Every individual wants a reliable internet connection that’s fast, but businesses want it even more. In fact, they need it. Without a high-performing network, businesses could experience downtime, an unreliable connection, and an overall frustrating work experience. All of these situations can force the company to incur unnecessary costs. Of course, your internet provider is the foundation to good connection, but there are several other factors to consider.
First and foremost, are you running a wireless network, wired network, or both? There’s no debate that connecting wirelessly is convenient, especially when wireless providers, routers, and modems have improved significantly over the years. The problem is, wireless networks are more susceptible to interference. Wired networks ensure the best connection, security, and reliability. Although merely using a wired network isn’t quite enough––you’ll also need to consider the different types of network topologies. A topology is way to identify how devices (or nodes) connect to each other. There are six common types of topologies, and we’re going to break each of them down in the guide below.
As the simplest design, a bus topology requires nodes to be in a linear order. Each device in a bus topology setup connects to a single cable. You should note that a bus and linear topology doesn’t transmit data bidirectionally. In other words, the data can only go from one end to the other. As with all other topologies, there are advantages and disadvantages to a bus topology.
The most notable advantages are cost and ease of setup. Because a bus topology connects via one primary cable (known as the backbone cable), your cable costs will be lower than in other topologies, yet performance will be faster. An added benefit of the backbone cable is that your installation is a lot easier. You should be aware of a couple disadvantages of bus topologies. Most notably, a linear topology limits the number of nodes you can have. That said, a bus topology is especially common for small to medium-sized businesses. The other issue is that if your backbone cable goes down, your whole network does too. Alternatively, if the cable failed, it’s an easier fix because there’s only one cable, so there are both advantages and disadvantages to using linear setups.
Another simple design is the ring topology. As you might suspect, a ring topology is in the form of a circle, where each device has two adjacent nodes. A typical ring topology will have four nodes, but there could be more if the need arises. Ring topologies are versatile and fitting for all sized businesses, and many businesses use them because of their advantages.
Arguably the most important advantage is that the number of nodes doesn’t affect the transmission of data. You can make a ring topology unidirectional or bidirectional, which makes future growth much easier. Much like the bus topology, ring topologies are also very easy to install and expand upon. There are two disadvantages to be aware of. First, troubleshooting is more difficult with more nodes transmitting data in different directions. Another disadvantage is that if one node experiences a crash or downtime, it’ll disturb the entire network.
Unsurprisingly, a star topology’s setup resembles, well, a star. In the center of the star is a central hub that each node connects to. Because of the central hub, star topologies are more reliable than the previous setups and have several advantages. Since each node has its own connection to the central hub, trouble shooting is much easier. Additionally, the performance is faster because data doesn’t have to go through each node before reaching its destination. Finally, if one node fails, the rest of them will still work as normal.
Of course, there are two disadvantages you should consider: the cost and the central hub. Because star topologies need more cables and a central hub, they are more expensive to setup and run because of the increased energy use. Moreover, if the central hub fails, your whole network will fail as well.
A mesh topology is like a glorified ring topology. The mesh topology is among the most common setups for businesses for a few reasons, but mostly for its reliability. The reason a mesh topology is so reliable is because each node is connected directly to other devices with point-to-point links. Because the devices connect to other devices in the network, you’ll experience little to no problems caused by data traffic. Additionally, if one node were to fail, the rest of your network will work fine. The interconnected devices also improve security and privacy, something that’s especially important to businesses. The reason mesh topology is secure is because all the connections are point-to-point, ensuring unauthorized users cannot access the database.
You’re probably wondering what the disadvantages are. The main one is the mere number of cables you need, but keep in mind that more cables also mean a more secure network. Additionally, troubleshooting can be challenging if you’re not organized or experienced with mesh topology. Lastly, because of the point-to-point connections, expanding on a mesh topology is both time consuming and difficult.
Many organizations like to use a tree topology (sometimes referred to as hierarchical topology) because it’s great for Wide Area Networks. A tree topology requires what’s called a root node, which then connect to sub-root nodes, and continue expanding to other nodes as a top-down effect. You can see why it’s also called the hierarchical topology. The primary benefit of tree topologies is that you’re combining the reliability of bus and star topologies. Moreover, troubleshooting is very simple. Although with primary hubs, you guessed it––if one goes down, they all go down.
There is also a topology known as a “hybrid” which combines two or more topologies. Hybrid topologies can be beneficial, but they can easily become a disaster if you’re not careful. Hybrid topologies require experience or a good IT department. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll likely have a hard time not only setting up but also maintaining a hybrid topology. As you can see with the different types of network topologies, each have their respective pros and cons. Before choosing a topology, you should consider the size of your business and the potential for future growth. That way, you can ensure you’re investing your time, energy, and money into the appropriate setup.
Of course, regardless of the topology you choose, you’re going to need high-quality network cables, and that’s where we come in. CableWholesale takes immense pride in providing top-quality products to our customers. Whether you need a Cat5e cable in 1000ft, patch cables, adapters, and all things cable related, we’ve got you covered. Check out our online shop for all our amazing products or reach out to us with any questions.