(redirected from BitTorrent protocol)
Also found in: Dictionary.


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.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


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

Widely used to transfer pirated movies and software, BitTorrent and other file sharing systems accounted for more than half of Internet traffic around the turn of the century. After movie streaming from Netflix, YouTube and other legal sources became popular, BitTorrent traffic dropped dramatically.

A torrent was originally a file of meta-data on a BitTorrent server that keeps track of where all the files are. In practice, torrent refers to any file transferred via BitTorrent, and large files are broken into smaller ones.

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

BitTorrent Leechers and Seeds
A "seed" is a BitTorrent client that has the file. A "leecher" is a BitTorrent client downloading, who then becomes a seed for someone else. However, a "leech" is a user who exits the program immediately after downloading to prevent being a seed. For more information, visit

Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
This is opposed to the original design of BitTorrent protocol. Originally featured on priority neighboring with the download/upload rate is the largest.
users use the BitTorrent protocol to upload and download music,
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.
When a user uploads a file into the BitTorrent protocol, the file is broken down into small pieces called chunks, which are composed of ones and zeros, and assigned a cryptographic hash, (14) which serves as the piece's identifying information.
For this purpose, we collect the neighbours list (or neighbourhood) (1) of each peer in the swarm by using the Peer Exchange (PEX) extension of the BitTorrent protocol. In the rest of the section we provide a detailed description of both the measurement infrastructure and the methodology.
Instead of a centralized server, the BitTorrent protocol works by facilitating the distribution of data between users, allowing them to exchange pieces of a file with one another so that they can eventually assemble those pieces into a complete copy of that riley The exchange occurs completely between peers and is facilitated by "a tracker, which helps peers locate other peers offering desired content." (36) A "swarm" is a group of peers that are joined together in the downloading and sharing of a particular individual file.
And gives access to the actual music via the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol.
"Many organizations explicitly ban this activity, yet there is evidence that in some industries over a quarter of companies are currently sharing files over the BitTorrent protocol," the report explained.
A set of peers exchanging pieces of the same video is called a swarm, a concept that has become popular after the introduction of the BitTorrent protocol [3].
Files with large volumes of data, such as movies or episodes of TV series, are harder to share, which in turn encourages users to take advantage of the efficiency of the BitTorrent protocol.