Alternatively referred to as a ring network, a ring topology is a computer network configuration where the devices are connected to each other in a circular shape. Each packet is sent around the ring until it reaches its final destination. Ring topologies are used in both local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) setups. The picture to the right is a visual example of a network using the ring topology to connect several computers together.
In the past, the ring topology was most commonly used in schools, offices, and smaller buildings where networks were smaller. However, today, the ring topology is seldom used, having been switched to another type of network topology for improved performance, stability, or support.
Advantages of ring topology
- All data flows in one direction, reducing the chance of packet collisions.
- A network server is not needed to control network connectivity between each workstation.
- Data can transfer between workstations at high speeds.
- Additional workstations can be added without impacting performance of the network.
Disadvantages of ring topology
- All data being transferred over the network must pass through each workstation on the network, which can make it slower than a star topology.
- The entire network will be impacted if one workstation shuts down.
- The hardware needed to connect each workstation to the network is more expensive than Ethernet cards and hubs/switches.