What is Network Topology?

In every local area network (LAN), there are vital designated nodes that are necessary for its continued upkeep. The nodes that keep a local area network running may include things such as computers, routers, and other technologies; this is the concept of network topology.

Understanding network topology requires a fundamental understanding of what its different subcategories are. In total, there are four distinct categories to keep in mind: ring, star, mesh and bus.

Ring Topology

Ring topology describes a system in which every device in the network has a direct connection to a pair of different devices in an arrangement that forms an enclosed circle. Out of all of the different topologies, the ring topology system is one of the more affordable variations.

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Ring topology tends to provide a high bandwidth threshold and reach distance, and different variations of ring topology have different directions of signal transference; for example, in the token ring variation, the signal only travels in a single direction.

Star Topology

In the star topology mode, a central sever is employed as the unifying hub for each of the system’s devices. Rather than continuous loop, each of the data nodes simultaneously deliver their data into the central nexus from their respective directions at once. While the star system is one of the more relatively easy topologies to install and get running, users should be aware of the fact that there is a real risk of possible overload due to the high demand of data capacity in the central server.

Mesh Topology

Much like the ring topology, mesh topologies have different variations within the topology subcategory. There are full mesh topologies in which each of the devices has a direct connection with all of the others, and in the partial mesh, only a portion of the topologies are connected to one another. In the partial topology model, devices are generally connected to those in which the highest volume of data is exchanged between the two.

Bus Topology

Out of all of the different topology types, the bus is the most frequently used of all. The bus topology is an essential component of a LAN’s Ethernet connection, in which it serves as the central cable to which all of the network’s devices connect. The bus, also referred to as the network’s backbone, is applicable to networks of all sizes; however, it’s common for the bus topology to be most easily applied to smaller networks than larger ones.

Hybrid Topologies

Though different topologies may suit different users with varying levels of efficiency, they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s possible for multiple topology types to be combined into hybrid forms with multiple data exchange pathways.


Through different topology layouts, there’s an abundance of potential for different variations of device coupling. Effective network topology in a LAN isn’t just a matter of sticking devices together, but doing so in a manner that both facilitates the full data demand of the network and mitigates the chance of overload.