Using Telegram for private P2P file sharing

 Mon, 22 Apr 2024 08:47 UTC

Using Telegram for private P2P file sharing
Image: CC BY 4.0 by cybrkyd

BitTorrent revolutionised file-sharing, offering an efficient means of distributing large files across the internet. However, one glaring drawback is its inherent lack of privacy features. BitTorrent operates on a peer-to-peer network, where users' IP addresses are visible to others participating in the file transfer process. This transparency exposes all file sharing activities, whether lawful or not, to potential scrutiny. It is comparable to being in a bustling marketplace where everyone can see what you’re buying.

Given this lack of privacy, many users resort to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to mask their online activities whilst using BitTorrent. VPNs serve as a digital cloak, obscuring users' IP addresses and encrypting their internet traffic, thus enhancing privacy and security. However, this added layer of anonymity often comes with a financial cost, as VPN services typically require a subscription fee.

Direct File Downloads

Direct file download services promise convenience, but they are not without drawbacks. Despite offering free file storage, these platforms are inundated with ads, detracting from the overall user experience. Additionally, users often encounter frustratingly slow download speeds, sometimes reduced to a mere crawl, which is especially annoying.

Another notable drawback is the short file retention policies implemented by many providers. Files risk deletion after a mere 30 days of inactivity on many playforms, meaning users may find their documents and data disappearing into the digital ether if left untouched for too long.

In essence, while these services offer the allure of easy access to files, the trade-offs in terms of intrusive ads, sluggish download speeds, and short-lived file retention policies may deter users seeking a seamless and reliable file-sharing experience.

Telegram for file sharing

The messaging app Telegram provides unlimited cloud-based storage. It is private and secure, has no enforced file retention policy and is 100% ad-free. The key draw to Telegram when compared to any of its closest competitors is that data remains available for as long as the user account is active. There are no arbitrary deletions and no expiration dates on uploaded files.

One of Telegram’s standout features is its file size limit, currently capped at 2GB per file for all users, with premium subscribers enjoying an even more spacious allowance of 4GB. WhatsApp has also moved to a 2GB file size limit but does not offer unlimited storage in the same way that Telegram does.

Questions have been asked about how long the “unlimited” storage at Telegram can last and whether it is sustainable as a long-term business model. Time will tell.

How private is Telegram?

Telegram’s privacy policy is straightforward: they are totally hands-off with regards to private chats or groups. However, they do enforce rules in public spaces, whether that is in public groups or public channels. Telegram’s FAQ section lays out in detail where the organisation stands when it comes to user privacy.

Get in touch on Telegram. I am @cybrkyd.