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What is P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing? How does it work?

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What is P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing? How does it work?

P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing is a technique which is used to share music, books, movies and any other forms of media via a direct connection between the host and recipient. These devices on the P2P network are called nodes or ‘peers’.

P2P file sharing takes place with the help of client software like BitTorrent or uTorrent. This software is a platform on which a computer can access a P2P network. Once one accesses the network, a peer can host or download the files.

The peer that is hosting or sharing files on the P2P network is called ‘seed’, and the peers that are downloading these files are called ‘leeches’.

Also read: 5 reasons why you should avoid using Public WiFi

So, how does it work exactly?

What is P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing? How does it work?

Unlike a client-server model, the P2P network is one where each seed is a server. This means a seed doesn’t just receive files but also sends out files. More seeds mean a more distributed and accelerated file sharing process.

You can simply search for the file of your choice and check whether if it is hosted by a seed in the network. If it is found, you can start the downloading process.

But, what is to be considered here is that the file hosted is fragmented and hence it is probable that the respective seed does not have all of the fragments that make up the entire file.

To overcome this technicality, the P2P network will search for different seeds available for every fragment. Instead of downloading the entire file from a single host, you are downloading multiple fragments from hundreds or thousands of users.

If you are in the network for the sole purpose of downloading the file, you are considered a leech, and from your perspective, it would seem like you are a part of a traditional client-server network.

Also read: What is Tor Browser? How does it work?

Some noteworthy things to point out here

While the P2P networks greatly simplify and speed up the file search and download process, it is thought to be illegal as the content shared over this network could have some copyrights that are being violated.

Many torrent websites like Pirate Bay use this technique to provide content that would otherwise be difficult to attain from elsewhere and also perform cryptojacking attacks without your knowledge on the matter.

So be careful of the content you download and whether or not the source of this content is credible to use when you use peer to peer file sharing technique.

Also read: What is Dark web? Difference between Deep web and Dark web


Parinita Haldar