Network Topologies

There are a few types of topologies commonly used for networking. We have this kind of topologies to determine the kind of layout we for the terminals in a room or multiple rooms. We can have multiple rooms as we can extend these topologies and for example, aCollege/University might want to use a Extended Star Topology for the classrooms to connect all the terminals together.

Some of the most common Network Topologies

Star Topology — From the name this Topology is in the shape of a star. To achieve this topology we need to use a Switch in the middle and connect the terminals to the switch or a hub (depending how old the topology is). We need a piece of hardware for this topology that will aid the machines to send and receive data faster and easier as we are making use of the RJ45 Port that we have on all motherboards for terminals. This is one of the most common type of topologies because of the relatively easy setup and the affordable price.

An Example of a Star Topology with the Switch in the Middle and 4 Terminals.

Star Topology Conclusion — This topology is good if we don’t want to invest a lot in the network and we might even use the router as a switch because most household routers come with 4 RJ45 ports and a router can act as a switch as well not just connecting us to the Internet. Though this topology can become expensive if we have more than 4 terminals as we are going to need a Switch and depending on the number of RJ45 ports the switch will be expensive.

Bus Topology — With this topology all the terminals are connected through a single cable. We start with a strong connection server and use a switch for drop lines for each terminal. This is a complex topology to make as we need good hardware for a good network. Though it’s easy to add on more terminals if we have a switch with more RJ45 Ports then we need for the terminals.

Example of a Bus Topology

Bus Topology Conclusion — Though we this topology is easy to create we have to rely heavily on cables to maintain the network, if the main cable fails then the whole network is offline. Depending on how big we need the network this can become expensive. We might need a lot of extenders to continue to upgrade the network as some large length cables for the industry as priced high.

Mesh Topology — This topology is a bit random as there is no order with this topology. Because there is no order/hierarchy with this topology there’s no server or a main terminal that will be able to control everything. There are two techniques to transmit data over a mesh topology:

Routing

Flooding

Mesh Routing — This topology has a routing logic to find the shortest path possible to deliver the data to the right terminal. This network will avoid any broken links between terminals and we are able to find them easily through this topology and fix them. This topology is for a wireless mesh as we are able to find the weak links between terminals and add a Wi-Fi range extender to boost the connection.

Mesh Flooding — This technique will send the data to all the nodes (a hub might be used for this as it will broadcast the data to all the devices connected to it and save some money on hardware, though there are a few problems when it comes to data security with hubs). This method can be useful for sending the same data for multiple users if they work on the same project.

This is an Example of a Mesh Topology where all the terminals are connected together and if a cable fails the network will not fail as it has a failsafe system with multiple cables

Mesh Topology Conclusion — Though this topology can get very messy and the cost for all the cables can be quiet high as it is most likely that the terminals won’t be in the same room. Though now that we can connect terminals easier through Wi-Fi it’s more likely that this topology is becoming more frequent as we have the technology to boost the signal from a router through a Wi-Fi Range Extender.

Ring Topology — This topology forms a ring hence the name ring topology. Each terminal has exactly 2 neighbours (2 other terminals connected to it on both sides) to send the data over the network. For a successful topology we need to use repeaters to prevent data loss over the network if we have a lot of terminals connected to it. These repeaters are preventing data loss if we have 100 terminals for example as the data will have to go through 90 terminals before reaching its destination and packets of data might get lost on the way if there’s heavy traffic on the network.

An Example of a small Ring Topology only with 5 Terminals

Ring Topology Conclusion — This topology is more suitable for small network instead of large ones as if a cable fails then the whole network is doomed. With a small network we are able to fix the problem easily and continue sending the data over the network. This is a slow topology and it should only be used if there’s no other solution to create a different one.

Token Topology — This topology is suitable for LANs as we need to pass one more logical tokens from a host to a host to send the data across the network. With this topology we can either create a star or ring topology but we’re adding the token factor which changes the topology into a token topology. With this only a host computer can send data at a time so we have to wait until that specific terminal will become a host. This topology can prevent heavy traffic on the network as only the host can send data over the network.

From this picture we can see how the token is passed around through the network from a terminal to a different one

Token Topology Conclusion — Though this topology will save the network from failing because of the heavy traffic each user that is using the terminals has to wait until they have the token to send the data over the network. Token Topologies are becoming less popular now because of faster different Ethernet packets that can achieve the same, full-duplex mode for connectivity and mainly that this is just an old top0logy when the internet wasn’t as much required.

Tree Topology — For the tree topology we are creating a hierarchy with a main terminal that connects all other terminals together. With this hierarchy we are able to send that over the network because of the hierarchy but it might take longer for the data to arrive as it has to go through a lot of terminals. This topology is used for WAN (Wide Area Networks) if we have the hardware needed. This topology is easily upgradable compared to others as we need to only connect the terminal to a terminal that is connected to the network and it will be connected to the network.

An Example of a Tree Topology Showing the hierarchy with the main terminal at the top. This hierarchy contains only terminals but we can use other types of hardware to achieve this topology as well

Tree Topology Conclusion — The problem with this topology is that is heavily cabled and maintain all those terminals can become a hassle. If the main terminal fails then the whole topology fails as terminals for a WAN network need a main terminal, hub, switch to send the data over to a different location.

Hybrid Topology — Combining of two or more Topologies — This topology can be achieved when we are using two or more different kind of topologies, for example if an office has a star topology and a ring topology we can connect these two to create a Hybrid Topology. This type of topology will combine two different topologies and get access to the way that one topology works and use it with the other for its advantages.

This Example combines a Star Network, Bus Network, Ring Network and we create a Hybrid Topology having access to all those networks

Hybrid Topology Conclusion — It will be cheaper to connect two topologies together instead of ruining one to create a different one as we don’t want to remove all the hardware, cabling if it’s in the floor for example as it will become costly. It might be expensive to create this topology it all depends on how much work well have to do to remove the old topology instead of using it as a hybrid topology.

Thank you for reading my explanation of the most common network topologies.

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Stefan P. Bargan

Stefan P. Bargan

An aspiring Cybersecurity Professional with an interest in Digital Forensics.