File sharing means file exchange. This refers to the sharing of files between several users on the Internet in peer-to-peer networks. In file sharing, the personal computers connected to the peer-to-peer network operate as file sharing clients.
In file sharing, the client function can be implemented using freely available programs. Each filesharing client makes files freely available for download and, on the other hand, can download files from other clients. Recipients of files that are distributed via filesharing initially only receive access to certain metadata, which includes the file name, the extension, and information about the content and the author. In the case of music files, the information includes, among other things, the composer, the artist and the length of the piece of music. The content can be viewed by the file-sharing client only after the file has been received. However, this bears the risk that malware can hide behind the file.
Conceptually, file-sharing services can work with a central server or run decentralized without a central server on the connected personal computers. These are then file servers and file sharing clients at the same time. In the centralized concept, the files are retrieved by the clients from the central file server, which then mediates between the connected clients. Examples include KaZaa, BitTorrent, Napster and AirDrop. In the decentralized concept, computers access each other. Gnutella, for example, works with such a decentralized network concept.