Ring Topology


A ring network is a network topology in which each node connects to exactly two other nodes, forming a single continuous pathway for signals through each node - a ring. Data travels from node to node, with each node along the way handling every packet.

Because a ring topology provides only one pathway between any two nodes, ring networks may be disrupted by the failure of a single link. A node failure or cable break might isolate every node attached to the ring.


Ring Topology
AdvantagesDisadvantages
  • Very orderly network where every device has access to the token and the opportunity to transmit.

  • Performs better than a star topology under heavy network load.

  • Can create much larger network using Token Ring.

  • Does not require network server to manage the connectivity between the computers.

  • Data is quickly transferred without a "bottle neck". (very fast, all data traffic is in the same direction).

  • The transmission of data is relatively simple as packets travel in one direction only.

  • It prevents network collisions because of the media access method or architecture required.

  • Adding additional nodes has very little impact on bandwidth.

  • One malfunctioning workstation or bad port in the MAU can create problems for the entire network.

  • Data packets must pass through every computer between the sender and recipient therefore this makes it slower.

  • Moves, adds and changes of devices can affect the network.

  • Network adapter cards and MAU's are much more expensive than Ethernet cards and hubs.

  • Much slower than an Ethernet network under normal load.

  • A physical ring topology uses a single length of cable interconnecting all computers and forming a loop. If there is a break in the cable, all systems on the network will be unable to access the network. Total dependence upon the one cable.


  • All Network Interface Cards (NICs) on the ring network must operate at the same speed.

  • The MSAU on a logical ring topology represents a single point of failure. If all devices are unable to access the network and there is no cable break, it might be that the MSAU is faulty.

  • Because all stations are wired together, to add a station you must shut down the network temporarily.

  • Difficult to troubleshoot a ring network.

  • In order for all computers to communicate with each other, all computers must be turned on.


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We are a group of current or aspiring teachers currently studying at Pace University in Westchester County in New York State.



Research Sources

 

What is a Ring Topology?

This site introduces the Ring topology, explains how it works, and addresses the advantages and disadvantages of it.


How Token Ring Works?

This site discusses the Ring Topology in general as well as the Token Ring. The site outlines the basics of Token Ring as well as the self-maintenance of Token Ring.


Networking Ring Tutorials

This site outlines the ring topology, more specifically the logical ring where data travels in a circular fashion from one computer to another. The site includes a diagram as well as a chart of the advantages and disadvantages.


Ring Topology Video

This short YouTube video illustrates how data travels in a ring network topology.