Topics / Networks and Data Transmission / Peer-to-Peer Networks

Peer-to-Peer Networks

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.

Peer-to-peer network diagram

This type of network is not suitable for a large network where a client-server structure would be preferable.

You can learn about client-server networks here.

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
Topics / Networks and Data Transmission / Peer-to-Peer Networks