What is BitTorrent?

TERMINOLOGY

Torrent

Usually this refers to the small metadata file you receive from the web server (the one that ends in .torrent.) Metadata here means that the file contains information about the data you want to download, not the data itself. This is what is sent to your computer when you click on a download link on a website. You can also save the torrent file to your local system, and then click on it to open the BitTorrent download. This is useful if you want to be able to re-open the torrent later on without having to find the link again.

In some uses, it can also refer to everything associated with a certain file available with BitTorrent. For example, someone might say “I downloaded that torrent” or “that server has a lot of good torrents”, meaning there are lots of good files available via BitTorrent on that server.

Peer

A peer is another computer on the internet that you connect to and transfer data. Generally a peer does not have the complete file, otherwise it would be called a seed. Some people also refer to peers as leeches, to distinguish them from those generous folks who have completed their download and continue to leave the client running and act as a seed.

Seed

A computer that has a complete copy of a certain torrent. Once your client finishes downloading, it will remain open until you click the Finish button (or otherwise close it.) This is known as being a seed or seeding. You can also start a BT client with a complete file, and once BT has checked the file it will connect and seed the file to others. Generally, it’s considered good manners to continue seeding a file after you have finished downloading, to help out others. Also, when a new torrent is posted to a tracker, someone must seed it in order for it to be available to others. Remember, the tracker doesn’t know anything of the actual contents of a file, so it’s important to follow through and seed a file if you upload the torrent to a tracker.