What are Torrents and How do I use Them?

download These days more and more people are discovering torrents as a way to share files. Most people have heard of and use programs of the likes of Napster, Imesh, Kazaa and LimeWire. These are all P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing programs, programs in which users share files between each other. Every program has its day, and for these programs there day has ended, some of them ages ago. Torrents enable file transfer which differs from these more conventional ways to share files as I will explain below.

First lets understand how a conventional file transfer works. A user sees a file they wish to download off a website or P2P program, the use clicks on the link or file and the file transfer commences. The file is downloaded in little pieces called packets (a packet of bytes that is), all of these packets are downloaded in order one after the other and then the end result is the file on your computer. These transfers can be quite slow as there is generally only one server or uploader transferring the file to you. This method is fine for small files, but you generally run into problems with larger files.

Torrents on the other hand have a different method which increases the availability of the file and the speed of the transfer. This is achieved by having multiple people uploading parts of the file to you in a random order. These parts are reassembled into the correct order at your end. By having multiple people uploading different parts of the file to you, a greater download speed is achieved and you get your file quicker. This is perfect for downloading large files.

So now you are interested and want to download using torrents right? Okay, before you begin you need a torrent client, which is similar to P2P programs such as LimeWire. Some of the more popular torrent clients are Azureus, BitTorrent and uTorrent. Once you have downloaded, installed and made any required configurations to any firewall you might have, the next step is to find a torrent you wish to download. There are many online directories of torrents available to download, the biggest one seems to be mininova.com. Here you can search and download the torrent file which will open in your torrent client and begin to download.

Hang on don’t get to ahead of yourself, there is still one last catch with torrents. As you download complete parts of a torrent, these part will then start to upload to other users who require them. Some of us tend to not like to upload or share files to other users on the Internet, which is fair enough as uploading a file adds to our broadband data cap, but in the torrent world it is referred to as leeching. It is generally considered good online etiquette upload as much as you download, in other words a 1:1 ratio, after all sharing is caring right?

Remember guys, although it is perfectly legal to take part in P2P sharing, sharing copyrighted material is definitely illegal without permission from the copyright holder.

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