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  • Writer's pictureKCS Projects

Access Control Systems: Standalone Vs Networked

Access control systems are widely used in many industries to help organisations protect their assets from the risk of theft and data breaches. They are highly effective at preventing successful attacks by criminals and can be used in both small and large commercial premises as required.


There are two main types of access control system - standalone and networked. Both have their pros and cons, and in this article we will address the differences between standalone and networked systems, and outline which will be most appropriate for your organisation.



What Are Access Control Systems?


Access control systems verify the identity and access permissions of an individual by using a PIN code, identity token such as a key fob or ID card, or biometric data like a retinal or fingerprint scan.


Some of these access control credentials are more secure than others, which is why it is essential to choose the right form of access control credential for your premises’ security status.


  • Key Fob Access Controls - The individual is identified through a personal key fob allocated to them. This method is appropriate for low security settings.


  • ID Card Access Controls - The individual is identified through their personal ID card. This method is appropriate for medium security settings.


  • PIN Number Access Controls - The individual is identified through their Personal Identification Number (PIN). This method is appropriate for medium to high security settings.


  • Biometric Access Controls - The individual is identified through biometric data, such as fingerprints or retinal scans. This method is appropriate for high security settings.


  • Multifactor Authorisation - The individual is identified through two or more types of access control credentials, such as biometric or human image verification. This method is appropriate for very high security settings.


Standalone Access Control Systems

As the name implies, standalone access control systems are not integrated, and each user must be added to each access control point individually. Standalone access control systems are generally cheaper to install, making them a great option for smaller organisations that need to keep their security costs down.

They can be managed individually for greater flexibility and are more secure than networked systems, as each standalone access control system uses different control panels and security devices.

Standalone systems are also a great option for growing businesses, as more standalone access control points can easily be added without needing to connect them to a centralised system. This makes them highly scalable and simple to implement.

However, standalone systems may not be suitable for large organisations with many staff and sizeable premises, as they require users to be added and removed manually from each access point. This means the system administrator would need to maintain multiple access control systems at once, which is a labour-intensive task that can increase the risk of security flaws developing. 

Standalone systems are most appropriate for:

•     Small commercial premises

•     Growing businesses

•     High-security areas

•     Premises with greater flexibility, autonomy, and customisation requirements

Networked Access Control Systems

Networked access control points are overseen by a centralised system that allows the administrators to easily manage the access points from one base.

Unlike standalone access controls, where each access point must be managed individually, users can be added or removed to multiple points simultaneously. This makes them highly efficient and less labour-intensive than standalone systems.

In addition, networked access control systems can be more convenient than standalone systems, as users will require just one token to pass through all the access control points. This reduces the risk of tokens getting lost or stolen, and allows for greater mobility across your site. Plus, as one system manages all your locations, networked access controls can be cheaper to implement and maintain.

There are two types of networked access control systems, On-Premise or Cloud-Based.


On-premise systems are run by an on-site server and managed by administrators using one or more PCs. Access control permissions can be managed individually, or by assigning each staff member a role with a set level of access.

Unlike Cloud-Based systems, On-Premise systems are not connected to the internet, which reduces the risk of online hacking by criminals. However, this does not necessarily mean that On-Premise systems are more secure than Cloud-Based ones, as while they are protected from remote hacking, they may be more vulnerable in other ways depending on how well the server is physically protected.

For instance, if you opt to have an On-Premise access control system installed on your property, for adequate security you will need to have a system administrator based on-site, a secure location reserved for server storage, and robust processes in place to maintain the integrity of the system and its data.


Like On-Premise systems, Cloud-Based systems use a single central server to manage all access control points. However, this server is connected using the internet, making it remotely accessible through mobile devices or PCs via the use of a secure login.

While this is highly convenient for remote working, it also presents security issues. For, instance, if a hacker can obtain your login details, they could gain access to your server from anywhere in the world.

Although this does not make Cloud-Based systems less secure overall than On-Premise ones, it does mean they will require different security measures to be put in place in order to ensure adequate protection. 

Cloud-Based networked access control systems are most appropriate for:


  • Large premises that use remote working practices

  • Large premises with high levels of staff mobility across the site

  • Premises with a high demand for efficient management practices


Want to learn more about which type of access control system will work best for your organisation? Contact our expert team!


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