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Types of Network Topology

Updated on June 18, 2012

The basic definition of a network topology is that it is the physical layout of a network. Network topology includes the locations of computers, servers, and printers are located. Along with the cabling and its location is between them. Selecting the correct topology for your business is an important factor. There are several varieties of topologies that they can be setup in, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Choosing the correct topology for your business will be dependent on a couple of different factors. Some of the things you want to keep in mind when choosing your topology is reliability, performance, node count, and the geography of the system

The main 2 types are of topologies available for basic networks is Bus Topology, and Peer to Peer topology.

Bus Topology

This is a basic type of network topology that is good for simple and small networks. On a Bus Topology, there is only one cable. This cable does not have any extras that will help pass the signal along from computer to computer so it is referred to as a “Passive Topology.” For example, think of several computers lined up next to each other. Each computer is waiting for a signal to come down the line that matches its name. If, the information matches the computer name only that computer, will accept it, and all others on the line will disregard it.

Advantages of Bus Topology:

1. Easy to setup and maintain

2. Requires very little cable to connect the computers together. It is cost effective for small businesses that only need a few computers connected.

3. It is easy to extend the Bus Topology. The Line can be extended with another cable by using a barrel connector. This can allow you to hook up more computers easier for future expansion.

Disadvantages of a Bus Topology:

1. Traffic on a bus Topology can be considerably slow if there is a lot of communication going. This is because only one computer can send information at a time.

2. Difficulty in troubleshooting this type of Topology can arise because if a cable breaks the whole network stops working.

Peer to Peer - Star Topology:

This is a Network topology that runs from a centralized hub or switch. Each of the computers are connected to this central location. The computer will send a signal down the line, and the central device will receive it. The switch or hub will then send the information to where it needs to go allowing for more traffic to be directed on the network at a time. This also prevents the network from stopping if one computer goes down. The information will keep going from computer to computer without interruption.

Advantages Star Topology:

1. If, you want to replace, add, or delete computers off this network, it is easy to do without disturbing other computers traffic.

2. Troubleshooting is easier because everything comes into a centralized location

3. A single computer failure on this network does not bring down the entire network.


1. If, the main, central switch or hub malfunctions then the entire network is down.

2. There is extra cabling involved which can increase the cost of the start topology.

Peer to Peer Ring Topology

This is basically as the name suggest a ring of computers that’s repeats and resend the information around the network until the computer that’s name is on the information receives it. Unlike a bus topology, the ring network dos not result in signal loss from the computer because there is no end.


1. Each computer on the ring topology network has equal access to the same information.

2. This is a great network for high speed transmissions of large files or multimedia applications


1. If, one computer fails on the ring the whole network is going to be down until replaced.

2. With a ring topology, it can be difficult to troubleshoot to find the computer causing the bottlenecks on the network

Companies will want to figure out which is going to work best for them. Each one of these topologies can be used and adapted to any situation. However, this is a great beginning in getting to know the differences in the topologies and network design issues you may come in contact.


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