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What is Peer-To-Peer Downloading?

Peer-to-peer downloading is a decentralized method where users share and transfer files directly between their devices, without needing a central server. This efficient technique powers many popular file-sharing networks, fostering a community-based approach to data exchange. How does this impact the way we access content online? Join us as we examine the ripple effects on digital sharing.
Harriette Halepis
Harriette Halepis

Peer-to-peer downloading is a type of computer networking that allows users to share certain information with one another. This information can include processing power, network bandwidth, disk storage, printing capabilities, and other forms of information. The use of peer-to-peer downloading makes it possible for networks to function without the use of a special server.

Peer-to-peer downloadingis extremely popular when it comes to sharing software. Applications such as WinMX, Overnet, and Kazaa are all based on a peer-to-peer system. In addition, peer-to-peer downloading can be found in homes or offices where a larger dedicated server computer is not a possibility.

With peer-to-peer downloading, files are transferred on a network between users.
With peer-to-peer downloading, files are transferred on a network between users.

Some programs, such as Microsoft Windows XP, also include peer-to-peer options. These programs allow users to share information securely without relying upon one dedicated server. While sharing computer files inside a home or office is relatively secure, there is some concern that sharing computer files with the general public is not at all secure.

Peer-to-peer downloading programs allow users to share information securely without relying on one dedicated server.
Peer-to-peer downloading programs allow users to share information securely without relying on one dedicated server.

Allowing the public random access to all files located on a computer can be risky. Those that do wish to share private information with the public should do so using an effective firewall. A firewall will keep private files out of the public eye, though this method of peer-to-peer downloading protection is not always efficient.

Since most peer-to-peer applications require that users allow public access to personal computers, firewalls are often prohibited. Thus, it is best to install a virus protector on all personal computers. Further, using a peer-to-peer downloading site from a corporate computer is not recommended.

Peer-to-peer client software must be downloaded in order to use a peer-to-peer network. Since this type of software is often continuously under development, it can be filled with various computer bugs. Therefore, it is suggested that all client software be examined by a virus protector prior to download.

In addition, it is wise to avoid downloading files that are unfamiliar. Some file types can contain viruses that will attack personal computers if they are downloaded. All items that are available on a peer-to-peer system should be scanned by a personal virus protector prior to downloading.

Millions of people around the world rely upon peer-to-peer networks every day. In fact, peer-to-peer networks can be a highly effective way to gain and share information with others. Still, it is important to adequately protect all personal computers from potential bugs and viruses before using any kind of peer-to-peer downloading site.

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Discussion Comments

Logicfest

@Terrificli -- But they don't have to be used for illegal purposes only. In fact, there are a lot of good uses for them that are perfectly legal. People can share files easily, musicians can share music and get their names out there -- there are just a lot of uses.

Please do not concentrate on just the negative aspects of peer to peer sharing. There are so many good things people can do with them. We should encourage those activities and discourage the illegal stuff.

Terrificli

A lot of people who deal with peer to peer downloading are obsessed with privacy. Do you know why? Because the chances are good they are doing something illegal.

Peer to peer networks are exactly what people use to share copyrighted material illegally. One of the reasons people like using a decentralized network for such activity is that it is harder to catch individuals who are doing it.

Peer to peer networks are almost always used for illegal purposes and that is a major problem.

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    • With peer-to-peer downloading, files are transferred on a network between users.
      By: jamdesign
      With peer-to-peer downloading, files are transferred on a network between users.
    • Peer-to-peer downloading programs allow users to share information securely without relying on one dedicated server.
      By: kubais
      Peer-to-peer downloading programs allow users to share information securely without relying on one dedicated server.