A king is born: BitTorrent - The new Goliath of illegal file sharing.
Everybody’s heard of Napster, the original pioneer of P2P programs was the de-facto standard for sharing illegal music over the Internet - but much has changed over a few short years. Nowadays, BitTorrent is the new reigning protocol for swapping almost everything - and despite its recent surge in popularity, there’s still a colossal amount of Internet users that haven’t even heard of it.
How to use BitTorrent: To grossly oversimplify it - a user visits a website that hosts .torrent files, selects desired files to download, and downloads the torrent file into his/her BitTorrent software program, which then begins to download the selected files. The .torrent only contains ‘links’ to the desired files - these links contain information to connect with other users sharing the same files.
What is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) communications protocol. It is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources. Instead, when data is distributed using the BitTorrent protocol, each recipient supplies pieces of the data to newer recipients, reducing the cost and burden on any given individual source and reducing dependence on the original distributor.
A user downloads a torrent file (i.e. - *.torrent) into their torrent software, called a client. A torrent file contains basically just two things: The list of the desired files and a tracker. In short, a tracker is a server that coordinates the transfer of data and files among users to assist in efficient data transfer between clients. The tracker is the crux of the whole operation: It will connect the user with other users, or peers, that are looking to download the same files. The client program then connects to those peers to obtain the various pieces. Such a group of peers connected to each other to share a file is called a swarm. As peers enter the swarm, they begin to trade pieces with one another, instead of downloading directly from the seeder. (The original ’seeder’ is the first person who uploads the .torrent).
BitTorrent users are divided into two groups: Seeds and Peers. A “seed” has the complete file available to share. A “peer” has incomplete parts of the file that he is sharing with other “peers” who have different incomplete parts. Once the peer receives the complete file, he becomes a seed. Peers who download much more than they upload are quite often referred to as “leechers” - but on BitTorrent websites, all peers who don’t have the complete file are incorrectly called leechers as well, because they are therefore leeching data from the seeds. Unlike P2P file sharing (i.e. Limewire, Morpheus etc.) - BitTorrent is completely dependent on each peer seeding some part or parts of the file. Therefore uploading is crucial to downloading. There’s a great in-depth guide/FAQ for BitTorrent and how it works here.
What does BitTorrent have to offer?
BitTorrent is the BEST way to download almost everything. Generally it has the best speeds (overall), it has no queues (like IRC and P2P file sharing) and these sites are where “the scene” is uploading files to. (Note: Not all releases are being released to P2P; many are simply “leaked” onto it). Also, you can search for files in specific categories, like Movies, Music, TV etc. on most of the sites. If you’re serious about downloading, this is THE way to do it. Oh, did I forget to mention, everything on it is completely FREE!
Use BitTorrent for movies. Period. PROs: Movies from every single group that releases movies can be found on BitTorrent. If you stick with the main release groups, everything that should be, is. Most movies are of high quality XVID and DIVX and compatible with any standalone DVD player with the “DivX Video” logo. Most new movies are released weeks and even months before they are due to arrive in stores. Many movies are released as DVDR (copies of the original retail DVD) with very few, if any, features removed. Even HD-DVD and Blu-Ray releases can be found. CONs: Older and obscure titles are hard to find and typically download at slower speeds than new stuff (less seeds and peers). Also, some movies have no description besides the title (non-’proper’ releases), so it’s anyone’s guess whether it’ll be English or not. These are somewhat rare.
Great for software and games. PROs: Full “cracked” versions of software and games that work! If it’s expensive, it’s there! Very little virus/malware in most of the software, but it is still common in amateurish torrent postings. Great selection of new releases, there’s even Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation games (if you’re familiar with Modchips). CONs: As with ALL pirated software, you will have to apply a patch, crack or serial number to get it working like the retail version. This requires a more experienced computer user - see here for more information about cracks.
Excellent for downloading TV episodes and seasons. Fast and easy to find as compared to P2P file sharing like Limewire, which contains a lot of ambiguity. PROs: Major Pay-per-events and many sporting events can sometimes be found the next day, even hours after the broadcast in high quality, sometimes in high definition (HD). For instance, search torrent websites for “NFL” on a Tuesday, you’ll find games that were played on the Sunday two days earlier. Great for television shows, as entire “seasons” of shows are listed as well as the latest episodes, many in HD. Many sites allow you to browse through directories dedicated just to TV, where you can view all entries for a particular show. CONs: Older and obscure shows are hard to find, and are thus slower.
PROs: Music is released by the album and not by the song for the most part. Users can find Discographies of an artist or band (these by definition are the complete works of the artist or band). Also, music here is normally of a higher quality bitrate(create hyperlink to AUDIO quality chart) than in P2P file sharing (but with less variety). CONs: It is much harder to search for individual songs, and more complicated to select just one song when you do find it. Individual songs take longer to download since BitTorrent files usually take a little time to get started and connect to the “swarm”.
PROs: Some HD releases available. Special Music Full DVD sets can be found as well. CONs: Avoid any *.WMV files if possible (some contain malicious registry editing DRMs and other nasties). Selection is quite poor and obscure stuff is impossible to find. Why? Because when you “search” using a P2P file sharing program (like Limewire), the search results are searching (and displaying) the contents of the “shared” folders on the P2P users’ computers. In BitTorrent, people have to “manually” upload it to one of the websites. People are much more likely to have songs and videos lying around on their computers than they will large programs, games and Full DVDs. Demography plays an important part in this.
A huge list of other stuff to be found: Applications for all OS platforms; games for all consoles; game emulators; e-comic books; e-magazines; manuals; website templates; application training guides; mobile phone tools and ringtones/ringtunes; fonts; sheet music; radio shows; pictures; avatars; wallpapers; audiobooks; ebooks; karaoke disks; documentaries; images; XXX.
Nicky Melia Says:
How do file sharing sites make cash ??? I would think that it would be difficult to make cash from free file hosting websites !
Very efficiently written article. It will be useful to anyone who employess it, as well as me. Keep up the good work â€“ canâ€™r wait to read more posts.