Benefits and disadvantages of peer-to-peer network and client-server networks

There are many benefits and disadvantages of peer to peer network and client-server networks. Choosing one over the other depends largely on what the network will be used for.

Peer-to-Peer network

A peer-to-peer network is a network that is created when there are two or more computers connected together that share connected resources without a server. It could be connecting two computers using USB for example or linking six or more computers in an office space using copper wire. It could also be a much larger network that uses protocols and applications to set up direct connections over the internet.

Advantages of peer to peer:

  • Easy set up
  • Each connected computer can act as a server so no need for a dedicated server
  • Failure doesn’t affect all computers
  • Less expense
  • Less configuration and implementation time

Disadvantages of peer to peer:

  • Easy access to any computer
  • Security is only as strong as whatever security is in place on each computer
  • Backup has to be done on each computer
  • No control of access to data as there is no server
  • Easy remote access can lead to compromised systems

Disadvantages of using peer to peer networks for example would be torrents – file sharing torrents are easily downloaded but come from many different systems at the same time which increases the risk of malicious data being attached to these files. However, once a torrent is assembled on your computer behind the firewall, a good antivirus should detect problems if they exist.

Overall, a peer to peer network is useful to connect a small number of computers (up to about a dozen) and where there isn’t a need for a high level of security. If there is sensitive data being exchanged, then this type of network wouldn’t be advised.

Client / server networks

A client/server network works on the basis that workstations (clients) are connected to a server. It is designed to connect clients to servers so that they can access resources such as documents, music, video or other services available from a server or central computer. A server serves the client’s needs, for example to connect to Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, you log in to the network and retrieve information requested such as the game, patch, software update, video file etc…

It works similar to the way a customer in a restaurant waits for a server to take an order. Information is requested from the client (what they want to eat and drink), the server receives the information, validates it (makes sure everything ordered is on the menu) and then later gathers the whatever is requested (food and drink) and serves it to the client.

Advantages of client/server networks

  • Central management – all of the resources of the network are available from one server
  • Easy configuration – Systems on the network are simple to set up and can make troubleshooting easier
  • Scalability – because of a centralised system, it can be easy to add more resources & clients.
  • Security – There are fewer security issues to deal with as all of the information is stored on a server and it’s primarily the server that has to worry about securing data and setting permissions.

Disadvantages of client/server networks

  • Server Faults – If there is a fault on the server all of the clients would go down too
  • Crashes – If the server cannot handle large amounts of traffic due to too many concurrent log-ins or file transfers, it can cause system crashes
  • Cost – Initial start-up costs can be expensive and you’d also have to have a systems administrator to configure and oversee the network