I keep seeing estimates of the carbon cost of streaming video. Has anybody done a comparison with torrenting? E.g., what is the energy used by one seed and 1,000 peers to share 1 GB of video over BitTorrent vs. the amount used by one high-availability server connected to 1,000 clients to stream 1 GB of video conventionally?

Is it green to pirate all your media?

@mycorrhiza It should get significantly more "green" with every re-watch of a movie that you already torrented and thus don't have to download again right? It would probably be pretty hard to come up with an accurate measure of how much energy it takes to download a movie via torrent. Like you could download a movie that has hundreds of seeds which means there are hundreds of computers on and providing that file, but how many other files are simultaneously being downloaded from each of those servers and does that factor into how much energy is attributed to the 1 file you're trying to measure? Or sometimes you can download a torrent that only has a few seeds but it may take longer to finish.

@mycorrhiza Then you also have the energy savings from not streaming ads in the middle of your movies when you torrent. Then maybe you could argue that the biggest energy savings would be putting these streaming service leeches out of business if nobody paid for their subscriptions X-).

@mycorrhiza I never really got into this question in depth and it seems complicated because it depends whether the associated devices would be online anyways because they are in use or whether they are dedicated to torrenting (if it's the latter, then it's certainly worse), the other obvious difference is how often you're going to watch that video or listen to that audio...
Note that right now streaming uses unicast, so it would also change a lot if we switched to multicast

@tfardet Oh that's an interesting point about multicast. Apparently IP multicast is already being used for IPTV in hotels. TIL!

@mycorrhiza In an economy like ours, every dollar you spend puts CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s the real reason torrenting is more sustainable than paying for streaming services.

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