Peer-to-peer network - what is it?

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Peer-to-peer network - what is it?
Peer-to-peer network - what is it?

In today's world, we are all used to being able to share interesting information and materials with friends and others. The Internet is especially important in this regard, since it is the global network that provides us with a lot of opportunities for this kind of exchange.

peer-to-peer network
peer-to-peer network

Different types of information can be transmitted in various ways. For example, peer-to-peer network (P2P) is very popular today, the uniqueness of which is the ability to transfer almost any amount of data. But, of course, this is far from the only area where this technology is really in demand. For example, it is on its basis that numerous clusters for distributed computing have been created, using the power of remote computers.

The "ethical" side of the issue

In general, the peer-to-peer network has been actively “demonized” in recent years. That it is “dangerous” in terms of receiving viruses and unlicensed content is said in almost all media.

But for some reason, journalists bashfully keep silent about the fact that at least 70% of the traffic from the P2P protocol falls on absolutely law-abiding users and even entirecompanies that simply offload their servers, involving ordinary computers in the data exchange. A simple example: for a long time, Metelitsa, aka Blizzard, has been using these networks to update clients of the same Warcraft and its other games. Needless to say, how much information from players from all over the world is generated there!

But in this article, we will consider the peer-to-peer network precisely from the standpoint of receiving and transmitting files, since this side of the issue is closest to ordinary users.

Most common programs

Surely every user has at least heard about some utilities, through which file exchange is carried out. Everyone knows µTorrent and eMule, Shareaza, KaZaA and others, which are constantly mentioned in connection with the transfer of this or that information on the Internet. However, we will try to talk about them in a more orderly manner. So what is a peer-to-peer network? What is the scientific interpretation of this concept?


peer-to-peer network what is it
peer-to-peer network what is it

It can be said that immediately after the creation of computers, people were puzzled by how they could be linked into a single system. Soon, the technology of local networks was invented, which is actively used to this day. But this way of linking computers into a single "organism" has its drawbacks. For example, in most cases, individual machines have elevated privileges, which is not always acceptable.

It was precisely to eliminate such "discrimination" that a peer-to-peer network was invented, each computer in which can not only receive, but alsotransmit information, working simultaneously as a server and client. The abbreviation P2P (peer-to-peer) is more common, which can be translated from English as “from equal to equal”. Such networks are also called decentralized.

Basic operating principles

Each participant is a feast. They are combined into a global system, within which any information is transferred. From the standard model, which has a server and a client, peer-to-peer file-sharing networks differ in their increased survivability: regardless of the number of functioning peers, they remain fully operational. Also, there is no explicit dependency on server bandwidth.

Let's give a "illustrative" example of a small file transfer in such a network. Data is transmitted in small chunks called packets. Each file is divided into many such packages, which are downloaded by the user's machine. The order in which you get them doesn't really matter.

Differences from the standard network

In the case of a normal network, there is a server, and there is a file that can be downloaded from there. The speed of receiving data will be directly dependent on both the bandwidth of the server and its workload at any given moment. Simply put, if there are a huge number of users, each of which “pulls” something from the server, the upload speed can generally drop to zero.

peer-to-peer network mts
peer-to-peer network mts

If something happens to the server at all, then all information will immediately become inaccessible to you. And you have to deallooking for another source from which to download this information.

Benefits of the peer-to-peer data transfer model

The peer-to-peer network works much better. What does it mean? Firstly, you do not need to look for a specific server from which the required file is being transferred. It is enough to find a file or a magnet link on a special site that indicate its existence. It will be possible to download it using a special program, some of which we have already mentioned above. And the main difference will be that downloading can go simultaneously from hundreds and thousands of similar sources.

We have already noted that in these networks each individual computer can simultaneously also perform the function of a server, and therefore each segment is universal. Simply put, if some peers suddenly turn out to be unavailable, other people's computers can always help out, on the hard drives of which the required information will most likely be found.

Some drawbacks of the peer-to-peer model

peer-to-peer file sharing networks
peer-to-peer file sharing networks

We have repeatedly emphasized that the main area of use of such networks is data exchange. Oddly enough, the peer-to-peer network described above is practically not found in the world. What does this mean? The fact is that the classical model has not only many advantages, but also some critical drawbacks.

The most controversial point is the need to search the network for peers that have the same file and are online at the same time. That is why it wascreated a hybrid model. It has a kind of servers, but they are responsible not so much for transferring data, but for finding active users who have the information you are looking for. Almost all modern peer-to-peer networks work precisely through the use of this hybrid model.

To become a full-fledged and full-fledged participant in such a system, you will need to install a special client program on your computer that will be responsible for finding free peers with the necessary data. Note that there is far from one peer-to-peer network. What does this imply?

The largest and most popular file sharing networks

It should be remembered that there are hundreds and thousands of smaller, local networks on the Internet, many of which are even supported by regional providers. An excellent example is the MTS peer-to-peer network. Of course, they all use a classic or hybrid model of operation, follow the same principles, but they can use completely different data transfer protocols, and it’s not even worth talking about specific software.

peer-to-peer network clients
peer-to-peer network clients

The largest known worldwide are the following P2P networks:

  • ED2K. Data transfer is carried out using the MFTP protocol. The client is the famous eMule program. Since 2005, the project has been in a state of "chronic death", but so far the network continues to function stably, even if the data transfer speed cannot be called fast.

  • BitTorrent. Perhaps the mosta popular segment of the peer-to-peer system, characterized by a huge number of users and high speed. It has a huge number of clients, including the "epic" uTorrent, BitComet, and dozens of others.

  • Direct Connect. A more specific option is when hubs formed by certain groups of people are used by a limited (relatively) circle of users. This model is extremely popular as a local area network provider. Primary Client - DC++.

  • Gnutella. This is the real, pure peer-to-peer system. A special data transfer protocol is used, which was created by Nullsoft, the developer of the well-known (albeit deceased) Winamp. What peer-to-peer network clients are used in this case? Known program Shareaza, LimeWire and others.

  • FastTrack. It is also characterized by a “pure” P2P model, but only those computers that have their full version can participate in the file exchange. Programs - KaZaA, mlDonkey.

What are the main benefits of all these services? It's simple - no peer-to-peer network setup is required at all. Install the program, follow the "magnet" link and… voila, the file has started to download!

peer-to-peer software
peer-to-peer software

Basic File Sharing Rules

Given the specifics of the operation of these networks, it is not surprising that there are rather strict rules that are highly desirable to follow. Many of them are simple and logical. If they are not fulfilled, you are threatened with a complete exclusion from the exchange.process, which entails the impossibility of obtaining the necessary information.

We have already said more than once that this model is based on the principle of equality of all participants. From this it follows that you need not only to download, but also to give information. In principle, this is almost the only prerequisite. Does this not suit you? Well, then at your service are numerous information exchange services built on a standard server-client architecture.

But not a single program for peer-to-peer networks (with all its advantages) works in them, and you can start downloading a file only after paying or watching a huge amount of advertising, and the speed will be disgusting.

What is desirable to do when exchanging?

It is highly desirable, after downloading a file, to distribute an equal amount of information from it. As a rule, if the user only downloads, but does not distribute anything, the system can introduce "pen alties" that provide for the complete exclusion of the possibility of receiving new files. Even blocking by IP or MAC address can be used. In particular, the Beeline peer-to-peer network is distinguished by this.

In general, we advise you to use the following, absolutely logical and fair rules:

  • Never delete a file just after downloading it. If possible, keep it on your hard drive for as long as possible.

  • You can't also move or rename received files, otherwise other users will alsowill not be able to access them.

  • In no case do not artificially lower the speed of the outgoing channel. Of course, such a transfer puts some strain on your hard drive and the system itself, but don't dismiss the needs of other people as such.

  • It doesn't hurt to keep a dozen or two popular files on your computer to keep the system running.

Copyright holders: we do not recommend distributing pirated software or anything like that. One can always only welcome if the user participates in the exchange of Linux distributions, as this significantly offloads the servers of companies that already often live on donations and work exclusively on a voluntary basis!

About copyright protection

peer-to-peer network setup
peer-to-peer network setup

We have already noted that peer-to-peer networks in recent years have been associated exclusively with piracy. And most often, this attitude is quite justified, since users massively download the wrong thing … But in most cases, there is a completely adequate and free replacement for pirated content. Always remember this!

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