Peer-to-peer (P2P) denotes computer networks which cooperate one with another where the partners have equal rights. Each partner can use the functions and services of the other and vice versa. A peer-to-peer network operates locally, the data is distributed by the computers which are connected to the network and not through central servers as is the case on the Internet.
A simple self-organized network (SON) is quickly assembled. To this end, the participating peers need to connect with one another within a LAN or over the Internet. Common operating systems like Microsoft Windows support this structure. Next, each user specifies which files he wants to share, what password is required, and the respective peers of the network can then mutually exchange data or resources. Such a network is usually based on an Internet connection. For increased security, VPN connections can be used.
The structure of a peer-to-peer architecture with several hundred participants is a little more complex. These are called super-peer networks. It usually includes a kind of user interface, which acts as a second “overlay network.” This task is usually handled by the most powerful computers of the P2P network. The advantage of this structure is that each user can search for specific files using a search function and be identified by the other peers.
If two peers share data or resources, this is done directly between the two partners. In large file sharing networks which are based on peer-to-peer systems, torrent technology is additionally used. In this case, individual file components are downloaded exactly where they are most quickly available. The data is then reassembled as a complete file for the recipient.
Peer-to-peer systems can be determined based on the following features:
Peer-to-peer networks are perfectly suitable for a simple and fast exchange of data between network partners. Moreover, these networks are more secure than client-server systems because the data is exchanged directly between the parties and not transferred via a server. P2P networks have gained popularity in times of privacy debates and eavesdropping scandals.
Many file-sharing providers on the Internet take advantage of the great benefits of P2P systems. But not only legal files get exchanged and traded in such systems, also pirated movies, music or prohibited pornographic material. For this reason, many countries, especially the United States, are fighting file sharing networks on the Internet. A prominent example of the restrictive approach of the authorities was the closing of the Megaupload exchange in 2012, through which billions of files were exchanged worldwide. Rapidshare and LimeWire were likewise affected by this prosecution.
P2P networks are very well suited for the exchange of sensitive data. A peer-to-peer system could be an option if you work with customer data or internal optimization plans in your daily SEO routine and need to securely share those files with other partners and also want to ensure that there is generally free access to this data within a network. Especially in small workgroups it is ensured that only a few select partners have access to these files. Unlike cloud systems, the data is locally available, not only on a remote server and can be used on any computer in the network. The server or the computer for data storage can be monitored directly by the participating users.