What is the Maximum number of Windows XP peer-to-peer connections?

Sometimes this question is asked in the format, "when do I need to move my network to a Microsoft Domain server?"

Microsoft has put limitations on the number of incoming connections to Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

Read more on the limit from Microsoft here.

As it stands, Microsoft has limited Windows XP Home Edition to 5 simultaneous file-sharing connections and Windows XP Professional to 10 simultaneous file-sharing connections.

The take away from this that you don't necessarily need to jump to a domain simply because you have 5 Windows XP Home Edition workstations connected to your network and you want to add number 6. (Note: this would also require you upgrade to Windows XP Professional on each PC.)

The limitation was put in place to prevent more than 5 Windows XP Home Edition users from accessing information on 1 Windows XP Home Edition PC, acting as a server.

An example:

Windows Home Edition acting as a server:

files/folders are shared on PC1

Workations running Windows Home Edition connected to the network, each with a single user:

PC2/Owner

PC3/Administrator

PC4/Owner

PC5 /Jack

PC6/Admin

From this example all of the above PCs will be able to access PC1's shared resources as 5 connections is the limit, now if a new workstation was dropped into the above example, it would receive an error message such as "No more connections can be made to this remote computer at this time because there are already as many connections as the computer can accept." when trying to access a shared folder. Keep in mind that similar error messages and trouble connecting would occur if the file sharing in this example was replaced with an FTP server such as FileZilla was installed on PC1 as this limitation is that of the Operating System, even though the software may allow for more connections.

This is the extent of the limitation, if you need a more connections to take place to PC1, you will need to upgrade to Windows XP Professional.  Then you can have 10 users connecting to resources.  Beyond that, and you're looking at a Windows Server license.

Note!

You can absolutely connect more than 5 Windows XP Home Edition PCs and connect to the Internet, share networkable printers, this limitation only impacts the number of concurrent connections to a single Windows XP Home Edition PC.

Fun Trivia:

  • Windows 95,98, ME do not have a known limit of simultaneous file-sharing connections
  • Windows XP Professional Edition file sharing limitation shares the same number as Windows NT4 workstation and Windows 2000 Professional(10 users)
  • Find more about checking the current connections to your workstation here.
  • Is it possible to remove the limit, unfortunately it violates the Microsoft licensing agreement, but articles are out there such as this one here.