Americans prefer using websites like Netflix and YouTube instead of peer-to-peer file sharing, according to a new study.
Peer-to-peer file sharing, or P2P, is a protocol commonly used by legal services and pirate websites. This type of file sharing allows users to share a file in pieces, BBC reported last week.
P2P file sharing accounts for less than 10 percent of the total daily traffic in North America, according to the study conducted by tech company Sandvine. Five years ago, it accounted for more than 31 percent.
The study also reported Netflix and YouTube together account for more than 50 percent of downstream traffic on fixed networks.
Shigang Chen, a UF professor in the computer and information science and engineering department, said he thinks people are moving away from P2P systems and focusing on other ways to use the Internet, such as YouTube.
He said the decline in traffic mentioned in the study is not unusual, and even though P2P file sharing appears to be declining, it still gets significant traffic.
“Ten percent of total traffic in North America — that’s huge,” Chen said.
Sarah Eden, a 21-year-old UF marine sciences junior, has a Netflix account she uses frequently.
She had a PC, but she said the computer crashed because of the effects of using pirate websites. She now has a Mac.
She said she thinks more students are using Netflix because of the selection of movies and TV shows available, as well as the reliability of the website.
“I feel like more people are actually spending the money on Netflix or other accounts because they’re finding it more worthwhile,” she said.
Jenna Ingram, a 21-year-old UF health education and behavior junior, said the convenience of P2P file sharing websites is a reason people use them.
She said on pirate websites, there aren’t commercials, and a user can watch a TV episode that aired an hour earlier.
Netflix and other similar websites don’t have recent episodes of popular shows that college students want to watch, Ingram said.
However, she said, the legal threat that comes with using pirate websites keeps people from using them.
“It’s a little bit nerve-racking to know you’re watching it illegally,” Ingram said.
A version of this story ran on page 8 on 11/20/2013 under the headline "Peer-to-peer file sharing down, Netflix usage up"