Torrents are essentially a form of peer-to-peer file sharing. There have been many forms of peer-to-peer file sharing, with the most famous name probably being Napster. However, torrents are quite different in the way they function compared to other peer-to-peer file sharing systems. Torrents still make use of a dedicated piece of software to download or upload files, but other pieces of software (typically just an Internet browser) are required to obtain files through the torrent networks. The users download a small torrent file that connects them to users with the desired file.Background
The technology that drives torrents has actually existed long before other file sharing protocols came about. It was commonly used in situations where one user had several files that were needed by other users whose Internet connections were much slower or who could only access the desired files at certain specified times. Rather than set up some type of file server to store and distribute these files, torrents would be used instead to keep costs down or even reduce the availability of these files to users not authorized to possess them. Associated Terms and Designations
Torrents are a more complex way of transferring files compared to protocols used by other services such as Kazaa or Napster. Instead of the file only being available from one user, torrents index a large group of users who possess the file into what is termed a swarm. In this swarm, there are a couple different types of users:
Revised January 4th, 2016
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- Seeders: Seeders are the users in the swarm that already have the full file requested by other users. They typically get the file from the torrent network and, after downloading; they remain connected and provide a source for other users to download the file from.
- Leechers: Leechers are user that do not have the requested file. Instead they are the users attempting to download the file from the available seeders.