The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Downloading files using any of the traditional file transfer protocols can be costly for companies and frustrating for users. It places a big load on the file server that hosts the file(s). Whenever a company releases new software on its file servers, thousands of people may try to simultaneously download the files. If the files are large, such as an entire CD or DVD disk, the load is overpowering. For instance, you might remember the recent release of the 1940 U.S. census. The servers slowed to a crawl as they could not handle the load created by thousands of genealogists who wanted to download and view the census images.
Many companies have had to spend tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of dollars for hardware and bandwidth to handle the load. In the case of Microsoft's servers used for issuing software patches, the company has spent millions of dollars for the necessary hardware and bandwidth to handle software updates alone.
Those companies that didn't make the investment in hardware and bandwidth ended up with crippled servers groaning under the load, along with thousands of disgruntled customers who could not obtain the files they seek.
One programmer started thinking about the problem of transferring thousands of copies of huge files. The college dropout eventually started writing code to create a better way. He eventually called his program BitTorrent. It is a replacement for the various file download protocols that have been used in the past. He even gives his program away free of charge.
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