Difference between peer-to-peer and client-server networks

Computer networks can be implemented using peer-to-peer and client-server architecture depending on the user requirement. The main difference between peer-to-peer and client-server is that in the client-server we have one computer that supervises and serves other computers with the requests. While on peer-to-peer no computer acts as a supervisor but they work on the same level both as servers and clients.

The client-server model is the most common network that is deployed in most organizations today since it offers more flexibility and has a central control point.

Peer-to-peer network (P2P)

In a peer-to-peer network, all computer in the network have equal right and status and acts as both server and client. When the device is requesting service from another it becomes a client at that moment and when it gets a request that it should fulfill then it turns to be a server.

peer-to-peer diagram. It show 5 computers in a peer to peer network connection

This means 2 devices on the network can communicate directly without involving other nodes on the network. This type of network architecture decentralizes communication and services on the network. With this kind of decentralization, it becomes hard to control what is shared and communicated within the network.

Examples of P2P networks include sharing files using computers within an office using an ethernet cable.

Client-server network

In a client-server architecture type of network, we have one or a group of computers that acts as a server and they control everything within the network. In this model, the client requests a service or resource from the server, which then responds to the request.

client-server architecture network

Depending on the purpose of the server installed it can be responsible for a number of functions. Some main functions of a server are to manage users and network resources, security, storing, sharing of data, and user authentication among others. Depending on the size of the network the server can be a single computer or multiple on the network.

On the other hand, client computers make requests to the server and they should be connected for communication. If they are disconnected then it means they don’t get the services required.

Peer-to-peer vs client-server network

Let now compare side by side the difference between the peer-to-peer and client-server networks.

Peer-to-peer networkClient-server network
All computers have the same rights and privileges. They operate at the same levelServer computer have more privileges and they control the client computers
It is cheap to set up and maintainThe server is expensive to acquire and maintain
Setting up a peer-to-peer network is simple and doesn’t require high technical skillsSetting and configuring the different type of server computer is complex and requires personnel with high technical skills.
It is hard to implement security in multiple nodes on all client devicesThe network is more secure since security is implemented on the server and applies to all devices on the network.
Resources and data are distributed in all nodes which makes it hard to control and shareData and network resources are centrally managed. This makes it simple to distribute and share the resources with all users.
When one node on the network is disconnected it doesn’t affect the operation of others.When the server computer is disconnected the whole network goes down. This is because all other nodes depend on the services of the server.
They are mostly implemented when the organization has few computers and devices to connectClient-server is mostly preferred for organizations that are managing many computers and users for central control.
It is hard to deploy updates or changes to the network. Making updates will involve doing those updates to each and every node individually.It is simple to implement and deploy new updates and changes to the network. When the server is updated the changes are reflected on all client computers

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