Thursday, July 31, 2008

Torrents 101: the Basics of How Bittorrents Work

Question: What exactly is "Bittorrent" sharing?
Answer: Bittorrent networking is the latest form of internet P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. Since 2006, Bittorrent sharing has been the most popular means by which web users trade software, music, movies, and digital books across the internet. Bittorrents are very unpopular with the MPAA, the RIAA, and other copyright authorities, but are much beloved by millions of college and university students around the planet.
Bittorrents (a term synonymous with "torrents") work by downloading small bits of files from many different web sources at the same time. Torrent downloading is extremely easy to use, and outside of a few torrent search providers, torrents themselves are free of user fees.
Torrent networking debuted in 2001. A Python-language programmer, Bram Cohen, created the technology with the intent to share it with everyone. And indeed, its popularity has taken off since 2005. The torrent community is now growing exponentially in 2007. Because torrents screen out dummy and corrupt files, are free of adware/spyware, and achieve amazing download speeds, torrent popularity is growing fast. At its current rate of growth, BitTorrent networking will become the largest true P2P file-sharing community within the next year.
How are torrents special? How is the torrent community different from Kazaa or Limewire?
Answer: Like the other file-sharing networks (Kazaa, Limewire, Gnutella, eDonkey, and Shareaza) BitTorrent’s primary purpose is to distribute large media files to private users. Unlike most P2P networks, however, BitTorrent stands out for 5 major reasons:

  1. BitTorrent networking is NOT a publish-subscribe model like Kazaa; instead, BitTorrent is true Peer-Peer networking where the users do the actual file serving.
  2. Torrents enforce 99% quality control by filtering out corrupted and dummy files, ensuring that downloads contain only what they claim to contain.
  3. Torrents actively encourage users to share (“seed”) their complete files, while punishing users who "leech".
  4. BitTorrent can achieve download speeds over 1.5 megabits per second.
  5. BitTorrent code is open-source, advertising-free, and adware/spyware-free. This means that no single person profits from BitTorrent's success.
Thanks to http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/peersharing/a/torrenthandbook.htm

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