Explain Decentralization vs. Distributed Networks

While you might think that the Internet works the same way, this is not the case. There are now a number of different networks that can all be used for different reasons. Two of these networks are decentralized and distributed networks. But what exactly are these, and how are they used today?

Why are central networks becoming old news?

Ethernet connection cables and router

It is first important to understand why decentralized and distributed networks are becoming more and more popular every year. What’s wrong with traditional central networks? Well, a major problem that many have admitted is that centralized networks depend on a master server, which can harness all network data at once and have complete control over it.

This makes central networks vulnerable to hacking and failures, given that only one server needs to be infiltrated or removed for the entire network to fail. However, centralized networks are still the most common type of network in use today. One might argue that this has something to do with companies wanting complete control of their networks.

However, this can lead to big companies getting into big problems. Have you ever seen one of your favorite social media sites crash? It is possible that they are using a centralized network, and the main server has been infected by an external force or is having a technical problem.

Therefore, centralized networks can certainly do the upgrade. Enter decentralized and distributed networks. So, first, what is a decentralized network all about?

What is a decentralized network?

Setting up a decentralized network

Image Credit: Crypto360 /creative commons

You may have heard about decentralized networks lately, as the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has become more and more prevalent in modern society. These networks have a lot of great points, hence their popularity. But what are the consequences for them?

A decentralized network does not rely on a central server as traditional centralized networks do. Instead, decentralized networks use a variety of different connection points or nodes. No single node is able to harness all network information at once, which means that no node at any given time is in control or in control. Each node is able to make its own decision and process information, allowing power to be spread across the network.

Related Topics: What is a decentralized VPN and how does it work?

So, where are these networks used today? Well, both Bitcoin and Ethereum are currently using decentralized networks, and there are many reasons why organizations are choosing decentralization over centralization today.

First, decentralized networks cannot be hacked as easily as centralized networks. This is because invading a single node will not lead to control of the entire network. This network type is also great for preventing entire system failures or failures as the functionality is spread across the network. It is also easier to increase the size of a decentralized network, since you can keep adding nodes or servers.

In addition, decentralized networks allow for greater user control and privacy, due to the nature of their structure. Many would argue that decentralized networks are the next step forward from centralized networks, but there are some downsides with this emerging technology.

First, it can be very difficult to create a decentralized network, due to its complex architecture. Moreover, it is also very difficult to manage a decentralized network, due to the many required devices that need consistent checks and maintenance. This, in turn, makes decentralized networks expensive to maintain.

Now that we know what a decentralized network is, it’s time to move on to a distributed network. What does this mean, and is it used today?

What is a distributed network?

The numbers stood on the graph

There are some similarities between distributed and decentralized networks, but they are not the same. A distributed network is also not based on a single central server, but the distribution of data and decision-making is evenly spread across all servers (which is not the case for decentralized networks). Essentially, each server gets exactly the same amount of control.

So, the main feature of distributed networks as opposed to decentralized networks is their use of equally powerful connection points. However, distributed networks can become centralized, unlike fully decentralized networks. This can be useful in some scenarios, such as the need for immediate system management from a single server. Some prefer decentralized networks because they do not have this option.

Related: What is a decentralized Blockchain ID?

It should be noted that there is another definition of a distributed network, which is a more literal one. Distributed networks can also mean physically and geographically distributed networks that include a top-down node power system, which is different from the first type of distributed network discussed above.

So, what are the disadvantages of (Type I) distributed networks?

Well, distributed networks are generally much neater than decentralized networks, due to how much data and decision-making power is spread evenly across the network. Moreover, they are very secure, much more so than centralized networks (although this is also the case for decentralized networks).

Distributed networks are also very transparent, as authorities or individuals are known to control every node or connection point. For this reason, system errors, intrusions, or malfunctions can often be traced back to individual servers, making it easier to identify the problem at hand. Like decentralized networks, they can also be easily scaled up when more servers are added.

But decentralized networks are not perfect. It can be costly to build and maintain, similar to decentralized networks. Another major drawback that both decentralized and distributed networks have in common is that there is no single authority that oversees and controls the entire network. This can have a negative impact on the speed of decision-making and the organization or overall coordination of the network.

However, some certainly do not see this as a problem and think that having a single all-encompassing, fully-knowledgeable entity within a network is problematic and unfair to users. This is a belief held by many who support the use of cryptocurrency over traditional money, since cryptocurrency cannot be easily regulated or controlled. Therefore, cryptocurrency holders have more confidence in their transactions.

Decentralized and distributed networks are the future

With the increasing prevalence of decentralized and distributed networks, one can only assume that more and more companies will switch from centralized networks to these more secure and scalable options. While construction and maintenance is still an issue, that doesn’t mean it always will be. Here’s the future of the Internet!

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