P2P, Torrent and Direct Downloads: How They Work and How They Differ

Internet offers a wide range of possibilities to users. We can inform ourselves of everything at the moment, see multimedia content, be in contact with friends and family ... There are many services and platforms that we have at our disposal. Something we can do is also download content. There are various methods we have available. In this article we will talk about it. We will explain what differences there are between P2P, Torrent and direct downloads.

What are P2P downloads

This type of downloads is done through a P2P connection. This means that we will need at least two parts. The name P2P comes from "peer to peer". It is what allows to connect between two or more parts. It allows, for example, to share information between one computer and another. A method to send and receive files.

This file sharing network has been with us for many years. It has been widely used to carry out downloads on the Internet. Basically, a person or a team shares data with another person or team. This produces a P2P exchange.

In this type of downloads no intermediaries are needed. Files pass directly from one point to another. Both parties act simultaneously as clients and servers. The uses that can be given to this type of network is not exclusive to download. We can also use it to make VoIP calls, for example.

What are Torrent downloads

An alternative is with Torrent downloads. In a way we can say that it is a variant of P2P downloads. Torrent is a file format that stores the information of the content that is shared on the network. Basically, what we do is download a file and then open it with another application that is able to read that information and get the content.

It is mainly used to share large files. Of course, it can also be used for voice communications, for example. One of the main differences is that we do not download from a single server, but we access a kind of swarm where many users can download and upload content simultaneously.

This type of downloads can free up space and resources to the servers. For example, a Linux distribution can have its own server where users download the file to install on their computer. You need a number of resources that are limited. Now, if that distribution offers only the Torrent file, that user can download it from an application that can read it and not rely on a single server.

We can say that P2P is the type of network and Torrent is the type of file. These are terms that, in short, are related.

What are direct downloads?

A very different case is direct downloads. In this case a user downloads directly from a server. When we mentioned P2P downloads, we could have queues, since there may be several users waiting to download the same file. This time it doesn't work that way and we can access the information without waiting.

Nor will we need a specific program, since you simply have to go to the path where that file is hosted and download it. It does not therefore require additional software that we have to install on our devices.

Its operation is basically through a client and server. The client accesses that server, which is where the file is hosted, and downloads it. Logically, both the resources of that server and the client itself come into play. In the first case it would be the ability to send information, while in the second case the ability to download that information (download speed).

In short, as we have seen, there are differences between P2P downloads, Torrent downloads and direct downloads. In all these cases a series of available tools or functions are needed.