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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 ?
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.
In less than a year, the brilliant BitTorrent protocol has combined with broadband ubiquity to make downloading full-length films and TV episodes viable and fun, even if it is mostly illegal.
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.