BitTorrent revolutionizes file-sharing

(U-WIRE) OMAHA, Neb. – “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like, ‘its better than yours.’ Damn right, it’s better than yours. I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.”

– “Milkshake” by Kelis.

So begin the first words of one of the most popular songs on file-sharing networks. However, as we all know, it is not always about the tasty milkshake, it’s about where you get your milkshake.

Enter BitTorrent, one of the most secure and decentralized networks available for file-sharing. Created and developed over two years by Bram Cohen, it’s the ultimate file-sharing tool. BitTorrent is not easy to master and learn, but if you can get it figured out, the goods far outweigh the hour or two spent learning it.

No other file-sharing method has allowed users to transfer massive amounts of data in such a reliable fashion. Huge files – up to 10GB – can be traded back and forth between users with ease. This means that full movies, full albums and even full discographies are commonly swapped between BitTorrent users. Not to mention full software packages, video games (PC and console), e-books, comics … The list goes on and on.

The traditional way of downloading files includes one or more persons distributing a file while dozens, if not hundreds, of people download that one file. It’d work nice if people who download files would also continue to upload once they are complete, thereby contributing to the sharing process. While Gabriel may have a single full copy of “Milkshake,” when 20 people attempt to download that song from him it decreases the overall functionality and speed of the download.

Almost all file-sharing networks today use this basic download principle. Because it’s so organized and relatively centralized, the Recording Industry Association of America finds it quite easy to track who is downloading or uploading what and how much. Use of Kazaa, eDonkey, Sharezaa and other such services has resulted in multiple lawsuits by the RIAA against common citizens.

BitTorrent swiftly and efficiently eliminates this problem.

– Sanel Selimovic

While Gabriel is uploading “Milkshake” to six different people, those users are not only downloading a file from Gabriel, but at the same time they are uploading to other users. While a single user may have 90 percent of a file downloaded, another person who only has 50 percent will download small chunks from the incomplete 90-percent file. Therefore easing the Internet traffic and decreasing dependence on a single central user. As it happens, a third user has decided to download a copy of the “Milkshake” but he only has 10 percent of the file downloaded. This person would in turn download the file from the 90-percent chunk and the 50-percent chunk, therefore increasing his speed while continuing to upload to other users at the same time.

Because of this inherent decentralization and independence from a main “seeder,” BitTorrent only exists as a collective whole, therefore making it very difficult for the RIAA to pinpoint a responsible party.

While BitTorrent is simply a type of file, this means that separate software is required to open and read this information and put it together. There are many different BitTorrent “clients” out there, so you simply have to find the one you like. Many users’ favorite is an experimental client located on BitTornado.com. There are others such as the original client developed by Bram (an open source client, which sprouted many different incarnations), Azureus, ABC and others.

When finding a torrent link, users will usually notice a column stating the “seeders” and “leechers.” Seeders, of course, being the people uploading a particular file, while leechers are downloading the file (keep in mind, leechers upload at the same time they download).

BitTorrent has a learning curve of around an hour or two. It is the time it takes to read a seven-page explanation of how exactly BitTorrent works and how to set it up properly. Depending on how quickly you comprehend this information, it will affect how fast you master BitTorrent. BitTorrent is an excellent product and well worth learning, and drawbacks are somewhat insignificant.