What Is a Shared Resource?

G. Wiesen

A shared resource typically refers to a hardware or software resource that can be accessed by one or more remote systems over a network. This is typically done in a fairly seamless way, allowing the sharing of resources and information quickly and efficiently, without the need for actively sending information between users. A shared resource is typically stored on a machine or system that acts as a host for other users or clients to connect to and access over the network. These resources can include individual files, folders, and other software as well as hardware such as printers and scanners.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

One of the biggest differences between a shared resource and other types of digital information that may be accessible by multiple users is the ease with which shared resources are accessed. Two users on a network, for example, may be able to send files and data back and forth to each other, but the process often requires active sending of this information. A shared resource, on the other hand, would refer to a file that is hosted on a machine that is accessible by clients on a network, allowing users to access that file at will. While an active request may still be made by the client, there is not the interaction between two or more users in other types of systems.

This makes a shared resource easier to use by employees within a business or organization. A company that is working on a new software program, for example, might have numerous files and resources located on a host machine. Different employees can then access this information through client terminals, regardless of when other users are on or utilizing the data. This allows these employees to modify and add to this shared resource and teams can virtually work together over long distances and even at different times by uploading the changes they have made for each other to see.

A shared resource can also include hardware that is part of a network. Devices such as printers and scanners are often set up on a network for use by numerous users. A library, for example, might have several dozen computers and two printers all connected on a network. In this instance, each printer would act as a shared resource for a set number of computers, allowing users to send projects to the print queue, which would then send those documents to the printer. This allows multiple users to share a single device, and software is typically used to organize this process for easier use and reduced data loss.

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