Peer-to-Peer Networks In contrast to client-server networks there is no dedicated server in peer-to-peer architecture. Thus each computer in such a network is part server and part client. This means that each computer on the network is free to share its own resources. A computer which is connected to a printer may even share the printer so that all other computers may access it over the network. Peer-to-peer networks do not require the same levels of performance and security as dedicated server networks require.
One can therefore use Windows NT Workstation, Windows for Workgroups or Windows 95, as all of these operating systems contain all the functionalities required for a peer-to-peer network (Chip Online, Tasci, 2009). The advantages and disadvantages of a peer-to-peer network are as follows: Advantages: * It is easy to install. * Configuration of computers is easy. * Users can control their shared resources. * The cost and operation of this network is less. * It is ideal for small businesses having ten or fewer computers. * It needs an operating system and a few cables to get connected. A full time network administrator is not required. Disadvantages: * A computer can be accessed anytime. * Network security has to be applied to each computer separately. * Backup has to be performed on each computer separately. * No centralized server is available to manage and control the access of data. * Users have to use separate passwords on each computer in the network. Client/Server Networks Numerous applications run in a client/server environment, this means that client computers contact a server, generally a very powerful computer in terms of input/output, which provides services to the client computers.
These services are programmers which provide data such as the time, files, a connection, etc. The services are used by programs client programs which run on client computers. This is why the term “client” is applied (FTP client, email client, etc. ), where a program is designed to run on a client computer, capable of processing data received from a server (Chip Online, Tasci, 2009). The advantages and disadvantages of a Client/Server network are as follows: Advantages: Centralized resources: Given that the server is the centre of the network, it can manage resources that are common to all users, for example: a central database would be used to avoid problems caused by redundant and inconsistent data * Improved security: As the number of entry points giving access to data is not so important * Server level administration: As clients do not play a major role in this model, they require less administration * Scalable network: Thanks to this architecture it is possible to remove or add clients without affecting the operation of the network and without the need for major modification Disadvantages: Increased cost: Due to the technical complexity of the server * A weak link: The server is the only weak link in the client/server network, given that the entire network is built around it.