There are many different ways network nodes can be connected together.
Common connection technologies used on home networks like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc are designed to work using a particular network topology.
Having an understanding of these topologies is important when structuring your home network.
Common home network topologies are:
Each of these topologies has advantages and disadvantages this Network topologies article has a really good overview of each topology along with advantages and disadvantages.
Bus and Star Bus topology
Early Ethernet networks used a bus structure as Ethernet was originally designed to use a shred coaxial cable.
Modern Ethernet networks use UTP (unshielded Twisted pair) and switches creating a star bus (hybrid) structure, as do Wi-Fi Networks.
The diagram shows a typical home network structure which forms a star bus hybrid.
Points of Failure
Referring to the diagram above there are 3 main points of failure.
- Router or Internet connection affects all traffic
- Switch failure affects all connected devices
- Access point failure affects all Wi-Fi devices.
When designing your network it is always a good idea to try minimize these failure points.
On large corporate networks they build in redundancy using additional networking components, but on home networks this is usually not a viable option.
You might find this video interesting –How not to design a network ,but you should remember he is talking about corporate networks.
These can either be partial or fully meshed as shown in the diagram below:
Meshed networks are highly resilient to failure but aren’t practical with a large number of nodes as too many connections are involved.
Token ring is an example of a ring network but token ring is not used any more in modern network and so this type of network is seldom encountered
Network Topology- Physical vs Logical
How the nodes on a network communicate with each other can be very different to how they are physically interconnected.
Most Home and small office networks use a physical bus topology.
Common logical typologies are Peer to Peer and Client Server.
The web (WWW) is a client server network at the logical level.
In a client server model a central server hosts information that the client want.
In the case of the web the server hosts web pages.
Advantages and Dis-Advantages
|Easy to backup||more difficult to set up|
|Better security||Requires a network administrator|
|Easy to Locate resources||Requires more powerful and expensive hardware|
|Single point of failure|
Peer to Peer
Most home networks use peer to peer networking model.
Microsoft windows (all versions) supports this model.
In a peer to peer networking model a computer functions as both a client (workstation) and a server.
Advantages and Dis-Advantages
Peer To Peer
|Easy to set up||Difficult to secure|
|No central administrator||Difficult to locate a resource|
|No single point of failure||Difficult to ensure data is backed up|
|No need for expensive server hardware|
Smart Home Devices
Smart Home devices tend to use the client server model when using http for control. Each device will connect to a central (cloud based) server for configuration and control.
However if you use Tasmota devices the sensor itself acts as a server and is then controlled by an http client -See Using HTTP To Control Smart Home Devices.
Related tutorials and resources
- Basic Home Network Hardware Components, Devices and Services
- Basic Home Networking Course for Beginners
- Home Network troubleshooting