A Guide to Using Torrents

I have wanted to write this post for a long time now. A couple of friends wanted to know how to download a few things. I was just about to write a post on it when Demonoid shut down. So I thought maybe I will wait for it to come back online. But then, I might as well write about it now considering trackers are coming down. People who already know how to use torrents, can ignore this post or you are welcome to review it.(If you derive any personal satisfaction out of it.)

Here is what you need to do:

1) Download a BitTorrent client and install the same. A BitTorrent client is a program that downloads the files (movies/music or any other that is not protected by copyrights. 😉  )

Some examples of BitTorrent clients include (with a Link of where to download it)

For a comprehensive list of BitTorrent clients you can look here.

MjuTorrent is supposed to be light and works well. I present a screen shot of the same which shows a few details.

UTorrent

  • Size is obviously the size of the file you are downloading. 🙂
  • As you can see, the number of Seeders, Peers is enumerated on the client software. (The tracker takes care of this and it’s not necessary you know about this.)
  • Down speed and Up speed can be limited. Go to Options->Preferences->Connection. You will find ‘Global Bandwidth Limiting’ Under this you can set the Download and Upload speeds. Remember that this is in kBps. So you have to convert your Kbps speed by dividing it by eight. Sorry I know this sounds dumb, but if you type 128 there, then you are actually allowing it to download upto ‘1024’ kbps or 1Mbps.
  • ETA tells you in how much time the file will get downloaded. (‘Estimated Time of Arrival’ if you didn’t know)
  • Ratio shows you the Up/Down ratio.
  • Availability 1.0 means that the entire file is available. (If the availability is < 1.0 it means that the entire file is currently not available.)
  • Priority can be made high, normal or low. If you dont want to download a file, right click on it and choose ‘Don’t Download’ 

2) Now go to a site (‘Indexing Websites’ or ‘Public Tracker Sites’*) that allows you to search for torrents and search for a the file you want. A .torrent (file extension) file is downloaded from these sites. Typical sites include,

Demonoid used to be one of the more popular sites where .torrent files could be found. Sadly it’s no more. It was forced offline.

(*- There is a technical difference between sites that host trackers and sites that are simply search engines which allow us to search for .torrent files that are hosted or tracked by other sites.)

A word of caution though. Some of these sites contain advertisements that might be inappropriate for people of some age groups. Always tread with caution and keep away from such sites.

You can either download the file onto your hard disk or it might give you an option of opening it with the client if the client is already installed. Downloading it (.torrent file) onto your hard disk is always a safe option.

3) If you have downloaded the .torrent file onto your hard disk, then there should be no trouble downloading the file now. Double clicking on the .torrent file should open it with your BitTorrent client. Else you can always use the ‘open with’ option to open it with the installed BitTorrent client software.

4) Now all you have to do is let the client run and in some time (depending on the file size) your file should be downloaded. Most clients display the time the file will take to download.

A few other things you might want to know:

1) Downloading of Copyright material is considered illegal in some countries. (Most countries actually.) You might want to avoid these files if you want to avoid trouble no matter how tempting it is to download a file.

2) In order that you use up your full bandwidth or to ensure maximum speed, you might need to enable ‘Port Forwarding’. Many sites offer help regarding the same. I shall cover this at a later date. It is slightly complicated and you need to be aware of the risks of opening your ports.

Links to port forwarding:

Port Forward

Wikipedia article on port forwarding

3) Be sure that you maintain the Upload/Download ratio more than 1.0. This is considered decency. You are expected to Upload at-least as much as you have downloaded. (I personally upload up-to 1.5 ratio) Some times your speeds are limited by the client software if you do not upload enough. This is done to avoid bottlenecks.

4) Make sure you are downloading in your free time** (by free time I mean time when you have free downloads.)  or you are aware of exactly how much you are downloading. Also remember that you are also uploading simultaneously. So if you downloaded 400 MB and uploaded as much, you will in-fact be charged for 800 MB by the Internet provider.

5) Keep your eyes open for spurious/spam files. Sometimes people upload junk and rename it as ‘filename.avi’ (assuming the file’s extension is .avi) After you have downloaded a file, you might not be able to open it and you will find that you have wasted bandwidth.(and I sincerely hope you didn’t pay for it)

It is always a good idea to check if a DVD is released or not before you download a DVD Rip. Or for any file in general, it is good to check if such a file in fact exists.

6) Make sure you know the language and other details such as quality of the file that you download. Some people are honest in labelling the files, others are not. If a file has a preview, then download the preview first and see if the quality is alright. (Your bitTorrent client allows you to download files selectively.)

7) Make sure that the downloaded .torrent file and also the data that you are downloading is free of viruses. I guess there’s no way to make sure of this but to download from reliable sources. Or after downloading the file, you can always run a virus scan. (Never trut the files you downloaded completely. It’s always a good idea to run a virus scan on the files.)

8) Some software like Free Download Manager (FDM) also allow you to download files using torrents. I have not tried it though. So I cannot comment on how good it is in comparison with some of the other software available.

9) A very important thing you need to look for when downloading a .torrent file is the number of ‘Seeders‘Leechers’/’Peers’ . Let’s just say the more the merrier. Seeders are people who have the full copy of a file and Leechers/Peers are people people who have part of the file, but not the entire file itself. If you have more seeders or peers, the downloads will be faster. Less popular files have very few seeders. That’s one of the downsides of using torrents.

If you have any doubts/ queries, read up these likns before asking me questions 😀

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