David’s Cisco Networking Blog

Aug 22 2008   8:41PM GMT

The three main Network Topologies and how they can work for you

David Davis David Davis Profile: David Davis

Studying for the Cisco CCNA or CCENT? You will certainly run across networking topology questions. Here’s a quick review:

First of all let’s define what a topology is- Simply put, a topology is the layout of a network. There are really three basic types of topologies. They are Star, Bus, and Ring. Let me explain them to you.

Star – All computers and devices are connected to a centrally located hub or switch.  The hub or switch collects and distributes the flow of data within the network. It’s better to use a switch than a hub because a switch transmits the data to the intended recipient rather than to all hosts on a network.

Bus –  All computers and devices are connected in series to a single linear cable called a trunk or sometimes called a backbone. Both ends of the trunk must be terminated to stop the signal from bouncing back up the cable. Because the bus topology does not have a central point it is difficult to troubleshoot problems.  Also, a break at any point along the bus can cause the entire network to go down.

Ring – In this topology, all computers and devices are connected to cable that forms a closed loop.  Each computer on this type of topology acts like a repeater and boosts the signal before sending it to the next computer. It transmits data by passing a “token” around the network. Hence this type of network is commonly called a token ring network. Similar to the Bus topology, if one computer fails, the entire network goes down.

Of these three network topologies, the Star topology is the best network type and is based on the Ethernet standard.  For additional information on all of these topologies, please visit the Cisco Internetworking handbook – topologies section.

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