Types of Network Topology

Types of Network Topology

If you’ve been residing in the world of computers for a while, chances are you might have heard the term “network topology.” A computer network’s arrangement featuring nodes and connecting lines through the receiver and sender is known as the “network topology.” Here, in this article, we will give you a thorough idea of the different types of network topology. So, read on.

Mesh Topology

First, we have the mesh topology. Here, each device is linked to another device utilizing a certain channel (links).

Pros of this topology

  • It is sturdy.
  • It offers good security and privacy.
  • Diagnoses any issues with ease. Data is dependable as data gets transmitted among the devices via dedicated links/channels.

Cons of this topology

  • Installing and setting it up is problematic.
  • Its maintenance cost is high.
  • Its cable cost is huge because it needs bulk wiring, and thus, mesh topology is ideal for fewer numbers of devices.

Ring topology

This topology gets its moniker from the fact that it creates a ring-like formation linking devices with their immediate neighboring devices. Repeaters must be utilized for ring topology with a massive number of nodes. It’s because if you wish to send some data to the last node of a 100-node ring topology, the data has to pass through 99 nodes before finally reaching the 100th node. Thus, repeaters are a must to avoid any unfortunate data loss.

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Such a transfer is typically unidirectional but can become bidirectional by utilizing two connections among every network node. It is known as the dual ring topology.

The below operations happen in a ring topology:

  1. One station is called a “monitor station,” and it takes all the liability for performing the operations.
  2. The station must hold the token for transferring the data. When the transfer is over, it releases the token so that other stations can utilize it.
  3. While no data transfer is occurring at the station, the token will begin circulating in the ring.
  4. Tokens are released in two ways: early token release and delayed token release. While the former releases the token right after transferring the data, the latter releases the token after it obtains acknowledgment from the receiver.

Pros of this topology

  • This kind of topology drastically reduces the possibility of collision.
  • It is very inexpensive and easy to install and develop.

Cons of this topology

  • It is less protected.
  • Troubleshooting is pretty hard.
  • Adding or getting rid of the stations in between the stations can perturb the entire network topology.

Bus Topology

The bus topology comes next. Each PC and network device is connected to a single cable in this topology. Because this topology lacks a bidirectional transmission feature, data can only be transmitted in one direction from one end to the other. Furthermore, bus topology is a multi-point connection and a relatively weak topology because it runs the risk of collapsing entirely if the backbone fails.

Pros of this topology

  • In the case of 3 devices linked to one another over a bus topology, it would only need a single cable (aka the backbone cable) and 3 drop lines to join them together.
  • The cable is way less costly when compared to other topologies, but it has its use in constructing tiny networks.

Cons of this topology

  • The security it offers is insufficient.
  • Any failure in the common cable makes the entire system collapse.
  • If the network traffic is heavy, collisions in the network get a boost. In order to dodge this risk, numerous protocols like Slotted Aloha, Pure Aloha, CSMA/CD, and so on are utilized in the MAC layer.

Star Topology

In this network topology, all involved devices use a cable to connect to a single hub.This hub is the central node, and every other node stays linked to this central node. The nature of the hub could be passive, that is, not an intelligent hub; take broadcasting devices, for instance. On the contrary, the hub could be an intelligent hub that is called an active hub. Active hubs are known to contain repeaters in them.

Pros of this Topology

  • Suppose six devices are connected to one another by utilizing a star topology, then the cables needed to establish a connection between them are also six. Therefore, it is pretty easy to configure.
  • Only one port is needed for each device to connect to the hub. So, it needs six ports for six devices.

Cons of this Topology

  • In the event that the hub or concentrator upon which the whole topology is dependent stops functioning, the entire system will face a collapse as well.
  • How well the topology performs depends solely on the single concentrator, that is, the hub.
  • The installation cost is pretty high.

Tree topology

Tree topology is a variant of star topology. It comprises a hierarchical data flow. Hence, in this topology, several secondary hubs stay linked to the central hub possessing the repeater, and the data flows from top to bottom or bottom to top.

Pros of this topology

  • It permits the addition of more devices to a single central hub, so it could reduce the traveling distance of the signal to reach the devices.
  • It lets the network get isolated and prioritized from various PCs as well.

Cons of this topology

  • The entire system crashes down in case the central hub fails.
  • The price is lofty because of the cabling.

Bottom line

As you can see from our article, no network topology is perfect. Each topology has its own advantages as well as flaws. So, deciding which topology to pick depends on the size and needs of your network. Now, it’s a known fact that the more cable a network topology needs, the more time it takes to configure. From that aspect, bus and star topologies are both lightweight and easy-to-configure, while mesh topologies require more cable and effort.

Also, twisted-pair cables are far cheaper but possess less bandwidth than coaxial cables. Fiber optic cables have top-notch performance and transfer data way faster than both twisted-pair and coaxial cables. However, they are costlier as they demand extra elements like optical receivers. So, what kind of wiring you should opt for depends upon your needs.

Another significant factor to consider here is the installation cost. It’s pretty obvious that more complex topologies would need more time and money. This only gets boosted if you start combining different components, such as using costlier cables like fiber optic cables in a more intricate network like the mesh topology. Therefore, you must achieve a perfect balance between installation and operating expenses and the performance level you seek in the network.

The last factor to consider before opting for a specific type of topology is scalability. If you visualize your company/organization and network growing and you want it wholeheartedly, it is best to pick an easy-to-modify topology, as it would save both your time and nuisance. As star topologies help users easily add, get rid of, or modify nodes, causing little to no disturbance to the rest of the network, they are very commonly used for such purposes. Compare that to ring topologies that have to be fully offline before any modifications are made to their nodes, and you will understand the big difference. So, once again, your needs are of the utmost significance here.


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