Peer-to-peer networks are computer networks that do not have a central server controlling the network.
Each computer is called a peer, and these peers are connected to one another.
No computer has control over another.
This type of network is not suitable for a large network where a client-server structure would be preferable.
Benefits of a peer-to-peer network
- Each computer can communicate and share its data and resources with all others (e.g. files or even a printer)
- Users can control which files they wish to share or keep private
- No cost in buying a server
- No need to pay a network technician (each user manages own file sharing permissions)
- Easier to set up with less specialist knowledge needed
- Over-all set up cost is cheaper
- Computer failure will only disrupt the files being shared from that computer (unlike a server failure on a client-server network)
Drawbacks of a peer-to-peer network
- Difficult to recover files as they are not backed up centrally
- Each computer needs its own backup system
- Files and resources are more difficult to share
- Files are potentially less secure when not centralised
- Difficult to administrate the whole network as the system is not centralised
- Performance may be slower due to each computer fulfilling more than one role and being accessed by others
- Security can be more expensive as each computer needs its own anti-virus software
- It is up to the user of each computer to ensure viruses are not introduced to the network
- Having lots of users/computers on the network becomes problematic