Torrent sites are really called torrent index sites. These sites serve the BitTorrent community of file sharers. The torrent index is a searchable database of available torrents. Those wishing to distribute a file with BitTorrent need to make the public aware of its existence. Those wishing to download a file need to find where it is. These two types of people use torrent sites.
The BitTorrent network was invented in 2001 by Bram Cohen. The protocol is free to use, though it is copyrighted by the BitTorrent corporation. It is a decentralized file sharing system that can be accessed by anyone who has a torrent client and an Internet connection. The torrent client is a browser specifically designed to integrate details of required files (called torrents), displaying the status of files the user is currently uploading or downloading through the BitTorrent network. The first BitTorrent client was called BitTorrent. It is still the most popular client, although there are now many other client programs available.
Torrent clients need to know who to contact in order to source a required file. The user adds this information to the client by downloading a torrent file. The torrent file contains details of the size and number of blocks in a torrent. It also holds the location of a tracker which contains details of the location of copies of the file. These torrent files are collected and indexed by torrent sites.
Most torrent sites contain few fields other than a search text box. The rest of the home page is filled either with adverts, search instructions or news. The visitor to the site types in a name of a game, song, artist, album, TV show or film and the torrent site matches that text against the contents of its database of torrent files. The match is made against any word in the search term unless the user specifies a grouping of the words with quotes or uses the Boolean search words "AND," "OR" and "NOT" to include, or exclude combinations of words. The results of the search reflect the contents of a torrent file, not just its title.
The match to the search term may not be immediately apparent when the user sees the list of results. A torrent file can contain details of a directory structure containing many episodes of a TV series or songs on an album. For this reason, the search is performed on the component elements of the torrent, not just the torrent title. The details page for the torrent includes a download option. The torrent file downloads. When the user double clicks on the downloaded torrent file, it will open in the torrent client, which will then open connections to the owners of the torrent.
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