the message immediately since the process of message queueing simply organizes or sorts the message according to the order in which they are received. Within each node that parks the message on its system or its server, the application for the email has a connection point or an end point that is used for the data transmission. Any previous messages or data in the system is held until there is more room on the server or until earlier messages are released from the server. After this process, current messages move on from the server and arrive at the end users mailbox or file and the process of message queuing begins again.

Message queueing does not allow for messages of any length or size, but it does limit the size of a single data file. Generally, message queueing systems function internally within an operating system. The application is available for that system only and often multiple servers are necessary if large data files are involved or if there are security risks for the users.

Message queueing has multiple benefits, especially for networks which manage multiple users or have different hierarchies of importance or security within the network. In queuing messages, systems are able to communicate between programs which allow users to receive and send messages while other programs are compiling data. Queuing also allows users to select the order that a program processes any necessary information. This means that a user can queue a high-importance message for transmission before a file that is already on the server. This is especially useful in networks with multiple user levels and varying user security levels.

Another helpful benefit of message queueing is the user’s ability to make their own program more accessible on an alternative system if the primary system is unavailable. This would apply to any system where an application may slow down a server’s response time, therefore making it necessary and preferred to move the file to an available, alternative server. This process not only makes more data file space available but also has the potential to increase work productivity and efficiency.

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