Topology means the shape of a local-area network (LAN) or other communications system. Topologies are either physical or logical.
There are four principal topologies used in LANs:
- bus topology: All devices are connected to a central cable, called the bus or backbone. Bus networks are relatively inexpensive and easy to install for small networks. Ethernet systemsuse a bus topology.
- ring topology :All devices are connected to one another in the shape of a closed loop, so that each device is connected directly to two other devices, one on either side of it. Ring topologies are relatively expensive and difficult to install, but they offer high bandwidth and can span large distances.
- star topology: All devices are connected to a central hub. Star networks are relatively easy to install and manage, but bottlenecks can occur because all datamust pass through the hub.
- tree topology: A tree topology combines characteristics of linear bus and star topologies. It consists of groups of star-configured workstations connected to a linear bus backbone cable.
These topologies can also be mixed. For example, a bus-star network consists of a high-bandwidth bus, called the backbone,which connects a collections of slower-bandwidth star segments.
Recommended Reading: This Webopedia Study Guide describes five of the most common network topologies.