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Token ring network

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.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security