Saturday, March 30, 2013

How does Bit Torrent work: An easy overview

Well, Bit Torrent is one of the preferred software or download clients for most of us to download  files from internet. It's best feature (for me) is resume support, which makes it too much comfortable. Most of us use and consider it for downloading movies, games or such paid stuff, but actually it is not meant for this purpose. Let's have a look on working of Bit Torrent.

What is Bit Torrent?

Bit Torrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol and has significant advantages over other Internet protocols. 

When you visit some website, webpage is downloaded to your computer from master Server or central server. When you send some data, such as login form, upload file or something else, data is sent to central server, which sends it to other computer. 

In a peer-to-peer protocol, computers are not dependent on a central server. They are connected to other computers in a group called swarm. They all share (download and upload) a same file.

Bit Torrent files are in format ".torrent". When a computer joins a swarm, it uploads this .torrent file to the swarm. There is also one more term, called tracker. The tracker is a special server (not master server) that keeps track of the connected computers. The tracker shares their IP addresses with other BitTorrent clients in the swarm, allowing them to connect to each other.

Now, the computers are connected. After this, Bit Torrent breaks the files in small pieces. After the whole download BitTorrent merges all these pieces and makes the actual file. Now, you might be thinking about resume support. Well, this pretty nice feature is attained using threading. As you know, Bit Torrent downloads files in pieces. Bit Torrent makes connections (actually thread) to every single piece and downloads it. If download is interuppted, threads get  broken. On resume, due to its file breaking method, earlier pieces not need to be downloaded, and the threads are again made to the remaining pieces. And hence it can download files in several days, weeks. You can stop the download for a week and can resume it again.

What are leechers, seeders and peers?

Leechers: Those who download file from the swarm are known as leechers. 

Seeders: Those who have whole file and upload it to the swarm are known as Seeders. A seeder initially joins swarm and uploads the file. If there is no seeder, there will be no file to download.

Peers: These are the part of the swarm. They do not have complete file but have pieces of it.

Bit Torrent is not just for piracy purpose

Due to its peer-to-peer specialty, it is widely used for piracy purposes. But it was not made for this purpose. It was just made to remove the dependency of the computers from the master server by sharing files from one computer to another, in a network. 

People can use BitTorrent to distribute large files to significant numbers of people without paying for the web hosting bandwidth. A free film, music album, or game could be hosted on BitTorrent, allowing an easy, free method of distribution where the people downloading the file also help distribute it. Today a lot of services use Bit Torrent protocol to provide files to be download. 

While being used majorly for piracy, Bit Torrent is a tool with legitimate uses in the present,  and will have many other potential uses in the future.

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