Information exchange between people is a normal phenomenon in modern society, and even an integral element of it. We transmit information and data in various ways through the use of the Internet and various related technologies. For example, send an email, download a new song or clip from the Internet, launch a new program or play an online game.
Depending on the type of information data, there are different ways of sending it. And one such possible option is a peer-to-peer network, which will be discussed later in this article. This technology allows you to transfer files of any size and you can also use it to organize distributed calculations.
Peer-to-peer networks have their own exchange rules and special programs are often used for information distribution and support. Let’s consider in more details what is a p2r network, its kinds and a functioning principle.
What is P2P
P2P, peer-to-peer network is a peer-to-peer and decentralized computer network, which operates on the principle of equality of all participants in it. There are several servers, and each Peer node acts as a client, while it can act as a server. Due to this network structure, it is possible to ensure its uninterrupted performance in any number and combination of nodes. Each feast is a member of the network.
In fact, a peer-to-peer network is a union of several computers, each of which operates on equal terms.
Information data in the network is transmitted in small pieces, each of them is called a packet. To organize a file transfer from one PC to another, you need to divide the shared file into separate elements, which will then be reassembled into a single volume when the user receives them on his or her computer.
The peer-to-peer network works so that you do not have to go to a particular server and request your file. It already exists somewhere on the network and is fixed in a special directory. If at your request the object is located, then you can download it to yourself through a special program. At the same time, from several sources, the file packages will be sent to the user, because each computer in the network acts as a server and thus provides a parallel download of information data.
Everyone can become a full member of a peer-to-peer network, for which he will need to install a special program on his computer.
The key features of the peer-to-peer network functioning:
- it is possible to share common devices, disk space, processors, computing power, bandwidth with participating computers. All data will be shared in both directions with high speed, and no routing through another computer is required;
- no centralized administration, i.e. all nodes in the system are equal in rights and actions. Files that are used by computers are not stored in one place, so if one of the nodes fails, network operation will not be disrupted;
- processing a large amount of information by distributing the load between its resources. Even in periods of highest activity, all PCs can keep their work efficient because they interact directly with each other;
- reliable performance because the network works even if one or more elements fail;
- the network can be expanded – anyone can join the peer-to-peer network and become a member. The more work nodes, the more power the system has;
- easy setup – network support is not difficult because every PC is self-managed.
P2P Network Types
Despite the ease of operation of the P2P network to organize data and file exchange, still requires a stable platform that will be used by all parties, as well as nomenclature system for file marking.
There are three types of networks known to describe file exchange within a peer-to-peer network. The user can choose a structured, unstructured or combined network, depending on personal needs.
The choice of type is also determined by the types of files that are shared, as well as by the availability of a dedicated platform and the main source of content.
Let’s consider each network type in more detail:
- structured P2P network – formed on the principle of hierarchy with the use of distributed hash table or DHT. This variant is suitable for scientific or large organisations where all computer devices are constantly connected to a network the Internet. This allows you to easily find any data and download it as quickly as possible, while the system itself does not suffer from a large number of devices that are connected to it;
- unstructured P2P network – formed without a hierarchy, and each PC will connect to the nearest peer-to-peer node if it has the data the user needs. The network will be filled with requests, and the connection will take place to those nodes that respond;
- hybrid P2P network – a combination of unstructured and structured network, using the same data as well as terminology. Such a network can compromise between the two types to take maximum advantage of each;
- torrents – unique BitTorrent P2P technology for efficient search and download of necessary files. One torrent file has a full data index, so it quickly connects to the p2P client and brings together online users. In other words, the download is done jointly.
How Does The File Exchange Peering Network Work
For the first time peer-to-peer networks appeared in 1999, when the Napster project was launched – the worldwide database of file exchange. A year later, it became a popular brand in the global network with 40 million users. The main reason for this popularity was that every user can download music files for free. But soon copyright defenders criticized it and Napster stopped working. Nevertheless, the idea received general attention.
Similar projects created later were persecuted, but it was hard to control and forbid their work. Peer-to-peer networks began to spread and gain in popularity thanks to their principle of operation.
Functioning of peer-to-peer networks is very different from those that operate under the “client-server” scheme. Here the principle of “client-client” interaction operates.
Peer-to-peer network works in this way:
- the client program sends to the network (cloud p2p) a list of files that are available for download from the computer by other client programs, as well as a list of files that the program wants to receive;
- then a search is made for clients who need certain files and those programs which have them;
- direct communication is established between the two groups of computers through work programs and file exchange is performed;
- each file is broken down into small parts – packages;
- the information is uploaded to the computer in this fragmented form;
- besides that your program receives files necessary for the user, it also transfers files and their elements to other interested participants in parallel.
Each user of the network can put up their files for distribution. In this case you need to specify in the client program the folder where the installation package of the data you want to share with others is located on your hard drive. First, only one PC will be the distributor, and when the data is uploaded to other computers, the file itself will live its own life on the network, because now other participants have it and can distribute it to interested users.
But how do participants or users know that you are distributing some files? To do this, the tracker is used – a special site that publishes all information about the handouts that are launched from computers. You also need to upload a special torrent file that indicates the path and object to download. Another user will receive this file via a client program.
All peer-to-peer network users are divided into three functional groups:
- seeder/seed – this user has all parts of the file. For example, he first started the distribution or downloaded the file completely, or did not leave the network and distributes data using p2p messenger;
- peer – such a user doesn’t have the whole file downloaded, but only a part of it or several elements. He distributes and downloads the file elements at the same time, i.e. he is a participant in the distribution;
- lecher – this user has the file downloaded, but he has not had time to start the distribution.
This division is conditional, as each member of the network from one status smoothly goes to another, depending on his actions.
Risks of Exchanging Files over P2P Networks
Risks come out of the freedom of the peer-to-peer network, as all users when exchanging files are exposed to viruses or hacking.
All these risks are caused by such reasons:
- the real IP address is shown – when a connection to a peer-to-peer network occurs, the IP is always visible. If you use torrent or are on a large platform, hundreds and thousands of peers can see it;
- the file may have an unknown origin – it is important to always check where the file is downloaded from, who created the torrent, and which protocols are on the sharing platform. If not always possible, then it is better to check all files with an antivirus software;
- risk of spyware or malware – it is very easy to come across viruses and malware through a peer-to-peer connection, so it is important to consider this fact;
- how legitimate it is to exchange files – this has to be based on national legislation.
P2P File Exchange Programs
The main programs to ensure fast and high-quality file exchange are the following:
Is the easiest and fastest program, 150 million users use the service every minute to transfer data;
Is a special extension and the ancestor of the peer-to-peer system. It has long been known, but still competes well with other client services;
Is a Chinese program with security protocols, mostly focused on the Asian market by adapting to the Chinese, Japanese and Korean alphabets;
A structured client system that runs under the GPLv2 GPNU license, is safe and well developed;
Is considered the only torrent client that has an I2P system that provides complete anonymity to users.
Peer-to-peer networks allow to download any information – from books to movies, from music to clips, from programs to games. This file sharing system is an excellent tool for computer users, but it requires caution. To download files without risk to your PC, you should use a good VPN service.
A private network will protect against the risks of virus infection, while hiding the real IP so as not to show it to the entire network. Among the advantages of the VPN service, it is worth noting these key aspects:
- increased protection;
- correct file exchange on a peer-to-peer network;
- hiding of IP and personal data.