BitTorrent is the preferred file-sharing protocol of most Internet users. It’s the way to go if you need to distribute large amounts of digital information to multiple receivers. However, many would be surprised to learn that tech businesses use P2P technology in their operations.
The BitTorrent protocol is so used that, without knowing, many people use it every day. For example, when you want to download a Linux distribution, its respective website will urge you to download it through the BitTorrent network instead of from an HTTP mirror. And you will want to do this if it is a large file.
Big Companies Take Advantage of The BitTorrent Protocol
The BitTorrent protocol has attracted major corporations seeking more efficient ways to distribute their content. With its decentralized nature and capacity to handle large files, BitTorrent has proven to be a versatile tool for a wide range of applications beyond traditional file sharing. Let’s have a look at a few examples of enormous corporations that are exploiting the BitTorrent protocol.
Microsoft relies on BitTorrent for its updates
Since about 2015, Microsoft has been using a version of BitTorrent to distribute Windows updates, which we all know keep getting larger. This eased the load on Microsoft by lowering server costs and speeding up download times for users.
Nasa uses it for image distribution
The Visible Earth program offers downloads of satellite photography of the planet and its environment. The problem was that these images were huge (many gigabytes).
That’s why NASA decided to use BitTorrent to distribute these high-resolution images of space. It was a way to save on server costs while providing users with much faster download speeds.
Facebook also takes advantage of P2P
The social media giant uses a customized version of the BitTorrent protocol to move large amounts of data quickly and efficiently between its many servers.
Facebook created their custom BitTorrent tracker that allows a single server to download pieces from other servers in the same node, keeping latency down.
Blizzard Entertainment has its own BitTorrent client
The video game company uses BitTorrent to allow gamers to download games like Starcraft II and World of Warcraft.
When getting the game, the user acquires a BitTorrent client that is included in the game. Whenever there is an update, it is done via BitTorrent. They allow users to be part of the BitTorrent swarm, meaning they can choose if they want to update data to make it faster for other users.
One of the most promising uses of BitTorrent is for scientific data sharing. Large datasets, such as those produced in high-energy physics, can easily reach terabyte-scale.
Sharing such substantial data files can be daunting, but BitTorrent can efficiently transfer these massive files without relying on a centralized server.
For instance, the Academic Torrents project shows the potential of P2P file sharing for scientific data. It is a non-profit project that provides a platform for researchers to share and access large datasets. Besides researchers, it also connects readers and academic journals, among other entities.
The platform hosts a range of datasets, from scientific papers to high-quality videos of scientific talks. Using a P2P network has dramatically reduced the cost and time required to share and access large scientific datasets. It enables researchers from all over the world to collaborate.
Musicians Take Advantage of Torrenting
Torrenting has long been a double-edged sword for musicians. It’s one of the main ways to share copyrighted music. However, some musicians have taken a different approach and found ways to use P2P file sharing to their advantage.
Famous artists boost their sales
Some famous musicians use BitTorrent to share albums. In what was initially considered a bizarre move by many, bands like Thom Yorke and the Nine Inch Nails started putting albums on P2P networks, free of charge.
They allowed potential fans to torrent their music and “choose” a fee for their albums. At first, it appeared that people were simply downloading their albums for free. However, making their music available for free ultimately paid off for such artists. They ended up making millions from fan donations, merchandise profits, and more. And all began with their P2P experiment.
New artists get more exposure
New artists and studios have found that torrenting communities are great for getting initial exposure when sharing their first works for free. Their goal is not to sell albums but to attract people to their concerts.
And this makes complete sense, as new music bands face the greatest difficulty in getting known. Once they have a fan base, getting their music into the mainstream and generating revenue is much easier.
The use of torrenting and peer-to-peer file sharing is not limited to illegal activities, as some people think. It can also be used for various legitimate purposes.
Major companies use it to distribute content, musicians use it to reach wider audiences, and researchers take advantage of it to share large scientific datasets.
The BitTorrent protocol (and protocols inspired by it) has proven to be a versatile tool with numerous applications. It has enabled a decentralized approach to file sharing. Across many industries, it has opened up new avenues for innovation and collaboration.