What Is A Computer Network? - Networking Basics - Part 2
Wuddup Everybody it’s ya boi Jester James here coming at you with anotha Youtube Video! [Spoiler Alert] Continuing our Networking Basics Series in the next couple videos after this one we will be focusing on configuring a computer network, and then building that computer network. But first, What is a computer network? Remember last we had discussed What’s IN a computer network, from your hosts, routers, firewall, to even switches, or printers, etc.
Well Today We’re gonna dive into the What of a computer network, so what is a computer network?
Well it’s simple as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there’s 3 fundamental types of computer networks
- LAN or Local Area Network This would be your local group of network devices that allow communication between the other connected devices. It covers the smallest area such as your home, colleges, schools, hospitals, and so on.
- MAN or Metropolitan Area Networks It covers the largest area than LAN such as small towns, cities, etc
- WAN or Wide Area Network It covers a larger area than LAN as well as a MAN such as country/continent etc.
For the most part we’re going to be dealing with our networks on a small scale so we’ll mostly be referring to our LAN Local Area Network when we simply mention our network.
So that being said How can you configure a network? Believe it or not there’s many different ways you can connect your network with wifi or hard cable wires like CAT5 and Rj45, etc.
The configuration of a network can be mapped out into what’s called a network topology or network map, but who cares? Why is it important to plan and map out your network?
Choosing the right topology for your personal or company’s operational model can increase performance while making it easier to locate problems, troubleshoot errors, and more effectively allocate resources across the network to ensure optimal network health and uptime(keeping the network happy and alive). A streamlined and properly managed network topology can increase energy and data efficiency, which then helps reduce the amount of money you have to spend on the cost of running and managing that network.
Let’s go over these 4 basic Network Topologies and we’ll get on our way to building our own network!
A bus topology orients all the devices on a network along a single cable running in a single direction from one end of the network to the other—which is why it’s sometimes called a “line topology” or “backbone topology.” Data flow on the network also follows the route of the cable, moving in one direction.
Advantages of Bus Topology
Bus topologies are a good, cost-effective choice for smaller networks because the layout is simple, allowing all devices to be connected via a single coaxial or RJ45 cable. If needed, more nodes can be easily added to the network by joining additional cables.
Disadvantages of Bus Topology
However, because bus topologies use a single cable to transmit data, they’re somewhat vulnerable. If the cable experiences a failure, the whole network goes down, which can be time-consuming and expensive to restore, which can be less of an issue with smaller networks.
Bus topologies are best suited for small networks because there’s only so much bandwidth, and every additional node will slow transmission speeds. Furthermore, data is “half-duplex,” which means it can’t be sent in two opposite directions at the same time, so this layout is not the ideal choice for networks with huge amounts of traffic.
A star topology, the most common network topology, is laid out so every node in the network is directly connected to one central hub via coaxial, twisted-pair, or fiber-optic cable. Acting as a server, this central node manages data transmission—as information sent from any node on the network has to pass through the central one to reach its destination—and functions as a repeater, which helps prevent data loss
Advantages of Star Topology
Star topologies are common since they allow you to conveniently manage your entire network from a single location. Because each of the nodes is independently connected to the central hub, should one go down, the rest of the network will continue functioning unaffected, making the star topology a stable and secure network layout. Additionally, devices can be added, removed, and modified without taking the entire network offline. On the physical side of things, the structure of the star topology uses relatively little cabling to fully connect the network, which allows for both straightforward setup and management over time as the network expands or contracts. The simplicity of the network design makes life easier for administrators, too, because it’s easy to identify where errors or performance issues are occurring.
Disadvantages of Star Topology
On the flipside, if the central hub goes down, the rest of the network can’t function. But if the central hub is properly managed and kept in good health, administrators shouldn’t have too many issues. The overall bandwidth and performance of the network are also limited by the central node’s configurations and technical specifications, making star topologies expensive to set up and operate.
Ring topology is where nodes are arranged in a circle (or ring). The data can travel through the ring network in either one direction or both directions, with each device having exactly two neighbors.
Pros of Ring Topology
Since each device is only connected to the ones on either side, when data is transmitted, the packets also travel along the circle, moving through each of the intermediate nodes until they arrive at their destination. If a large network is arranged in a ring topology, repeaters can be used to ensure packets arrive correctly and without data loss.
Only one station on the network is permitted to send data at a time, which greatly reduces the risk of packet collisions, making ring topologies efficient at transmitting data without errors.
By and large, ring topologies are cost-effective and inexpensive to install, and the intricate point-to-point connectivity of the nodes makes it relatively easy to identify issues or misconfigurations on the network.
Cons of Ring Topology Even though it’s popular, a ring topology is still vulnerable to failure without proper network management. Since the flow of data transmission moves unidirectionally between nodes along each ring, if one node goes down, it can take the entire network with it. That’s why it’s imperative for each of the nodes to be monitored and kept in good health. Nevertheless, even if you’re vigilant and attentive to node performance, your network can still be taken down by a transmission line failure.
The question of scalability should also be taken into consideration. In a ring topology, all the devices on the network share bandwidth, so the addition of more devices can contribute to overall communication delays. Network administrators need to be mindful of the devices added to the topology to avoid overburdening the network’s resources and capacity.
Additionally, the entire network must be taken offline to reconfigure, add, or remove nodes. And while that’s not the end of the world, scheduling downtime for the network can be inconvenient and costly.
A mesh topology is an intricate and elaborate structure of point-to-point connections where the nodes are interconnected. Mesh networks can be full or partial mesh. Partial mesh topologies are mostly interconnected, with a few nodes with only two or three connections, while full-mesh topologies are—surprise!—fully interconnected.
The web-like structure of mesh topologies offers two different methods of data transmission: routing and flooding. When data is routed, the nodes use logic to determine the shortest distance from the source to destination, and when data is flooded, the information is sent to all nodes within the network without the need for routing logic.
Advantages of Mesh Topology
Mesh topologies are reliable and stable, and the complex degree of interconnectivity between nodes makes the network resistant to failure. For instance, no single device going down can bring the network offline.
Disadvantages of Mesh Topology
Mesh topologies are incredibly labor-intensive. Each interconnection between nodes requires a cable and configuration once deployed, so it can also be time-consuming to set up. As with other topology structures, the cost of cabling adds up fast, and to say mesh networks require a lot of cabling is an understatement.
What If More Than One Topology Works? Perhaps You Might Consider A Hybrid Approach!
Hybrid topologies combine two or more different topology structures—the tree topology is a good example, integrating the bus and star layouts. Hybrid structures are most commonly found in larger companies where individual departments have personalized network topologies adapted to suit their needs and network usage.
Advantages of Hybrid Topology
The main advantage of hybrid structures is the degree of flexibility they provide, as there are few limitations on the network structure itself that a hybrid setup can’t accommodate.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Topology
However, each type of network topology comes with its own disadvantages, and as a network grows in complexity, so too does the experience and know-how required on the part of the admins to keep everything functioning optimally. There’s also the monetary cost to consider when creating a hybrid network topology.
Remember That No Matter What Topology You Use, Choosing The Best One Depends On The Following Factors:
- Length of cable needed
- Cable type
Now we’re not going to be building the computer network for New York City but we will be building a small network that would be similar to a small business, so keep what we’ve learnt in this video in mind, but acknowledge the scale that we’re going to be networking at :) Right? Scalability ;)Hahaha Aight Wondaful!
That’s the fundamentals of our hardware portion of the networking basics series down pat, which is lit! So what’s next?
In the next video we’re going to start becoming our own NET ADMINS! Our own Network Administrators! We’re going to start to plan and build out our own computer network!
So get ready, get hype! And I’ll See You, In The Next Video!