What is Peer-to-Peer Technology? Simply explained, the peer-to-peer or P2P technology, as it’s commonly called, is a network in which two individuals are directly in contact with each other without any intermediary. Turning to computer systems, this means that every computer on the network acts as a server as well as a client, thereby eliminating the need for any central server. It’s easy to set up and perhaps the most inexpensive way of online file sharing.
Roots of P2P Technology
Although P2P technology was in use earlier also in various other domains, it came to limelight through file-sharing applications at the end of the last millennium. The first-ever online P2P sharing software was Napster, which was originally launched in 1999 by Shawn Fanning. Napster marked the beginning of Peer-to-Peer technology and was a great hit among users all over the world. It allowed its participants to seamlessly share loads of music and other files through the power of the Internet.
Established entirely in the virtual world, with no physical networking restrictions, Napster sowed the seeds for today’s P2P applications. This gave rise to a new movement that led to the creation of customized search engines based on the data available with different users. The Peer-to-Peer model is not a novel idea, and it has its roots in the Internet’s conception itself. Tim Berners Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, had envisioned the www to be an open interlinked web of different links, created by various users. His idea of www was very similar to that of the present day’s P2P system, in which users can add or edit any content without any firewalls etc.
Uses of Peer-to-Peer Technology
Peer-to-Peer networks are mainly used for sharing a set of resources between several virtually connected devices to achieve a specific goal. It finds extensive uses in sharing storage, bandwidth, and processing power. However, its real power is unleashed in receiving and sending of all types of files on the open network between different users simultaneously. The main features that make P2P network extremely useful in today’s world are:
- It’s almost next to impossible to completely close down the P2P network. As each user acts as a server as well as a client, all peers are required to be switched off in order to shut down a P2P network.
- File sharing speed keeps increasing with the increase in the size of the network. When you hook on to a P2P network for downloading a file, it’s downloaded simultaneously from all the available users having the file.
- As there’s no central server, connecting a new peer is simple and easy.
One of the most successful uses of P2P technology is uTorrent, developed by BitTorrent Inc. The second most commonly used BitTorrent client in the world after Chinese Xunlei has over 150 million users and offers maximum download speed for the newest torrents, which you can’t get anywhere else. It’s simple and easy to use, and uTorrent free download is available on many sites.
Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Technology in Today’s World.
In this age of data, Internet, and storage, the speed of data transfer is an essential factor. With advancements in data handling and transfer services, brisk Internet connectivity, P2P technology has emerged as the indisputable leader in fast file transfer. In addition to this, the following are some advantages of P2P network:
- Ease and simplicity of configuration and setting up are perhaps its biggest benefits.
- There’s no need for any centralized server.
- It’s dirt cheap as compared to other services.
- All users act as servers and clients at the same time, and hence, it’s almost impossible to shut down the network.
- The bigger the network, the faster is the file transfer.
- It doesn’t require any dedicated hardware to establish the network or keep it functional.
Limitations of P2P Network. With so many advantages, the P2P network has got numerous uses in different domains. However, there are a few limitations of the Peer-to-Peer technology; awareness about these is important to avoid getting caught in issues. Some of these are:
- As there’s no central agency or server, network security and backup of each system are required to be done separately.
- You need to have a strong and effective firewall to protect your personal data.
Conclusion. Effective management, secure storage, and fast transfer of data are the three important keys to success in today’s world of fast-evolving technologies. While the first two are of bigger concern mainly for businesses, a need for quick file sharing is something that nobody can escape. Peer to peer file sharing is the fastest way to transfer all types of files online.