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Physical Topology

The physical layout of devices on a network and how the cables and wires connect these devices.

Logical Topology

How data is transmitted and received between devices on a network regardless of their physical connections.


The way in which the devices (nodes) are connected.


A device that is connected to the network.

Example of nodes

Computers, printers, hubs, switches and routers.

Physical Bus topology

All nodes are connected to a single backbone. The backbone is a single wire that carries data packets to the nodes. Terminators must be installed at the two ends of the backbones.

Advantages of Bus Topologies

Less cable required than in other topologies.

Disadvantages of Bus Topologies

Unable to accommodate a large number of nodes - such as those required for LAN's
A single break in the backbone disables the entire network

Physical Ring topology

Each node connects to exactly two other nodes, forming a complete ring, which generally circulates data packets in one direction. Each node receives data from one node and transmits to the other.

Advantages of Ring Topologies

There are dirty jokes that can be made about it...If you're feeling particularly inventive.

Disadvantages of Ring Topologies

If one cable is broken the entire network is disabled
To remove or add a node, the entire network must be stopped
All nodes must be powered at all times if the network is to operate

Mesh topology

These include more than one physical path between pairs of nodes. Routers are required for mesh topologies.

Advantage of Mesh Topologies

Fault tolerance, as packages are automatically routed around faults.
Can be used in high-speed long distance connections

Disadvantages of Mesh Topologies

Routers are required to direct each datapacket

Physical Star Topology

All nodes connect to a central node via their own dedicated cable.The central node is the device that connects all outlying nodes such that they can transmit and receive packets to and from each other node.

Advantages of Star Topologies

Each node had its own cable and can be connected and disconnected without affecting any other nodes
New nodes can be easily added without first disabling the network
The process of identifying faults is made more simple

Disadvantages of Star Topologies

A lot of cabling is required
If a fault occurs in the central node then all connected nodes are also disabled

Physical Hybrid Topology

Also known as tree topologies. These use a combination of connected bus, star and ring topologies.

Advantages of Hybrid Topologies

New nodes can be easily connected

Disadvantages of Hybrid Topologies

Single transmission path between any two nodes
High costs for cables with high data transfer speeds

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