July 14, 2024

P2P Still Growing; Traffic Shifts to eDonkey

CacheLogic has released a new report presentation on peer-to-peer traffic trends, based on measurement of networks worldwide. (The interesting part starts at slide 5.)

P2P traffic continued to grow in 2005. As expected, there was no dropoff after the Grokster decision.

Traffic continues to shift away from the FastTrack network (used by Kazaa and others), mostly toward eDonkey. BitTorrent is still quite popular but has lost some usage share. Gnutella showed unexpected growth in the U.S., though its share is still small.

CacheLogic speculates, plausibly, that these trends reflect a usage shift away from systems that faced heavier legal attacks. FastTrack saw several legal attacks, including the Grokster litigation, along with many lawsuits against individual users. BitTorrent itself didn’t come under legal attack, but some sites directories of (mostly) infringing BitTorrent traffic were shut down. eDonkey came in for fewer legal attacks, and the lawyers mostly ignored Gnutella as insignificant; these systems grew in popularity. So far in 2005, legal attacks have shifted users from one system to another, but they haven’t reduced overall P2P activity.

Another factor in the data, which CacheLogic doesn’t say as much about, is a possible shift toward distribution of larger files. The CacheLogic traffic data count the total number of bytes transferred, so large files are weighted much more heavily than small files. This factor will tend to inflate the apparent importance of BitTorrent and eDonkey, which transfer large files efficiently, at the expense of FastTrack and Gnutella, which don’t cope as well with large files. Video files, which tend to be large, are more common on BitTorrent and eDonkey. Overall, video accounted for about 61% of P2P traffic, and audio for 11%. Given the size disparity between video and audio, it seems likely that the majority of content (measured by number of files, or by dollar value, or by minutes of video/audio content) was still audio.

The report closes by predicting the continued growth of P2P, which seems like a pretty safe bet. It notes that copyright owners are now jumping on the P2P bandwagon, having learned the lesson of BitTorrent, which is that P2P is a very efficient way to distribute files, especially large files. As for users,

End users love P2P as it gives them access to the media they want, when they want it and at high speed …

Will the copyright owners’ authorized P2P systems give users the access and flexibility they have come to expect? If not, users will stick with other P2P systems that do.


  1. timberknome says

    The argument of whether p2p is right or wrong will go on until eternity.
    In theory p2p should be allowed but in reality it will always be exploited.

  2. Oops, it’s Felten, not Felton. The cache entry from the previous comment caused the mispelling 🙂

  3. “P2P systems are tools of decentralization not only of Internet traffic, but of power, entertainment, culture and knowledge.”

    That is precisely the reason that the people who are currently in control of those things are fighting P2P as hard as they can. Ordinary people currently have almost no power, and that is precisely how the people with the power want it to stay.

  4. Well, I’m not Felton (obviously), but I’m an user and developer of P2P systems. I think every P2p system should be legal. These kind of systems bring integration and easy distribution of culture and knowledge. Despite the rules and laws of our society, my human being nature doesn’t agree with the fact that some people can’t enjoy good culture ou read books to acquire knowledge only because they don’t have the money to afford them. P2P systems are tools of decentralization not only of Internet traffic, but of power, entertainment, culture and knowledge. We are a society after all. It’s time to behave like a true one.

  5. Dear Prof. Felton,

    Could you briefly comment on your opinion on P2P systems and their legality? Specifically, do you believe that every P2P network should be legal? I think you do, and if indeed so, do you believe that they should be policed to an extent so that certain types of information shared on them are deemed illegal and subject the publishers to potential prosecution?

    I would love to hear your opinion as I greatly respect your work and achievements. If you have talked about this elsewhere a link would be much appreciated. Thanks much.