Furk is not your regular torrent site. Not only does it function as a meta-search engine, but you can also download ‘torrents’ via Furk’s servers using HTTP. And it doesn’t stop there. Furk holds these downloads in a searchable database that anyone can use, turning the site into a kind of mashup between BitTorrent and Rapidshare.
In the regular BitTorrent downloading scenario we would go to a torrent site such as The Pirate Bay or Mininova, select a torrent and download it. Once that torrent starts running in our client, connections are made to other people using the same technique and the content is downloaded and shared with and via those ‘peers’.
This type of file-sharing is very effective – indeed, it’s what BitTorrent is all about. However, there are those who would prefer to stop or hinder such P2P traffic – certain ISPs take measures to identify BitTorrent protocol traffic and slow it down with a process known as ‘throttling’.
While Furk.net can simply be used as a torrent meta-search engine to trawl other sites for .torrent files, to combat throttling (and privacy concerns) Furk bills part of its service as a ‘BitTorrent Proxy’. This means that instead of searching for a torrent file and downloading in the usual manner via the BitTorrent protocol, instead Furk itself joins the swarm in question and downloads the material directly to their own servers.
Once completed, users can simply download that material directly from Furk’s super-fast network using the HTTP protocol in their regular web browser. Identical to standard web traffic, HTTP generally isn’t throttled by ISPs, allowing the user to download more quickly than with throttled BitTorrent. In the less likely event that an ISP tries to slow down HTTP, downloads can be made from Furk using HTTPs.
“By default all links are HTTPs,” Furk admin told TorrentFreak. “It helps to avoid content filtering systems and increase the level of anonymity. Also for every link the user can choose an alternative link with a non-standard port.” This element of the service is only available to premium users at a few euros per month but free users can still have fun with Furk.
It’s also possible to upload your own files and videos to the service, but Furk has another much more interesting trick up its sleeve – and it’s available to non-premium users. Instead of just keeping the content on their servers for material requested by you, Furk keeps the content requested by everyone. This means that Furk has a growing database of material culled from torrent sites, but offered via direct and immediate HTTP download. A search for ‘aXXo’ shows hundreds of releases, mostly available for direct download. Think of it like Rapidshare, but with a BitTorrent backend.
“Speed for premium users is unlimited. All of the servers are on a 1Gps network and we have plenty of unused bandwidth,” Furk admin told TorrentFreak. “Free downloads are currently limited only by restricting the number of download sessions, so download managers can be used only with premium accounts.”
However, even with no premium account, some impressive speeds can be achieved. We managed decent transfers from The Netherlands, Russia and the US, before finally maxing out a 20mbit Hungarian connection. It remains to be seen if these speeds can be maintained once the masses start hitting the service – probably not, since there needs to be something to draw users to the premium service, but time will tell.