How do Bit Torrents Work?
BitTorrent is a protocol that enables fast downloading of large files using minimum Internet bandwidth. It costs nothing to use and includes no spyware or pop-up advertising.
Unlike other download methods, BitTorrent maximizes transfer speed by gathering pieces of the file you want and downloading these pieces simultaneously from people who already have them.
This has to be understood while understanding three download processes
1. Traditional Client-Server Downloading
· You open a Web page and click a link to download a file to your computer.
- The Web browser software on your computer (the client) tells the server (a central computer that holds the Web page and the file you want to download) to transfer a copy of the file to your computer.
- The transfer is handled by a protocol (a set of rules), such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol).
The transfer speed is affected by a number of variables, including the type of protocol, the amount of traffic on the server and the number of other computers that are downloading the file. If the file is both large and popular, the demands on the server are great, and the download will
2. Peer-to-peer File Sharing
Peer-to-peer file sharing is different from traditional file downloading. In peer-to-peer sharing, you use a software program (rather than your Web browser) to locate computers that have the file you want. Because these are ordinary computers like yours, as opposed to servers, they are called peers. The process works like this:
- You run peer-to-peer file-sharing software on your computer and send out a request for the file you want to download.
- To locate the file, the software queries other computers that are connected to the Internet and running the file-sharing software.
- When the software finds a computer that has the file you want on its hard drive, the download begins.
- Others using the file-sharing software can obtain files they want from your computer's hard drive.
The file-transfer load is distributed between the computers exchanging files, but file searches and transfers from your computer to others can cause bottlenecks. Some people download files and immediately disconnect without allowing others to obtain files from their system, which is called leeching. This limits the number of computers the software can search for the requested file.
3. What BitTorrent Does
Unlike some other peer-to-peer downloading methods, BitTorrent is a protocol that offloads some of the file tracking work to a central server (called a tracker). Another difference is that it uses a principal called tit-for-tat. This means that in order to receive files, you have to give them. With BitTorrent, the more files you share with others, the faster your downloads are. Finally, to make better use of available Internet bandwidth (the pipeline for data transmission), BitTorrent downloads different pieces of the file you want simultaneously from multiple computers.
Here's how it works: