P2P is a strange topic to talk about since in normal network jargon it refers to connecting computers across the network to share resources and in some cases, to work as one (cluster computing). In this section, we will talk about P2P software and its history. What attracts users across cyberspace to this and what is the software available and why are the authorities working overtime to make P2P a thing of the past? All that and more as we move on. The traditional way of networking is client-server architecture. In this type, there are dedicated computers (servers) which let other computers (clients) access it and use its resources. In the P2P type,all computers are connected to a network and at any point of time any computer can act as a server and another computer that uses its resources is the client.
Peer-to-peer file-sharing is based on this protocol. When you install software such as Napster or Kazaa on your computer and access the Internet, it connects to other computers to download any stuff that you have searched using the client.Based on this protocol, Napster was launched in May 1999. This was the first P2P software but not in the truest sense of the word. This was because it still needed users to connect to a central server and once the client was identified, further file transfer was passed on to the nodes. This was furthered by software such as Kazaa and eDonkey. However, with each new software came a different implementation of the technology. We will talk about this when we go and pick apart each of the software.
Since 1999, there have been many changes in the P2P world. Napster has since closed down owing to a ruling by the American courts. Napster is still available, but in a form where it is no longer attractive enough for P2P users. Newer P2P software such as BitTorrent has reared its head in recent years and is the latest rage amongst P2P users. Filling the gap between Napster and BitTorrent was eDonkey, which was going strong until BitTorrent appeared. eDonkey is still pretty much available, but its favourite rating amongst users has dropped to a very large extent.
In the coming section, we will discuss the most used P2P software worldwide and how to use them. But before you start reading it, remember that downloading illegal stuff of the Internet such as movies or music you do not own or do not have a copyright of is illegal.
We do not condone such activities and the information provided here is only for the sake of informing you as a reader and not to give you ways of downloading stuff illegally. Please be aware of what is legal on the Internet and steer clear of activities that could potentially land in you in jail. With that said lets look at the software mentioned above and understand how it works.