Back to the basics: Networks and Topologies

Delana Hallstedt and Kailin Acheson. Before you start setting up a network you’ll need to determine how to connect devices to ensure that communications are efficient. To maximize network performance, you might need to do some research, planning, or organizing. The devices that you will be using is a good place to start. To help you get started, ask the following questions:
What number of devices will be connected to the network?
Are they all in the same space? House? Building an office?
Are they spread across a city? State? Country?
What kind of redundancy should the network have
The network type and network topology are two key elements to any network design. A network is an infrastructure that allows communication between connected devices. Topology describes the way that the devices are connected.
A network is an essential component of multi-computer setups where sharing data and hardware resources is required. It facilitates communication between computers or devices, both to each other and to devices outside their sphere. There are many types of networks, and the devices in these networks can be organized into different physical or logical topologies. These are the main four network types.
Personal area networks (PANs),
Local area networks (LANs).
Metropolitan area networks (MANs).
Wide area networks (WANs).

Figure 1 – Personal Area Networks (PAN).

A PAN (Figure 1) is a way to share data between devices located within close proximity. A PAN can be used to connect and share data between devices that are within close proximity. For example, a PC, a phone, a printer, and a wireless headphone could all be part of a home office setup. Two common technologies in a PAN setting are Zigbee and Bluetooth.

Figure 2 – Local Area Networks (LAN)

Figure 2 shows how a LAN (or LAN) is used to communicate with a single group or organization. It’s typically used within a single building, or site, where buildings are close together. Token Ring networks and Ethernet networks are two common types of LANs.

Figure 3 – Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

Figure 3 shows how a MAN (Man Interface) can be used to connect networks within a single metropolitan region. A MAN can be used to connect multiple locations within a single city.

Figure 4 – Wide Area Networks (WAN)

Figure 4 shows a WAN, which is a network that covers large areas. A WAN can be spread across multiple cities or even multiple countries. Computers connected to a WAN are usually connected via public networks, leased line, or satellites. The Internet is the largest example of a WAN.
After you have seen the four major network types, let’s look at the main network topologies.

Figure 5 – Bus Topology

Figure 5 shows a bus topology. It has one main line to which all computers in the network are connected. Bus topologies are typically coaxial cable. They have several disadvantages such as a short cable length and a small number of hosts. A bus topology has another disadvantage: a failure of the main cable can affect every host in the network.

Figure 6 – Ring Topology

Figure 6 shows a ring topology. It has a central ring made of cable that connects all hosts to the network. Each host is connected to two other hosts in a ring topology. Traffic flows in a ring topology in one direction. Each node on the network handles each packet and then passes it to the next node in that ring. A failure in the ring can affect every host on the network, similar to a bus topology (Figure 5) The ring topology is better for some network environments that are simpler than more complex. One advantage is the ability connect compute