What is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a protocol that facilitates the download of large files through a peer to peer network. To download files using this protocol, a user has to use a certain protocol known as BitTorrent client.
Before we delve more into how and what happens with BitTorrent, there are certain terms that you should understand to have a grasp of the mechanisms around BitTorrent. They include:
i. File Transfer Protocol (FTP)- it is a client-server protocol that is used to share files from one computer to another on the internet. It is also a way through which content developers upload their work to the internet.
ii. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)- This is a medium of transporting files from the internet to a computer so that a user can read what’s on the website.
iii. Torrent file- This is a piece of information that a user downloads and feeds into the client. It lets the client know what data to download and where to download the data from.
iv. Client- This is a software that works with the torrent file to download files in it.
v. Leechers- These are users of BitTorrent who download torrent files but they do not share theirs with other people.
vi. Seeders- These are users of BitTorrent who upload complete torrent files for others to download.
vii. Tracker- This is a PC that coordinates file sharing on the BitTorrent network. It lets a user know what other peers have, the files they are looking for and vice versa. Trackers exist in two types, open and private.
• The open tracker is accessible by everyone on the network, and anything can be uploaded or downloaded from it, including malware.
• The private tracker is not available for everyone since its managed, which means one has to have an account to access it. Investors can purchase BTT tokens from Coinmarket cap.
It is more secure to use a private tracker because the seeders are controlled. Thus, the level of malware found is relatively low.
Development of BTT
BitTorrent was created by Bram Cohen, a previous employee at MojoNation. MojoNation was different from other peer to peer networks because it broke down the download of a large file into chunks for faster download unlike others such as eMule that provide a single download source.
How does BitTorrent work
BitTorrent is different from other downloading networks in that it facilitates faster downloads over a small bandwidth. It does so by collecting chunks of a large file from different computers and downloading them simultaneously.
Since BitTorrent works by breaking large files into small files, one does not have to contain an entire file for him/her to share it with others. A small piece of the file is enough to share on the network.
For one to download a file, one has to download a torrent file and open it using the client which works together to locate files needed and download them.
BTT uses a Tit-for-Tat principal that helps to avoid leeching by ensuring that one has to share for him/her to download a file. It is important to note that a user’s download speeds increase as the user shares more files.
To make a download, a user visits a web page and clicks on a file’s link. The Client then communicates with a tracker to locate computers running a BitTorrent client and have the required file either as a whole or a portion of it.
The tracker then finds a swarm with computers that have the files and helps the BitTorrent client trade files it requires from other computers in the swarm. The computer is then able to download the files simultaneously.
It is advisable that you let your BitTorrent client run for a whole day after you’ve finished downloading so that other people can download files from you too.
Use cases of BitTorrent
BitTorrent is often considered as a piracy tool by many people. Though that’s partly true, it has several ways through which it can be used legally. They include:
1. Game Updates and Downloads
BTT is used by some gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment to download games. The games have a BitTorrent client that downloads updates of the game in the future. By doing so, such gaming companies can provide faster download speeds for their players at a lower cost.
2. Facebook and Twitter Use BitTorrent Internally
The two social media platform gurus use BitTorrent to facilitate the movement of files. BTT has helped Facebook and Twitter deal with scalability issues when large files have to be transferred.
3. The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is an NGO that preserves web content and provides for download. The organization also has an archive of other forms of media such as live recordings of events, TV shows, etc.
The Internet Archive recommends the usage of BitTorrent when downloading files from it so that it can save on costs.
4. Government Uses
One instance when the government used BitTorrent was in 2010 when the UK released a report on how the expenditure of public money was being done.
It used BitTorrent to make the data available to people and by doing so, the government was able to save on costs and ensure that the document reached more people faster.
NASA has also made use of BTT in the past to share a picture of the earth that was 2.9GB in size.
5. Distributing Videos and Music
BTT allows content creators to share videos and Music files for free when doing promotions. Self-hosting costs quite a lot, and that’s why BTT is a good option.
Using BTT also gives a user free press once they make their content available on BitTorrent.
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