Peer to Peer Network Setups (A002/N002)

A peer to peer network

An explanation of peer to peer networks and a discussion of advantages and disadvantages of setting computers up this way.

One can set up a peer to peer network, by connecting computers to each other. Hosts are both ” target=”_blank”>clients and servers, and different hosts can provide different services. For example, one floor of an office probably has only one printer. Maybe one has a very large hard drive. Perhaps a card reader is installed on a third machine. We only connect some to peripheral devices, but all machines can activate these peripherals once we network them.

Peer to Peer Network Advantages

There are a number of advantages to setting up a peer-to-peer network in your organization. It is easy and cheap because you probably have the computers already. You also won’t need to invest in an expensive server or specific server operating system. In addition, these networks do not require much work. The only tasks are attaching cables to each host and grouping them together if necessary.

I will discuss different types of operating systems and groups of computers in other
System Administration lessons. Also note, the word host describes describe an individual system on any computer network.

Peer to Peer Network Disadvantages

The two major disadvantages of a peer-to-peer network are the ability to scale and difficulty to manage. Let’s say two employees started a company and hired ten staff members. Connecting ten machines is an easy task and will work very well while the company is getting set up, but what happens when they succeed? If everything goes well and they grow to 100 employees in the first year, it will be much more work to buy cables and hook up that many computers to each other.

Administrators manage computers in various ways. We install software for various tasks, updates that enhance security and performance, and other tools. When there is no server, the system or network administrator must set up each computer by itself and update each one manually when one of these updates is released. This is very time consuming and only becomes more and more difficult as the company grows. It may take a couple of hours to do this for ten employees, but if the company grows to 100 like in our last scenario it will likely take several days, which could mean a loss of productivity for many people.

Depending on the size of the company, a peer to peer network can be a great idea because it is easy to set up and manage, and employees can get working quickly. As you can see, though, growth is great for an organization, but not for a peer to peer network setup.

Fortunately, we can set up a client server network to manage growth. I will cover this topic in the next lesson.