Network 101: What is a Network Topology?

Network topology refers to the specific arrangement or shape of various parts in a computer network. It defines how different links or nodes connect to each other as well as how they communicate. If you’re taking the CompTIA Network+ Certification Exam and are doing a practice test to refresh your memory, CertBlaster and other experts list some basic network topology principles you can review:

Types of Network Topologies

First off, network topologies are either logical or physical. Physical topology is the particular geometric design of network workstations, while logical (also called signal topology) is the exact nature of the routes that signals follow from one node to another.

The following are five main network topologies utilized in local area networks:

  • The Bus Network Topology – Devices connect to a bus, also known as a central cable. A bus network is easy to install and economical for small networks.
  • The Star Topology Network – Devices connect to a principal hub. Compared with the bus network, installation is relatively easy, but bottlenecks could sometimes occur because every single piece of data should pass through the principal hub.
  • The Ring Network Topology – With this topology type, devices connect to each other in a closed loop arrangement, in order that every device connects to two other network devices directly.
  • The Tree Topology Network – This combines the features of star and bus network topologies and consists of sets of star-shaped workstations that connect to a bus cable backbone.
  • The Mesh Topology Network – This comes in either partial or full mesh. With a partial mesh, some workstations connect to all other workstations, while some connect exclusively to nodes that they regularly exchange data with the most. With a full mesh, every single workstation connects to each of the other workstations directly.

Network topology remains a crucial component of network configuration theory. Although you could probably create a small business or home computer network if you don’t fully understand the types of topology that would best fit the network you’re building, having a strong grasp of these principles would help you create a more appropriate and effective network.