What are magnet links and how do they facilitate BitTorrent downloads?

P2P file sharing networks are ideal for their ability to distribute large files and as a resource-saving alternative to server-based direct download systems. Although in recent years they have reduced their importance due to the massive adoption of streaming services and the criminalization of these networks as synonymous with piracy, they still millions of users continue to use them dailyespecially BitTorrent.

To download/share content on this network, small files are used that provide content information and tell clients what to move on the network. This is where magnet links come in, alternative to the traditional ones and with multiple advantages over them.

And they are important, because it includes content names, sizes, and information needed to perform data integrity checks, and also, a list of torrent trackers (if any) that coordinate all peers involved in distributing torrents. .

What are magnet links

If the Internet connection; the client application used; connection settings; the balance between downloads and uploads or the selection of the most popular torrents are key to improving the experience, none of it could exist without the same torrentthose small files that, downloaded from metasearch engines or specialized websites, offer content information and tell customers what they have to move on the network.

Torrent files can also contain extended information, such as a DHA (distributed hash table) that allows each peer to act as part of a decentralized tracking network. DHA is an important concept when talking about magnetic links, the alternative to traditional ones.

Magnet links are an advanced variant of the traditional ones, basically a string of text, but with a lot of information inside it. A magnet link contains a unique identifier, various parameters depending on the exact nature of the torrent, and most importantly, a cryptographic hash of the files included in the torrent. It is a mathematical algorithm applied to data that results in a unique short string representing that data. It is very useful because if two torrents point to the exact same files, they will have identical hashes.

In order for the torrent client to know who else is part of a given torrent, it simply hashes to compare the hash of the magnet links with the hash of the torrents that are shared. Filter only those with hash matching quickly reconstructs the swarm of peers in the network. This is the same method used by the distributed hash table found in “no-tracker” torrents, which do not make use of a central server to coordinate and track peers.

a magnet link use only essential information and removes the rest of the torrent file, since the vast majority of participants do not need that information. All this offers advantages both for those who provide torrents and the users who download them.

magnet links

What are its advantages?

The first great advantage of magnetic links we have in its very name, and that is that they are links and not files. This may seem like a minor distinction, but files must be hosted and downloaded. Magnetic links can be part of a web page like any hyperlink. Users don’t have to go through the extra step of downloading and opening a file, and providers don’t have to bother using a file hosting solution.

Another important improvement comes from the side of the Informatic security. Any file downloaded from the Internet has an inherent risk of containing malware and some of the most popular content (big pirated games or first-run movies/series) circulating on these networks is used by cybercriminals to distribute malware. Something that is not possible in magnetic links.

They also have a great advantage over using torrent trackers. A torrent based on a magnetic link hash is incredibly robust. As long as a single seed remains online, anyone else with this link can find it, even if none of the original contributors continue to distribute the file. As long as the torrent files can be hashed again, existing magnet links will continue to work.

How do you facilitate the use of BitTorrent networks?

These types of links are much easier to share. You can send them via email, as a text message, or through any popular messaging app.

And using them is as simple as clicking a link on a web page. If you have a BitTorrent client installed that supports magnet links, your web browser should prompt you to open the magnet link in the application. You can also copy and paste the link into BitTorrent clients that have an address bar for that purpose.

The truth is that they are all advantages. If you choose to have your BitTorrent client open magnet links you will only have to do it once. From there with a single click the client will download the associated content automatically. You will see them in almost all the specialized portals in these networks, of course completely legal. Another thing is the content that moves and of which we give due warning as always when we talk about file sharing networks: unauthorized sharing of copyright-protected files is illegal and is penalized by law.

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