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What Are Network Topologies?

Network Topology refers to layout of a network. How different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate is determined by the network's topology.

Network Topology refers to layout of a network and how different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate. This slideshow describes five of the most common network topologies.

1. Mesh Topology

Mesh NetworkMesh Topology: In a mesh network, devices are connected with many redundant interconnections between network nodes. In a true mesh topology every node has a connection to every other node in the network. There are two types of mesh topologies:

2. Star Topology

Star Network







Star Topology: In a star network devices are connected to a central computer, called a hub. Nodes communicate across the network by passing data through the hub.

3. Bus Topology

 Bus Topology




Bus Topology: In networking a bus is the central cable -- the main wire -- that connects all devices on a local-area network (LAN). It is also called the backbone. This is often used to describe the main network connections composing the Internet.  Bus networks are relatively inexpensive and easy to install for small networks. Ethernet systems use a bus topology.

4. Ring Topology

Ring Topology







Ring Topology: A local-area network (LAN) whose topology is a ring. That is, all of the nodes are connected in a closed loop. Messages travel around the ring, with each node reading those messages addressed to it. One main advantage to a ring network is that it can span larger distances than other types of networks, such as bus networks, because each node regenerates messages as they pass through it.

5. Tree Topology

Tree Topology

Tree Topology: This is a "hybrid" topology that combines characteristics of linear bus and star topologies. In a tree network, groups of star-configured networks are connected to a linear bus backbone cable.

Main Advantage: A Tree topology is a good choice for large computer networks as the tree topology "divides" the whole network into parts that are more easily manageable.
Main Disadvantage: The entire network depends on a central hub and a failure of the central hub can cripple the whole network.

Congratulations! You now understand the most common network topologies and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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