What is Network Topology? | Exploring Types and Pros/Cons

Organizing and designing a network is what network topology refers to. It allows computers in a network to communicate and share data.

What is Network Topology?

What is Computer Network Topologies, and What Are Their Types?

Interconnected nodes create a network topology. You can expand the structure by connecting each node to the next node. Additionally, this process enhances the connectivity within the network.

The arrangement of nodes determines the topology. Additionally, there are different standardized topologies applicable to the TCP protocol. Each node has its characteristics, enhancing network flexibility and efficiency.

The topology of a network refers to the geometric arrangement of devices connected to it. The most common topologies from the past are Bus, Ring, Star, Tree, and Mesh.

Bus Network Topology

The bus topology is like the star topology. A single shared transmission medium connects all devices. This arrangement simplifies network setup and reduces costs. Computers talk to each other through a standard bus circuit. A controller makes sure the data goes to the right place.

In this topology, data transfer travels through the cable in both directions. The rate of transfer is about 10/100 Mbps. Additionally, terminators are at each end of the line to correctly end the signal. This arrangement enhances communication reliability and efficiency within the network.

The bus topology can connect many computers. If one computer fails, communication is still maintained. But, if the bus itself falls, the entire network experiences interruptions. Ensure the bus connection is reliable and has a backup to prevent network downtime.

Usually, the type of wiring used in network structures can be coaxial, twisted pair, or fiber optic. Computers can talk to each other using a network cable they share. It’s like they’re all on the same bus!

A long cable, called a linear bus, connects the network nodes from one end of the network to another. So the wiring structure can run through the floor, walls, ceiling, or several places.

Ring Network Topology

In a ring topology, communication occurs through a token. The token acts as a passing postman, collecting and delivering information packets. This design prevents information loss caused by collisions. The network achieves efficient and reliable communication by utilizing this method.

The double-ring topology (token ring) enables sending data in both directions. This configuration allows for fault tolerance and ensures reliable communication. If one of the rings fails, the active ring seamlessly takes over the function of both. This redundancy enhances network stability and minimizes disruptions.

The ring network has one inbound and one outbound connection for each node. Each station has a receiver and a transmitter acting as a translator. It transmits the signal to the next station, ensuring seamless communication. This design allows for efficient data transmission within the network.

Advantages

  • The network structure is simple.
  • The network is easy to configure.
  • Data flow is easy.

Disadvantages

  • It has a limited channel length.
  • Adding new nodes to the network decreases channel efficiency as it grows.
  • Data transfer is easy but slow.

Star Network Topology

Star topology utilizes an active hub to address echo-related issues in data transfer. Local networks commonly use this configuration. This setup achieves efficient and reliable communication while minimizing potential disruptions. People generally use routers, switches, or hubs in this network structure.

In the star topology, the central node handles all packets as the router, switch, or hub. All nodes can only send and receive data through the central node.

Hubs used to be popular, but now switches are more common because they are more intelligent. If any node encounters a connection problem with the central node, it gets isolated from the rest.

If you’re using a switch to communicate, get a good and stable device because it will handle a lot of traffic.

Advantages

  • It has the necessary tools to prevent potential problems in the network.
  • When a computer gets disconnected or has its cable broken, it can’t connect to the internet. But other computers can still communicate.
  • Adding a new computer to the network structure is simple and easy.
  • Finding faults that may occur is an exact time.
  • All nodes can communicate with each other quickly.
  • Upgrading or maintaining a network is cheaper than using a bus or ring topology.

Disadvantages

  • The entire network becomes disconnected when the central node fails.
  • It is slightly more expensive as it requires more cables than a bus or ring topologies.
  • Pulling a line connects each computer to the hub or switch.
  • If the central node gets attacked, all connected devices are at risk.

Tree Network Topology

A tree topology is a group of star networks that don’t have a central node. One cable connection between switches can create a network with other devices. The network can grow like a tree’s branches.

It’s like a bus network, but if one part stops working, the others can still talk and use the same path.

The tree and star networks work like a bus when the primary node sends information. Information spreads through various paths depending on its nature, reaching many destinations.

If many stations talk at once, they can only use a different path to send information, which can cause problems.

Tree topology is like a bunch of star networks arranged in a hierarchy.

Advantages

  • The central hub boosts signal power and range during transmission.
  • Thanks to secondary hubs or switches, we can connect more devices.
  • It allows prioritization and isolation of communications from critical computers.
  • It supports point-to-point wiring for individual segments.
  • Many software and hardware vendors support it extensively.

Disadvantages

  • One of its main disadvantages is that it requires more cables.
  • The cable structure used determines the size of each section.
  • If the central node collapses, the whole partition crashes with it.
  • It is more difficult to configure and takes time.

Mesh Network Topology

In a mesh topology, nodes connect, allowing for different message transmission methods.

Having many paths in a network reduces the chances of communication problems. Extensive networks and places that process critical data use this network structure.

Connecting to many servers in the network avoids data transmission issues.

If one computer stops working, other computers can still talk to each other differently.

Advantages

  • It is a very reliable network structure.
  • If the switches fail, the system uses different routes to send data.
  • When a node in the network fails, the network continues to operate.

Disadvantages

  • Since the amount of cable used for redundant roads is high, its cost is higher than other topologies.
  • The network is more challenging to manage.
  • It may take some time to find possible faults in the network.
  • It is more difficult to configure because the wiring processes are longer.

Related Articles


1) What is Networking Switch?
2) What is Structured Cabling?
3) What is Gateway?
4) What is RJ45?
5) What is NIC?

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