Pros and Cons of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing

06 Aug 2010

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P2P simply connotes resource sharing between peers (computer on a peer network) over the internet. Each participant contributes portions of their resource such as processing power, disk storage or internet network bandwidth directly to other network participants that are on the P2P network.

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multi-media (audio, video), documents, or electronic books. Downloading large files such as movies, music, games and software could take forever when they are downloaded directly through your local browser. It is easy to get jinxed by the fast rate at which P2P programs download heavy files even when the internet bandwidth is low but not without consequence.

When you search for a file using P2P application, it searches through every computer on the internet that is on the P2P mash network and to a very large extent such users are not aware that files are been uploaded from their computer. When you install applications such as Limewire, Bittorrent, emule, Vuze, utorrent, Transmission, skype etc, your computer is automatically enrolled into a peer network. Although P2P architect has helped to reduce download time by over 70 per cent but not without these implications:

•     It opens your internet web port to hackers who may steal your personal information, financial document etc.
•     It allows unsecure access into your computer and in this way virus; Trojans, worms, malware and spyware can easily find their way into your computer.
•     They contain "spyware" which allows the author of the program, and other network users, to see what you are doing, where you are going on the Internet, and even use your computer's resources without your knowledge.

•     It weighs down your internet connectivity in the sense that many P2P users are sending request and at the same time downloading and uploading files through the internet access on your computer, this inturn increases internet traffic thereby leading to slow response in opening web pages.
•     Using these applications put everyone using the same internet network with you at risk and if it’s the office, it exposes your company’s server to hackers; this is the major reason why most financial institute prohibits staffs from bringing their personal computers to the office.

•     When you are running a P2P application, your computer’s disk space, bandwidth, and processing power are used to help other users on the same system operate their software more efficiently because their own network or firewall may pose constraints and this could cause an over load on your system and its entire internet connectivity.
•     P2P applications are automatically launched, it runs in the background whenever your computer is turned on and this usually leads to slow system response and delayed boot-up time.

Applications such as lime wire are designed in such a way that it links your computer to every computer (peer) on the internet that has lime wire and other related p2p platform installed on it, such that when you search for a file through it, all it does is to look for it on these peers members, so it is not that lime wire has a central server somewhere that may possible house the file you seek, it only gathers it from peer members and through this you unknowing invite hackers, virus,trojans, worms etc. Although some of these P2P applications filter out virus and malware, they considerably weigh down your computer and can cause it to crash.

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