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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 November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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