Token ring network
(also Token Passing Ring network)
Token ring network definition
A token ring network is a type of local area network (LAN) that connects devices in a circular or star shape. Data travels in this network through a special message called a token that devices pass to one another in a sequence until it reaches its starting point. This token serves as a type of permission slip that allows devices to send information onto the network. Token ring networks were widely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, but today, Ethernet-based LANs are more common due to their higher speed and easier setup. Despite this, some older systems still rely on token ring networks.
See also: security token, VPN token
Advantages of a token ring network
- Predictable network performance. The token-passing mechanism ensures an organized and controlled data transmission, providing consistent network performance and avoiding collisions.
- Efficient network traffic handling. The token transmits data and effectively manages network congestion because devices can only transmit information when they possess the token.
- Fair allocation of bandwidth. Each device on the network gets an equal opportunity to transmit data, meaning no single device can consume all resources.
- Scalability. Token ring networks can accommodate additional devices without a significant downgrade in performance, making them suitable for growing networks.
Drawbacks of using a token ring network
- Single point of failure. If the token fails, it can cause the entire network to stop functioning because the whole communication depends on it.
- Slower network speeds. Token ring networks generally deliver lower data transmission speeds than Ethernet networks, making them unsuitable for high-bandwidth applications.
- Obsolescence. Modern networks typically use Ethernet or Wi-Fi for data transmission, making it difficult to find new hardware, software, and support for the largely obsolete token ring networks.
- High costs. Token ring networks are more expensive to set up and maintain than Ethernet networks in terms of hardware and support costs.