Networking: A Beginner's Guide
Difficult to back up
Reliably backing up all the data scattered over many
workstations is difficult, and it is not wise to delegate this job to the user of
each machine. Experience shows that leaving this vital task up to users means
it will not get done.
Hard to maintain version control
In a peer-to-peer network, with files
potentially stored on a number of different machines, it can become extremely
difficult to manage different document versions.
Pros for Client/Server Networks
Client/server networks offer the opportunity for centralized administration, using
equipment suited to managing and offering each resource. Client/server networks are
the type commonly used for networks larger than about ten users, and there are quite
a few good reasons for this, as follows:
A client/server network's security comes from several things.
First, because the shared resources are located in a centralized area, they can be
administered at that point. Managing a number of resources is much easier if
those resources are all located on one or two server computers, as opposed to
needing to administer resources across tens or hundreds of computers. Second,
usually the servers are physically in a secure location, such as a lockable server
room. Physical security is an important aspect of network security, and it cannot
be achieved with a peer-to-peer network. Third, the operating systems on which
client/server networks run are designed to be secure. Provided that good security
and administration practices are in place, the servers cannot be easily "hacked."
While dedicated server computers are more expensive
than standard computer workstations, they also offer considerably better
performance, and they are optimized to handle the needs of many users
Backing up a company's critical data is much easier when
it is located on a centralized server. Often, such backup jobs can be run overnight
when the server is not being used and the data is static. Aside from being easier,
centralized backups are also much faster than decentralized backups.
While it is true that more built-in redundancy exists with
a peer-to-peer network, a good client/server network can be more reliable
overall. Dedicated servers often have much more built-in redundancy than
standard workstations. They can handle the failure of a disk drive, power
supply, or processor and continue to operate until the failed component can be
replaced. Also, because a dedicated server has only one relatively simple job
to do, its complexity is reduced and its reliability increased. Contrast this with
a peer-to-peer network, where actions on the part of the users can drastically
reduce each workstation's reliability. For example, needing to restart a PC or
a Macintosh every so often is not uncommon, whereas dedicated servers often
run for months without requiring a restart or crashing.