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Token ring

Token ring definition

A token ring is a communication pathway used in local area networks (LAN) to connect devices and allow them to exchange data. In a token ring network, all devices are connected in a logical ring, with data traveling from one device to another in a circular path. The token ring technology was created by IBM and has now largely been replaced by Ethernet.

How a token ring works

  • Each device on the local area network is connected in a logical ring structure.
  • A message and a destination address are inserted into an empty token.
  • The devices take turns transferring the token around the network.
  • Only the device holding the token can transmit it to another device at a given time.
  • The token circulates around the network until it reaches the device the data is traveling to.
  • The destination device receives the data and sends a confirmation back to the sender.
  • The device empties the token so it can be used by another device.

Token ring benefits

  • Controlled access. With a token ring, each node (or device) gets a turn to transmit data in a predictable manner.
  • High reliability. Token ring networks are reliable and can operate even if one of the nodes fails or is removed from the network.
  • Fair bandwidth allocation. Token ring networks allocate bandwidth fairly among all devices.

Token ring drawbacks

  • Limited scalability. Token ring networks can be difficult to scale.
  • Lower data transfer rates. A token ring typically has lower data transfer rates than other network technologies.