Bittorrent has understandably grown since its relatively inauspicious introduction in 2001, due to the fact that an increasing number of people have recognised the advantages it offers in the distribution of legal content.
There are an estimated 17 million torrents currently active which amounts to a substantial amount of petabytes of content, and companies like Vuze that provide bittorrent clients, continue to grow in popularity and contribute to the estimated one third of all bandwidth used on the internet attributed to bittorrent use.
Here is a look at the distribution methods in use.
A central server is the traditional download method and is popular because the central server can then be used to provide the bandwidth needed for the transfer.
It makes the download process as simple as possible as anyone who wants to download can obtain their own copy from the same central source.
Peer to Peer (P2P)
Another traditional distribution method which in many ways, operates in much the same way as a central server.
An individual machine becomes a designated server, tasked with distributing content to other users within the upload bandwidth constraints of that person’s internet connection. The main difference between P2P and a central server was that P2P was in effect, off the main grid so to speak, and primarily involved distribution between individuals, which is why it earned the peer to peer tag.
Seen as very much the future in the evolution of transfers and P2P, bittorrent differs in a fundamental way when compared to the traditional central server and P2P methods.
Bittorrent involves the use of multiple sources to enable the distribution of content as each active user becomes involved in the distribution process of that content through their own upload bandwidth. This allows the opportunity to provide a fail-safe against the potential corruption of the distributed content.
Advantages of bittorrent
One of the most striking advantages of using bittorrent over the traditional distribution methods is that the more active users that there are on a torrent, it increases the provision for greater download speed, whereas a central server or P2P will suffer from decreased speed for each incremental user.
Another advantage that bittorrent enjoys is that the torrent file or magnet link that is used in order to commence the distribution contains unique and highly specific information relating to the content that will be subsequently downloaded through either.
How this is achieved is by breaking down the content into bits for more efficient distribution among the active users. If any of these bits do happen to become corrupted during the transfer process, causing it to mismatch with the information contained within the torrent or magnet link, this will be rejected by the bittorrent client, to be replaced with an uncorrupted bit instead.
This is a significant advantage when you consider that using a central server almost always offers an element of risk of corruption and there is no safe-guard in place to prevent this happening. P2P also suffers from the same issue and there is also the increased risk of malware distribution as well.
When you compare the distribution methods, it quickly becomes apparent that bittorrent has a lot to offer and explains its continuing surge in popularity.
Image credits : flickr.com/photos/cblue98Author's Google+