In our 3+ years of being online we have posted about nearly 1000 private torrent trackers. Among these, there were only a handful sites such as GameUpdates that dealt with 100% legal, legitimate content – all the others had a mix of both legit and pirated releases. BioTorrents is one of those rare private trackers that focus only on legal content. It’s an innovative new niche site that highlights yet another legitimate use of BitTorrent – sharing of scientific research data including large datasets and even open access software. In other words, it’s a huge data repository that can be accessed by hundreds and thousands of scientists and students worldwide.
A brief introduction to BioTorrents and an explanation as to why they opted for BitTorrent technology to power their data transfers is given on the site’s ‘about’ page (quoted below).
BioTorrents allows scientists to rapidly share their results, datasets, and software using the popular BitTorrent file sharing technology.
All data is open-access and any illegal filesharing is not allowed on BioTorrents.
We encourage researchers and organizations to share their data on BioTorrents as an alternative to hosting files through FTP or HTTP for the following reasons:
- Using BioTorrents can allow researchers to download large datasets much faster.
- BioTorrents can act as a central listing of results, datasets, and software that can be browsed and searched.
- Data can be located on several servers allowing decentralization and availability of the data if one server becomes disabled
BioTorrent’s existence itself is a very good answer to the turds who keep on harping ‘BitTorrent = illegal downloading’. This site does not host any illegal content and all of the software and data distributed are either public domain or have ‘sharing friendly’ licenses such as Creative Commons (CC), GPL and so on. BioTorrents has its own private torrent tracker (biotorrents.net/announce.php) but all of the indexed torrents are tracked by OpenBitTorrent as a backup measure. In case anyone was wondering, the site is built on TBDEV tracker script.
Note that this is still a very young tracker that is less than a week old. I don’t think it’s got much publicity yet except for an article on Ars Technica and being featured on isoHunt’s Twitter. The site currently tracks around 30 torrents and has 150+ members. These numbers will without a doubt improve as the news spreads in the science community.
As for the content, BioTorrent currently tracks torrents related to the following categories: Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Genomics, Metabolomics, Metagenomics, Miscellaneous, Papers, Password Protected, Phylogenetics, Physics, Proteomics and Transcriptomics. I have to say none of the uploads made much sense to me (since I am no scientist) but I can understand how BitTorrent technology can help reduce bandwidth costs and allow greater accessibility for content – some of those torrents are huge.
Signups for BioTorrents are currently open. If you are a scientist or a student of science, you might want to check the site out.
Site Name: BioTorrents (http://www.biotorrents.net)
Signup URL: http://www.biotorrents.net/signup.php