FAQs about file sharing

Q: What is p2p or peer-to-peer?

A: P2P or peer-to-peer represents a type of Internet network that enables people who use the same type of software to connect to each other and have access to various types of files online. Basically, p2p file sharing is a system of sharing content directly between network users, without having to connect to a central server (it also eliminates the possibility of centralized control).

Q: What is a p2p network?

A: A P2P network is a network used for sharing files online such as audio, video, data or anything in digital format. In the main, a p2p computer network means any network that does not have permanently established clients and servers, but a number of peer nodes that serve as both clients and servers to the other nodes on the network.

Q: Which are the most popular p2p networks around?

A: Currently, there are numerous p2p file sharing networks in use. Among the major ones we mention BitTorrent, Gnutella, DirectConnect, eDonkey2000, FastTrack, and OpenNap.

Q: What is the difference between centralized and decentralized p2p systems?

A: Due to the fact p2p (peer-to-peer) file sharing networks do not involve a central server, they are more scalable and more “disposable” than centralized file sharing systems.

P2P file sharing networks also have an increased resistance to legal attacks, since there is no central body record labels or media companies can sue (in order to attack a peer-to-peer file sharing network in court, a plaintiff must file suits against individual network users).

Q: What is a client-server file transfer system?

A: The client-server system is the most usual way in which files are transferred over the web; it is the core concept governing http and file transfer protocols (FTP). A user (or client) sends a download request to a central server; the server reviews the request and complies, sending the data packets to the client which stores and reassembles the data.

Q: What is p2p transfer?

A: P2P Transfer is an application that lets users have multiple machines transfer P2P hashes / torrents to a single download server, without the need to connect to the remote server or copy the file manually. Transfers are encrypted to ensure the best possible privacy.

Q: What is p2p (peer-to-peer technology) and how does it work?

A: P2P technology makes possible the communication directly from one participant to another without interference of any central server. When a user starts to download a file, it comes directly from another user’s hard disk. Currently, P2P technology is used in networks for a number of functions one being file sharing.

Modern p2p file sharing technology focuses on downloading files simultaneous from multiple sources and increasingly these days on ensuring privacy while on the Internet.

Q: Which are the most popular p2p protocols?

A: Popular P2P Protocols

• Bittorrent

• FastTrack

• eDonkey (eMule)

• Kad/Overnet

• MP2P

• Gnutella

• Gnutella2(G2)

Q: How do I download from p2p networks?

A: If you wish to get the music, movies or whatever kicks your thrills all by yourself and not turn to your buddies every time you want something from the Internet just because you lack the knowledge, here is what you need:

Firstly, you need to find yourself a p2p file sharing client you like and is easy to work with to be your downloading program (and serve also as a manager for your shared files). You can check out a comprehensive list of file sharing programs at P2POn.

Q: Where do I get a p2p client/file sharing program from?

A: You can download a p2p client/file sharing program for free from here.

Q: What is BitTorrent?

A: BitTorrent is a P2P system created for transferring files which involves users connecting to each other directly to send and obtain portions of the file. It involves a central server (called a tracker) which serves as coordinator to the actions of all the peers. The only job of the tracker is to manage connections, it does not know what the files being distributed contain, which means that a large number of users can have support with relatively limited tracker bandwidth. The concept or main principle behind BitTorrent is that users should upload (transmit outbound) while they are also downloading (receiving inbound). This way, network bandwidth is exploited to the maximum of its capability. Compared to other file transfer protocols, BitTorrent technology makes it more efficient as the number of users interested in a certain file is larger.

The BitTorrent network is created a bit differently than a normal P2P network: it does not involve searching for files that the other users have using the client (or file sharing program) as you would with traditional clients. Instead of this, you visit sites that list what files are available – torrents – (movies, music, games etc). Usually they are categorized for easy browsing.

The websites displaying these torrents are called indexing sites (a comprehensive list of BitTorrent indexing sites is available here) and enjoy great popularity as the most common way to get something you want. However, there’s always a matter of legality with these sites and law enforcement groups such as MPAA or RIAA are continuously hunting them.

When you go to these sites you are practically looking to find a .torrent file (with what you want) – which is basically a package called an archive – which you will then click on and download – this is where your BitTorrent client steps in and connects to a managing machine that then connects you to others who have that file.

Provided that a .torrent file has sufficient users who are sharing, it is certain that it will start downloading shortly and maintain a good download speed throughout the whole process. Almost all indexing sites come with a system that shows how many seeders and leechers are for an individual archive (.torrent – read more at what is a .torrent file?).

Q: Can I find spyware or adware on BitTorrent?

A: While BitTorrent does not contain any sort of malware, files available for download sometimes do so be careful. Many sites that provide links to torrents also provide a comment section where downloaders can post their comments. Try to download files that have been already downloaded by other users before you and check out their comments – usually any fake/bogus file is immediately reported as such in this section.

(Note: Don’t rely on the modest built in protection of the Windows XP firewall!)

Q: What is a .torrent file?

A: To download something using BitTorrent, you need a .torrent file. In this type of file is contained a location that the BitTorrent client recognizes and knows where to go and find the tracker that handles the uploading and downloading of the archive. An archive is a complete set for downloading which can consist of one file or multiple files. The one .torrent file has the archive information as well. When you want to download via BitTorrent all you have to do is click on the .torrent file in your web browser, then the BitTorrent client takes over asking you where you want the archive to be saved. From then on you just lay back and let the program/client do its thing.

Q: What is a seeder?

A: We call seed(er) a client/user using the BitTorrent network that has a complete copy of a certain archive (.torrent file). In order for an archive to work, it is necessary that at least one seed exists to download from. However, sometimes the distribution of a file is possible even if there is no one seeder but just enough users with all the portions to put together the entire archive – we call this ‘a distributed copy’. Any p2p community (and we as well) recommends that once you have completely downloaded a file, you leave your BitTorrent client running for at least the amount of time it was necessary for you to get it on your hard disk so that others will also be able to download it. Download and help others download – that is what sharing is all about!

Q: What is a leecher?

A: We call leech(er) a client/user using the BitTorrent network that has only a part of a particular file. Practically, when someone starts to download something, they are a leecher up the moment they have completed the download and now have the whole archive (which would make them a seeder). Although ‘leecher’ has come to mean a person that downloads without uploading (only takes without giving), its meaning in this context is a bit changed –  any ‘leecher’ is integrated in the network as a part of it and is also uploading (sometimes even more than they download).

Q: Will I have fast downloads if I have a fast computer and fast Internet connection?

A: Things are not that simple, the answer could be yes and no at the same time that’s because there are many variables at play here. Although you may have a very fast computer and Internet connection, you have to consider that when you are downloading files from other people they too may be mirroring what you are doing. If you have multiple files downloading, well, so could they; if you have some other applications besides the file sharing client running, well, so could they and so on. All these facts cut back on your download speed however great it may be. Besides those, there is the issue of congestion of the internet traffic, firewalls (which somewhat hinder downloads) all of them factors which affect your download regardless of your connection.

Q: What is a seedbox?

A: A seedbox is, basically, a dedicated server at a high speed data center with a public IP address to help bittorrent being downloaded and seeded. Anyone who has access to a seedbox is able to download those files to their own computers whenever they like and wherever they are as long as they have an Internet connection.

When people within a torrent community utilize a dedicated server or VPS to boost their upload on trackers, they use the term ‘seedbox’. Typically, a seedbox has a very fast connection (with a range between 10Mb/s to 1000Mb/s) and is accessed by the user remotely. Seedboxes are available for renting in exchange for monthly or annually fees. Users beneficiate from the fast speed and can quickly reach high ratios on torrents, consequently increasing their upload to the tracker.

Q: What is a swarm?

A: A ‘swarm’ is the group of users that participate collectively in sharing a file; all the users connect for that particular file (the number of the swarm equals the number of peers plus the number of seeds).

Q: What is a tracker?

A: A ‘tracker’ is an online server whose role is to coordinate what BitTorrent clients do. When you open a torrent, you practically contact the tracker and are given a list of peers to connect to. During the download process, your computer will query the tracker, telling it how much you’ve downloaded and uploaded and how much before finishing. The transfer is totally dependent on the tracker – when the latter is down, the former will be impossible (because you won’t be able to connect). In case the tracker goes down during the transfer – you are already connected to some peers, it means that you will be able to continue the transfer exclusively with those respective peers.

Most of the times tracker errors are just temporary so the best thing is to leave the client running and try again.

Q: Why are rars used on P2P networks?

A: Quite often those split rar files originate from usenet. A number of usenet servers and even download websites generate download links which are functional just a short time – so in order to help users that have slow connections to download the whole content they split them up into smaller parts. When downloading a file of large size (600mb or more) there is the risk of the Avi corrupting, which led to his practice of using Rar.

Q: How do I resume an interrupted download?

A: Fortunately, most of the p2p clients know automatically to pick up the downloads where they left off. They save the torrent and thus resume the download process flawlessly. However, if you are using a client that does not do this automatically (my advice would be to change the client) open the .torrent again – there are two ways of doing this: either double click on the torrent file on your hard drive (in case you saved the torrent file), or click the link again on the site where you first discovered it. Next, choose the same directory for the download and that’s it.

Q: In my folder the file size appears complete but my client shows it’s not. Why?

A: A file is complete only when the transfer meter shows 100%. What BitTorrent does is to write a clone (or “dummy” file) the same size of the file you are downloading, which only contains zeroes. Throughout the download process the real data will replace those zeroes.

Q: Do I have to wait so long every time I start a large download?

A: When you are downloading a file with BitTorrent, it allocates space for that particular file before the download actually starts (check the explanation above about the “dummy” file). It’s not unusual for BitTorrent to be slower when a download starts than when it ends, it’s just how the swapping protocol works. Just be armed with a little patience.

Q: I get “problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 400: Not Authorized” message. What happened?

A: Trackers often become overloaded, and connections fail often as well. Below we offer a list of errors for which the best solution would be to just leave the client running because most of the time such a problem will disappear by itself.

Problem connecting to tracker – timeout exceeded

Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 503: Connect failed

Problem connecting to tracker – [Errno socket error] (10061, “Connection refused”)

Problem connecting to tracker – (111, ‘Connection refused’)

Other error messages:

a) Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 400: Not Authorized: the operators of this tracker do not allow it to be used for this torrent. Generally, this points to an old torrent. You can go to the web site associated with the tracker, as you could find there torrent reseeded or updated for the files you want. If that fails too, try searching for another torrent altogether.

b) Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 404: Not Found: likely to be met in case of a dead torrent. Try going to the web site associated with the tracker, often there will be a reseeded or updated torrent for the files. If not, search for another torrent entirely.

c) Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 407: Proxy Authentication Required: for this one you have to set username and password configuration for your proxy server setting to facilitate contacting the tracker.

When it comes to having a good BitTorrent experience, remember – first, you need to find yourself some great BitTorrent download sites. Then, don’t let yourself be discouraged if you’re not successful with your first torrents. Just try the next one. And do not forget – this is SHARING so share your files to at least a 1:1 ratio!

Q: I get this error: DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. What do I do?

A: The error above is not directly related to BitTorrent. It’s very likely that it has to do with your NIC card and your operating system – so the problem is actually Network Card related. You should check out if Windows is IRQ sharing anything else important with the Network Card (it shouldn’t). Then a good idea would be to update your NIC Drivers.

Q: When I try to download this message appears. Why?

Problem getting response info – [Errno 2] No such file or directory: “C:\\Documents and Settings\…”

A: If you’re using Internet Explorer then know that there are times when it doesn’t set BitTorrent files (torrents) in the Temporary Internet Files directory as it should. Apparently, it behaves badly with files with brackets (‘]’ and ‘[‘) in the filename.

How to solve the problem: Right click on the link and select Save As…, and then save the torrent file to disk. Afterwards double-click the file to start the client. In case the problem persists it helps clearing the IE cache.

Q: How do I set up my Firewall for BitTorent?

A: [to be honest, XP firewall is not quite what we would recommend as it’s subpar and doesn’t have a lot of user-friendliness to it]

1. Windows XP Firewall with SP2

First, open up Control Panel (Start Menu or My Computer) then select Network and Internet Connections, double click on Network Connections and again click on the icon for Local Area Connection. If here you find multiple connections you need the one you are connected under. Next right click on this icon and select Properties. Afterwards click the Advanced tab.

Here a Settings button will be displayed close to “Protect my computer etc”. Click on it and hit the “Exceptions” tab. Press the Add Program button. The next step is to locate your BitTorrent program and click it, followed by a click on the OK button.

2. Windows XP Firewall with SP1

If you still use SP1, follow the same steps as described above with a little difference: there’s not a settings button but a check box displayed close to “Protect my computer”. What you need to do is – go to the Advanced Settings window (on the Services tab), and click on the Add button then introduce this info:

  • Description of service: BitTorrent

  • Name or IP address: localhost

  • External Port : 6881

  • Internal Port: 6881

  • Select TCP

  • Click on OK

Note: The process has to be repeated for each of the ports in your port range without forgetting to change the description to BitTorrent 2 (etc).

Q: How do I know the file I’m downloading isn’t bad/broken?

A: BitTorrent uses hashing to verify downloaded pieces. When a download is finished, BitTorrent will also do an integral check up. Every file downloaded via BitTorrent is verified being compared with hash data contained in a torrent to validate it as integral.

Q: What is a hash?

A: A hash represents a distinctive identifier created from the parts of a file whose purpose is to check if that file is valid. Basically, you can call it the files’ fingerprint. However, know that hashes are not 100% reliable.

Q: How do I configure my router? (Problems related to BitTorrent NAT/Router)

A: For good speeds you need to forward your ports (if you have NAT). From our experience users fail to configure this pretty often when using BitTorrent.

How do you forward ports?

BitTorrent uses by default ports in the range of 6881-6999 (called TCP ports). When the client starts at first it does so from the 6881port and afterwards, it consecutively climbs to higher ports in order to identify the one to which it can connect.

If you are using one of the broadband router/NAT devices we specify here – the Linksys BEFSR41, D-Link DI-701/704, Netgear RT311, SMC Barricade, 3Com Home Ethernet Gateway, etc. typically you must enter the web configuration of the device. However, if you don’t know for sure give this a try: or also (Asus, Draytek, Linksys, Zyxel, Cisco,WooWeb-Pro) (Belkin,SMC (some browsers need :88 added)) (DLink, NetGear,Nexland)

If the info listed above still doesn’t help, our advice is to get the manual for the device out from the drawer you’ve thrown it in or better yet visit the manufacturer’s site. Surely you will find it there.