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A popular, distributed form of peer-to-peer file sharing that enables a client program to fetch different parts of a file (a "torrent") from different sources in parallel. The system is designed to encourage users to make downloaded data available for others to upload. This is aided by a scheme for exchanging unique identifiers, commonly stored in ".torrent" files. A downloader who does not serve data to others is called a "leech". A "seed" is a computer that has a complete copy of a file, possibly the original.

The site claims there are over 100 million users as of 2007-03-24.

Most of the data is copyright material like films or commercial software.


A popular protocol for sharing large files over the Internet, developed by Bram Cohen and released in 2001. In addition to Cohen's software, other BitTorrent client programs are available for all major platforms. There is no centralized server. Each downloading user becomes a source for another user who wants the same file. The BitTorrent client balances the load on the computer, because download speeds are faster than upload speeds.

Widely used for transferring pirated movies and software, BitTorrent, along with other file sharing systems, accounted for more than half of Internet traffic after the turn of the century. Since then, however, movie streaming from Netflix, YouTube and other legal sources became extremely popular, and BitTorrent traffic dropped dramatically.

BitTorrent breaks large files into smaller ones. A "torrent" is a file of meta-data that describes the files and the servers that keep track of the BitTorrent peers that have the parts of the file. In practice, a file itself is also called a torrent.

Users Share the Load (Leechers and Seeds)
A "seed" is a BitTorrent client that has the file. A "leecher" is a BitTorrent client in the process of downloading, and a leecher thus becomes a seed for someone else. However, a "leech" refers to people who exit BitTorrent after downloading, thus preventing seeding to others. For more information, visit

File sharing systems have been architected in different ways as outlined in the following illustrations. See peer-to-peer network, Napster and KaZaA.

References in periodicals archive ?
(34.) Austin Can, BitTorrent Has More Users than Netflix and Hulu Combined--and Doubled, FASTCOMPANY (Jan.
If it had launched in 2010, BitTorrent Live would have been a groundbreaking platform.
Thus, we propose the new technique to cluster of peer-to-peer nodes within an autonomous system to help peers in the BitTorrent system by using efficient indexing resources and transmission of piece and route information.
Unlike other protocols designed to transfer files, BitTorrent
BitTorrent downloads have diminished the viability of a moribund DVD distribution system, often in the form of cheap, low-quality pirated DVDs.
Contrary to popular belief that Bittorrent protocol is only used to share copyrighted material, has been created in order to facilitate the easy access to open source softwares, linux distros and more such material made available by the owners through this platform.
BitTorrent as a means of distribution, creation and, ultimately, audience appraisal is so radical that it might just work.
Called BitTorrent Sync, it synchronizes folders and files on different computers and mobile devices much the way services like Dropbox do, but without ever copying data to a central cloud server.
Key social and online media sites such as Facebook, Shazam, Soundcloud, VEVO and even BitTorrent are showing ever-increasing roles in that success."
17 ( ANI ): BitTorrent is reportedly working on a smartphone app that would allow users to steam live videos right from their mobile devices.
In 2011, 23.76% of global internet traffic involved downloading or uploading pirated content, with BitTorrent accounting for an estimated 17.9% of all internet traffic.
BitTorrent is one of the most used applications in the current Internet and is responsible for an important portion of the upstream and downstream traffic as revealed by recent reports [1].