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Unraveling BitTorrent’s File Unavailability:Measurements and Analysis

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  • Sebastian Kaune
  • Ruben Cuevas Rumin
  • Gareth Tyson
  • Andreas Mauthe
  • Carmen Guerrero
  • Ralf Steinmetz


BitTorrent suffers from one fundamental problem: the long-term availability of content. This occurs on a massive-scale with 38% of torrents becoming unavailable within the first month. In this paper we explore this problem by performing two large-scale measurement studies including 46K torrents and 29M users. The studies go significantly beyond any previous work by combining per-node, per-torrent and system-wide observations to ascertain the causes, characteristics and repercussions of file unavailability. The study confirms the conclusion from previous works that seeders have a significant impact on both performance and availability. However, we also present some crucial new findings: (i) the presence of seeders is not the sole factor involved in file availability, (ii) 23.5% of nodes that operate in seedless torrents can finish their downloads, and (iii) BitTorrent availability is discontinuous, operating in cycles of temporary unavailability.