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Network Types and Topologies 


Types of Networks ? Physical


On a peer-to-peer network the computers can act as the client or the server, this basically means that any computer can access the others resources when it needs to or chooses to do so. 

Quick characteristics of this network: 

  1. No centralized server exists
  2. Computers can be client or server
  3. Security is an issue on this type of network
  4. Best suited for small networks (10 or fewer computers)
  5. The easiest and cheapest to install


Client Server

Also known as ?Server-Based?.  This network uses a special computer(s) referred to as servers to house and share resources.  A server?s sole purpose is to authenticate (allow login) and provide resources to a client.  Specialized software and hardware is used on the server. 

Quick characteristics of this network: 

  1. Designed to support many users
  2. More secure, users must have an ID and password to gain access
  3. Servers are designed to handle multiple request
  4. Provides a centralized location for resources
  5. Great for large number of computers


Types of Networks ? By Topology


Computers are networked (connected) together using a central hub/switch.  Each computer on the network transmits directly to the hub; the hub then sends the transmission to the computer it is addressed to.  The star network can be implemented using twisted pair (10baseT or 100baseT) cabling a hub/switch.  All computers must be attached to the hub in order to transmit.  This the most popular type of network used today. 

Quick characteristics of this network: 

  1. Easy to troubleshoot and locate cable breaks
  2. Easy to add new computers to the network, just plug into the hub/switch
  3. Uses more cabling
  4. Since it is centralized, if hub fails the entire network will go down



Consists of a single cable to which all computers are attached.  All of the computers are daisy-chained to each other.  This is a common network for peer-to-peer.  The media required to implement a bus would be Thinnet (10base2) cabling, BNC ?T-connectors? and 50-ohm terminators.  The bus is also, referred to as a linear (straight line) bus. 

Quick characteristics of this network: 

  1. Fast and simple to setup
  2. Requires very little hardware
  3. Best for small networks
  4. Problems can bring down the entire network



Similar to the star, in this topology the data line actually forms a logical ring to which all the computers are attached.  This topology uses what is referred to as ?Token Passing? to transmit data.  Each computer on the network gets to access the token and use it to transmit its data.  The token flows in a continuous circle.  This topology is commonly used with IBM?s Token Ring Networks. 



This topology is a combination of the above networks and is common on very large networks where fault tolerance is needed (guard against failure).  Essentially, the computers are connected to each other, this requires a significant amount of cabling and is very difficult to install. 



Computers using this type of network topology are not restricted by cables but transmits data and shares resources over radio waves, hence the term wireless.  A wireless transceiver (network card) is attached each computer on the network and an wireless ?Access Point? is used to bridge the signal back to a server or wired back bone.  Whether you are part of the mobile workforce of a large corporation or you are the average Joe using your home network, the advantage is "No Wires".


** This Guide is a work in progress will be added to throughout the year **