Seeding, Leeching and Magnet Linking: The Lingo of Sharing Files

You’re new to this whole peer-to-peer file sharing thing, and you’re not sure exactly what to make of it, except that it looks cool and you want to try it out. Well, there are some important terms you need to familiarize yourself with, a culture that’s that probably new to you, and eti-quette and laws that should be followed if you want to stay on the good side of experienced file sharing folks.

The Seeder

The seeder is the person that’s uploading or sharing files. If you have a file you want to share, you would be a seeder. Seeders are instrumental in any P2P network, because, without them, the network doesn’t work. There would literally be nothing to share.

The Leech

The leech, or “peer,” is the person downloading the file. When you find that document you’ve been looking for, and you download it, you’re the peer or “leech.” Leeches are sort of like the “necessary evil” of the system. They aren’t inherently bad, but when leeches outnumber seeders, the entire system slows down. There needs to be a nice ratio of seeders to leeches – usually this means that seeders must outnumber leeches.

Magnet Links

Magnet links are links that lead straight to the download location. It’s sort of like linking directly to a video, image, or some other file. Some sites use .torrent files. For example, the Vuze bittorrent client only makes use of torrent files, which means they only contain the information that will lead you to the downloadable file, rather than containing the actual download. In other words, it’s a file that’s only a few hundred KB in size, and tells you where the download file is located.

The Swarm

The swarm is a distributed network of seeders, each sharing a small piece of the file that’s being downloaded by leeches. For example, let’s say you want to download a document. A swarm would consist of multiple seeders with the document you want. Each one would give you a piece of the document and, ultimately, you would end up with the entire document when the download is complete.

Downloading .Torrent Files

Downloading torrent files is easy. You’ll need torrent software (called a “torrent client”) but, once you click on the torrent file, you’ll be asked if you want to download that file.

Click “yes,” and the torrent software you have installed will start, and initiate the download for you. You cannot download torrent files without special torrent clients.

Don’t Forget To Pay It Forward

Part of the culture of BitTorrent includes sharing all files you’ve downloaded that do not infringe on copyright. Because of this, it’s considered Karma for you to leave your torrent client on after you’ve finished downloading so that others can leech from you. It’s a sort of “pay it forward” mechanism that is implicit in your download. Remember to respect IP and don’t infringe on copyright.

If you don’t do it, you’ll quickly be pointed out as someone that doesn’t play by the “rules,” and you could be kicked out of some communities.

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