What are Peer, Seed, Leech and the ratio of P2P BitTorrent downloads

The use of P2P networks to download files is the order of the day. Some will think that it is related to illegal downloads and piracy. However, that is not entirely true as we can download a lot of free software and royalty-free content. Currently the most popular clients are the Torrent type followed at a long distance by eMule. At the moment in which we proceed to download a torrent file, our own vocabulary is handled that you may not understand well. In this tutorial we are going to explain what are the concepts of Peer, Seed, Leech and the ratio of Torrent downloads and the influence they have on your download.

P2P BitTorrent downloads

The first thing we are going to do is clarify the concept of P2P networks, and we will mention some of the most important torrent clients. Then we will put the example of the download of a legal file and we will get to know through it the concepts of Peer, Seed, Leech and the ratio of Torrent downloads.

What is a P2P network and popular programs

A P2P network stands for peer-to-peer . In it we refer to a network of peers or between equals. Its form of operation consists of a computer network in which it operates without fixed clients or servers and that behave as equals.

Thus, their way of working is that they act both as a client and as a server with respect to the other nodes of that network. Thanks to P2P networks, direct information exchange can be carried out. It can be done in any audio, video, etc. format. between the computers that are online at that moment. One important thing to keep in mind is that not all content that circulates on P2P networks is legal to download due to copyright. According to the legislation of each country, its use may be more or less sanctioned.

As for some examples of the most used P2P programs to make torrent downloads we have BitTorrent, uTorrent and qBittorrent, and a very popular one on Linux systems and NAS servers which is Transmission, one of the lightest and easiest torrent clients to use.

All about peers, leech, seed and ratio

Before you start, remember that, to get a good performance with P2P programs, you should make a series of preparations. Among them is usually establishing a local fixed IP to that computer, opening ports on the router to it, and in the program having the same port selected. In this case, we are going to use qBittorrent that you can download from this link .

Once we have everything configured as indicated above, we are going to see a typical example of how Torrent downloads would be done. The first thing we have to do is download the corresponding Torrent file on our hard drive. In this case we have chosen to download a free Linux distribution whose download is legal. Next, what we have to do is go to File and there we select Add torrent file .

Then a screen like the following will appear, where we will see the default folder that is where the download is going to be made, unless we change it. Then the name of the file and what it will occupy on our hard drive is also observed. Then we will click Accept to start the download.

Here you can see how that Linux distribution is being downloaded along with its download and upload speed, if we were distributing it to other members of the P2P network.

Once it finishes in the progress bar you will see that it has reached 100%.

In the following sections we will learn about the concepts that influence torrent downloads, illustrating it with this example.

What are the «peers» or the pairs

Torrent downloads, in case you don’t know, use the P2P, peer-to-peer protocol. In P2P networks, as we have mentioned before, two or more computers are going to connect directly to each other to share files without having to depend on a central server. The opposite case, for example, would be the one of the downloads that we do from a cloud like Google Drive or Mega.

In short, each of the clients or nodes that are part of that P2P network is known as Peer or Par.

What does “leecher” mean in BitTorrent networks?

A Leecher can be defined as a user who is downloading a file from the Torrent network. It should be noted that we will be considered as Leechers until we have completely downloaded the file and see in the progress bar that we have reached 100%.

Regardless of whether or not we are uploading a file, we will have this category. The role of the Leecher is to download the parts of the files that are not yet present on your computer. Also, if requested, it will provide the other leechers on the network with the parts or files that you already have downloaded to your computer.

It should also be noted that the term “Leecher” in other P2P networks has a negative connotation. For example, on the eDonkey and Gnutella networks, users who downloaded without sharing were rated this way. These are users who have a very low upload rate and are damaging the P2P network. However, in the field of the Torrent network this distinction is not made and any user who performs Torrent downloads will be a Leecher.

As soon as we finish downloading the file, if we do not delete it from our Torrent client, it will automatically become “Seeders” or “Seed”, which is what we will see in more detail below.

What are the «Seeders» , «Seeds» or seeds for

As for the Seeders , Seeds or seeds we can say that they are all those users who are sharing a complete file within the Torrent network after having finished their download. At that moment that we already have 100%, we become seeds and begin to share it with other users so that they can continue downloading it. A peculiarity that differentiates them from the Leechers is that they share the file with their colleagues but do not download any part of the file from others.

This is the example of seeds that we have in the download that we have used as an example.

In short, that Seeder is the user who has the complete file that we want to download and shares it with us on the Torrent network.

One very important thing that you have to pay attention to in torrent downloads is that there is at least one seed that has at least that complete file to share with others. It is of little use that there are many pairs or Leechers downloading that Torrent. The reason is simple, it may be that even putting together all the parts that all Leechers have is insufficient to perform a complete download of the file.

The rate of downloads in BitTorrent networks

As for the Torrent download ratio, we can define it as the ratio of the traffic we upload to the others with respect to the traffic we download. This is the ratio of the file I just downloaded:

In this case, it can be seen that it is zero, that means that at the moment I have not uploaded anything to other users. By the time it reaches 1, it means that I have uploaded the same data that I have downloaded to other users. Regarding the ratio, it is very important in P2P networks like eMule in which you get a series of credits that we earn based on our uploads. In this regard, the more you upload to other users, the faster you download. However, in torrent downloads, except in the hypothetical case that we use a private tracker that counts the ratio of users, it will not affect us. That does not mean that we are not generous and share with others based on the upload bandwidth of our connection.

As you have seen, we have several very important concepts in P2P networks such as BitTorrent, we hope they have been clear to you.