In the LAN world, there are two main options for network management or network type. Peer-to-peer and client/server. The choice of these two networks essentially determines the relationship of each PC or device on the network to other devices in terms of control.
P2P networking is a true democracy. All PCs on the network are identical to each other in that the PCs can communicate directly with each other and there is no centralized PC monitoring and controlling data exchange on the network.
On the other hand, a client/server network has a central authority to control access and data exchange to resources on the network. This centralized control PC is called a server.
Understanding Peer-to-Peer Networks
When all the PCs in the network are configured to act as peers, it is called a peer-to-peer network. PC-to-PC communication is direct communication without a central network controller such as a server.
Advantages of P2P Networking
P2P Networking is the easiest type of network to configure. No software other than the operating system already installed on the PC is required and no more complex client/server network configuration is required. The following subsections describe all the benefits of peer-to-peer networking.
Peer-to-peer networks are so simple that you only need your existing PC software, a pair of network adapters, and a few cables. For wireless networks, you only need two wireless network cards.
Peer-to-Peer is supported on Windows
Setting up a home network is very easy as most home computers today run Windows. Sure, you’ll need Windows 95 or a newer version of Windows, but there’s a chance. If they want to share files with anyone, they can use the p2p file sharing service available on u1337x.
The cost of building a home network using Peer-to-peer technology is lower than a client/server network because no special software or computer is required.
Peer-to-Peer Preferred New Technologies for Home Networking
The technologies like Network Wiring and Hardware Options (Phone Lines, Power Lines, Wireless Networks, etc.) are built on the understanding of a peer-to-peer network. I’m not saying that these technologies can’t build client/server networks, but these “wireless” solutions make peer-to-peer networks a lot easier.
Choosing Between Peer-to-Peer and Client/Server:
As you can see, there are some basic considerations to weigh when choosing between the two options. But to give you more value for your investment in this book, I have a suggestion that will ease your pain a lot. The previous question links to a much simpler peer-to-peer networking solution. If you’re not sure what a client/server is, I’ll list a few reasons to consider peer-to-peer networking.
- As mentioned several times, peer-to-peer networking is much simpler. It uses your PC’s native operating system, and newer operating systems like Windows ME and XP have built-in wizards to help you set up your home network.
- The network operating system is more complex and requires an entirely new set of commands to learn to make client/server networks work the way you want them to.
- Client-server networks are more expensive.
- Most home networks have only five or fewer computers, which are within the capabilities of peer-to-peer networks.
- Most importantly, you can share files on peer-to-peer networks, share printers, create passwords, and do most of what you do on client/server networks.
Don’t be surprised by the last words. A peer-to-peer network can use the resources of other PCs on the network. If you have a larger hard drive, make it a PC that can store both large music and video files.
There is another reason to consider a P2P network. As mentioned earlier, new products for home networking are on the market, and many of them are starting to perform functions that servers could do in the past.
For example, a home router or home gateway can be used today to provide basic protection against hackers and allow Internet sharing. These two functions were previously manageable on the server. Media servers and network storage devices are available that can store large multimedia files such as movies and music in media storage. Some of these products are designed to connect directly to a stereo or TV, so they don’t feel like an uncomfortable computer sitting in your living room. Since we are confident that the P2P network is suitable you should choose p2p and not the client/server method.
We hope this will give you some insight into what a peer-to-peer network means and where to start. It is no exaggeration to say that peer-to-peer networks have changed the Internet forever. At their peak in 2006, peer-to-peer networks are estimated to account for over 70% of all traffic traversing the Internet.
Usage has plummeted since then, mainly due to readily available video streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. When combined with a music streaming service like Spotify, there is no longer any reason for piracy. P2P networks have filled an important gap in our history as traditional media services struggle to catch up. They are now largely unrelated.