All Types of Computer Network Topologies!

Network refers to the set of devices (nodes) connected by communication links. A node can be a computer, printer, or any other device capable of sending and/or receiving data generated by other devices on the network.

Topology refers to the manner in which the network of computers is connected. Each topology is suited to specific tasks and has its own benefits and drawbacks. The choice of topology is dependent upon type of application, number of equipment being used, rate of data transfer required, response time, and cost.



The word network topology is used to explain the manner in which a network is physically connected. The aim is to exchange the data such as text, audio/video, and images from one point to another.

Network topologies are categorized into the following topologies:types of network topologies

  • Point-to-Point Topology
  • Bus Topology
  • Star Topology
  • Ring Topology
  • Mesh Topology
  • Tree Topology
  • Hybrid Topology

1: Point-to-Point Topology:

In point-to-point Topology, connection provides a common link between two devices. The entire bandwidth of the link is reserved for transmission between those two devices. This simplest point-to-point connections use an actual length of wire or cable to connect the two ends.

When you change TV channels by infrared remote control, you are establishing a point-to-point (P2P) connection between the remote control and the TV’s control system. Two Computers communication through the modems

Advantages: This is faster and more reliable network topology than other types of topologies since there is a direct connection.

Disadvantage: This topology can only be used for small areas where computers (nodes) are closely located.

Read More about Point to Point topology [DETAIL]

2: Bus Topology:

Bus topology

A bus topology consists of a single cable with the terminator at each end. All available devices are connected to the single cable. One single cable acts as the backbone for the whole network.

In a bus topology, one of the computers acts as the server and transmits the data from one end to the other in a single direction. When the data reaches to the extreme end, the terminator removes the data from the line.

Characteristics of Bus Topology:

  • Flexible
  • Expandable
  • Moderate Reliability
  • Moderate performance

Advantage:

  1. Easy to connect or remove nodes in a network without affecting any other node.
  2. In case of any node failure, the will be no effect on other nodes or network.
  3. Cable cost is less as compared to other network topologies (mesh and star).
  4. It is easy to understand topology.
  5. Easy to expand by joining two cable

Disadvantage:

    1. In case of any node failure it is difficult to find faults in a network.
    2. If the backbone cable damages the entire network will fail.
    3. If network traffic increases or nodes increases, the performance of network decreases.
    4. It is slower because one computer transmit at a time.
    5. The length of cable is limited

Bus topology was the one of the first topologies used in the design of early LANs (local area networks).

Also Read: What is Bus Topology? [In Detail] 

3: Ring Topology:

ring topology

In Ring Topology, each computer or node is connected with its neighboring computer forming the shape of ring hence it is known as Ring Topology.

In ring topology the data travels in a circular fashion from one computer to another (clockwise or counter clockwise). In case of any failure in a cable or device break the circular loop and can take down the entire network.

Advantages:

  1. Data flow is in circular direction which reduces the chance of packet collision.
  2. A network server is not needed to control the flow of data.
  3. The maintenance of ring network is much easier compared to the bus topology.
  4. It provides good communication over a long distance.
  5. It can handle high volume of nodes in a network.
  6. It is less costly compared to the mesh, tree, and hybrid topology.
  7. Troubleshooting is much easier because cable faults can be located easily in ring topology.

Disadvantage:

  1. A single break in the cable can cause a disturbance in the entire network
  2. Addition and removal of any node in a network is difficult and can cause issue in network activity.
  3. It is much slower than Ethernet network under normal load conditions.

Ring topology was most common, when IBM introduced its first local-area network Token Ring. Today, the need for high speed Local area networks has made this topology less popular.

Read more about Ring Topology [in DETAIL]

4: Star Topology:

star topology

In Start Topology, all the computers (nodes) go to the central location having a device called as hub. All the devices on the network are connected with a hub device through a link. Each device requires a single wire for the connection to the hub.

In star Topology, there exists a point-to-point connection between a node and hub. The hub takes a signal from any node and passes it along to all the other nodes in the network. The hub controls and manages entire function of the network.

Characteristics of Star Topology:

  • High Speed
  • Very Flexible
  • High Reliability
  • High Maintainability

Advantage:

  1. Easy to manage because each node require separate cable.
  2. Easy to locate problems because cable failure only affect a single user.
  3. Easy to expand without disturbing to the network
  4. Due to Hub device network management is much easier.
  5. Fault identification is easy, also it is easy to remove nodes
  6. Star topology provides very High speeds of data transfer.

Disadvantages:

  1. If the hub device goes down, the entire network will be dead.
  2. Star topology requires more wires compared to the ring and bus topology.
  3. Whole performance of the network depends on the hub.

The star topology is most widely used topology in today’s local-area networks (LANs) due to its numerous advantages.

Read more about Star Topology [in DETAIL]

5: Mesh Topology:

mesh topology

In Mesh Topology, all the computers are connected to each other in a network. It is very difficult to establish the connections of the mesh topology. In a Mesh topology every computer has a point-to-point connection to the other computer.

In order to connect n nodes, mesh topology require n(n-1)/2 communication links. Communication link can be twisted pair, co-axial cable or optical fiber

Characteristics of Mesh Topology:

  • Fully connected
  • Robust
  • Not flexible
  • Poor expand-ability

Advantages:

  1. No traffic problem as there are dedicated links for each computer.
  2. It has multiple links, so if one route is blocked then other can be accessed for data communication.
  3. It provides high privacy and security.
  4. Due to point-to-point links, fault identification is easy

Disadvantages:

  1. It requires high number of cabling and I/o ports for the communication.
  2. Installation is very complex in mesh topology, as each node is connected to every node.
  3. It is costly compared to the other network topologies.

Due to these reasons a mesh topology is usually implemented in a limited manner.

Read more about Mesh Topology [in DETAIL]

6: Tree Topology:

tree topology

In Tree Topology, all the computer are connected to the central hub, in the computer networking, tree topology is known as combination of a star network topology and a bus topology. In tree topology, all the computers are connected like the branches of a tree. The main advantages of this topology are flexibility and scalability.

Advantages:

  1. It is combination of bus and star topology
  2. It provides high scalability, as leaf nodes can add more nodes in the hierarchical chain.
  3. In case of any node failure, other hierarchical networks are not affected.
  4. It provides easy maintenance and fault identification.
  5. Supported by several hardware and software vendors.
  6. Point-to-point wiring for individual segments.

Disadvantages:

  1. Large cabling is required as compared to star and bus topology.
  2. On the failure of hub, entire network fails.
  3. Tree topology is very difficult to configure than other topologies.

7: Hybrid Topology:

hybrid topology

Hybrid topology is the combination of more than two topologies.  In a computer networking, a network structure that contains more than two topologies is known as hybrid topology. It inherits the advantages and disadvantages of included topologies.

Hybrid topology include a mix of bus topology, mesh topology, ring topology, star topology, and tree topology. The combination of topology depends on the requirement of organization.

Advantages:

  1. Hybrid topology Combines the benefits of different types of topologies
  2. Can be modified as per requirement
  3. It is extremely flexible.
  4. It is very reliable.
  5. It is easily scalable

Disadvantages:

  1. It is expensive
  2. The design of hybrid topology is complex.
  3. Hardware changes are required in order to connect one topology to another topology.

One of the best practical examples of the hybrid topology is an Internet

Also Read:

  1. What is Point to Point Topology? Advantages and Disadvantages
  2. What is Bus Topology? Advantages and Disadvantages
  3. What is Star Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages 
  4. What is Mesh Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  5. What is Ring Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  6. What is Tree Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  7. What is Hybrid Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  8. What is LAN Network? Advantages and Disadvantages of LAN
  9. What is WAN Network? Advantages and Disadvantages of WAN