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(also P2P)

Peer-to-peer definition

Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a decentralized networking architecture in which unique devices, or peers, directly share resources and data with each other without the need for a central server or authority. P2P networks are commonly used for file sharing, communication, and distributed computing applications.

Peer-to-peer examples

  • File sharing: P2P networks are widely used for sharing large files.
  • Communication: Messaging applications, such as Skype and Signal, use P2P networks to facilitate direct communication between users.
  • Distributed computing: P2P networks enable the distribution of computing tasks across multiple devices, as seen in projects like SETI@home and Folding@home.

Comparing peer-to-peer to client-server architecture

P2P networks distribute resources and responsibilities among peers, while client-server architectures rely on a central server to manage resources and communication. P2P networks offer increased fault tolerance and scalability but may suffer from slower data transfer speeds and potential security risks. Client-server architectures provide faster data transfer speeds and centralized control but may have single points of failure and scalability issues.

Pros and cons of peer-to-peer


  • Increased fault tolerance and redundancy.
  • Scalability.
  • Lesser reliance on centralized servers.


  • Slower data transfer speeds.
  • Potential security risks.
  • Legal issues with sharing copyrighted content.