Bittorrent guide for beginners
Bittorrent is a P2P application that is used for distributing large files, it utilizes the upload bandwidth given to you by your isp that is rarely used, and has proved itself fast and reliable.
The files you need are called torrents and they are found on websites that catalog them, you just download the torrent, run it and it will fire up your client software and connect you to others with the file, put simply, one person starts with a file or set of files and everyone downloads a different piece of it, then when everyone has a piece they all start downloading all the different pieces off each other and the download speeds increase as more people join in. The person who starts off with the whole file is known as the seeder and all the people connected and downloading are known as peers, or collectively as a swarm, when the file is downloaded they in turn become seeds. So the more seeds the file has the quicker it will download, always check how well seeded your files are before downloading them.
All of this activity requires a central server known as a tracker to keep everything organized. The trackers are usually run by an associated website and can be public or private, private ones are obviously more secure but still not 100% safe. The problem is that no-one is anonymous as all the ips are tracked for the system to work.
OPEN UP SOME PORTS
Torrents rely on a lot of connections being made to your PC, unfortunately for Windows XP/Vista/7 users this can be a problem as Windows limits the max connections. Good news is that there is a patch called ‘half open limit fix’ that rectifies this problem by patching TCPIP.sys, you can get it here: Half Open Limit Fix.
Run it and click 'Add to tcpip.sys' to set the number of connections to 100. Restart your PC and you're done.
There are a lot of Bittorrent clients available, all of them are free so don’t ever be conned into parting with any money! The most popular is UTorrent and that’s the one we will be using for this guide, download UTorrent here: UTorrent Download. If you are a Mac user then you should get Transmission
Setup is fairly simple, install and run UTorrent and you will get the main window, click on ‘Preferences’
Next, on the preferences screen go to ‘Connections’. Make sure ‘Randomize port’ is unticked and make a note of the port no. as you will need to configure your router to allow connections on it, you can use any port no. you want but it’s best to stick with the suggested one. Some ISPs throttle traffic on ports 6881 to 6999 as these are the default Bittorrent ports, so you may want to avoid using them.
Next select ‘Directories’ and choose where you would like your downloads and torrent files to go.
Some isps throttle Bittorrent traffic but you can disguise it using the ‘Protocol Encryption’ feature of UTorrent, open up the ‘Bittorrent’ settings and experiment with it to see if it makes a difference. To find out if your ISP is throttling your torrents check this list or try this online test: Throttle Check.
Whilst you are in preferences set your upload speed to 80% of its maximum and the ‘alternate upload rate whilst not downloading’ to whatever you like, ive set mine up to its maximum. Setting to 80% will ensure that it does not adversely affect your download speed.
Finally you will want to increase the number of connections, click on ‘Advanced’ and scroll down to ‘net.max_halfopen’ and input a number lower than the one you set in the half open limit fix, input 60 and click 'set'.
That’s your client set up, now we have to set up the router, you need to forward the ports used by UTorrent, each router has it’s own settings and the best way to do this by far is with a program called ‘Simple Port Forwarding’, you can get it from their website here: Simple Port Forwarding™, when you start the program you will be presented with a screen that makes the whole process a snap :)
Follow the steps 1 through to 7 and you will have configured your router :)
You are almost ready to start downloading but before you do, you best cover your back as well as possible. You can take measures to protect yourself by using a program to block IPs that are used by anti-piracy groups, peerblock is recommended for this job and you can get it here: http://www.peerblock.com/
Just download the .exe file and run it, and it will take care of everything for you . . . even migrating over your old PeerGuardian 2 settings if you had that installed on your machine already, peerguardian is no longer of use but peerblock has taken up where it left off.
Now you are all set and ready to find some torrents.
Google is a good place to start, try putting ‘allinurl:torrent’ in the search e.g. ‘allinurl:torrent mario kart’.
There are numerous torrent search sites to be found too e.g.
These all use public trackers though and come with the risk of being told to ‘cease and desist’ by your ISP or worse.
You really want to get a private site invite, some like demonoid are quite easy to come by, but not so secure... but if you are an active member on most forums something decent will usually come your way ;)
There is a program called TORC that checks a lot of torrent sites to see when registration is open, get it here: Download TORC, if it stops working post ITT and I’ll see about getting an update.
There are a lot of fake files uploaded as torrents, usually DVD rips of movies that have just been released. Always check associated comments for a torrent, if something is wrong with it then someone will usually say, if a file has no comments and seems too good to be true then it probably is. Happy hunting!