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Network topology

Network topology

(also network architecture)

Network topology definition

Network topology refers to the arrangement and interconnection of various components within a computer network, including nodes (computers, switches, routers) and links (wired or wireless connections). The structure of a network topology determines how data is transmitted, affecting the network’s performance, reliability, and scalability. Different types of network topologies exist, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

See also: mesh node, logical topology

Network topology examples

  • Bus topology: In a bus topology, all nodes are connected to a single central cable, known as the bus. It is cost-effective and easy to set up but has limitations in scalability and performance.
  • Star topology: In a star topology, all nodes are connected to a central hub or switch. It offers better performance and is easy to troubleshoot but can be more expensive to set up due to additional hardware requirements.
  • Ring topology: In a ring topology, nodes are connected in a circular arrangement, with each node connected to two others. It offers a balanced load distribution and simpler cabling but can be slower and less reliable.
  • Mesh topology: In a mesh topology, nodes are interconnected, with each node connected to multiple others. It provides high redundancy and reliability but can be complex and expensive to set up and maintain.

Comparing network topologies

When selecting a network topology, consider factors such as cost, complexity, scalability, and performance. For smaller networks, bus and star topologies are common choices due to their simplicity and affordability. For larger networks or those requiring high reliability, mesh topologies are often preferred, despite their complexity and higher costs.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security