Tips and Tricks

PEER-TO-PEER NETWORK: What Is It & How Does It Work?


For you to relate easily, peer-to-peer network occurs in online games that require multiple players. It is also known as “P2P”. This is to help facilitate communication between the participants involved. Rather than relying on a smooth and swift central server to establish an interaction, the players instead connect directly to each other’s devices.

How does it work?

We can explain a peer-to-peer network as a medium of establising a connection that involves two or more devices. It could be your mobile device or your computer system. It isn’t restricted to online activities alone but offline also. Once this happens, you are granted access to transfer whatever file document you desire to send. For this network to be actively established, the device has to discover other peers. Some of the examples of instances where you can see the peer-to-peer network is online gaming, blockchain, file sharing, messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and offline data sharing, amongst others.

Types of Peer-to-Peer Network

Hybrid Peer-to-Peer Networks

This uses two approaches which include the traditional and a client-server network to achieve its purpose. The central servers here play a vital role in providing a stable network.

Structured Peer-to-Peer Network

While using this network, you make use of protocols like Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs).

Unstructured Peer-to-Peer Networks

Unstructured P2P network does not have a specific structure for efficient data retrieval. It has a strict organization that does not impose how data is stored.

Overlay Peer-to-Peer Network

This builds on an existing application to aid additional performance or functionality without the need to change the underlying network. In the overlay, you make use of VPN.

Blockchain Peer-to-Peer Network

Blockchain is another decentralized form of peer-to-peer network that permits participants to maintain a shared record of transactions that occur securely and transparently. Blockchain involves digital assets in terms of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, litecoin, Ethereum, etc.

Furthermore, peer-to-peer networks despite all of these has their benefits and challenges some of which we will consider below.

Benefits of Peer-to-peer Network


It allows for as many nodes which you can also refer to as (participants, devices or computers) to get connected to a network to distribute the load which enables the network to allow high traffic or increase demand.

Resource sharing

Another thing peer-to-peer network allows you to do is share resources such as computing power. You can transfer data from one data to another once the nodes are joined together by a network.


In this case, there is no central authority controlling the entire network. Nodes can contribute to the network functionality. As a result of this, there is a reduced risk of data loss in case of network failure whatsoever.

Global Reach

This implies that you can access nodes that are miles away from you whether within or outside your country. Don’t forget this is possible because there isn’t any centralised server establishing the network.


A peer-to-peer network is an encrypted established connection that doesn’t allow for the disclosure of data since it doesn’t require any access to a centralized entity.

Challenges of Peer-to-peer Network

Lack of Proper Security

One of the major concerns is the malware attack. The files exchanged among the users or participants that share the network are at risk of downloading infected files that have viruses, ransomware, and other kinds of malicious software. As you receive files, the network doesn’t provide you with a proper authentication mechanism.

Legal and Copyright Issues

While dealing with P2P, there is access to a copyrighted document that does not have the permission of the rightful owner. In most countries around the world, situations that crop up as a result of infringement aren’t taken with levity hands and could lead to such individuals being charged in court.

Lack of Control

The users or participants interact with each other to share whatever data and resources they have without having to rely on any authority, remember it is a decentralized system. No authority can dictate the interaction within the network.


A peer-to-peer network is a decentralised system network that involves two or more parties and allows them to exchange information through file share, and data transfer to connect with other nodes.

Even though peer-to-peer network does require a central server to person, there are challenges associated with using this medium of network some of which include security risk, lack of privacy, lack of control, etc.


About the author

Zainab Olatunji

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