I believe anyone who has used internet extensively needs no introduction to torrents. Also, pirates might find a fond connection for it. For the rest let me define torrents for you in brief.

Simply put, Torrents are a way of transferring data through internet. For example, if you are using the traditional way of data transfer there will be a main computer (server) where this data will be and then you will download this on your computer.


This means that the bandwidth that is used is your computer and the server’s. The advantage is that all the data is coming from a single computer. The disadvantage kicks in when there are too many users and they want to download the same thing. The server will have a lot of pressure on it and it might crash. This is often observed with twitter. Data overload causes it to crash. People might have observed it while booking World Cup Tickets and India’s most famous example is seen every day at 10:00 am in the morning on the Indian Railways site IRCTC.

This is because server is working beyond its capacity.

Torrents on the other hand work based on nodes. It is kind of like communism. It works on something called [email protected] protocol (Peer to Peer). All the internet weight is transferred to all the computers. Let’s say you want to download Ubuntu 12.10. You go to torrents and it finds a hundred people that are sharing this software.

Then instead of downloading from one user it will divide the whole network weight to all the users. This means 1/100th bandwidth consumption and even if one or more user goes offline the transfer continues. Speed also increases substantially as the data transfers from faster nodes.

Sounds dreamy, isn’t it?

Well, it is to an extent. Something similar to nuclear energy which was supposed to eradicate need of any other power source. Not unlike nuclear power, torrents found more adoption in the wrong hands. Torrents became the notorious name attached with Piracy.

In fact, the whole P2P network was looked at suspiciously for some time. In fact I once read a comment somewhere that a person was afraid to use a particular software because it used P2P protocol. Any guesses which software it was- “Skype”. Yes, the beloved and so used Skype once used P2P protocol. Since its buyout by Microsoft it is shifting to linux servers.

P2P might get a better name one day but torrents have received too much flak to get back to the good books of anyone anytime soon. Though, it would be great for people to realize the true potential and its safer use.

Businesses can use it very productively for using the computers of their employees to save server bandwidth. Local networks can be created that won’t use waste huge amount of bandwidth.

Not unlike Nuclear energy, torrents have the ability to reduce the stress on the servers if used wisely and productively.

[This article has been written by Kunal Prakash]

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