Advantages & disadvantages of ring topology

Written by hannelore davis
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Advantages & disadvantages of ring topology
A ring topology is one way to configure a network. (network image by dinostock from

Ring topology is the term used to describe how a computer network is set-up. One device is connected to the next one forming a ring shape and information is passed one way around the ring until it reaches its destination. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of this topology to determine whether or not it meets your network needs over the other topologies available.

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A ring topology is considered to be very reliable. Due to information being passed around the ring one way, it is easier to manage than a bus topology. Bus topologies use one major backbone to broadcast information to every device on that backbone, regardless of whether that device has asked for the information or not. In a star topology, all devices are hooked into one singular piece of networking equipment. A ring topology handles a heavier load than a star topology because each device is hooked into another, and the load of information is spread between devices, instead of congregating into one single piece of networking equipment.

Set Up

Due to the simplistic nature of a ring topology, setting one up is not difficult. Similar to a ring of people holding hands, each device connects to the next. All that is needed are the devices to be connected, and the cables to be run between each device.


Although it is easy to add devices to a ring topology, expanding it will cause the entire network to go down. Adding a device is usually as simple as disconnecting two devices in the ring, and reconnecting those two devices to the third. While the devices are disconnected, the entire network will cease to function. The information being passed around the ring will stop at the disconnection, and will be unable to progress around the ring.

Network Failure

If one cable or device in a ring topology fails, it causes the entire network to fail. Imagine a ring of people holding hands; one person squeezes the nest person's hand, and that person squeezes the next and so on. If two people stop holding hands, the hand squeeze cannot be transferred on to the next person.


Troubleshooting a ring topology is fairly simple. When one device or cable stops functioning, information is no longer be able to travel past that device. Generally, if you locate where the information is stopping, it will pinpoint which device or cable from which the trouble is originating.

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