Local Area Networking

This article gives a brief description and advantages and disadvantages of the three major network topologies: bus, star, and ring.

Part 5: Local Area Network Topologies

(Andrews, p.902; McFredries, p.996)


Connects each node in a line - cable runs from one PC to the next and from there to the next, etc.

Actually there are two variations of the Bus topology:

  • In small networks, cable is run from one NIC to the next on each node - the "Tee" is attached to the NIC.
  • In larger networks, a single bus, or backbone cable runs through an entire building and the nodes are cabled to a BNC connector on a wall plate - the "Tee" is behind the wall plate.

The Bus topology's disadvantage is that a break in the backbone takes down the entire network, although the malfunctioning of a single node does not affect the network as long as the integrity of the cable is maintained.

Star or Hub

Connects all nodes to a centralized hub. Most popular topology for Ethernet.

If all of a hub's ports are in use then it can simply be connected to another hub.


  • Inexpensive cable (UTP)
  • Offers greater flexibility in wiring than Bus
  • If cable to one node breaks, the rest of the network still works


  • Because each node gets connected to the hub it uses a lot of cable
  • Requires a hub


Although the Ring looks a lot like the Star because each node is connected to a central device, the two work very differently.

Packets are (attached to a token and) sent around the ring and examined by each node.

Difficult to maintain because just one down node breaks the chain.

Bruce Miller, 2002, 2014