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What is Peer-To-Peer File Sharing (P2P)?

What is Peer-To-Peer File Sharing (P2P)?

Peer to peer file sharing systems, otherwise known as P2P, connect people directly together on the internet. Some systems are true networked systems, in that there is a central server which acts as a central point to which all traffic is directed then distributed to the clients.

An excellent example of this is the original Napster. When someone wanted to download a particular track, they would enter it into a request box, much as with P2P software, then Napster would inform them what sites had the track or movie, then facilitate the download between two computers. Computer A would pass to Napster who would pass to computer B. In other words, if your joined Napster, you allowed the music files on your hard drive to be copied to Napster’s central server, then on to another of Napster’s customer’s hard drive. OpenNap was another, which copied Napster’s way of making money through file exchange.

However, this central server is what destroyed Napster, at least for a while. Once the central server could be identified as the single source of this file exchange, it was forced to close. And once the server closed, the whole system broke down. The Napster team eventually tugged their forelocks and began to operate using payment per track systems which developed to the Napster you now know, which is owned by software company Roxio.

Peer to peer file sharing took over Napster’s original role, but extended it from simply sharing music tracks. P2P provides an opportunity for new artists to have their work heard without the high costs of cutting disks or CDs and trying to promote them through other media. The beauty of P2P is that no moguls can take it over and dictate who and who cannot have their original music heard.

The difference between Peer to peer and Napster is that there is no central server with P2P. Every user of the software is connected directly to every other user. If you download music using a peer to peer system, you can be downloading from the hard drive of your next door neighbor, or somebody on the other side of the world. You will never know, unless you opt for a higher grade system. There is no central server to be shut down since you are in direct contact, so it cannot be stopped, even if made illegal.

P2P file sharing software is mainly sourced from the Gnutella design, and most companies that offer such services look very much the same. However, some have extended this to offer the bells and whistles that set them apart, such as faster downloads and the ability to converse with those you are connected to. There are other benefits to be gained from these subscription sites such as connections to other P2P movie and games download sites.

If you do not have burning software such as Nero, you can also download the software required to burn the files to CD or DVD directly from the software websites you are subscribing to.

The major players in the free peer to peer networks are Gnutella and Bittorrent. They work differently but both provide high quality downloads. If you want to take it a step forward, the subscription download programs, where you make a single life payment, can provide more functionality and interactivity as well as faster download speeds. Beware of free trials since these tend to come with adware and spyware, and the reason they are free, to my mind, is that the software companies are either using their own spyware, or receiving a payment for including it in the free package.

You can’t complain about what get free, but you can about what you pay for, which is why free software is not always the best option. The same, however, can be said of some regular or life subscription sites. Before you pay try the contact numbers. If you get no reply, either from email or phone, then don’t go near them.

All in all, assuming that you keep legal with copyright, peer to peer file sharing networks are the best way to listen to new music from up and coming artists, and to see movies made by new producers, directors and actors. It is also a great way to get some old games that you have never played before. I should also warn you not to download the current charts!