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Chapter 14. Configuring Your Wi-Fi Netwo... > Understanding Networks and Their Lay...

Understanding Networks and Their Layouts

Your office or home network might be small right now, but it might grow over time (which is what happened to me). This section explains some of the ways to look at larger, more complicated networks. This material is somewhat advanced and can be something to keep in the back of your mind when you are setting up your first Wi-Fi access point. But you might find that it provides a useful perspective even as you are getting started. The point of this section is to let you know what your options are as you start creating a wireless, or mixed wired and wireless network. After all, by the time you add computers for all your kids, an at home office, and wireless streaming media, you'll find that your network isn't so small anymore. So you don't have to worry about the material in this section when you are building your first wireless network with one or two computers. But you might want to think about it as your networks get more complex.

The way that a network is laid out, or arranged, is called the network's topology. The term topology also refers to how the devices on the network communicate with each other. A network's physical topology is the way devices are laid out (meaning which devices are connected to each other, and so on). In contrast, a network's logical topology is the way that the signals act on the network media, meaning the way that the data passes through the network from one device to the next independent of the physical interconnection of the devices. If you diagrammed the physical and logical topology for a network, the diagram might look the same; but then again, it might not.


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