Computer networks could be viewed logically (signal topology) or physically (layout). The general term used in reference to network device layout is known as topology.
Also read: generational development of mobile networks
Logical topologies deals with how data is passed from one device to the other on a network, its examples include:
- Token ring topology
special package called token goes around the network and only the computer whose address is on the data held on the token will take up the token to read the data then release the token which may now be captured by a computer ready to send data.
- Ethernet topology
all computers listen to the network media but can only send data when none is also sending.
Where as physical topologies refers to physical layout of network components, its examples include:
- Ring topology
all devices are connected to each other in a form of a closed loop. They use short length cables and are easy to install though difficult to modify; it uses a token in exchange of data.
- Bus topology
all devices are connected to a central cable (bus/ backbone). Easy to install but limits number of computers.
- Tree topology
an integration of star topology and bus topology.
- Star topology
all devices are connected to a central hub, all information is first sent to the hub before transmission to the relevant receiver.
- Mesh topology
creates many paths between different locations.
- Hybrid topology
a combination of more than one topology.
Networks could also be termed in the sense of how large/ how many devices are connected to a single network.
A network that spans a small geographical area like a school/ one building is called Local Area Network (LAN), network covering a metropolitan like a city or town is known as Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) and a network covering an area larger than a metropolitan such as a country or a globe is viewed as a Wide Area Network (WAN).