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Network Topologies Advantages and Disadvantages

Briefly explain the difference, including advantages and disadvantages, between:

[A] Mesh, bus, ring, and star topologies

[B] Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI, and Wireless

Solution Preview

First, let us look at what a topology is - it basically refers to the layout of connected devices in a network - a pattern if you say so, of the interconnections of all the fundamentals in a computer network. It is a network's virtual shape and does not necessarily represent the exact physical arrangement that the network might take.

Topologies can either be physical or logical. A physical topology refers to the physical design of the network including devices, cable installations as well as its location (Wikipedia, 2011). A logical topology on the other hand, refers to the way data is transferred in a network.

The basic types of network topologies include mesh, bus, ring, and star. Let us discuss these individually and look at their advantages and disadvantages.

Mesh - In a mesh topology, all systems have independent connections to one another. The main premise behind this type of topology is the routing. Messages sent on a mesh network can take any of several possible paths from source to destination (Mitchell, 2011). The internet uses a mesh topology. There are several advantages to a mesh network topology. Since there is no gateway, nodes can connect to each other with no regard to the state of the rest of the network and therefore network is tolerant to faults. Nodes in a mesh topology can create their own paths through the network because there is no gateway computer. The major disadvantage though is that the setup can be expensive and time consuming.

Bus - In a bus topology, the entire system is connected by a single cable. This single cable functions as a shared communication medium that devices attach or tap into with an interface connector (Mitchell, 2011). If a device wants to communicate with another device on the network, it sends a broadcast message onto the wire that all other devices see, but only the intended recipient actually accepts and processes the message. One of the major advantages of the bus topology ...

Solution Summary

The solution looks at the differences between Mesh, bus, ring, and star topologies as well as between Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI, and Wireless networks. The major advantages and disadvantages of each are listed.