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Your Guide to Configuring and Using BitTorrent

Your Guide to Configuring and Using BitTorrent

Your Guide to Configuring and Using BitTorrent

    The BitTorrent protocol has been out in the open for around seven years now, and in that time it’s become one of the most popular methods for distributing large files on the Internet. Despite futile efforts by the RIAA and MPAA to shut down file-sharing in all its forms, people both tech-savvy and computer illiterate are using it. A few major bands have even released lossless versions of their albums using BitTorrent.

    Because so many of BitTorrent’s users are computer illiterate, and given the security features in modern computers and routers that interfere with BitTorrent’s speed effectiveness, very few people are actually using this protocol, and its associated applications, to its full potential. Here’s your guide to configuring your BitTorrent client, computer and router for the best possible speeds.

    Disclaimer: I do not support nor endorse illegal downloading of copyrighted content. Respect the rights of the creator; if you’re a creator, consider licensing your work under Creative Commons.

    BitTorrent Clients

    There are countless BitTorrent clients, including the official multi-platform client from the protocol’s creator, BitComet and uTorrent for Windows and Xtorrent and Tomato Torrent for Mac. One of the most popular clients that also happens to be cross-platform is Azureus, and it’s my personal favorite, so I’ll be using Azureus as my guide in writing this tutorial. It’s free and open source.

    Configuring Your Router

    If you’re on a network (wireless or not) at home, using a router of any kind, you may be experiencing painstakingly slow downloads. This is because most routers have built-in firewalls that block incoming connections on certain ports, and you must specifically declare your ports and configure your router to accept connections on them.

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    Here’s how to do exactly that, assuming fairly standard router settings. If you have a router that doesn’t work with these instructions, a bit of Googling around will get you the answer.

    1. Open your browser and head to 192.168.1.1 – this is almost always the router’s address on your network.

    2. Log-in using the user name and password you set, or the default which is probably admin for both fields.

    3. Look for a page called port forwarding, port range forwarding or something similar.

    4. Add the port range under External Port (for instance, 9080 – 9090).

    5. Enter your IP address. If you’re not sure what your IP address is, it’s a fairly easy number to find. On Windows:

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    • Go to the Start Menu, then to Run, and type in cmd. Hit Enter.
    • Type IPCONFIG. Hit Enter. This will return a few lines of information, one of which will contain your IP address (clearly marked). Go to the router settings and add it in.

    On Mac OS X (I’m using 10.5):

    • Go to System Preferences, then to Network. Your IP address will be on this page.

    6. Tick the boxes for UDP, TCP and most importantly, the one that says Enable.

    7. Head to your BitTorrent client’s preference or options page and enter the port number you’ve selected in the appropriate fields. There will most likely be one for both UDP and TCP.

    Remember to save your router’s settings, or you will need to go through this process all over again if it gets reset. It’s never as fun the second time around!

    Limit Your Maximum Upload Speed

    DSL connections have finite capacity, and if you allow your BitTorrent client to use an unlimited amount of upload bandwidth, not only will your download suffer, but your regular surfing, chatting and email use will suffer too. Keep your connection usable and your downloads snappy by setting your maximum upload speed to a sensible level.

    Remember, BitTorrent depends on each downloader doing some uploading. Never, ever shut uploads off all together, nor below a reasonable level. Give back what you take. You should also seed for a while one the download is complete – that is, keep uploading even after the download has finished. It’s considered proper etiquette to seed until your ratio is at least 1:1 – you’ve uploaded as much as you’ve downloaded.

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    Since the right maximum upload speed will be different for each connection, you’ll have to work yours out. Down in the land of slow broadband, my torrents have a maximum upload of 18kb/s, and then unlimited when seeding. The right speed is usually 80% of your upload capability.

    Fortunately for you, there’s an upload speed calculator here.

    Windows XP Specific Configurations

    If you’re on Windows, configuring your BitTorrent client has its own set of problems. First, we’ll have to configure the Windows Firewall if you’ve got it on.

    1. Go to Network Connections and right click on your Internet or LAN connection, and click on Properties.

    2. Select Advanced and see if Internet Connection Firewall is ticked. If it’s not, you don’t need to do anything. If it is, click through to Settings.

    3. Click on the Services tab and press Add. Fill these fields in just as you did in the router, but choose TCP.

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    If you’re using Internet Connection Sharing, you’ll need to download this tool and configure it using the same information that you used when configuring the router and the XP firewall.

    If you’re on Windows XP Service Pack 2, your half-open outbound connections is severely limited, and this tends to slow your BitTorrent speeds down, too. You can use this tool to fix that problem.

    Protect Your Privacy

    In numerous cases, RIAA and MPAA bots have tracked IP addresses of those using BitTorrent and wrongly accused them of piracy. This can happen where they track IP addresses on legitimate and legal torrents, for instance. One of the beauties of Azureus is its wide range of plugins and one that will protect your privacy by blocking connections from RIAA and MPAA computers is SafePeer.

    If you use Azureus, you’d be wise to download and install this plugin, and keep the block list up to date, since the agents of the evil empire are always changing tactics and IP addresses.

    More by this author

    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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