Thin clients are devices that are primarily designed to connect to and interact with a server. The device often has a small hard drive or none at all, as data and programs are primarily stored in cloud / on the network’s main servers.
Thin clients have limited functionality and most features do not function when connected to the network.
- Devices are generally cheaper to purchase and maintain than thick clients, as they have fewer hardware requirements and software is installed and maintained centrally on the server.
- Software is faster and easier to upgrade as the upgrade to configured on the server and pushed seamlessly to the device.
- Thin devices can be more secure as fewer locally installed programs are used and therefore there are fewer attack vectors.
- The devices are largely or completely useless when not connected to the network
- Software that is CPU or GPU intensive will not function well on thin devices
- If the central network goes down then all the devices will fail to function.
A thick client is a device that functions like a standard computer, with most processing occurring on the client itself. This often includes tasks such as video encoding and graphics intensive tasks.
- These devices can largely retain their functionality when not connected to the internet / central network.
- They don’t rely on external servers to process tasks and therefore there is no network related lag.
- These devices are more adaptable to different uses and software can be installed locally.
- Thick clients tend to be more expensive to buy and maintain due to the high hardware requirements for each device.
- They are generally less secure as software locally installed can be compromised.
- Software updates are slower and more difficult to implement as each device needs to be updated individually.