Centralized vs. Decentralized Network

Last Updated: April 2, 2024By

Servers inside black racks

The internet is a buzzing place with all kinds of people and ideas. We use many different forms of networks to connect to it. One such network is the centralized network. This is where one computer or server stores information for everyone who connects to it.

The decentralized form of networking, which you may know as peer-to-peer networking, doesn’t rely on any single computer or server storing data for others; instead, it distributes information evenly among all connected nodes.

What Is a Centralized Network and How Does It Work?

The centralized network is the most common type of network. All traffic is routed through a single computer or server in this type of network. This design makes the network more efficient as it allows for better control and organization of data.

However, it also creates a single point of failure that can bring down the entire system if it fails.

A centralized network is easier to manage than a decentralized one, but it’s more likely to be affected by damage or malfunction.

Advantages of Centralized Networks


One of the most significant advantages of centralized networks is their efficiency. Because the network is centralized and all the traffic passes through a single point, it can be managed and monitored more easily.

Additionally, software patching can be done more quickly and easily. If the entire network is centralized, then central patches which update all nodes at once are possible.

This drastically reduces downtime caused by patches, as there is no need for waiting for each node to download an updated file.


Centralized networks also allow for easier monitoring of internet usage.

ISPs (internet service providers) can track where traffic is coming from and going to and how much bandwidth each user is consuming. This information can be used to enforce fair usage policies and combat piracy.


Centralized network designs are cheaper to run and maintain than decentralized systems. There is only one network hub to maintain, compared to the many nodes in a decentralized system. This can lead to significant savings in terms of time, effort, and money.

Maintenance costs can be kept low because the centralized network hub is easier to maintain than the many nodes in a decentralized system.

One way to think of this is like water coming into your house vs. water flowing through pipes in your neighborhood. When you get water from one source (a pump), it is more efficient than getting water from many sources (every house in your neighborhood).

Additionally, the centralized design allows ISPs to allocate bandwidth more efficiently between nodes using simple rules-based algorithms.

Disadvantages of Centralized Networks

Cable network plugged in

Single Point of Failure

The most significant disadvantage of centralized networks is their vulnerability to failure. Because all the traffic passes through a single point, if that point fails, then the entire network does as well.

Centralized networks are susceptible to both hardware failure and software hacks. If an attacker is able to infiltrate the central node software or hardware, they can entirely take over control of all traffic passing through it.

This vulnerability makes centralized networks less secure than decentralized ones. In a decentralized network, outside attacks can still do damage by targeting the individual nodes. But the loss of one node doesn’t bring down or corrupt the entire system like it would in a centralized design.

Lack of Scalability

Another disadvantage of centralization is that it’s not very scalable. As your network grows (more users, more traffic, larger files), the centralized design becomes less and less efficient. This is because the network hub becomes overloaded and can’t handle the increased traffic.

Decentralized systems are more scalable than centralized ones. This is because each node can act as a backup for another node in case of failure. So as the network grows, the decentralized system becomes more efficient, not less.

What Is a Decentralized Network and How Does It Work?

A decentralized network is a type of network with no single point of control or failure. This means that instead of having all the traffic routed through a central hub, the data is spread out among all the nodes in the network.

This makes the network more resilient, as it’s less likely to fail if one node goes down. It also makes it more scalable, as new nodes can be added without affecting the network’s performance.

Advantages of Decentralized Network


In a decentralized network, there is no one point of failure. If one node goes down, the others continue functioning. This makes decentralized networks more secure against attacks.


A decentralized network can grow to include any number of nodes without affecting the network’s performance. This makes it suitable for large-scale applications.


Decentralized networks are more flexible than centralized ones since they do not rely on a central hub with static connections. The network can be easily reconfigured to add and remove nodes without impacting the data transmission.

Censorship Resistance

The most crucial reason decentralized networks are becoming more popular is their ability to resist censorship. Because there is no single point of control, it is much harder for governments or other authorities to block or selectively censor content.

This is why torrenting, which allows users to share files peer-to-peer, is so popular. It is much harder for authorities to censor torrenting content, as there is no central hub from which they can block access.

Disadvantages of Decentralized Network

More Machines Will Be Required

Because decentralized networks do not share routing information with neighboring nodes, each node must maintain a full routing table of all known destinations and thus know the shortest path to every destination. This is not only computationally expensive but also consumes more bandwidth than in a centralized system, where any single node can simply broadcast packets to its neighbors.


Decentralized networks are more complex than centralized ones. Managing a decentralized network is more complicated and requires specialist knowledge to keep it functioning smoothly.

How Does Centralized Networking Compare To Decentralized Networking?

Green and yellow cable network in racks

Easier to Monitor

Centralized networks allow for easier monitoring of traffic than decentralized ones. This is because all the nodes on a decentralized system are equal, so it’s hard to pinpoint where traffic is coming from or going to.

With centralized systems, only one hub needs to be monitored, making monitoring an entire network much simpler than with decentralized networks.

Easier to Update/Patch

Centralized systems are also more efficient for updating and patching.

Since each node on a decentralized system must be updated individually. this can take longer than with centralized systems, where all nodes can be updated simultaneously through the central hub

Cheaper To Run and Maintain

Centralized networks are also less expensive to run and maintain because they have fewer components. This means lower costs in time, effort, and money.

Decentralized networks are more expensive. Each node needs to be monitored, updated, and maintained. Especially if it’s used for large-scale projects like storing files or videos on a massive scale.

More Vulnerable To Attacks and Failure

Centralized networks are also more vulnerable than decentralized ones. Because all the traffic goes through a single point, if that point fails, then the entire network does as well.

This makes centralized networks less secure and more likely to experience outages than decentralized ones.

Easier to Troubleshoot or Repair

Centralized networks are easier to troubleshoot and repair than decentralized networks.

This is because, in a centralized network, all the nodes are connected to the central hub. So if there’s a problem with one node, it can be easily identified and fixed. In decentralized networks, since nodes are autonomous, it’s harder to track down and fix problems when they occur.


Centralized networks are more efficient than decentralized ones for specific tasks. They’re easier to monitor, update, and patch. And they’re cheaper to run and maintain. But centralized networks are more vulnerable to attacks and failures.

Decentralized networks are more scalable and resilient, but they’re also more expensive to operate. In the end, centralized networks are better for specific tasks, whereas decentralized networks are more flexible and versatile.