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Bandwidth hogs are otherwise legitimate users of a paid or free service who use so much bandwidth that it adversely affects other users or the company's ability to make a profit. This should not be confused with bandwidth theft, which is the unauthorized use of bandwidth, such as connecting to someone's network without permission. For example, a home or university Internet connection is usually meant for web surfing, moderate file downloading and gaming. If a person downloads a large number of songs or movies on a regular basis, bandwidth usage may reach unacceptable levels, perhaps 100 times that of an average user, causing the connection of nearby users to suffer and costing the company more money.
Bandwidth hogging is similar to a denial-of-service attack in that the user is taking up bandwidth that could otherwise be used by other users, and in fact if done intentionally it can be called a DoS attack, but most bandwidth hogging is done not to restrict others' access to the resource, but simply to exploit the resource, whether innocently or otherwise. However, bandwidth hogging is not illegal; if a company cannot support certain bandwidth usage, it should specify this in the contract with their users.
Bandwidth hogging depends on the relative (not absolute) amount of bandwidth used. For systems not designed to handle large volumes of data, it may not take much to disrupt the network through excessive bandwidth use. For example, an email with text and a few small pictures might use several hundred kilobytes, and far less if only text is used. Email systems are designed to handle files of this size. Using an email account to send 100 Megabyte-sized files (102,400 KB) could be considered bandwidth hogging. Though some companies may allow file transfers of this size, many limit the amount of data users are able to send at one time to stop this type of bandwidth hogging.
A positive use of bandwidth hogging is currently employed by scam baiters, who use the technique to shut down fake websites that are used for fraudulent activity, so that people being targeted by scammers cannot see the site.
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- "Bandwidth hogs" join unicorns in realm of mythical creatures @ ArsTechnica.com