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Bittorrent - The new P2P in town

December 05, 2003
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The idea is brilliant; tap in to your users upload capacity to distribute your product across the Internet more efficiently.

If you have a killer product that your customers are downloading, the distribution (bandwidth) costs will increase proportionally with the amount of customers. This may be ok if the product is commercial and you can transfer the distribution costs to the cost of the product.

If on the other hand it is a free-ware product, lets say an open source application, you may find it hard to finance the popularity of the project.

As mentioned above, Bittorrent uses the (free) upload capacity of your users to distribute the product. In effect, the users that have downloaded parts of the product will start sending those parts to other users and the load on your server will decrease.

How well does the network perform?

Bittorrent routinely supports about 1000 downloaders of files around a gigabyte in size. After current tracker scaling work, the next scaling bottleneck is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of simultaneous downloaders. - (Bittorrent FAQ)

One characteristic of the Bittorrent network is that popular files that are being downloaded by many users are easy to get and with a high transfer rate (in contrast to other P2P networks). Older files that are not being downloaded by other users are not hard to get.

To get started, download a client that supports the Bittorrent protocol. I have tried various clients and have two favorites. As a lightweight client, I prefer TheSHAD0W's EXPERIMENTAL BITTORRENT CLIENT.

I have had better results with the more feature packed Shareaza. It supports all of the following networks: Gnutella 1and 2, eDonkey and Bittorrent. The original client can be found here: Bittorrent software.

Any resource that can be downloaded will have a small file called a torrent that holds crucial information about the resource. Among other things it will tell you the name and hash of the resource making it very hard to fake resources and ensuring correct downloads. The torrent will also tell you the tracker for this resource.

Trackers serve as a central point for sharing information about the various users downloading the resource and what parts each user has downloaded. This means a file is never transferred via the tracker, only information about transfers is. If the tracker is down or is not available for some other reason, you will not be able to download the resource.

etree.org is a community for sharing the live concert recordings of trade friendly artists. Other large source of torrents is suprnova.org.

BitTorrent, its logo and its web site are all copyright © 2001-2003 Bram Cohen



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Comments

  1. Taran Says:

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    I wonder if Bittorrent is one of the things that the BBC is considering.

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