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OPEN CALL: Is BitTorrent Good for Anything?

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Updated: 14 Jun 2006
 

Jeff F. wrote: In the "Suggested Apps to Ban" article, BitTorrent only shows up in a few lists. We have a ton of it loose in the organization, and want to kill it, BUT.. we have folks telling us THEY didn't install it, but a legitimate application they use installed it as part of a download manager. We (the IT techs) could not care less why it is there, however, Management is flip-flopping on it. Can anyone tell me if it is used with "real" software as a download/update manager, file transfer, something legit? Do you have an example of what uses it other than as a bandwidth hog?

Update from Jeff:
I would like to thank you for the EXCELLENT replies to my question. Maybe I needed to be a bit clearer, but I got the answer I want. We are a corporate environment where the end user does NOT need a download manager for large files, we don't have work that requires it. As for distributions, we don't grab them enough to make it a better tool (and could limit it to technical staff anyway). While it may have benefits, they are, at least in our case, business requirements for our environment. We will be banning it globally, and requiring the customer to provide thorough documentation as to why they need it. Again, many many thanks for great information.

OPEN CALL: If you have any insight to share with Jeff, let us know.

Experiences with BitTorrent

Dave Convery

Jeff -
I use the Torrent for downloading open source ISO files. I allow the client to stay open for a while to "contribute back," so that others download pieces from me. Then I shut it down. For this purpose, it is a very useful tool.

Having a client installed on someone's machine without their knowledge, and probably starting up automatically, is a bad thing for a network. The file sharing continues indefinitely. A good number of clients running at the same time could completely clog the plumbing.

David Rickard

I use BitTorrent a lot for downloading Linux stuff, mainly ISOs if the mirrors are slow, or there are no local mirrors. There are quite a few sites that will host things with BitTorrent if the traffic is going to be high.

It does have a use, but probably not for 'The Average User'.

Stuart Beckett

It appears to be a peer-to-peer file transfer, here is a good FAQ.

If you have no need for peer-to-peer, I would ban it.

Matt Bartle

I've used BitTorrent to download CD-ROM and DVD images and I think it's great!

A couple of caveats:

  • Our firewall is set so only I can share files with it.
  • It's important to throttle the speed of it so it doesn't slow everyone down.
  • I use the uTorrentclient which has more features to control it than the original BitTorrent client - e.g. you can set it to go at a slower speed during the day but much faster at night.

Craig Jacquez

Yes, we've heard the same thing from our end users: "I didn't install it. It must be part of some other application."

But to date we have not found this to be true yet.

The end users often claim ignorance when "caught with their hand in the cookie jar".

Arif Ahmed

It is possible that a software developer has used it in his code.

BitTorrent can be used by software developers who want to ease the bandwidth strain on their servers. If a developer offers a large file for download, the bandwidth limit of their server may be exceeded if a large number of people download the file. By offering the file via BitTorrent , they transfer much of the bandwidth burden to downloaders of the file.

I know that some of the games manufacturers are using BitTorrent to distribute games patches / demo downloads, etc.

Ian Stoffberg

As can be seen on opensuse.org, BitTorrent is an excellent way of sharing the bandwidth when many people need to download the same file. BitTorrent is an extremely efficient application at distributing *large* files to a multiple recipients.

There are, of course, numerous pirate sites that make use of BitTorrent technology for illegal sharing of copyrighted material, and access to these kinds of sites would need to be curtailed.

I would not blanket ban the use of BT in an organisation, rather:

  1. Use your existing company policies to reinforce a ban on the download of illegal / copyrighted material.
  2. Enforce bandwidth throttling on the BitTorrent apps. Max Upload/ Download speeds. Maximum connections, etc.
  3. Monitor the download of .Torrentfiles via BorderManager/ Squid, etc., or use ZENworks to search for those files to identify filenames which look suspicious.

I strongly advise against banning the use of an application like BT as it has many beneficial uses for legitimate users.

Just ask the guys @ Opensuse.org and many other sites.

Andrew Horne

Some games have a built-in BiTorrent client, perhaps it is something like this which has been installed. Some applications do use versions of it to distribute patches, "World of Warcraft," for example.

Lots of applications suggest it is used as a download manager. (SUSE Linux, for example and a lot of other open source software too.)

Update: I should add that if there is BitTorrent activity on our systems it is only in the capacity of a download manager. Any software downloaded would not be available for sharing as our firewall would prevent access to the particular ports.

The wikipedia entry for BitTorrent lists some applications.

I should add that if there is BitTorrent activity on our systems it is only in the capacity of a download manager. Any software downloaded would not be available for sharing as our firewall would prevent access to the particular ports.

Michael Finn

I don't have any examples of applications that use it, although I've heard of a few that use BitTorrent as one possible way to download some of the data required for the application. As a Network Administrator, I use Azureus to download some things I need. Linux Distros and large patches are frequently available on BitTorrent . Just as it claims, the more people download something, the faster it is for everyone.

Tom Hollingsworth

To my knowledge, most of the popular download managers don't use BitTorrent as a mechanism for accelerating downloads. Due to the way BitTorrent works, it wouldn't be effecient enough for most small file transfers.

BitTorrent is quite useful for large file transfers, but the only really large, LEGAL file transfers that I see it being used for today are Linux distros. The large amount of data that needs to be transferred works well with the BitTorrent model. However, if your organization has policies against downloading and installing Linux on company computers, it might be a good idea to go ahead and block the protocol. In the end, the few people that might be using it for legal purposes will find a way to get what they need from another program, and it will keep your company from being exposed to any potential legal issues springing from using BitTorrent to download restricted things such as movies.

BTW, I am a huge fan of BitTorrent and I think it will one day change the way that large file transfers are done. I just don't think it's appropriate for a business environment. Yet.

Frank Fontana

BitTorrent can be an invaluable tool when used appropriately and for legitimate purposes. I haven't seen the client installed as part of an installation, but several vendors provide torrent files to distribute their product. (OpenSUSE provides one)

BitTorrent IS becoming a preferred method of obtaining or distributing software by many vendors. BitTorrent can be throttled to limit bandwidth use. BitTorrent can be administered with your web browser.

Set up a single BitTorrent Client on a Windows or Linux box that you can provide shared access to. Then limit the download directory. (You can audit access and content).

Mike Holliday

In our university setting, we have found it to only be used by students for online gaming patch updates like World of Warcraft, or for other illegal file sharing. We have banned all P2P software when it comes to students' network access. For faculty, they have to "prove" what the necessity is for having it - as there's usually various methods to download files and not rely solely on BitTorrent .

We have not heard of anything as being part of a necessary download/update manager - not yet anyway. We have seen where people did install it, forgot it was there or never used it, and it was still running active eating up the bandwidth. It's easier to restrict its use and then open/allow it on an as-needed or "approved" basis.

Philip Bardaville

My Two Cents:

BitTorrent (and the myriad of other programs out there that deal with .Torrentfiles) has the perception of currently being a 'pirate's haven'. Rightfully so, as most downloads today are of an illegal nature. It hasn't gone the way of Napster because of the fact that it has 'legitimate' uses (see below).

  1. It's Open Source
    Many wonderful possibilities can be had from a peer-to-peer networking technology that allows the open source model.
  2. Evolving Into Mainstream
    I personally think that this protocol may become mainstream and I've read other articles to this effect.
  3. Bandwidth Hog? What?
    I would say this is the OPPOSITE of being a bandwidth hog. If it can be secured to be a 'legal' tool to download/upload to/from MULTIPLE sources (and if I remember you can specifiy 'friends' or 'trusted' - I'll have to confirm this), it would REDUCE the bandwidth within a LAN/WAN especially on larger files to/from particular servers. FTP on the other hand HOGS a huge amount of bandwidth to one source, not spreading it out to multiple sources. Manage it like anything else.
  4. Hey it's in Wikipedia!
    Shows some good uses and companies/software that use .Torrenttransfers.

Corporate Use? Still a toss up, but if you're into distributing to a client base then this is definitely a good option IMHO. I personally could not find a program that REQUIRED it installed...there usually was one or two other methods available.

Tim Crotwell

BitTorrent is used by some websites - such as OpenOffice - to distribute downloads, files, etc. The primary use for it seems to be file-sharing, for downloading music, movies, apps, etc.

The unique thing about downloading through BitTorrent is that it uses your upload bandwidth while you are uploading to help distribute to other users at the same time. Therefore it can be a real bandwidth hog if not throttled back to a reasonable limitation.

Bill Hilger

I can see a benefit to using BitTorrent when downloading DVD-iso's of the latest OpenSUSE distro (or Fedora core, or my latest Novell Subscription pack). If we all ran to grab a copy with every new release - the mirror sites would be pounded to dust.

Theoretically, this model could be used to propagate system patches and other positive changes incredibly quickly. Unfortunately, the development seems to center on the illicit value of the system.

That said, I am comfortable with my old habit of using NNTP servers + UUEncode/decode for many of the same purposes. I don't mind the possibility of having my transactions observed - because my use is legal. In my position, I try to set this example: I can justify every piece of software in my control and I can control every piece of software I have. (I think I need a "within reason" clause for stuff like IE.)

I personally don't use Torrent, and have recommended that others don't. I don't trust the software in a secure environment. Further, I believe it has been abused and now attracts too much negative attention.

Sami Kapanen

We have forbidden BitTorrent and shut it down with progkill. We have not found any applications that would require it in order to work. However, the new Opera9 (currently at beta) browser comes with BitTorrent . Luckily our workstation deployments are specified with IE and Firefox ;-)

Humzah Khaial

As far as I am concerned, there isn't a legitimate reason why it should be on any corporate network, considering it is primarily used to illegally share copyrighted material, and for the odd number of legitimate applications that may use it to transfer updates (i.e. OpenOffice.org), they always offer an alternative method. So I would say, block the ports and reclaim the precious bandwidth.

Jason Doller

BitTorrent is a tool that, like the phone and the Internet, can be used or abused. Much of the publicity that BitTorrent has been getting has been as a P2P tool used to download TV shows, movies and music. It is, however, much more than that.

BitTorrent is a P2P application, no doubt about that. But where it differs from most other P2P apps is in that it is a completely distributed app - there is no network, and you can't search a central database for downloads - rather, individual and often unrelated sites host 'seeds' that allow you to initiate a Torrent(a Torrentis a download).

BitTorrent also differs inasmuch as it tries to enforce a degree of fairness by rewarding clients that share and penalising those that don't. The more you share, the faster your download, and vice versa.

While BitTorrent is undoubtedly a good tool for people who wish to share pirated software, it's also a great tool for those wishing to distribute legitimate software. SUSE, Ubuntu, Centos, Open Office and many other well-known and high-profile vendors use BitTorrent as a primary source of software distribution. There are a number of good reasons for doing this, the primary one being that it's faster.

Often software vendors find their site flooded, their servers overwhelmed and their bandwidth depleted when they release a new version of their software - they are essentially penalised for being popular. The BitTorrent model actually increases download speed as the download becomes more popular. The more people downloading the file, the faster people can get it, all without depleting a central server or connection.

BitTorrent is an important technology - it's changing the way companies are doing business, and it's helping to relieve the congestion that has long been one of the major problems with net connectivity.

Whether this is useful to you are not is dependant on a number of factors, and you may find that it's not that important to you here and now, but just as the telephone has become ubiquitous and indispensable, so BitTorrent (or related technologies) will become indispensable before too long. The benefits of the Torrentfile distribution system far outweigh the disadvantages.

Tony Pedretti

More and more vendors are distributing software via the Torrentmodel. See SUSE Linux for an example.

Kevin Kraft

BT is good for transferring larger files that are of a general interest, such as Linux distro ISOs, promotional DVDs, and full-length video files like DivX.

If you ever find yourself needing files of this variety, then you should keep BT around, if not, then it'll only open you up for trouble.

James Rudd

Bit Torrents do have legit uses for software distribution. It depends what your company does, if it works with Open Source software it could be especially useful. The latest SUSE OSS 10.1 is available for download by BitTorrent , which may be significantly faster than some of the servers, especially if a peer is nearby and on a high speed link, or someone else inside the company has already downloaded it and is seeding.

For large files this could help reduce bandwidth used if multiple people need the file and they download it from the same tracker.

GetRight is a well-known download manager that now supports downloading Torrentfiles.

If you have a proxy that can block and monitor traffic, try to determine which Torrenttrackers are in use. There are lots of legit trackers but even more holding illegal software and music. You can apply blocks to any major Torrentsites that are supplying illegal content to reduce downloading of these files, if it is occurring.

Paul Gear

BitTorrent is a great application for downloading Linux ISOs, especially from OpenSUSE.org! I'd ban it for most users but still let sysadmins use it. :-)

Michael Mollard

I've found BitTorrent to be more and more useful. Last night I tried to get access to the latest OpenSUSE 10.1 from opensuse.org. After a few hours of website errors (most probably under a massive load), and no access to mirrors, or ftp, I searched for a Torrentfor the 10.1 ISOs. Took me a few minutes, and this morning I have 3.2GB worth of CDs sitting waiting for me to play with. The way that Torrents work, as it gets more people downloading it, it actually has increased capacity, makes it brilliant for any large scale file distribution.

Ryan Gregson

Hi, Jeff and Novell users,

In my experience, Bit Torrenttranfer protocol is only ever installed specifically as part of a P2P program advertised as being for Bit Torrents, or as an option in other P2P download applications. I have never seen nor heard of it being bundled or integrated with applications such as Get Right or Download Accelerator Plus.

Also, I have never seen nor heard of Bit Torrentbeing used for general downloads [for utilities, drivers, work files, etc.] or as a method of transer between companies. Its main function is to acquire large files such as Game ISO's and movies as quickly as possible, and in most cases illegally, which is why 9 in 10 Torrentclients use pretty much every skerrick of bandwidth they can lay their fingers on.

All this said, I can't say if Torrents are beginning to appear in legit download managers, but it seems unlikely due to the nature of the protocol. And as an update manager used by Microsoft for example, I sincerely doubt it.

Personally I would get rid of it. There's too much potential for excessive and unnecessary network overheads and loss of bandwidth. And also a security risk on the part of viruses and illegal software/media entering the network.

Hans Nellissen

Block these ports:

  • 6969 (TCP Incoming / Outgoing)
  • 6881 - 6889 (TCP Incoming / Outgoing)
  • 3881 - 3889 (TCP Incoming / Outgoing)
  • 49152 (TCP Incoming / Outgoing)
  • 52525 (TCP Incoming / Outgoing)

and BitTorrent will gone.

Phillip Thomas

There seem to be two main areas where BitTorrent is used to download legal content. First and foremost is the open source community, which was an early adopter of BitTorrent for downloading ISO images of linux distributions and other open source software. The Linux Mirror Project and http://linuxtracker.org/ are two examples of this.

Secondly, multimedia content such as films and music is increasingly becoming legally available using BitTorrent . Notably, Warner brothers has announced their intent to publish Film and TV using BitTorrent .

Whether these two types of legal BitTorrent applications are appropriate for a corporate environment is debatable. But, there is no doubt that BitTorrent is becoming mainstream. From www.slyck.com: "Over the course of the last half-year, BitTorrent has begun a slow transition towards legitimacy. This transition was punctuated by Bram Cohen's recent negotiations with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America.) Both Bram and the MPAA are attempting to negotiate an agreement in which Hollywood movies could be distributed using this protocol."

Joseph Watts

My experience with it is that it's a lot like spyware... meaning it's a useless app that uses insidious methods to keep itself around. There's nothing business-critical about it. I think you'll find that it's much harder to get rid of than to install. I view it as a security risk due to its 'download from anywhere' nature. Download managers are unnecessary and are usually nothing more than a platform to serve up ads and do a lot of phoning home.

I've got a huge distaste for apps that install themselves to run constantly in the background, like Acrobat reader. After its install, you've got several memory-resident applications to remove from your startup.

Michael Glenn

Hi, Jeff!
In my experience, I have only found one true use for Torrents; the transfer and sharing of Very Large Files. If you're a lab tech and you need a copy of the latest Linux release, Torrents are a Good Thing. Are there any other uses? Hmmm. . . . Very Large Files. . . . What would your typical office user be doing that required the anonymous reception and rebroadcast of Very Large Files. . . . Well, there's that spiffy new movie that was just released on DVD, or, maybe that whiz-bang album that just hit the Top Ten (Can you say RIAA? I know the PHBs can.). Quite frankly I can't think of anything else, and I've never heard of a commercial software vendor who puts BitTorrent in their code. Maybe Napster does, but somehow I don't think that has much to do with business production.

Firewall the thing. If someone wants an exception, have them submit justification in writing. If it's justified, fine; if it isn't, you just saved yourself a nasty little visit from a small army of recording industry lawyers.

James Braja

I have sparingly used BitTorrent for large downloads of personal files at home ONLY, such as Star Trek/Star Wars fan movies from legitimate download sites that only support BitTorrent ! It supposedly can dramatically decrease the time it takes to download large files, but an investment is required on your part. You must allow BitTorrent to use your PC/network bandwidth to allow others to download files from you. Essentially it is a large P2P network, and I do not know of any legitimate work related files that currently use BitTorrent . Remember Morpheus?

I have heard that some BitTorrent installation packages can install spyware, malware, and probably unwanted pop-up ads. You need to be careful about the download source for the software, and even then I am not convinced it is 100% safe. You should verify what work-related files are only available through this source, and if there aren't any, I think it should be banned from (or at least severely limited to one or two in) the work environment.

Benjamin Franklin

BitTorrent technology can support legitimate purposes. The question here is whether or not its presence in your organization is legitimate. Also, I am wondering about your proxy server/firewall configuration. We use BorderManager here and only open ports that are necessary. Applications like Napster, BitTorrent , Hamachi, and the like have never worked here. So, even if these programs were installed, they were rendered useless by our proxy configuration.

I would also ask if the BitTorrent client install is really necessary. Since you didn't tell us what applications it was bundled with, we have no way of responding appropriately. You are probably very familiar with adware that often comes bundled with applications. Sometimes an individual will claim they need the primary application, but this is not usually the case. Often, removal of the adware also mandates removal of the desired application. Provide us with more information and perhaps we can be of more help. One reason I can imagine for the presence of the BitTorrent piece would be for distributing software updates.

BitTorrent's primary usage would be to distribute data in a decentralized manner. This could serve a legitimate purpose. I can even see how this could be handy internally for distributing ZENworks NAL pushes. Anyway, here's a link to a page that describes how BitTorrent works. Here's a link to the official site.

Sean Burgen

I think BitTorrent is good if used in a controlled environment. BitTorrent could be used as one central place to supply security patches, Microsoft packages, MAC patches, Linux packages, etc. The problem with BitTorrent is the inventor let it build up to a Napster-style format.

Dan Hill

It's an indication that your users are downloading huge files. Downloading OpenOffice.org is the only work-related use I have ever had for it. I would ban it as it is basically a P2P protocol and your users could be uploading bits and pieces of the file that they downloaded (providing your firewall is even letting them).

Ryan Sinnwell

I would suggest that you not completely disable it at the network level, but it would be a good program to ban. The only issue is the numerous clients out there that you would have to watch for. I try to keep an eye on what new clients are popping up and as I see users with them installed, I coach the user on proper use of company equipment and that will usually deter them from reinstalling after I uninstall. I do have a few users that I trust are using the clients at home for legitimate purposes (Linux ISOs, live music trading (bt.etree.org), etc.), so it's one of those things I just keep an eye out for to head off future abuse.

Joseph Sears

I think BitTorrent can contribute greatly to the technology community. Like others have said, the open source community uses it as an inexpensive way to distribute their goods without having to pay the high costs of shipping and CD pressing. I have also heard the movie industry is looking at using some form of the technology to sell us movies over the internet.

As far as allowing it on your company's network goes, I would think you would not want to allow it for most of the users. It is still used for a lot of illegitimate, if not illegal, downloading, and can use a lot of bandwidth if not configured properly. I would say ban it for most users, but keep it in your back pocket for your tech team if you use open source solutions.

Chad Israel

I mainly use BitTorrent for ISO downloads. Works great for my purpose. I just set it and let it go. But I'm not in favor of just letting it run in the background nor do I allow my users to do so.

Christopher Farkas

I use it all the time to download applications from vendors that don't have the money to get their products out there and need the help with the distribution.

One that comes to mind that "EVERYONE" here should use is autopatcher . I'm sure a few of us have the need to patch XP, 2000 or 2003 often ,and this lends a hand.

Phil Hall

First off, if a non-IT person is installing *anything* on the company's systems, there's a problem. The fact that there "are folks telling us THEY didn't install it" is immaterial. Why are end-users installing anything at all, let alone a download manager?

BitTorrent does, in fact, have legit uses. Some (not many) Linux vendors now use it as the premier method of obtaining updates (usually in the form of an ISO); but that still shouldn't be anything a non-IT person is messing around with.

In short, if that's on your systems, you have bigger issues to be worrying about rather than if BitTorrent is a bandwidth hog.

Timothy Patterson

I also work at the same University as Mike Holliday (who posted above), and I would like to touch on our approach to controlling BitTorrent (and other Peer-to-Peer services). As Mike mentioned, we have found most of our BitTorrent traffic to be used for illegal purposes here on campus.

We use the open source application Snort running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to "sniff" out any unwanted traffic (in this case, BitTorrent traffic originating from the Dorms). Whenever Snort detects this type of traffic, it uses some custom scripts to send SNMP traps to our network registration system. Our network registration system then finds the client's machine by MAC address and immediately sends their machine into a quarantined VLAN which forces them to clean up their computer - getting rid of their P2P applications. Once their machines pass a scan they are automatically put back into their proper "normal" VLANs.

Brett Johnson

I use BitTorrent for downloading Linux and other stuff like some of the other posts, sure, but its real utility lies in the fact that it always works. I've had the opportunity to try a lot of download managers, ranging from the built-in functions of various web browsers to dedicated multi-part download managers, and all but BitTorrent have come up short at one time or another, especially for large files and complex downloads. BitTorrent is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, my tool of last resort. Granted, it takes time to run a Torrent to completion, but it works when others don't.

Jim Pye

I have myself just got into the world of Torrenting the bits. Did a bit of a look-up on the protocol first to see what was involved before jumping in. Very cool way of saving the server hosting the big files from being totally wiped off the planet when a new version of, say, an OS is released, eg. OpenSUSE 10.1 :)

I am using the KTorrent client supplied with KDE, however needed to upgrade it from the version supplied with KDE on SUSE 10.0 to stop it from giving me a segmentation fault.

The one thing that I find BitTorrent is very good at doing is allowing for a download to be stopped, and then started again, and it just picks up from where it left off. This can be handy as my ISP has a system where I get full bandwidth until I have sent/received 700MB -- then they cut me back to fast modem speeds until 2 a.m. the next day (when the speed is increased again). So using a trick I came across on the KDE forums (IIRC) I start the KTorrent client manually, just before going to bed, and have a cron job that runs the KDE dcop commands shown below to stop the downloading just before 2am. This allows me to use up the last of my daily allowance and when I go to check my emails in the morning it is all back to normal speed.

The script I call using crontab looks like this:

#!/bin/bash
/opt/kde3/bin/dcop --user xxx ktorrent KTorrent stopAll
/opt/kde3/bin/dcop --user xxx ktorrent MainApplication-Interface quit

Using this scheme it took about 4 or 5 days to download OpenSUSE 10.1 and about 6 days for the 64 Bit version 10.0.

John Rizer

BitTorrent is a GREAT format. I have been on the BitTorrent bandwagon since it started years ago. Where I work we added every Torrent download site to our block list to keep the kids from getting any ideas. Some companies have started using it, for instance Peter Jackson's King Kong website made heavy use of Torrent downloads for their development movies they released every week or so during the making of.

From a hosting standpoint you can save a lot of bandwidth by hosting files as Torrents rather than having them saved on a web server somewhere. The people downloading do the uploading for you. From a business perspective, though, there isn't much you'd want to use it for other than hosting files for download. BitTorrent is a major source of downloading movies/games/mp3. You name it, you can find a Torrent for it. I found it easier to block all the Torrent websites (we probably blocked 100 of them or so) rather than trying to eliminate the app all together. If you do want to try it, I suggest Azureus BitTorrent client that you can find on sourceforge. And www.mininova.org to see a Torrent site.

Brian Wall

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer client, mostly useful for downloading large files such as ISO images or movies. It really doesn't work well with small files, so it's unlikely that malware or legitimate applications are using it for their update process. HTTP is much more efficient for that.

Here's a great FAQ on firewalling BitTorrent.

Note that a savvy user can modify the port numbers that BitTorrent uses, so it may not be the easiest thing to firewall. The good news for administrators is that by design, BitTorrent is throttled pretty heavily if the firewall is preventing inbound connections to that user.

My recommendation is to firewall the ports described in the FAQ and keep BitTorrent on the banned apps list.

Marcel de Roode

We recently deployed Feedreader as our XML / RSS feed application of choice, and found that it installs a bittorrent.dll. I'm not sure if and how it's actually used. But it's there.

Don Meyer

I've read the responses above. I now see some use for BitTorrents but not many. The argument to allow BitTorrents for Linux distros and the like is legitimate. However, this is NEVER true for our users. Any programs that a user needs must be installed by IT staff and tested for stability, etc. Therefore, it is only the IT staff that might have a need for BitTorrents. It is only this small group of users that can be monitored on a regular basis for compliance with company policy.

Overwhelmingly, there are VERY good reasons to disallow all BitTorrents. The first being liability. We all know that the vast majority of Torrents are illegal in nature. Movies, programs and who knows what else. While it may be your company policy to disallow illegal downloads, you still have liability if you physically do nothing to prevent them.

We also know that many virus, spyware, malware and adware make their way via peer-to-peer networks including BitTorrents. While we have good Anti-virus installed on each machine, a good firewall on the perimeter, etc., we don't like the idea of allowing a 0-day virus gaining any type of foothold.

I liked that others thought this through a bit more. Bandwidth limits are a definite if you are going to allow BitTorrents. From a business perspective, using bandwidth resources can cost money. Money to purchase additional bandwidth is not an option for us. All P2P is blocked on our network.

Serge Beaudry

We use BitTorrent to download many Linux things, and for some things it's a better alternative than a standard download.

Can this tool be part of a user's toolbox? I would definitely say no. We use ZENworks to avoid un-approved software getting installed on the corporate PCs.

Why would a user need to peer-to-peer software like that, using all the bandwidth? And, of course, if users download copyrighted material it would get our company in trouble.

Do other companies let users use other peer-to-peer software? I've never seen it installed as part of another package.

Of course our BorderManager is blocking access to it.

Victor Coscodan

If your users don't have rights to install any programs on workstations and they don't use it like "media center" for music and games, I think they don't need BitTorrent.

In my company BitTorrent is prohibited.

(But, BitTorrent is a great thing.)


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