Token Ring Network

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What Does Token Ring Network Mean?

A token ring network is a local area network (LAN) topology where nodes/stations are arranged in a ring topology. Data passes sequentially between nodes on the network until it returns to the source station. To prevent congestion and collision, a token ring topology uses a token to ensure that only one node/station on the line is used at a time, thereby easily denoting media users of its activity.


A token ring LAN is physically wired as a star topology but configured as a ring topology.

The token ring LAN system was standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as IEEE 802.5.

Techopedia Explains Token Ring Network

Initially, the token ring LAN highlighted, debated advantages over the Ethernet. During the 1990s, token-ring LAN pricing and usage gradually declined as switched Ethernet and faster variants hit the market.

In the mid-1980s, token ring LAN speeds were standardized between 4 and 16 Mbps.

The token ring LAN process is delineated by the following sequence of events:

  • A token continually circulates inside the toke ring LAN
  • To transmit a message, a node inserts a message and destination address inside an empty token.
  • The token is examined by each successive node.
  • The destination node copies the message data and returns the token to the source with the source address and a data receipt message.
  • The source receives the returned token, verifies copied and received data and empties the token.
  • The empty token now changes to circulation mode, and the process continues.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.