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A token is a special frame that is passed from node to node around a ring network. When it gets to a node that needs to transmit data, the node changes the token into a data frame and transmits it to the recipient.
A token is essential to the inner workings of a token ring network.
The token can only be handled by a single node at a time. The bearer of the token is the only one allowed to send data around the network to a recipient node within the network. The bearer of the token writes the address of the recipient and the data to be sent, and then sends it to the next node in the series.
When the sender node sends the token to the next node, that node reads the address. If that node is not the intended recipient, it sends the data to the next node and so on. Finally, when the recipient node reads the data and knows that it is the recipient, it takes the data and sends the token back to the the sender's address with a message indicating that the data was received. The token is then sent around the ring again until it reaches the sender/bearer of the token. After using the token, a node releases it back into the network so other nodes will be able to use it.
Although token ring transmission seems to be a slow process, users rarely notice it because data communication occurs rapidly.