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BitTorrent is an ingenious way to download files by swapping portions of the file until you have the complete item ready for download.

BitTorrent picks up right where many other networks like Kazaa have left off and take the file sharing game to another level. BitTorrent was created to be used by people in the film industry to send massive content files from one location to another.

To accommodate many users and not tie up their bandwidth, the software sends the information to you by trading pieces of the file from multiple users along the way.

To add a file, you create a generic BitTorrent file name, upload the information and then anyone looking of that type of media can try to download it.

It gets a bit tricky however because the BitTorrent file system uses their own BitTorrent extension.

It's not like a Kazaa system where you can simply type in the name of a person or of a move and have all the search results returned in a format where they are easily identified. It takes a little bit of work to get used to the system but it seems to be working quite well since so many users have been using it lately.

Here's a quick rundown of how it works:

1. A user wants to share a file, so he or she creates a .bitTorrent file which identifies the file and blocks of content that are included in the file.

2. You upload it to one of their super nodes to be shared.

3. A user will see this file, take the file and look into it, to make sure that they are getting the right thing and then notify the server that they are ready to do a download.

4. The server then checks for all users that have that full file and will swap out bits and pieces until you get your entire download.

It's almost like the server chops all the files into mini matching pieces. So, if you have an 80% download for example, you can just find another user with the matching 20% and copy it.

The technology makes it possible to transport huge content files like movies across internet computer networks. This has brought the BitTorrent network into the already contentious fight between copyright proponents and those who want to continue to trade anything on the file sharing networks free of charge.

The ability to send movies to users in very little time for example, made them pretty threatening. The Motion Picture Academy or MPAA recently filed suit and most of the major BitTorrent servers are now offline. Mirror servers are still working outside the U.S., but it is unclear if the service and concept will survive.

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Syd Johnson