What Is a Magnet Link and How Do You Use It?

Peer-to-peer networks are essential for distributing large files over the Internet: they lighten the load on servers and create a widespread distribution network. In recent years, magnetic links have begun to replace .torrent links. But what are magnetic links and why should you use them?

Why do torrents exist and how do they work?

Let’s say you want to distribute a single large file. There are many legitimate reasons for doing this, including distributing Linux distributions (it’s in the name) to users who will install Linux on their home computers.

Traditionally, the organization that creates the disk image will store the data on its servers, and users download the file using a web browser. For large amounts of data, this creates problems for the downloader, which has to keep the browser window open, and for the host server, which may burn unreasonable bandwidth to keep up with demand. Therefore, direct downloads are often slow and error prone.

With traditional peer-to-peer torrenting, the large file is split into thousands of individual pieces. Users download a file with a .torrent extension. The torrent file is passed to a client such as Transmission or qBittorrent, which downloads each block of the file from other users while simultaneously uploading the pieces to your machine on other clients. Trackers, as the name suggests, keep track of where the pieces are so your customer can download the file.

With a popular file being distributed to and by a huge number of users, the download speeds are fast.

Torrents have some drawbacks. First, the trackers are not always up to date, which means that the record showing the position of the individual pieces is not up to date.

Magnetic links are not files and are not tracker based. The link includes all the information you need to locate the parts of the file you want to download. For this reason, magnetic links are extremely long.

A magnetic link always begins with the prefix magnet:followed by a cryptographic hash of the exact file name, a display name, several possible tracker locations, and download sources for the file the Magnet link points to.

Aside from the problem of expired trackers, Magnet links are considered superior to torrents because they don’t require users to download a potentially suspicious torrent file to their computers. They also don’t rely on a tracker as their central authority. Magnetic links are considerably easier to share and can even be pasted into a standard SMS message.

Downloading files using a magnetic link couldn’t be easier! Make sure you have a torrent client like Transmission, qbittorrent or uTorrent installed on your PC and just click the link. Due to the “magnet:” prefix, the client download will begin immediately.

Due to their advantages, Magnet links are becoming more popular than torrent files for distributing large files. Regardless of whether you share files using torrents or Magnets, you should only use peer-to-peer networks for legal purposes, such as sharing Linux distributions or other open source software.

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