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Peer to Peer
Let's apply this definition to your childhood version of MaBell. Each tin can (device) was connected to the string (transmission media). Through that vibrating string you spoke (using a common language). You traded secrets (information) about siblings and school. Or maybe helped each other study for Mrs. Smith's 3rd Grade Spelling Bee (shared resources).
In the real world of peer-to-peer networks this commonly means two or more Microsoft Windows 9x/ME workstations (the devices) using the built-in networking features of Windows (the common language), and a Network Interface Card (NIC), RJ-45 UTP cabling, and a hub (they collectively make the transmission media).
There are two types of computer network.
A peer-to-peer network is one, as the name suggests, where the access rights to resources/information on the network is equal for each participant.
Each computer is used as a fully functioning PC, but the user can make folders, drives, or printers available to other computers on the network. Microsoft usually describes network of 10 PCs or less as a peer network. But that doesn't mean that peer networking won't work with more than 10 PCs. It is true, however, that peer networking is best suited for smaller networks.
The benefits of a peer network are the ease with which it can be installed and maintined, as well as its relatively low cost to set up. The drawbacks are that if many users are accessing the information of a single computer, that PC will slow down (inconveniencing the user at the PC), and security can be difficult with no centralized contol of information access.
Now that you understand the theory, let's get to work on the How-To parts. Click here for step-by-step instructions. Or use the links below to browse through the topics.