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File sharing is the practice of sharing or offering access to digital information or resources, including documents, multimedia (audio/video), graphics, computer programs, images and e-books. It is the private or public distribution of data or resources in a network with different levels of sharing privileges.
File sharing can be done using several methods. The most common techniques for file storage, distribution and transmission include the following:
File sharing is a multipurpose computer service feature that evolved from removable media via network protocols, such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Beginning in the 1990s, many remote file-sharing mechanisms were introduced, including FTP, hotline and Internet relay chat (IRC).
Operating systems also provide file-sharing methods, such as network file sharing (NFS). Most file-sharing tasks use two basic sets of network criteria, as follows:
Once users download or make use of a file using a file-sharing network, their computer also becomes a part of that network, allowing other users to download files from the user's computer. File sharing is generally illegal, with the exception of sharing material that is not copyrighted or proprietary. Another issue with file-sharing applications is the problem of spyware or adware, as some file-sharing websites have placed spyware programs in their websites. These spyware programs are often installed on users' computers without their consent and awareness.