Is Torrenting Dead?

Is Torrenting Dead

People have been asking whether “BitTorrent is dying” or "is torrenting dead" for at least 10 years. But reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

That’s right, folks: torrenting is NOT dead. Not by a long shot.

But let’s look at what led people to that conclusion in the first place – and then put it in perspective.

Streaming Overtakes Downloading as Share of Traffic

In the past, BitTorrent traffic made up anywhere from 30 to 70% of internet traffic. That means that anywhere from 3 to 7 of every 10GBs downloaded was through P2P sharing in a torrent client.

But now, it makes up less than 10% of traffic.

So, what happened?

Streaming happened. With the launch of YouTube in 2005 – and then Netflix in 2010 – the internet landscape drastically changed, with streaming video (and music) coming to dominate traffic share at the expense of BitTorrent.

While there were plenty of people still torrenting, most folks were content with the convenience of streaming services. They were also easy to “binge” with marathon streaming sessions, which uses up a lot of bandwidth.

Is Torrenting Dead? Total Traffic vs. Percentage of Traffic

Now, while it’s definitely true that torrenting traffic accounts for a much smaller share of total internet traffic, it’s worth putting those numbers in perspective.

Total internet traffic has grown exponentially over the past 20 years. Today, there’s around 100-times more bandwidth consumed per second, per day, per month, and per year than there was in 2005, when YouTube was launched.

A lot has contributed to that growth, including wider high-speed availability, mobile phones with internet, and just the spread of the technology in general.

But why does it matter? Because while BitTorrent makes up a smaller percentage of today’s internet traffic, it actually uses more total traffic. In other words, it has grown.

Torrent sites remain some of the popular on the internet, and they’re filled with large files being shared between millions of users. Not exactly a “dead” industry, by any means.

Torrenting Makes a Comeback

In fact, torrenting may even be making a “comeback” in terms of traffic share.

Why?

There are a few reasons. In countries like the US, people are growing tired of the proliferation of different streaming services. Before, you could get most of the content you wanted with just a Netflix subscription and a free YouTube account, but now there’s Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, and others.

At roughly $5 to $10 per subscription, the “cable alternative” has now become just as expensive as – if not more than – normal cable (or satellite) service. Not to mention the headaches of juggling so many different subscriptions.

This leads to our next point: the growth of high-speed internet in developing countries across Latin America, Africa, and Asia has also contributed to the reemergence of torrenting. Because many of the popular streaming services are too expensive and too hard to sign up for (or unavailable) in many countries.

And since there’s also less of a stigma around downloading content, well, it makes sense that they’d get their content from uTorrent or qBittorrent instead of Netflix or Disney Plus.

Of course, torrenting isn’t the only way to download content; stream-ripping and Usenet are also good options. But torrenting is a reliable, time-tested technology. Plus, it’s free.

Finally, there’s the issue of ownership. Not only do you not get to keep content you stream, you don’t even own digital content that you pay for. So, it’s no surprise that many torrenters list their desire to own content as one of their top motivators.

Is Torrenting Dead? Wrap Up

Sure, BitTorrent traffic makes up a smaller share of total internet traffic than it did 10 years ago. But it’s not dead or dying at all. In fact, it may be set for some major growth in the near future.

P2P technology’s price (free), accessibility, and reliability mean it’s around to stay, regardless of what its detractors and critics have to say. There are just too many uses, both legitimate and illegitimate.

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