Ring topology features, advantages, and disadvantages 

A ring network topology is a computer network where each computer is connected to other two adjacent devices creating a circular data path. The data in ring topology can either move in one direction in what is called a unidirectional ring or bidirectional. Each device on the ring act as a relay point to pass data to the next device hence all computer are connected to each other.

To identify a ring topology devices are connected to make a complete loop where each computer is connected to 2 adjacent devices. The main advantage of this topology is, it eliminates data collision since data flow is unidirectional. However, the network has low transmission speed and the failure of one node affects the whole network.

Architecture and layout of ring topology

Creating a ring network topology will require network components such as computers, cables either ethernet or coaxial, and a network interface card for the preferred type of cable. Take one computer and connect it to two adjacent computers. 

Repeat this until you create a ring of connected computers. Each computer will require to have at least two ethernet ports to connect to the other 2 devices.

computer network ring topology layout with 6 computers.

How computer network ring topology works

The topology uses a token that moves freely within the network to be used by any device that needs to send data. That is why is it also known as a token ring topology.

For example, when computer A wants to send data to D it will take a free token and fill it with data. The data includes the message, the destination, and the source computer address.

After the token has been packaged with the right information it is sent to the next computer B. 

The device will check the token to determine the destination address. If not addressed to it, the token is passed to the next node until it reaches the right computer.

When it reaches the destination, the computer will strip the token of the message and other data and make it free and available for reuse. The free token will be picked by another computer and the process start again.

Features of a ring network topology

For a network to be identified as a ring topology it should have the following characteristics. These are unique to only this topology. Some of the main features are as follows:

  1. Each network device is connected to other two adjacent devices to create a circular loop. The loop can be made from ethernet or coaxial cables.
  2. In most ring topologies data flows in a unidirectional manner. This means it moves in only one direction hence reducing package data collision.
  3. Ring uses the concept of token-passing which control the flow of data by ensuring that only one device is transmitting at a time.
  4. To reduce cases of data loss within the network ring uses repeaters. This is mostly applied when there are many computers on the network.

Advantages of computer network ring topology

  1. The use of a token that allows only one device to send data reduces cases of packet collision hence increasing network efficiency.
  2. Unidirectional data paths create a clear way of communication making it easy to troubleshoot any problems.
  3. It is easy to identify a device that has failed since data may not pass through it.
  4. All devices have access to free tokens to use which makes it fair for all.
  5. The network can accommodate many devices without degrading the network operation.

Disadvantages of ring topology

  1. Failure of one device on the network can lead to failure of the whole network. Also if one section of the cable has a problem it can affect the network.
  2. Compared to other types of topology ring has limited bandwidth and speed. This is because data need to pass through all other devices to its destination.
  3. It may require additional hardware (NIC) to connect two devices to a single computer.
  4. It is difficult to add a new device to the network. This will affect the entire network and it requires reconfiguring the whole network.
  5. It is relatively expensive to establish and maintain.
  6. The network depends on a single cable connection from point to point.

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