A torrent file stores metadata used for BitTorrent. It is defined in the BitTorrent specification. In a conventional Internet download, a file or group of files is transmitted from one computer (usually a server) to another computer (a client). Data is held in a central location and is retrieved per the request of a single user.
A torrent, however, distributes data differently on many levels. Firstly, a .torrent file is not the actual file being retrieved. The .torrent file is merely data which has information about the file that the user is seeking. The .torrent file is, in a sense, a sort of index of the file being retrieved.
The torrent divides the target file into a series of equally sized pieces that are each assigned an identifying checksum.
The transfer of the torrent file is done between many different peers. Rather than the data being transferred from one machine to the next, the various pieces of the file are held on many different computers. The torrent client communicate with other peers in order to check which pieces they have and exchanges them for the ones they need.
In this way, transferring files via a torrent is sort of like a lightning fast, digitally automated game of “Go Fish.” Peers swap pieces of files with as many different computers as possible and eventually combine the various parts into the whole, requested file.
A torrent file contains the URLs of multiple trackers and integrity metadata about all the pieces. It can also contain additional metadata defined in extensions to the BitTorrent specification.
Basically, this is a deviously more efficient way of leveraging the bandwidth of millions of PC’s to share files all over the world and it is the predominant form of file sharing worldwide next to email.
So how does this apply to Windows?
Well typically, as soon as a version of Windows is released,
pirates, vigilantes, regular citizens share it on a location on their PC that their torrent software has access to. That software allows them to share bits and pieces of that software illegally all over the world and then, Windows 8 torrents or Windows 8 beta torrents are born.
Quick note here, there will probably be nothing illegal about sharing a public beta copy of Windows via torrents as it will be freely available from Microsoft at some point but it is highly illegal to share any part of the final (RTM) copy of Windows 8.
So behave.. 🙂
It’s very dangerous to download torrents as malicious hackers etc tend to get a piece of software (like Windows), inject a virus, spyware or malware into it, pack it back up and release it to the public. A lot of pain can come from downloading an infected file.
So buyer, stealer beware…
This concludes my public service announcement…]]>