Diskless vs Thin Client: What is the Difference?

Understanding the difference between a diskless workstation and a basic thin client could be very advantageous for you in deciding the kind of network environment  you need to deploy in your organisation.

Diskless workstations and thin clients employ the same principle and works almost the same. Both systems require the same devices like keyboard, mouse and monitors. And since both employ network booting to load their operating system, they would require a connection to the server. Both depend on having their software resources stored and executed at the server.

But their similarity ends there.

Diskless Workstations

Mainly, a diskless workstation is an ordinary workstation without the physical hard drive. Or at least does not use the functionality of a hard drive. But a diskless workstation has the capacity to run its processing using its own resources. It has a complete CPU and RAM.

Analysing the physical design, the diskless enviroment still requires a complete workstation without the storage or hard drive. This would mean bigger space at the work area. And the electrical consumption would still be fairly high. This design could be beneficial if you would be running a large center.

The system architecture allows for the bulk of it load being run at the workstation. The server only serves basically as storage. The downside would be if you are implementing network data access which increases the requirement for network bandwidth and server becomes the bottleneck.

Example of a diskless environment: Deployment of Diskless System at Kimbe Secondary School

Thin Client Workstations

A thin client also employs the same principle but is basically a small terminal that connects to a server and uses the resources of the server to perform tasks. It relies heavily on the server it is connecting to. This could be resource extensive to the server.

The advantages of a thin client compared to diskless is the speed, both of processing and packet transfers. If the server used has a good amount of hard disk space and high RAM, centralised processing is more effective. Server to client communication only uses an average of 2-5kbps per session, thus lesser strain on the network.

Example of thin client deployment: Deployment of NComputing Thin Client at Boisen High School


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