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What are seeders, leechers and peers?

BitTorrent has its own very unique language. Leechers, Peers, and Seeds are terms are common for BitTorrent users, but a newcomer may be very confused. Before we break these terms down, let’s take a look at what BitTorrent is, and how it works.

BitTorrent Explained

BitTorrent is a very popular protocol for peer-to-peer sharing of files, also known as P2P. A P2P connection is made when two or more computers share information without the use of a central computer server. It can be as simple as two computers connected with a USB, or as in the case of BitTorrent, many computers communicating at once.

Torrent pieces divided like a puzzleThe way this protocol works is complex, but simple to explain. It takes a large file, such as audio or video, and breaks it up into smaller pieces. While the original file is stored on a server, the smaller pieces are distributed throughout a computer network. Like a puzzle, the smaller pieces fit back together to reproduce the file in its entirety. The torrent file you are downloading automatically finds these pieces and puts them back together into a usable format. A special software is necessary to reconstruct the files from the smaller pieces. That software is a Torrent Client, such as uTorrent or qBitTorrent.

By replacing big servers with many smaller computers to share large files, Torrent users keep a low bandwidth usage. Also, Internet speeds are high for everyone involved in this process.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see what the names we mentioned before mean:

Seeders, Leechers and Peers

1. Seeders: In Torrent lingo, a seed is a user who has a file in its entirety. This file is then broken down into small pieces and shared with others. The thing to keep in mind is that seeders only share the files with other users. They are not downloading anything.

Definition of leecher2. Leechers: This term can have two meanings, one neutral and one negative. A leecher can refer to someone who doesn’t have the complete file. He may be downloading a file, while simultaneously uploading it. If the file downloads completely, and the leecher leaves the file open for others to download, he becomes a seeder.

Unfortunately, there are users who download a file without sharing it, which slows down the whole process. In other words, this person takes more from the swarm than what he gives. It’s actually because of this type of user that the name leecher started to be used. Obviously, the name carries a negative meaning, intended to accuse those users of taking, but not giving back.

3. Peers: They both give and take. Peers upload files to share with others as well as download files themselves. The term more broadly refers to any user who is currently connected within the swarm. As the peer downloads pieces of the files, he will begin to upload them concurrently. If a peer continues uploading files after he has received them completely, he becomes a seeder and the file is now a seed.

The health of a file is determined by how many times it is completely uploaded by peers and available in its entirety.

How does it work?

A Torrent user who wishes to share a file will first make a short torrent descriptor file. That file is then circulated through email, the web, or other conventional means. The file will then be published through Torrent nodes, which act as seeds. In turn, those who have the original descriptor file will provide it to their specific Torrent nodes. Those nodes will, in turn, download the torrent file by linking to other peers or to the seed.

Some Caution is Needed Nowadays

Generally, using BitTorrent is perfectly safe and legal. Of course, many times the name BitTorrent or P2P is associated with copyright issues. Even though many people use this protocol for such activities, these are two completely different things. Because of these issues, governments tend to monitor users who use P2P and BitTorrent, even if they aren’t doing anything wrong.

That’s why many BitTorrent users decide to get a VPN software to use with BitTorrent. The objective is to become invisible and download/upload files without worrying if they are being spied.

Conclusion

BitTorrent came to make the transfer of files easier, faster and more efficient. Knowing the lingo associated won’t make all the difference, but it sure is useful. For example, after knowing what a seeder is, you can start noticing in your BitTorrent Client which torrents have more active seeders. Naturally, those are going to be faster. That way, you can start to have a better idea on which torrent files to download and which ones to avoid.

We really hope this makes everything easier for you. If you liked this topic and want to continue reading about it, then we recommend you a very interesting post we wrote about the importance of seeding torrent files.