In case you’re wondering, a torrent is a type of file transfer protocol that runs on a distributed network of computers called “seeds”. The entire purpose of a torrent is to distribute large files to as many people as possible, in a manner that minimizes the amount of data each individual person has to store. Because of this, torrenting is typically viewed as a more sustainable choice than classic file sharing, since you’re not relying on a single server to serve your data.
Whether you’re a seasoned torrent user or you’re just getting started, there are several different types of servers you should consider trying out. In this article, we’ll discuss what advantages and disadvantages each of these servers possess, as well as give you some helpful tips on how to choose between them.
P2P (Peer to Peer) Servers
If you’ve ever used the popular file sharing applications such as BitTorrent or FileSharingPro, then you’re familiar with P2P (Peer to Peer) servers. These types of servers allow for direct communication between the computers of users, so that they can share files with each other.
The primary advantage of P2P servers is that they provide a more reliable method of data transfer than connecting to a classic server, since they’re distributed across several devices. Another advantage of using P2P servers is that your experience is more streamlined, since you’re not having to deal with the overhead of a server. This being said, using P2P servers does mean that you’re not guaranteed to receive a downloaded file in the same amount of time as you would with a classic server-based download.
The major disadvantage of P2P servers is that they are, by their very nature, more vulnerable to attack. Since files are being distributed directly between two or more devices, any of those devices could become unresponsive or compromised. As a result, files could be corrupted or you could become a host for malware.
DHT (Distributed Hash Table) Servers
“Distributed” and “hash” tables are terms you’re likely to hear a lot when referring to DHT (Distributed Hash Table) servers. A distributed hash table is a type of database that uses a distributed network of computers to store data, which is then accessed via a hash table. (You can think of a hash table as a kind of dictionary that maps data to an address, where the address is generated via a mathematical formula based on the data itself.)
The primary advantage of using a DHT server is that they provide an incredibly easy and efficient way to store and retrieve data. Because they use a distributed network of computers, you’re guaranteed to have access to a DHT server regardless of the size of your file, or how far you live from the server. (This can be a disadvantage if you need high speeds, since download speeds can vary based on the population of the network and how close you are to a server.)
The disadvantage of DHT servers is that they’re not as secure as traditional P2P servers. Due to the nature of a distributed network, any individual node (a computer or other device connected to the network) can contribute to the security of the entire network. Because of this, if your device becomes compromised (such as by a virus or a hacker), then all of the other devices on the network could become insecure. (For example, if your email adress gets hacked and you start receiving spam, it’s not only your email account that could be at risk, but also all of your other devices on the network.)
SV (Streaming Video) Servers
SV (Streaming Video) servers allow for the playback of video content, with the server automatically buffering and sending portions of the content to requesting clients. So instead of downloading the entire video file and then playing it, you can instead play the part that’s been downloaded so far. (This is typically used in live streaming scenarios, where content is played back as it’s being broadcasted to an audience online.)
The primary advantage of SV servers is that they make it possible to stream media files to audiences in real-time. Because the content is being played back directly from the server to the end user, there’s no need to store large files locally, which can then be transcoded and played back. This can be a significant advantage for anyone with a limited Internet connection, or for those who want to use a device that doesn’t have enough storage to store the entire file.
The disadvantage of SV servers is that they’re not as reliable as P2P or DHT servers. Due to the way they work, the server can become overloaded and potentially fail. In live streaming scenarios, this could lead to dropped frames, or errors due to exceeding CPU or RAM usage limits. (Note: If your device is unable to play back certain types of video files due to lack of hardware or software support, then you’re out of options other than storing the file locally and then playing it back when you have access to a computer or similar device.)
BitTorrent Classic Servers
BitTorrent Classic Servers are the classic P2P servers; they allow for the peer-to-peer sharing of large files via a network. Similar to the other types of servers discussed so far, BitTorrent Classic Servers provide a more streamlined experience and are less susceptible to attacks. (However, BitTorrent Classic Servers are still more vulnerable to attack than many people realize. Despite the fact that they use a distributed network, the entire BitTorrent ecosystem is still subject to the risks that come with using any P2P protocol.)
The primary advantage of BitTorrent Classic Servers is that they’re extremely easy to use. Since they utilize a completely open system and allow for anonymous sharing, setting up a BitTorrent classic server is simpler than many other P2P servers, especially for those who are new to the platform. (The primary disadvantage is that many people find the experience to be less than seamless. While you don’t have to run an open peer-to-peer network to use BitTorrent, it certainly doesn’t hurt.)
As you can see, the advantages and disadvantages of different servers can vary, depending on the needs and goals of the user. While P2P servers provide a more streamlined experience when compared to BitTorrent Classic Servers, they’re still more susceptible to attacks, since they utilize a less-secure system. (We recommend using a VPN with all of your devices, including your phone, to keep your personal data secure.)
DHT and SV servers provide an efficient way to store data, which can be beneficial to organizations that need to maintain a small to medium-sized database. (The primary disadvantage with DHT and SV servers is that they’re not as secure as BitTorrent Classic Servers, since they don’t rely on the security of the entire network like BitTorrent Classic Servers do.)
Overall, we think that VPNs are essential for everyone, especially if you’re going to be using public Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. Since using a VPN prevents your personal data from being collected and shared with advertisers and other third parties, it’s in your best interest to avoid using public Wi-Fi whenever possible, and connect to a VPN anytime you do. (You can also use a computer at a library or school to connect to a VPN if you have limited access to Internet.)