The Internet is filled with thousands of BitTorrent sites which all search through databases containing millions of torrent files. Today these sites are joined by a new one – BTDigg. However, unlike more traditional torrent search engines, BTDigg searches through files that are found on BitTorrent’s DHT network, which is rather unique. According to the site’s founders this is a much needed step to further decentralize BitTorrent.
To fully grasp the novelty of the newly launched DHT search engine BTDigg, one needs to have some basic knowledge of how regular BitTorrent search engines work.
In short, all search engines search through a database of .torrent files, either uploaded by users of their own site, or pulled from other places on the web. These torrent files are stored online and if a person creates a new torrent file he or she has to upload it somewhere for it to be picked up by torrent search engines.
BTDigg does things differently. Instead of relying on .torrent files this search engine uses BitTorrent’s DHT to discover new files.
DHT enables so-called “trackerless torrents”, a feature supported by all major BitTorrent clients. DHT’s function is to find peers who are downloading the same files, but without communicating with a central BitTorrent tracker. This is useful in the event that a central tracker goes down.
DHT is enabled by default in clients such as uTorrent and Vuze and millions of people are already using it without knowing. Unlike conventional torrent search engines, BTDigg’s servers are now using information from BitTorrent’s DHT network to find and index torrents.
Although we can’t really say that this is better or more efficient than the traditional search engine approach, it’s certainly a fresh perspective.
Another benefit is that people can theoretically share something without using a tracker, and without having to upload it to a torrent site. If DHT is enabled the file will be eventually picked up by BTDigg. In theory, this is another step towards a truly decentralized BitTorrent ecosystem.
This was also one of the main reasons why BTDigg was launched, the site’s founder told us. “We think that the Internet’s moving towards to decentralized and distributed systems and would like to contribute to it by creating BTDigg,” he said.
Contrary to the progressive concept, the design of BTDigg is rather retro. All users get to see is a search box, and the search results are presented in a l33t user interface. The search results show users detailed information on the various files, including the title, file size and a download link.
“We use information about the count of peers and the time of the last access to present users with the most relevant results,” the site’s founder further explained.
The downloads on BTDigg go through magnet links instead of the more traditional torrents. Since BTDigg uses the DHT network to find files there are no torrents involved at all, even though the files all come from other BitTorrent users.
BTDigg’s founder told TorrentFreak that they will keep improving the site in the weeks to come, and we were ensured that a redesign is also in the planning. It will be interesting to see where this goes, and for traditional search engines DHT might be another interesting (but resource consuming) source of content.