The term “Peer-to-peer file sharing” is, in essence, an umbrella term used to describe any protocol or method whereby users can share files with other users. This would include almost every activity on the Internet: ICQ (instant messaging); sending files through MSN or Yahoo!; web hosting services; BitTorrent; Usenet; IRC. Even email could be considered peer-to-peer file sharing.
But for all general purposes, “P2P file sharing” is best used to describe the swapping of music, video and other files over the Internet by means of a broad-based application on a common network with a large base of users. Some examples of this would be Limewire, Shareaza and eMule.
A Peer-to-peer (or P2P) network is a network made up of computers which are connected to each other through the Internet. Files of all types can be shared between computers on the P2P network, allowing Internet users to transfer files directly, rather than through the use of a website or server. Each user (or “node”) connects to the network using a “client” program.
File sharing is the practice of making files available for other users to download over the Internet and smaller networks. Usually file sharing follows the peer-to-peer (P2P) model, where the files are stored on and served by personal computers of the users. Most people who engage in file sharing are also downloading files that other users share - usually these two activities are linked together. P2P file sharing is distinct from file trading in that downloading files from a P2P network does not require uploading, although some networks either provide incentives for uploading such as credits or force the sharing of files being currently downloaded.
Some client programs connect to the same network(s), therefore resulting in similar search results within both programs. Click here for more information about P2P, how it works, and a list of clients and networks.
What does P2P file sharing have to offer?
Everything can be found on the P2P networks, all for free. Anything that anyone could possibly have on their computers is out there. Unlike BitTorrent, where ‘uploading’ has to done deliberately, P2P software can simply scan a computer (or folders) to search for files to share. Users that want to share their files need not do anything; it is done by the software. Below is a sample of what types of files are shared on P2P, and our comments about each category.
Not great for full movies. The underground movie ’scene’ does NOT release movies here. Quality is often compromised because of size, so you really have to know what to look for. Also, P2P is a target of “spoofing” in which the file is named correctly but upon arrival, it is not what it seems. Also, it is extremely difficult to tell the good from the bad when forty different search results come back for the same movie. There are good releases are out there, it just takes a bit of a trained eye to sort through.
Mostly atrocious for software, games, and applications as *.EXE downloads can be infected with viruses and/or malware. Very risky business, not recommended at all.
Not bad for TV shows, as these tend to be smaller. PROs: Users can download the latest episode of their favorite show, and the speed is good. CONs: If you like to have full seasons of television shows, stick with BitTorrent. As with movies, avoid video files with the *.WMV extension.
Good for miscellaneous movie clips, music videos, trailers, other videos etc. - large selection due to the demography of the people who use P2P.
Excellent for music. PROs: Users can find and select songs easily, and play them while they’re downloading. HUGE selection of songs, remixes and rare items. Fast downloads with a quick Internet connection. CONs: Most *.mp3 files on P2P sites are only at 128 bitrate. Music on regular CDs is ‘compared’ to 192. If available, select files with a higher than 128 bitrate. I prefer a 256 - 320 bitrate or VBR (Variable bitrate) so I tend to use mIRC and torrents for music. Also, anyone can rip a song off a CD and put it in their “shared” folder, therefore many songs contain small jumps, crackles etc., and these sub-par versions spread fast throughout P2P. I recommend listening through the songs first before making that CD for Dad for Father’s Day.
Great for pictures, clipart, documents, etc.
Steve Allan Says:
P2P file sharing has spread at a rapid rate in popularity and gains more interest among the people. This information would be useful for the readers and thanks for sharing.
Graham Hilsgen Says:
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Binfer [http://www.binfer.com] does this really well. It creates a private secure connection between computers and transfer large files directly. Does auto resumes as well.. Uploading large files to some hosting server is very painful.