Unraveling the BitTorrent ecosystem

Chao Zhang, Prithula Dhungel, Di Wu, Keith W. Ross

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    BitTorrent is the most successful open Internet application for content distribution. Despite its importance, both in terms of its footprint in the Internet and the influence it has on emerging P2P applications, the BitTorrent Ecosystem is only partially understood. We seek to provide a nearly complete picture of the entire public BitTorrent Ecosystem. To this end, we crawl five of the most popular torrent-discovery sites over a ine-month period, identifying all of 4.6 million and 38,996 trackers that the sites reference. We also develop a high-performance tracker crawler, and over a narrow window of 12 hours, crawl essentially all of the public Ecosystem's trackers, obtaining peer lists for all referenced torrents. Complementing the torrent-discovery site and tracker crawling, we further crawl Azureus and Mainline DHTs for a random sample of torrents. Our resulting measurement data are more than an order of magnitude larger (in terms of number of torrents, trackers, or peers) than any earlier study. Using this extensive data set, we study in-depth the Ecosystem's torrent-discovery, tracker, peer, user behavior, and content landscapes. For peer statistics, the analysis is based on one typical snapshot obtained over 12 hours. We further analyze the fragility of the Ecosystem upon the removal of its most important tracker service.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number5482574
    Pages (from-to)1164-1177
    Number of pages14
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 2011


    • BitTorrent Ecosystem
    • content distribution
    • measurement.
    • peer-to-peer

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Signal Processing
    • Hardware and Architecture
    • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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