Bandwidth, data caps, and p2p explained


A great way to think about bandwidth is to liken it to a toll motorway. Bandwidth is the width of this motorway, which determines how much traffic there can be at any one time, and how fast that traffic can go.

Data cap

The data cap is how many vehicles in total there are allowed to travel at full-speed on this toll motorway at any given period of time (in this case, it would be per month). If this cap is reached, then all cars will be slowed to a fraction of the full-speed limit. For example, if the full-speed ability is 100 km/h, when the data cap is reached then all cars will have a maximum speed of 20 km/h.

The exception here is that if a data block is purchased, then the cars will be able to travel at their full speed again.

Peer to Peer

Peer to peer (often shortened to p2p) is a technology which allows for distributed downloading. What this means is that instead of downloading a complete file from one location (server), you download pieces of the same file from many different sources at once. The p2p application on your computer then puts all the pieces together so that you can use it.

There is a bit of jargon that comes with p2p. The main terms you'll see are:

  • Peers: other people in the swarm (see below) that have pieces of the file, or the whole file, available to download.
  • Swarm: the collective group of all peers.
  • Seed: A peer that has 100% of the file, and has it available for all peers.
  • Leech: A peer that does not have 100% of the file. Leech can also refer to a peer that has a negative effect on the swarm by downloading (leeching) more than they upload (seed).
  • Ratio: the ratio of what you've downloaded versus what you've uploaded.

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