Although P2P file sharing has become synonymous with illegal downloads, there are still many organisation that can benefit from using this form of file sharing.
As we continue our look at file sharing this article will reveal what p2p file sharing is, but it will share the pros and cons of using the platform and allow you to understand if it is the right technology for your business.
- What does p2p stand for?
- What is the difference between a peer and a seed?
- What is BitTorrent?
- What type of files can be shared on a p2p network?
- What are the 6 benefits of using peer-to-peer file sharing?
- 7 Reason Why Your Business Should Not Be Using P2P for File Sharing?
- Is peer-2-peer file sharing illegal?
- What are the Top 5 BitTorrent Applications For File Sharing?
- Closing Summary
What Does P2P Stand For?
P2P is short for Peer to peer, which is an Internet protocol for distributing files around the world. It works by installing an application on your computer that can download files from other machines on the same networking providing they have p2p software installed.
The software breaks down the files into tiny pieces, which make them easier to transport, and it allows you to download from multiple locations at the same time.
What’s the difference between a Peer and a Seed?
As soon as you start downloading a file you get known as a peer. Once the file has finished downloading then you become known as a seed. Other users on the network can download from both seeds and peers and the more of them on the network the faster the download.
Often files will not work unless they are 100% complete which is why seeds are important because without them the file will never work. However whilst peers are incomplete they will speed up the download process by downloading from someone else who is also download apart from they will be further along in the process.
What is BitTorrent?
Bittorrent is the most common form of peer-to-peer files sharing protocol. It’s a third generation that was created to avoid the need for files to be stored on a central server. Instead only the trackers are stored on a central server, which allows users to see how many peers and seeds there are.
What files can be shared in a P2P network?
Any type of files can be shared using peer-to-peer although traditionally it tends to be videos, music and some software applications.
What are the 6 benefits of using peer-to-peer file sharing?
- No Servers. There is no need to have servers to host the files providing more than one person has become a seed.
- No bandwidth costs. Because you don’t have servers you do not need bandwidth, which will also save a lot of money.
- Easy to set up. All you need to do is setup your client, share the file and wait for a few people to download it and you are done.
- Requires little to no maintenance. No servers means no maintenance and you don’t even need to continue sharing the file providing you have enough seeds around the world.
- Large files can download faster. The way P2P works means that files will download quicker than downloading from a central server providing there are enough seeds and peers connected to the network.
- Can help preserve freedom of speech. Because it is fairly difficult to stop having a file shared on a peer to peer network this makes it difficult for governments and other such organisations to control what information is out in the publish domain.
7 Reason Why Your Business Should Not Be Using P2P for File Sharing?
- You don’t own them. As soon as someone becomes a seed for a file you lose all ownership over that file. The US film and music industry have been trying to stop the sharing of their files and with little effect.
- Hard to update. Once you share a file it can’t be changed or updated. In fact you would need to share a new file in order to release updates.
- Open for everyone to download. With Peer to peer you can’t choose who can and who can’t have access to the files. It is a free for all.
- Can be slower to download for small files. Because it takes longer to find all of the other seeds on the internet it takes a little while to build up momentum with the downloads. Which is why downloads for small files are often slower than downloading directly from a server.
- Not easy to use for inexperienced users. Whilst the software isn’t ultra complicated it’s not the most user friendly and will require some experimentation and support before you are able to get it up and running.
- You need to use an application. Whilst there are some web based software providers, as with FTP the majority of people will use a dedicated application. If you want to share a file with someone else they too will have to download the same file, and in many businesses this type of software is banned, due to its affiliation with illegal file sharing.
- Sharing files will slow your office Internet connection. Whilst sharing files without using P2P does not require expensive servers and bandwidth, it does use your office/home Internet and this will impact on your ability to navigate the Internet. Whilst its common to get download speeds of up to 20Mbits often you will only get a 1Mbit upload speed which is the type the P2P will use.
Is Peer-2-Peer File Sharing Illegal?
P2P file sharing is not illegal providing the content you are downloading is allowed to be publicly distributed. For example many software updates and applications like Linux are distributed via p2p. It becomes illegal when you start sharing copyrighted material like music, films and games that have not been paid for.
What’s the Top 5 BitTorrent Applications For File Sharing?
- Vuze (formerly Azureus)
Whilst file sharing can be a really efficient way of sharing files for things like open source projects or disturbing free music it does not make a sensible platform to share files for businesses, particularly when you only want to allow your clients to download it.