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Basic Concepts of Computer

Network Topology

Lesson Objectives
At the end of this lesson, the learner
should be able to achieve the following
three objectives:
Clearly define the term network topology.
Identify the types of network topologies

and their individual advantages and

How to properly choose the appropriate

for a given situation.

A network topology describes the
arrangement of systems on a
computer network. It defines
how the computers, or nodes,
within the network are
arranged and connected to each
(, 2007)

Commonly Used Network

The most commonly used network
topologies are:

The Bus Topology

The bus topology is the

simplest and
most common.
It is often used when a

network installation is
small, simple, or temporary.
It is a passive topology.

This means that computers on

the bus only listen to the
data being sent. They are not
responsible for moving the
data from one computer to the

The Bus Topology

In an active topology network, the

computers regenerate signals and are

responsible for moving the data through
the network.
On a bus network, all the computers are

connected to a single cable.

When one computer sends a signal using

the cable, all the computers on the

network receive the message, but only the
addressee accepts it. The other computers
disregard the message.

Advantages of the Bus

The bus is simple and very reliable

in very
small networks.
The bus network requires the least

amount of cable to connect the

computers together and is, therefore,
less expensive than other cabling
Failure of one network node does not

effect the rest of the network.

Disadvantages of the Bus

Heavy network traffic can slow a

bus considerably
A break in the cable or lack of

proper termination can shutdown the

entire network.
It is extremely difficult to

troubleshoot a bus if the entire

network shuts down.

Appropriate Use of a Bus

The network is small.
The network will not be frequently

The least expensive solution is

Network growth is not predicted.

The Ring Topology

In a ring topology, each

computer is connected directly
to the next computer in line,
forming a circle of cable.

It uses a token to pass the

information from one computer to
the next.

Each computer is connected to

the next computer in the ring
and retransmits what it receives
from the previous computer.

The message flow around the ring

is unidirectional.

The ring is classified as an

active topology because there is
no termination point in the

Token Passing in the Ring

Token passing is a method of sending data in

a ring topology.

A small packet, called the token is passed

around the ring to each computer in turn.

If a computer has information to send, it

modifies the token, adds address information

and data and sends it down the ring.

The information travels around the ring

until it either reaches its destination or

returns to the sender.

A token can circle a ring 200 meters in

diameter at a speed of around 10,000 times

per second.

Advantages of Ring
All the computers have equal access

to the
Even with multiple users, network

performance is balanced. There is

no bottle neck.
Allows for error checking and


Disadvantages of the Ring

Failure of one computer can affect the

entire network. Data cannot be

transmitted successfully.
Data packets must pass through every

computer. This makes the network slower

in nature.
It is difficult to troubleshoot the

ring network.
Adding or removing computers disturbs

the network.

Appropriate Uses of the Ring

The network must operate reasonably

under a heavy load.

A higher speed network is required.
The network will not be frequently


The Star Topology

In a star topology, each device

has a dedicated point-to-point
link to a central controller,
sometimes referred to as a hub,
server, or host.

Each computer on a star network

communicates with the central hub
that then resends the message to
the appropriate computer(s).

The hub can be active or passive

in nature.

An active hub regenerates the

electrical signal and sends it to
all the computers connected to

Hubs in the Star Topology

The type of hub used in a star topology

is commonly referred to as a multi-port

Active hubs require electrical power to

A passive hub, such as a wiring panel,

acts as a connection point and does not

amplify or regenerate the signal.
Passive hubs do not require electrical

power to operate.

Advantages of the Star


A star network is easy to modify and add new


During the addition or removal of nodes, the

network continues to function normally.

The central hub can be easily upgraded when

the network capacity is exceeded.

The central hub provides for centralized

monitoring and management of the network,
thereby increasing security.

A single computer failure does not necessarily

bring down the entire star network.

Disadvantages of the Star

If the central hub fails, then the

entire network ceases to operate.

The attached nodes are disabled.
There is a larger upfront cost to

create a star network in terms of

cabling and hardware.
A star network requires a dedicated


Appropriate Uses of the

Star Topology
The network requires easy addition

or removal of client computers.

Star network topologies are

recommended for easy

troubleshooting ability.
The network is large in nature.
The network is expected to grow in

the future.

The Mesh Topology

In a mesh topology, every

device has a dedicated pointto-point link to every other

A fully connected mesh

network has n(n 1)/2

physical channels to link n
To accommodate the many

links, every device on the

network must have n -1
input/output ports.

Advantages of the Mesh

Because there is a dedicated link,

there is no traffic between computers.

Failure of one node computer does not

affect the rest of the network.

Because of the dedicated link, privacy

and security are easier to maintain.

Point-to-point links make fault

identification and fault isolation

easier to determine.

Disadvantages of the Mesh

Due to the number of cables and

input and output ports, it can be

more expensive to establish and
A large amount of space is

necessary to run each of the


Review of Common Network


Topologies are the essence of computer

network designs.

Efficient networks can only be built

based on the complete knowledge and

understanding of the previously explored

Knowledge of communication devices is of

equal importance when determining the

best options for network requirements.

Resources and time can be wasted when

choosing the wrong topology to fit the

requirements of the network to be built.

Web References