What is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a distributed peer-to-peer filesharing protocol. It allows many people to download an object (imagery in our case), without overstraining the hosting server.
So ... What is BitTorrent?
It's a protocol, like HTTP and FTP, that allows for the distribution of large files.
I thought P2P and Filesharing were illegal!
This is a common misconception. BitTorrent, and peer-to-peer (P2P) are protocols, like HTTP and EMail. It is true that they can be used to share files illegally, but the same is true of HTTP. Our use here is legitimate, however, so you should have no need to be concerned.
How do I download BitTorrent files?
BitTorrent files (called torrents, and identifiable by the .torrent ending) are downloaded like any other file. They are then opened by the BitTorrent program (available at http://www.bittorrent.com/), which will connect to the peer network and find places that it can start fetching the file from.
How does it work?
BitTorrent connects to a central server, defined by the torrent file, which keeps track of who is working on downloading the file. The protocol then begins to request pieces of the file from all other downloaders, starting with the file parts that are least commonly available. The protocol assumes that the majority of users are not fully utilizing their bandwidth and provides the ability to download from "peers" in that extra margin. For full details, please check the Official BitTorrent site.
Isn't that insecure?
BitTorrent will only provide files to other users that you tell it to allow. Usually this will be limited to files that you are currently downloading, yourself. But after you have finished, you can allow it to continue uploading (called seeding), so that others can download easier.
What should I be aware of with BitTorrent?
You should always be careful to check that your BitTorrent client and the torrent you are downloading are both "safe". Making sure your client is safe can be mostly handled by downloading the "official" client (from http://www.bittorrent.com/, or one of the clients they link. There are many other clients available, and we have not tested them all, and we cannot speak for their validity, of course. Making sure that your torrent is safe simply means to only download torrents from "reputable sources". We like to believe that we are one. It is possible for someone to "poison" a torrent, which leads to it downloading spyware or other malicious software instead of what you thought it would download, so it is always recommended to run each file you finish downloading through an anti-virus scan before attempting to open it.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Put your PC maintenance routine on autopilot
Most people do one of the following when their computer begins to slow down (besides get angry):
- Improve their computer by buying more memory.
- Decide to tweak their computer's settings.
- Figure that their computer is old, there's nothing else they can do, and that it's probably time to buy a new computer.
One option is to create a preventive maintenance plan—a plan that's easy to set up and set in motion so you never have to think about it again.
The following sections provide information on how to automate a maintenance schedule to keep your PC running smoothly. These procedures differ from version to version, but overall you'll find these tasks work for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition (Me), and Windows 98.
Create a preventive maintenance plan for your computerWhen people notice their computer's performance slowing, the most common reason is the hard disk. Your computer's hard disk is a non-removable area that holds all the information available from your computer. Over time, hard disks begin to lose their ability to store data efficiently.
The Windows operating system provides three great tools to help keep your hard drive humming smoothly. These tools are Disk Cleanup, Disk Defragmenter, and Check Disk. Find more information about using these tools to optimize your PC.
Ideally, you should run these tools on the following schedule.
|Preventive Maintenance Activity||Recommended Frequency|
|Clean up the hard disk of temporary files||Weekly|
|Rearrange (defragment) the hard disk||Monthly|
|Check the hard disk for errors||Weekly|
Windows allows you to set up and automate these tasks, so you never have to worry about them again.
Clean up your hard disk (weekly)Your computer amasses temporary files over time. These files can come from any number of sources, the Web being one of the largest offenders. After a while, these temporary files will slow down your computer.
About once every week, you should run the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to clear your PC of these temporary files.
Schedule Disk Cleanup to run automatically:
Rearrange your fragmented files (monthly)Whenever a file becomes too large to store in a single location on your hard disk, your computer breaks that file into parts (or fragments). Don't worry, though. Your computer keeps track of all these fragments, piecing them together whenever the file is accessed.
However, as fragmented files accumulate on your hard disk, your computer becomes gradually slower. This is because your computer has to go through all these fragmented files in order to piece the correct parts together again.
While there's nothing you can do to prevent the fragmentation of files, Windows does have a utility (Disk Fragmenter) to help deal with this situation. Disk Fragmenter rearranges fragmented files, resulting in increased free space on your hard disk and quicker performance from your PC.
About once every month, you should run the Windows Disk Defragmenter utility.
Set up Disk Defragmenter to run automatically:
Check your hard disk for errors (weekly)Whenever a program you're using crashes, your computer may create errors on your hard disk. These errors will eventually slow your computer to a crawl.
The good news is that Windows includes a Check Disk program. Check Disk corrects these types of errors from your hard disk, resulting in better PC performance.
About once every week, you should run the Check Disk utility.
Set up Check Disk to run automatically:
- Open the Task Scheduler:
In Windows 7
In Windows Vista
In Windows XP
- Follow the prompts in Task Scheduler to schedule a program to run at a set time.
Note Check Disk isn't available within the scroll-down list of programs that you select from in the Task Scheduler, so you'll need to select it manually. To select it, click Browse. Then, navigate to windows\system32\chkdsk.exe. Select chkdsk.exe and click Open.
Let Windows do all the work
These automated tasks—while they seem simple enough—are the foundation on which your computer's performance rests. Lucky for us, Windows can completely handle these tasks. You never have to worry about them. You just set up your maintenance tasks once, automate them, and let Windows take care of the rest.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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