BitTorrent File Search and Downloads

File Transfer (BLUE)
Getty Images/Daniel Halvorson

Unlike other P2P networks, the BitTorrent file sharing network lacks built-in search capability. Technically speaking, BitTorrent is simply a data transfer protocol designed for high-traffic networks. Sharing P2P files on Bit Torrent requires more than just the basic network capability of P2P clients.

To start P2P file downloads on BitTorrent, so-called torrent (.torrent) files must first be located.

Standard BitTorrent clients cannot search for torrent files; instead, various Web sites across the Internet (see sidebar) host them. Finding torrent files requires searching these sites through the Web browser.

Each torrent file corresponds to an actual P2P file but contains only the amount of data needed to locate it. When a torrent file of interest is found, download the files to install them on the local computer. Downloads will complete quickly because torrent files are very small. Install torrent files in any convenient location on the hard drive.

Afterward, opening a torrent file from the local drive triggers the BitTorrent client to launch the actual P2P file downloads using its network protocol. As an alternative to saving torrent files, Web browsers can be configured to automatically launch a BitTorrent client as soon as a .torrent file link is clicked.