Thursday, March 10, 2011

All About Torrents

Torrent have gotten a bad reputation lately. When most people think of the word "torrent", they automatically think about sites such as The Pirate Bay, or software like the late Limewire. I'm going to teach you the workings behind torrents. I'm going to focus on the BitTorrent protocol, used to communicate and transfer files.


 1. BitTorrent Protocol

Basically, there are 2 types of nodes involved in torrents: the clients and the tracker. The clients are just the people who are trying to download the file. The tracker is a main computer that coordinates the effort; it is a server that aids in communication between different peers (clients). Websites like The Pirate Bay own the servers that act as the tracker. While they don't store the files on their servers, they assist in spreading the files. The .torrent file you download contains information that can point you to a tracker, which sets you up with peers.

2. Seeders and Leechers

You often hear people complaining about not having enough seeders, or too many leechers. Seeders are peers that are uploading the files, and making it accessible to their peers. Seeders are what make the torrent world go round; lose all your seeders, and the torrent is basically gone. Leechers on the other hand are peers that are downloading the files. They are the peers that don't have a copy of the file, so they are connected to seeding peers by the tracker, and are able to download their file from there. A high leecher to seeder ratio will result in a low download speed, while high seeder to leecher ratios can result in download speeds faster than what is feasibly possible using http or ftp.

3. BitTorrent Clients

BitTorrent clients run software on their computer aptly named torrent clients. This is the software that coordinates connections to peers that the tracker gives the client. These programs, such a Transmission, Vuze (formerly Azureus), ĀµTorrent, and BitComet. Each of these clients have their own pros/cons, so I'd suggest looking each of them up and seeing which is best for you. All in all, they're all pretty similar, so I wouldn't worry about spending to much time looking into it.


Have fun using torrents! Just remember, don't download anything that breaks laws. Seriously, you'll probably get a nice letter from your ISP saying how you no longer have internet service. And that's the best case scenario! So, just be responsible, use torrents as an alternative to just normal ftp or http downloads if the website offers it.

And remember....seed those torrents!

23 comments:

  1. Hmm, who do I know if it's illegal? Beside the obvious description.

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  2. I agree completely. I did a speech and research paper on the subject earlier this semester, pretty cool stuff.

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  3. not using torrents but nice review +followed

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  4. Is 'torrenting' a data transfer protocol?
    In the technical sense.
    If so, it's the cleverest type.

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  5. after3: There isn't really a surefire way to tell if it's legal. I'd say Google whatever is in question, and air on the side of caution.

    Alphabeta: Yes, BitTorrent is both a protocol and a client. And I agree! Files that are popular have extremely fast download speeds without the load on any single server.

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  6. I use bittorernt constantly. utorrent + EZTV.it + RSS = free TV.

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  7. So many things I didn't knew about torrents... I don't use them too much, in fact I think I have may used them only to get movie subtitles e__e

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  8. nice information. utorrent all the way!

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  9. I've always been scared to use torrents. Are they legal?

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  10. Yes BitTorrent itself is perfectly legal. Legal issues arise when websites use this protocol to distribute copyright protected files, like music. It's not BitTorrent that's illegal, it's the distribution of copyrighted material.

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  11. Very nice clarification. A bunch of women at my college have no idea the real meaning of "torrenting" and assume it's bad. Silly girls.

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  12. i gave up torrents a while ago. I'm with DDL now. Pretty satisfied so far

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  13. I still use torrents here and there, works pretty good so far as long as people share. Anyways, following your blog.

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  14. Torrents are the best man, i use it for everything.

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  15. It's hard for me to buy anything now due to the ability to acquire many things for free.

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  16. I remember discovering torrents years ago and it changed my life haha

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  17. Even though a huge chunk of p2p traffic is used less than legally, ppl should still realize that trying to ban p2p would be the same as trying to ban http or ftp. It's just a protocol. Nothing more, nothing else. And this one in particular is extremely useful for distributing stuff like Linux distros.

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  18. Thats very true Mostly Irrelephant! I download all my disc images using torrents. I get speeds upwards of 1.5 mb/s, rather than 300ish kb/s for http/ftp!

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  19. First of all, I agree with Mostly Irrelephant on the protcol part.

    Secondly, I think that you should have explained the basic idea of the p2p protocol which, mainly, is sharing of bits of pieces of identical files (I think that checksum hash was responsible but for this but am not sure) and that in torrent network your torrent client software doesn't necessarily start/continue the leeching process from the beginning in the traditional sense. That's the best part of torrents and pretty much the reason we use them.

    Either way, looks like the content is promising, so I'm probably going to be a regular. ^^

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  20. great post! its nice how big files are being offered in torrent format, such as linux.

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