Video:What Are BitTorrents?with Zoya Popova
BitTorrents allow people to download large files faster over the internet. Learn more about how to download and use BitTorrent software, as well as the legal implications attached.See Transcript
Transcript:What Are BitTorrents?
Hi, I'm Zoya Popova for About.com, and today we're looking at bit torrents.
BitTorrents Allow for Faster Internet Downloads
BitTorrent is a protocol that allows to transfer large amounts of data over the Internet. It is used for distributing large files, like software, music albums, and videos, peer-to-peer. And in peer-to-peer sharing, individual users, or “peers”, basically get access to the files stored on other peers' computers that they are willing to share.
BitTorrent has several important features. First of all, it breaks up those large files into tiny bits of data, called pieces. Second of all, those pieces can be downloaded to your computer simultaneously from multiple peers, which make data transfer happen much faster.
BitTorrent Software Installs on Computers
In order to participate in BitTorrent sharing, you need to install on your computer a program called a BitTorrent client such as uTorrent, Transmission, or Vuze.In order to upload file to share with others, a user, known as “the seed”, creates a .torrent file through his or her BitTorrent client.
A .torrent file is a very small file that is basically a description of the actual file available for distribution. The .torrent file is published on a BitTorrent indexing website, such as Isohunt.com or thePirateBay.org. From there, it can be downloaded by other users, called “leechers”. As soon as a leecher obtains a copy of the .torrent file, they can give it to their BitTorrent client and proceed to downloading the file it refers to.
BitTorrent Download Large Files in Pieces
And as I said earlier, that file is broken into small pieces. The BitTorrent client, through a server known as a tracker, gives the leecher the list of all peers pieces of the file can be obtained from.
Importantly, as each leecher gets a new piece of the file, they can immediately distribute that piece to other peers as well. This relieves the original seeder of the burden to distribute a full copy of the file to each of the leechers.
If the seed has sent out a complete file at least once, even if pieces of it went to multiple leechers, that should be enough for each leecher to eventually get a full copy. As soon as that happens, the leecher himself becomes the seeder, and it considered good etiquette to leave the BitTorrent client open after you've completed the download in order to seed at least as much as you have leeched.
BitTorrents Raise Legal Issues
As a side note, torrent trackers have increasingly been under legal fire. Although trackers themselves do not store or handle any of the files that are shared, the do facilitate the exchange of copyrighted material that may not have been properly licensed. So as a user, you should be aware of the risks associated with copyright infringement.
And this is it for BitTorrents. Thank you for watching, and for more information, please visit us at About.com.