BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) communication protocol for distributing files and any type of data over the internet
What is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a device for peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing. It uses the same protocol to share files that programs like uTorrent and Azureus use, but it's free of cost.
It's distributed by BitTorrent, Inc. which offers free software clients for Windows, OS X, Linux, and BSD, but it can be used for sharing copyrighted files.
BitTorrent is the second-most popular worldwide P2P protocol (after eDonkey) with more than 60% of the global market. It's especially popular in Europe where 13 million users adopt it daily.
BitTorrent comes from the company BitTorrent, Inc., which was founded in 2004 by Bram Cohen. He developed the protocol with another programmer, Ashwin Navin. The technology is based on a previous project called Mainline that was created by Cohen.
How does BitTorrent work?
When the internet was first established, it wasn't constructed to accommodate today's massive data transfers. To solve this issue, The BitTorrent protocol was created in 2001 by Bram Cohen. This open-source protocol is an efficient way for computers with shared files to connect and share information across the Internet.
Traffic on the Web is generally monitored and controlled by internet service providers (ISPs). The ISPs control the speed at which people connect to the Internet, as well as what types of information can be transferred. BitTorrent circumvents this centralized system and allows people to transfer data directly to one another.
BitTorrent is especially popular with home computers that want to share large files such as movies and television shows. It's also commonly used to share free, open-source software like Linux operating systems.
BitTorrent is different from other peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing protocols because it works in a way that doesn't require the computer with the shared files to remain on and connected at all times. Instead, everyone who downloads the same files can also share pieces of those files.
When a person wants to download something via BitTorrent, their client software sends a request for the file to other users that are currently sharing it. The user is then sent small bits of the file from different locations at high speeds until they have received the entire thing.
This system also allows people to share files with many users at once, as opposed to other P2P protocols that may only send the file from person to person in one direction.
BitTorrent is carefully managed by a non-profit company called BitTorrent Inc., which runs several popular torrent trackers. The technology itself is fairly simple and has been implemented into many different types of software.
The BitTorrent technology is built upon the same principles as most other P2P file-sharing protocols. A torrent client initially only has a list of the IP addresses and ports of “trackers.” These trackers coordinate peers to share specific pieces or portions of the complete file. The torrent files offer exclusive download speed with peer-to-peer protocol and Linux distributions.
The torrent client passes this list to the tracker, which begins sending connectionless (“datagram”) packets and asks the recipient to reply with a packet of its own. The tracker uses these responses to determine the IP addresses and ports of other peers participating in the swarm responsible for sharing out the file. The torrent index websites can download files with file transfer protocol and get BitTorrent traffic for a secure internet connection.
After receiving enough information from trackers, the torrent client can now choose which peers to connect to and download pieces of the file directly from them. The tracker only plays a part in helping with the initial connection, but after that point, they will not forward requests or data between users. A torrent file with hypertext transfer protocol improves the webserver.
The BitTorrent Protocol was specifically designed so as many computers as possible could participate in the initial seeding of files, so it is very useful for sharing large files with groups of people around the world. BitTorrent download will help you get the same file with effective download speeds.
Is BitTorrent safe to use?
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol used to distribute large amounts of data over the Internet. It has many legitimate uses but its anonymity and ease of use have also made it popular among copyright infringers.
However, there are frequent reports of users being fined by their ISPs or receiving threatening letters from copyright owners when they are detected sharing copyrighted material.
So, is BitTorrent safe to use? The answer is a somewhat qualified yes. It's not a case of “if you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear”. There are perfectly legitimate reasons why your ISP might monitor your BitTorrent activity and take action if they suspect copyright infringement.
A nice example of how to mislead readers with FUD. First thing, the answer is a no. You don't have anything to fear if you're infringing nothing but it's not true that BitTorrent sharing is safe when you infringe something, whether it's copyrighted material or privacy-related data.
BitTorrent works by splitting a file into hundreds or thousands of small pieces and sharing those with other users. This allows the data to be downloaded much faster than if it was served from a single source, but at the cost of anonymity. Your ISP can see that you're downloading files without knowing what they are since all they see is encrypted traffic.
More about the BitTorrent client and traffic
This paragraph talks about hypotheticals and it's not even correct. BitTorrent does not split files, users do. If you download a Linux iso from Piratebay your torrent client will give you 10 random pieces and then start downloading them from other peers at the same time: that's how downloads are faster than if they were served from a single source.
Also, the last sentence of this paragraph is false, too. ISPs can see what you're downloading if they want to because all that traffic goes through their servers. So, the only anonymity that BitTorrent might provide is from external observers watching just your IP address and not monitoring your ISP's servers, but that's a pretty advanced anonymity feature in the first place.
To tell the truth, I don't know if your ISP could join the swarm and start sending you pieces because that would be very complicated to accomplish, but they can certainly see which files you're downloading. This is why connections to public trackers such as Piratebay are often blocked by ISPs.
Your ISP can also monitor that you're actively uploading data to other peers because that's pretty much the only way to download something from BitTorrent. So, unless your intent is just to get a Linux iso and never upload anything at all, your ISP will know for sure what you're doing with BitTorrent clients.
Can I use BitTorrent on my VPN? Yes, most premium VPN services are completely fine with you using BitTorrent.