A network topology describes the arrangement of systems on a computer network. It defines how the computers, or nodes, within the network are arranged and connected to each other. Some common network topologies include star, ring, line, bus, and tree configurations. These topologies are defined below:
- Star - One central node is connected to each of the other nodes on a network. Similar to a hub connected to the spokes in a wheel.
- Ring - Each node is connected to exactly two other nodes, forming a ring. Can be visualized as a circular configuration. Requires at least three nodes.
- Line - Nodes are arranged in a line, where most nodes are connected to two other nodes. However, the first and last node are not connected like they are in a ring.
- Bus - Each node is connected to a central bus that runs along the entire network. All information transmitted across the bus can be received by any system in the network.
- Tree - One "root" node connects to other nodes, which in turn connect to other nodes, forming a tree structure. Information from the root node may have to pass through other nodes to reach the end nodes.
It is helpful for a network administrator to know the pros and cons of different network topologies when putting together a network. By weighing the benefits of each type, the administrator can choose the configuration that is most efficient for the network's intended purpose.