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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 March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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