In a computing context, topology refers to how devices are set up and connected in a network. The four common network topologies are bus, ring, star and tree; each has its advantages and disadvantages. A ring topology connects devices in a series and a circular fashion, forming a closed loop. Data is passed from one device to another in a single direction.
It is easy to set up a ring topology. No server or central workstation is needed to connect the computers to one another. They can easily be linked from cable to cable, connecting one device to the other. Ring topology is cheaper than star or tree topologies, both of which require a central or topmost device to manage all other devices.
Pro: Data Traffic
Ring topology can handle a high volume of data traffic, because data are passed unidirectionally. This simplifies data flow and prevents network congestion. It also decreases the probability of data being corrupted or damaged. For these reasons, ring topology can be a good choice for long-distance communications.
When an error occurs, it is easy to spot where it happened because the connection between devices can be traced to where the communication has stopped.
Con: Data Replication
Replicating data in ring topology is less efficient than in a star topology. In a star topology, the central server or computer can directly replicate data in all other devices at once. In a ring topology, data will be copied from one device to another before all computers have the same data.
Con: Network Failure
While it is easy to troubleshoot a ring topology set-up, when one device fails it brings down the entire network because the communication line is broken. Until the link is fixed or replaced, the network is inoperative.
Con: Network Expansion
Another disadvantage of ring topology comes to light when you decide to expand your network. If in the original set-up you have five computers, and then you decide to add five more, you'll have to bring your entire network down before you can expand it. Placing additional computers in a ring topology requires you to take each connection down and insert the new devices into the closed-loop set-up before you can bring the entire network up again.