Deciphering the most preferred protocol for downloading large files on the internet
It is one of the most preferred methods for downloading or uploading large files (such as movies) over the internet. Over 30-70% of the total internet is estimated to be vested with this kind of peer to peer networks. Signs of decentralization can be observed here. BitTorrent trackers are used by the users in order to track a particular file and also find a peer user from where the file can be downloaded. BitTorrent clients are the software used to implement the BitTorrent protocol.
Deep understanding with an example
Let us understand the advantages of the BitTorrent protocol over the traditional one.
In the traditional method, say if you want to download 60 MB file from the internet with your download and upload speeds being 1MB per minute. Then obviously downloading the complete file from the server would take 60 minutes despite the download and upload speed of the server is 2 MB per minute. If there are 2 users who want to download the same file, for an instance, with the same conditions as above then each one of them individually would require 60 minutes to download.
Now consider the same situation by using the BitTorrent protocol. Both the users simultaneously request the server for the file. It divides the file into 3 parts and the upload bandwidth of 2 MB per minute is divided among the two users. The first part of the file is sent to the first user and second part to the second user respectively, still, have the third part of the file with itself only. Hence 20mb file is received by each user within 20 minutes. Now, as soon as each user receives their part of the file they start sharing them with each other by using their upload bandwidth of 1mb per min and simultaneously the third part is getting downloaded from the server to each of the users.
- User 1 is downloading 3rd part from the server and updating the 1st part to the user 2 by using his upload and download bandwidths at the same time.
- Similarly, the user 2 is also downloading the 3rd part from the server and uploading it’s second part to user 1 by using both of its bandwidth.
- After 20 minutes, the second phase is completed where user 1 has received part 1 and 3 from the server and part 2 of the file from user 2, hence has the complete file.
- On similar lines, user 2 has also received part 2 and 3 from the server and part 1 of the file from user 1, hence has the complete file.
The most important point to be noted here is that the whole download was completed in only two phases of 20 minutes each i.e 40 minutes. When compared to the traditional downloading method which would take 60 minutes, this protocol seems to be more efficient and faster by using the distributed file sharing paradigm.
Another notable point which is to be noted here is the server. In a BitTorrent protocol a server might not always be a server literally, it can be any other host computer which has the source file with itself also known as the seeder. The users which download the file are referred to as leechers or peers. When a BitTorrent client requests for a particular file, the host computer which has that file, is searched on the whole BitTorrent network.
This protocol has been dodging the legal guidelines as there is no central authority to be pointed at for the piracies. Despite strict measures taken to bring down the network, it has been ever increasing on contrary.
It is irritating when some of the cybersecurity experts term this amazing protocol as a source of piracy. Nevertheless, the fact can’t be denied that it is mostly used for the pirated stuff, apart from which it effectively uses the bandwidth and time without letting them go waste. It is even estimated that there are millions of active users all the time using the network either as a client or as a seeder.