Torrenting – What is it?

If you are reading this article, i can blindly assume that you must have already got yourself acquainted with this thing called torrent or Torrenting as a whole. I mean who, with an android at hand equipped with internet, doesn’t know about Torrenting?? Now it’s more of synonymous to the word downloading itself. But have you ever thought what actually goes behind the curtain which makes this mode of getting things down to your disk called Torrenting so popular? What is the basic funda out here?

Non-Torrenting – The traditional way!!

You know before we get to know this guy called Torrent, let’s see what happens when you go for a run of the mill download style using some or the downloader or your browser itself.

Let’s assume that you are planning to go for “Golmaal Again” this weekend or “Secret Superstar” itself if you are a Amir Khan fan. But the thing is that you really don’t think that you would opting to spend about 200 plus bucks, the reason being, just like me you are single! Anyway that leaves you with the option that by Saturday morning you see guys with their Shareit switched on and a set of almost 300 MBs flying out in the air. You also simply go for the “Receive” button.

And the other way is get it even faster is to download it yourself and be the guy selecting the “Send” button, I mean for the first time. So you browse through one of those n no. of websites having terms movie + hd in them. It takes at least 10 trials and 20 pop ups before you actually land at the correct Download button among those hundreds on a single page.

So in this way, this particular website has got its server located in some xyz foreign land and its relaying data to your device from that single source. In fact at the same time there are another lakh guys who have hooked on to same server because they also find spending 200 bucks too much.

The picture represents how the regular downloading methods operate.
Working of Regular Download Method!

If this particular way of file sharing has to work out smoothly, one ought to have a server powerful enough to cater to all the needs at once without crashing. And the downside of this method that if a single server distributes data to thousands at once, the speed is surely going to be not up to the mark.


Another way is that you download software like uTorrent (called Torrent Client), grab a small 30 to 40 KB Torrent from web, put it in and the download starts!!

And thats torrenting my friend!

So how this whole thing called Torrenting works out? The answer is something called P2P – Peer to Peer type of file sharing. You really don’t need to be a software engineer to understand this thing.

Suppose somehow this guy called A have got this movie XYZ in 1080 pixels High Definition over his laptop. So A decides to put up for the grabs. He is charity kind guy you know, that’s a different thing that this movie may be porn. Anyway, what he does is that he makes a Torrent of this movie, XYZ.torrent and uploads it over the internet.

Now what is this small Torrent actually? A torrent is simply a computer file which contains data about another file which has to be shared. So here, our A’s XYZ.torrent will have the information telling that the movie XYZ is located in A’s laptop and it has been divided into 10 parts for torrenting.

And as soon as A tells that this movie is up for the grab, these three guys P, Q & R in search of it, pounce upon it!! They download the XYZ.torrent and click on start. As this torrent file knows that XYZ has been divided into 10 parts, their Torrent clients start randomly downloading any of them. Suppose P gets 1st part, Q gets 10th one and R gets 7th one.

The picture depicts how a download through the process of torretning proceeds.
Torrenting step by step – Start!

So till now all goes same as our traditional method- a single source giving files to many more. But things change from here. P’s client sees that Q have got the 10th part and R have 7th part. So it, while simultaneously downloading 2nd one from the A, it also starts getting 10th and 7th from Q and R respectively. Also it uploads its own downloaded part 1 to be grabbed by Q and R. So now instead of a single source, P is getting the parts from 3 different sources.

The picture depicts how a download through the process of torretning proceeds.
Torrenting step by step!

This goes on while another guy T joins in. Now as soon as he starts downloading, he will be able to get parts from all A, P, Q and R and after getting these parts it will also start uploading its downloaded stuff so that P have now got 4 different sources.

The picture depicts how a download through the process of torretning proceeds.
Torrenting step by step!

This method of sharing file in parts among different users is called as peer to peer sharing and to be frank Torrenting is what has made it what it actually is today. Out here there is no concept of a single server getting overloaded, and hence a faster download speed is the result. Every single computer, called peer, acts as a source and downloader both at the same time.

It’s pretty evident more the number of peers in the network, faster will be the whole process of downloading..ah sorry, Torrenting! It’s like sharing and caring altogether!!

Torrenting – Technical Terminology!!

Now don’t you just because you think that this technical bit is not for you. In fact these are some of the terms you guys are generally very much aware about. So we would start with the most commonly seen ones….

  • Seeders: This is the one of the first things you would come across while torrenting. The seeds are the computers in the networks which have got the whole file and are the main source. Also as soon as your computer downloads a part of it, upload starts and you also become a seeder. More the number of peers, healthier is the torrent.
  • Peers/Leechers: As one gets it from the name itself these are the guys who are downloading the file at the given time. I mean those who all are involved in Torrenting concerning this file.
  • Seeders- Peers Ratio: This is what helps you decide which torrent will give you a higher speed. Surely if you select the one with more no. of seeders, you may get an optimal performance. If seeders are 10,000 and peers are 12,000, it means that currently 10,000 people are uploading its parts while 12,000 are downloading. This is a better ratio than a ratio of 6000 seeders to 14,000 peers. So choose wisely.
  • Clients: These are the software tools which control the whole torrenting process. They basically act as browsers integrated with downloaders. uTorrent is the best example.
  • BitTorrent: This is not any website, software, brand or a company. It is simply protocol which is used carry out the whole process of Torrenting.
  • Tracker: These are the invisible hands working between a peer and a seeder. These are basically physical servers maintained by different internet communities whose function is to store every info about a torrent like where are the seeders, how many peers are there, how many parts the file has been divided into. These are kind of behind the curtain guys who make the whole process of Torrenting a task to reckon!

Torrenting – Is it legal??

The use of the whole protocol to transfer is perfectly legal.  Torrenting through P2P is nowhere illegal. But the use of torrenting to download copyrighted content is illegal.

Suppose you record a video of your son’s birthday celebration, make a torrent of it, share it with your friend and he downloads it. This kind of torrenting is 101% legal because the content being shared is yours only and you have got no issues with your friend viewing it.

But on the other hand, if you are going to download the next episode of Flash, which is a copyrighted product of The CW channel and the only legal way to get it is either watch it on the channel ( not possible in India) or to buy it, it becomes a case of piracy. This is bad Torrenting:(

But no need to worry about it!! Because the whole file comes divided into lakhs of parts and authorities can’t go behind lakhs. They have better things to do.

So, if you are thinking that next time you start you click on start for Secret Superstar, the Police will come knocking on your doors, no way!!

Relax and happy torrenting!!

About Ajeet Kumar

This Shraddha Kapoor die-hard fan and software engineer in the making boasts of having an awesome set of coding skills as his forte and likes to be in sync with what seems to be going around when it comes to tech stuff! And yea, this big big big Bollywood buff is all music!

View all posts by Ajeet Kumar →

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