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A network topology describes the arrangement of computers, cables and other components in a network. It is a map of the physical network. The type of topology used affects the type and capabilities of the network hardware, its management and the possibilities for future expansion.

There is a physical and a logical aspect to the topology:

  • The physical topology describes how the physical components are connected in a network.
  • The logical topology describes how network data is transferred via the physical components.


There are five basic topologies:

  • Bus - The computers are connected using a standard shared cable.
  • Star - Computers are connected to cable segments that branch from a central point or hub.
  • Ring - The computers are connected with a cable that forms a loop around a central point.
  • Meshes - The computers in the network are connected to each other computer via a cable.
  • Hybrid - Two or more topologies are used simultaneously.