IT Best Practices.
Servers vs Peer-to-Peer Networks for Small Businesses
Small businesses generally use one of two types of computer networks. These are the peer-to-peer network or the server-based network. For the very small business with up to about five computers, peer-to-peer is often used because they are inexpensive to set up. The employees using these computers typically work in close proximity and interact frequently. Connecting their computers together in this way allow them to conveniently share files and to use shared devices such as a printer.
The Problems Of Peer-To-Peer
However, even with as few as five computers (clients) on a peer-to-peer network, difficulties often arise. One of these is consistent file backups. Since the files are distributed across different computers, each user must be relied upon to keep up-to-date backups of the files on their own computer. This tends to result in sporadic backups which are done when convenient for each user. Another problem occurs when several versions of the same file are passed around the network and get modified. This results in several non-identical files with the same name being located on different computers.
Peer-to-peer networks also introduce security difficulties. When each person requires access to files located on other computers, they will need the passwords to these computers when their users aren’t present. Another problem with peer-to-peer networks is that their performance suffers when there are too many clients (about ten).
The Benefits Of Server-Based Networks
In a server-based network, all shared files and data are kept on a server. Each client has access to these shared resources. These shared files free up memory on the computers within the network and thus enhance their performance. Since the files are centrally located, consistent file backups are more conveniently accomplished. File duplication is no longer an issue and the security difficulties of peer-to-peer are avoided because each person on the network only require access to the central server.
By requiring password access to the server, passwords and therefore user accounts can be centrally controlled. Security can be further enhanced by requiring periodic password changes as well as requiring a minimum password strength.
As you can see, small businesses with more than a few computers linked together as well as growing businesses, should switch to a server-based network. For more information on servers or on our server hosting service, please contact us.