Network Topology

What is Ring Topology? Definition | Examples | Advantages | Disadvantages

Ring topology is a type of network topology where nodes are connected in closed path to create Ring network. After discussing bus Topology and star Topology in my previous articles, now it is the turn to provide you people with a detailed tutorial on another Ring TopologyRing Topology is yet an interesting Type of Network Topology. However, Network Engineers don`t prefer to use it in a modern Computer Network. You people might be thinking the question What are the disadvantages of a ring topology? Obviously, the answer to this question will give you a better idea for limited use of Ring Topology. In the coming sections, definition, examples, advantages and disadvantages of Ring Network Topology will be discussed.

Introductory video about Ring Topology

As the name suggests that Ring Topology will be in the form of a ring and ring is obviously in the form of a circle. I will not say that this concept is wrong. It just needs a small amendment. You can say that this Network Topology Type will be in the form of a closed loop or closed path. This closed path can be a square, rectangle, triangle or any other polygon. All you need to focus is that whether the shape of the Network is forming a closed loop or not. If yes, then it is Ring Network Topology. Otherwise, it is simply not. In the coming sections, I will Describe Ring Topology in detail for you to understand it completely.

What is Ring Topology?

I will explain in a very simple way. Just focus and think about the fact that both ends of the main Backbone Cable in Bus Topology contain Terminator. If we remove the Terminators then communication signals will reflect back and cause problems in communication. Suppose we want to remove the terminators at any cost. This will leave us with pure Backbone Cable. Now in order to solve the signal reflection, all we need to do is to join both ends of the Backbone Cable with each other. By doing so, we will form a complete closed path whose start and end points are the same. This will leave us with Ring Topology Network Configuration. You may have understood the physical orientation easily. But Logical Topology description is a little different from the Physical Topology.

Don`t confuse Ring Topology Meaning to be always in circular ring format. In fact, it can be in any closed shape
Ring Topology Definition

In Ring Topology connects the Network Devices in a completely closed path. This closed path can be in any form like circle, triangle, square or whatever else. You can easily identify the closed path. A closed path starting point and ending point is always the same like Olympic Running Track. So, whenever we connect Network Nodes like Computers and other Types of Network Nodes in the Ring Topology Configuration, we can say that our Computer Network is actually a Ring Network.

Ring Topology Cable Specifications

You can use the standard Twisted Pair Cable and Coaxial Cable in Ring Topology. But mostly Twisted Pair Cable with RJ-45 Connector is the most suitable option.

Ring Topology Protocols

Protocol is basically a rule that governs the communication. Whether you browser web, send/receive E-Mails or download a file, we are always using some form of Protocol. For example, if are browsing the Internet then we will notice the words like http or https in the address bar of web browser. These are some simple examples of protocols. Ring Topology uses one of the following protocols:

  1. Token Ring
  2. Metro Ring Protocol
  3. Fiber Distributed Data Interface

For the sake of convenience, I am just putting the names here. But I will surely provide some valuable article on these also. So, stay tuned.

Examples of Ring Topology Network in Real Life – Ring Topology Applications and Uses

Typically you will not find Ring Topology Examples in real life now-a-days because it is massively replaced by Star Network. However, one of the common example that still exists is SONET Rings. SONET stands for Synchronous Optical Networking. It uses Fiber Optic Cables for heavy load data transfers for long distances. You can simply think SONET to be Fiber Optic Cable Ring Topology. It is highly reliable Computer Network for synchronizing various branch offices of a multi-national company. Due to the use of Fiber Optic Cable, it provides the best data transfer speeds. SONET is one of the most popular Applications of Ring Topology.

ring topology example

Types of Network Ring Topology

There is only one factor known as the Data Flow. But for understanding different types, you need to first understand the term itself.So, I am presenting the best definition for your understanding.

Data Flow - Definition

Data Flow defines the direction of flow of data through the communication channels between communicating devices. For example, if I say that water is data and in our home kitchen from where do we get this water? The answer is water tank or reservoir. So, water flows from the reservoir to our sink etc. Now, this flow has direction associated with it. The direction of flow can be Simplex, Half-Duplex or Full-Duplex.

Read More About Data Flow

On the basis of Data Flow and associated direction, Ring Network Topology is sub-divided into following two types:

Unidirectional Ring Topology

This types uses a single strong cable throughout whole Computer Network. All the Nodes are connected to this single cable. Moreover, direction of flow of data is single. This types is least costly to build and manage. It means that data can either travel in clockwise direction or in an anti-clockwise direction. Direction is also per-configured in this type. One important thing to note is that in some cases this type is configured to be Simplex. However, certain other scenarios may also involve a Half-Duplex communication flow.

In Simplex, the Network will continue to operate in pref-configured direction. For instance, if the direction configuration is set to clockwise direction then the Network will always operate in the same direction. However, in Half-Duplex, data can flow in both directions. But the direction changes alternatively. In other words, data can`t flow in both directions simultaneously. Instead, it flows in clockwise direction at one time while it starts to flow in an anti-clockwise direction at another time.

Bidirectional Ring Topology or Dual Ring Topology

This type is usually more reliable. But trust me it is costly to build. In this type, each Network Node connects with a pair of Backbone Cable. Moreover, you can get the advantage of a Full-Duplex transmission. So, data can flow in both directions at the same time. It means that a Node can communication with two other Network Nodes at the same time. You may configure first wire to go in anti-clockwise direction while other to be in clockwise direction. That is the reason why SONET is the choice of most enterprises. It is just because of reliability and simultaneous communication. In any event of failure you will find this type more fault-tolerant and operational. So, whenever a wire fails there is an alternative way to communicate.

Collapsed Ring Topology

It is basically a special type. It uses only a single cable for connecting Network Nodes. But for redundancy the end nodes are directly connected to each other.

Ring Topology Network – Explanation and Diagram

Well, let me point out one thing that in this Type of Network Topology each device has a direct connection to exactly two Network Devices and Computers. It means that each Network Node is connected to the other computers through intermediate nodes. In this Network Topology, only a single device can communicate at a one time. Just imagine that you have joined both ends of backbone cable of Bus Topology. If multiple devices are allowed to communicate, then there are chances of collision occurring in communication. You can clearly see a typical Picture Diagram of a Ring Topology that involves five Node attached to each other in a Ring Network.

ring topology diagram

In most of the implementations, we use Token Ring Topology. In this type, a signal that is known as Token is constantly circulating (in one direction) in the Computer Network. Any device that wants to communicate has to acquire the Token at first. If it is available then requesting device acquires it. If one device is allocated the Token then it has the control over the Network. It means that no other device can communicate until the Token gets free. Token only gets free when communication finishes. So, any other computer can now request for allocation.

For communicating in Ring Topology Token must be first requested and acquired.

Although, the Sender embeds the destination address in the data message. Still the communication signal doesn`t reach the destination directly as there are no direct paths. Instead the communication signal has to pass through all the devices that exist between the Sender and Receiver. Each device will read the destination address from the data message. If the address matches then it keeps it. Otherwise it forwards the message to the next device. So, each device in Ring Network is important for smooth operation. The whole Ring Network fails even if there is a problem in a single device. You might be getting confused. But don`t worry I will explain that how does ring topology work in the coming section.

How Ring Topology Works?

Carefully consider the following picture for a better understanding of working Information about Ring Topology. The picture shows a Ring Network of six computers. For your convenience, there is an anti-clockwise numbering of devices. But you can assign numbers in clockwise direction too. There is absolutely nothing to worry about it. When no device is communicating, Token will be circulating through the Network. Let us suppose that in this scenario, Token is circulating in anti-clockwise direction. Suppose Computer-1 (Sender) wants to send data message to Computer-5 (Receiver). The whole communication will take place in the following steps:

  1. Sender will request for Token assignment for initiating communication.
  2. If Token is available then it will be assigned to Sender, otherwise Sender has to wait for Token to become available. Suppose Token is free and assigned to Sender.
  3. Sender will now have the charge of the whole Ring Network. Sender will attach the Receiver address with the data message and send it.
  4. The message will travel in anti-clockwise direction. Hence, it will pass through the the computers numbered 2, 3 and 4.
  5. Each of these computers will receive the data message and check the destination address. For instance, Computer-2 will receive the data message first and check the destination address.
  6. If the current computer address and destination address are not same then the computer forwards the data message to the next computer. For instance, again, Computer-2 will check the destination address. Destination address is Computer-5. So, the addresses don`t match and Computer-2 will forward the message to Computer-3. Same process will be repeated at each computer.
  7. If the current computer address matches the destination address then the computer will keep the data and release the Token. For example, at Computer-5, both current address and destination address are the same. So, Computer-5 will keep the the data and release the Token.

how ring topology works

Ring Topology Main Features

Although you may feel that this Network Topology is not as good as other ones. But it certainly facilitates with multiple features. So, here are some main features of using this:

  • For long distant data communication, it is extremely reliable as each Network Node acts as a Repeater. So the signal doesn`t loose strength.
  • Built-in acknowledgement mechanism is available in it as Token is released only when communication is completed.
  • Due to the use of Token there is no chance of cross-communications and collisions. This is because only one device has the charge of Network at a time. No two devices are allowed to communicate simultaneously.
  • You can use Dual Ring Topology to further enhance the reliability of communication links. If one link fails then other is available for communication.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ring Topology

I think you might have understood all the basic concepts related to this Type of Network Topology. But aren`t you forgetting something? Yes. It is very much needed to understand Ring Topology Advantages and Disadvantages here. These will surely help you to select the Best Network Topology for your home or office Network.


  • It is easy to establish and maintain.
  • There are no chances of collision or problems in communication.
  • You can get enhanced reliability by using multiple rings.
  • Pre-configuration of data flow.
  • Mostly suitable for high speed data transmissions.
  • Peer-to-peer configuration provides proper sharing of resources.
  • It is considerably cheaper as compared to other types. This is because you don`t require any additional hardware in the form of Terminators or Hubs.
  • Adding more devices doesn`t overload the network.


  • Problem in one node stops the whole Ring Network.
  • Troubleshooting is difficult because you have to do a lot of effort to diagnose the cause.
  • It doesn`t offer simultaneous communication of network devices.
  • It is less secure as data message has to pass through all the nodes. So an unauthorized person can access the data that may be sensitive.
  • Addition or removal of network devices is a bit difficult and tricky.
  • Drop lines and connectors may damage the backbone cable.
  • Performance is slower when compared to Star Network Topology.

How to Create Ring Topology in Cisco Packet Tracer? – Cisco Switch Ring Topology

This is the most basic practical that you can do if you want to further understand Ring Topology Meaning. Cisco Packet Tracer is one of the powerful tools that you can use for this purpose. You can download it for free for learning purpose. So, just download and install it. It will take only a couple of minutes. I am going to brief you with some simple steps that will assist you in creating a typical Ring Topology using Cisco Packet Tracer. You may call it Cisco Switch Ring Topology. Here are these simple steps.

  • Draw diagram of ring topology on your laptop
  • Open Cisco Packet Tracer
  • Draw Computers and Other Nodes
  • Draw Switches
  • Connect Computers/Nodes to Switches
  • Connect Switches with each other
  • Configure Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses of Computers

Learn: How to Make Ring Topology in Cisco Packet Tracer? beginner`s tutorial for detailed explanation and step-by-step guide.

Cisco Switch Ring Network Topology

This Type of Ring Network Topology involves the use of Cisco Switches to create a Ring Network. A ring is created by connecting multiple switches. A switch in-turn is connected to a Network Node.

cisco switch ring network topology



1. What is the number of cables in Ring Topology?

This depends upon the configuration and requirements. If you are working with unidirectional type, you only need a single cable. However, for more reliability, you can go for bidirectional version. Bidirectional version involves use of two cables.

2. Where are Ring Topologies used?

Most of the use that you will find is in the form of Synchronous Optical Networking (SONET).

3. What is Dual Ring Topology?

In this type, a pair of ring connects network devices. This provides you with an enhancement in reliability. In case of primary ring failure, you have a second ring as a contingency to continue the communication.

4. What is Ring Topology explain it?

It connects network devices in a closed path. Only one device can have access to the network at a time. The data message has to pass through all the nodes between the sender and receiver. One major problem associated is that failure of one node can affect the whole computer network. That`s why it is not commonly used these days.

5. What are some drawbacks of implementing a Ring Topology?

  • The whole computer network stops operations even if a single nodes fails.
  • It is not suitable for simultaneous communications between multiple devices.
  • Troubleshooting and problem diagnostic are difficult tasks in such configuration.

6. What are Ring Topology Pros and Cons?


  • Cheap and easy to establish
  • Avoid signal collision problems
  • Suitable for high speed data transmissions


  • Failure of one nodes causes whole network to stop
  • Troubleshooting is hectic task
  • Doesn`t allow simultaneous communication among devices



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