In a peer-to-peer network, there is no hierarchy among the computers, nor are there any dedicated servers. Each device, also called a client, has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. Individual users are responsible for their own resources and can decide which data and devices to share or install. Because individual users are responsible for the resources on their own computers, the network has no central point of control or administration.
Peer-to-peer networks work best in environments with ten or fewer computers. Peer-to-peer networks can also exist inside larger networks. Even on a large client network, users can still share resources directly with other users without using a network server. In your home, if you have more than one computer, you can set up a peer-to-peer network. You can share files with other computers, send messages between computers, and print documents to a shared printer.
Peer-to-peer networks have several disadvantages:
- There is no centralized network administration, which makes it difficult to determine who controls resources on the network.
- There is no centralized security. Each computer must use separate security measures for data protection.
- The network becomes more complex and difficult to manage as the number of computers on the network increases.
- There might not be any centralized data storage. Separate data backups must be maintained. This responsibility falls on the individual users.