Enter the torrents

torrents

In the world of file sharing, there is no greed….. You give what you have and take what you want… The more you give, the more you will get… And when file sharing is in discussion, there are many players- Rapidshare, Aries, Kazaa, Limewire, Shareaza, e- Mule, etc… But Bittorrent sharing, popularly known as torrents is the best… In this post we will learn torrent basics, how to download files using torrents, a few tips to unleash the beast within BitComet and scheduling torrents for download during happy hours.

Torrent network- How it basically work:

A .torrent file is a file that contains the basic information about a file or set of files. This includes the file names, sizes, the date created and some other information. The torrent file also contains an info hash – which is basically just a unique code for that torrent. No other set of file(s) will have the same info hash as this one. The final thing contained inside the torrent is a list of trackers. If you have some torrent files, you can’t open them in a text editor because they are encoded. You will need to open them in torrent client software.

A tracker is a computer on the Internet. The tracker’s role is to manage live torrent files and keep track of statistics. When you open a torrent file in your client software, your client software contacts the tracker specific to that torrent. You client tells the tracker how much of the actual files (described by the torrent) that you currently have.

A seeder is a person who has 100% of the files described by the torrent. If a torrent has no seeders, then no one (currently talking to the tracker) has anything to give.

A peer is a person who is looking for the files described by the torrent. The more peers the more people are actively looking for the files described by the torrent. A peer while downloading the file uploads it as well. When he finishes his download, he continues to upload it, thus becoming a seed.

A leech is a person who initially acts as a peer but after he finishes his download, leaves the swarm, freeing his part of bound bandwidth. Hence, if more and more people start to leech, older torrents will die out since there will be no seeds left.

A Bit Torrent client is any program that implements the Bit Torrent protocol. Each client is capable of preparing, requesting, and transmitting any type of computer over a network, using the protocol.

Working: To share a file or group of files, a user (seeder) first creates a small file called a “torrent” (e.g. MyFile.torrent). This file contains metadata about the files to be shared and about the tracker. Peers that want to download the file must first obtain a torrent file for it, and connect to the specified tracker, which tells them from which other peers to download the pieces of the file. Then the peer opens the file in a torrent client, which analyses the data stored in torrent file and downloads it from the seeder and other peer. Depending on number of seeds, and no of peers having data more than you, your download speed will be proportional. More the seeds and more the peers having more data, your download speed will be higher. But if no of peers become too high, then it causes a negative impact since there is more competition for bandwidth of seeds.

But torrent clients have this option which can limit the upload limits of data when they are acting as peers or seeds. Hence, some users misuse it to merely download and upload near nothing. Bittorrent network works on a principle of give and take, that is users who share more data while acting as peers or act as seeds once downloads complete are awarded with more download speed, while punishing those who don’t and lechers. But when a peer joins a swarm, he has no data, thus cannot seed. Hence, theoretically, he should be getting any data from seeds and other peers. But Bittorrent network has this feature of Optimistic Choking, which provides an initial bandwidth to new users, letting them download without uploading.

A few lines on downloading using torrents:

  1. The first step is to download the torrent. They are available at sites of trackers. Eg, Pirate Bay, ISO hunt, Mininova, etc. Search in these sites for your required data.
  2. When results turn up, choose the torrent that has maximum seeds and minimum peers, ie, greater seed/peer ratio. They help you attain more speeds. Also read comments, they are really helpful, avoiding embarrassment after having downloaded the data!
  3. Having downloaded the torrent, you need a torrent client. I prefer Bitcomet, feature rich, light and zippy …. A good interface when compared to other clients, and equally feature rich. Compared to others like Azureus (now Vuze), it has simple settings, which can easily be tweaked. Download and install Bitcomet.
  4. Open the Torrent file in Bitcomet, just double click on the file, it opens. It automatically starts downloading.
  5. Depending on speed, torrent download finishes and it starts uploading itself. Do upload for a while, since there are a many users who now depend on you for the file. The more you upload, the more you get back in terms of speed. If everyone starts to leech, the torrent will die.

Tips to improve BitComet performance:

BitComet can reach amazing speeds with a few little tweaks. The problem is that most users stick to default settings that came when they installed. Also people expect magical speeds even though they intentionally or unintentionally don’t upload anything! We now will tweak BitComet a little, so that it lives up to our expectations.

Open BitComet main interface, go to tools -> Options. Now start tweaking:-

  1. Upload speed: In connections tab, there is choice to alter the download and upload speeds. Download can be set to unlimited without any issue, but when you upload, if the upload speed crosses your limits, downloads suffer. Hence, know your capabilities first. Setting an unlimited in upload too isn’t advisable.  Run a speed test first-

http://www.dslreports.com/stest

You will know your speeds now. In TCP/IP networking, every piece of data received has to be acknowledged as received by sending a small packet of data back to sender that previous data packet is received and receiver is ready for another. In case you are uploading at maximum speed, it becomes tough to send that acknowledgment data packet, hence another data packet is delayed, causing download to suffer. This is known as ‘choking’.

To prevent this, set your upload limit to 75 % of your maximum upload limit.  The speed shown in test is in terms of kbps (Kilo bits per second) but we enter it in terms of kBps in BitComet. Hence to convert, divide the speed by 8 and multiply by 0.75. The result should be set as upload limit.

  1. ii. Listen port: By default a listen port is assigned. Since this is default, there will be a lot of traffic there. Change it to any random port between 49152 and 65534. Listening improves your speed greatly, hence should be enabled at all costs.
  2. iii. Port mapping: Tick enable NAT\Firewall configuration, this will let Bitcomet register its listening port in Windows Firewall. But enabling UPnP mapping sometimes causes stability issues, hence can be left un-ticked.
  3. iv. Tasks: In the task main menu, under download, tick auto resume tasks at program startup. This will help us out later in scheduling. Also limit number of concurrent download tasks to 3-5. This setting depends on your modem and connection. Letting only one task run, if it’s not well seeded, costs you more time since you are capable of more. At least set it as 3. This will cumulatively help in utilizing all of available bandwidth. Experiment what suits you and set it.
    1. a. BT task: In auto stop task, un-tick the option, its better left un-ticked for better speeds.
    2. b. In upload, set maximum rate of upload per task as global upload speed ( found in step i) divided by number of concurrent tasks you chose. Choose a minimum of at least 5 KBPS.
    3. c. Enable long time seeding and set the upload speed as chosen as max upload speed per task. Long time seeded torrents will upload themselves continuously, and fetch you more speed.
  4. v. Integration: In integration, if you have unlimited bandwidth scheme, choose to start Bitcomet at windows startup, else for limited plan users, un-tick it. This will assist us in scheduling purposes.
  5. vi. Advanced: In main menu of advanced, set network maximum connecting connections (max simultaneous half open TCP connections) as 70 -100. Choose a value that suits you. Also set network maximum connections (Global maximum connections) as 200-250. This will prevent your modem getting disconnected in case of heavy overloading due to multiple connections torrents develop.
    1. a. TCP/IP limit: Set TCP/IP limit as 70 -100. By default it is 10. This will greatly improve your download speed with torrents.
    2. b. Schedule : According to plan details, you can either leave this option for unlimited or choose the max speed time as happy hour time in limited plan and set rest as turnoff…Accordingly set upload speeds, since they supersede the global upload speeds.

Apply these settings and restart you PC. Register an account with Bitcomet. Registered users get better speeds. Now it is time to verify if your listening port is forwarded properly or not. Just connect to internet and view the right most button in bottom toolbar. It should turn yellow on establishing a listening port. Usually, dial up connections have this forwarded easily. The PPPoE mode users need to get into their modem configuration wizard and change NAT policies to enable it. Follow this procedure-

  1. In address bar type 192.168.1.1 as address. This is address of your modem. Both User name and password is admin. In some other cases, username is admin and password is password.
  2. This will open your modem configuration settings. In advanced setup, go to NAT. Depending on different modems, you will have to do according now.
    1. For the type 1 provided by BSNL, UTstar com r2u, in NAT, just enter DMZ host ip address as 192.168.1.x, where x should not be 1 if DHCP is enabled. Choose it as 192.168.1.2 . Save and apply.
    2. For some other modems, you will need to add a profile in NAT and then enter the IP. Some other ones ask you the port too. Add your selected Bitcomet port. Just enter the data, save and reboot the modem.
    3. The IP mentioned is the static ip provided by BSNL. If you happen to have a dynamic IP, enter it accordingly.

After having configured your modem, its time to configure the firewall. Add Bitcomet to list of trusted applications and allow it privileges to access all services. Various firewalls have different in particular methods. Use one which is torrent friendly. Like AVG firewall blocks all outgoing communications, though configuring Bitcomet as trusted. I switched to outpost free then, its working fine now. Visit this site for more assistance-

http://firewalling.com/routers.htm

Now, open Bitcomet and check if third light on bottom toolbar is glowing. This verifies port is forwarded. Remember, slower downloads can be attributed to mainly these reasons-

  1. Port not forwarded in modem\router.
  2. Firewall blocking communications.
  3. Upload slot is too narrow, increase the limits.
  4. Default TCP\IP settings.

Having tweaked your client lets move on to scheduling downloads….

Scheduling torrent download tasks:

For the limited bandwidth plan users, it’s a curse to wake up late in night and start the download and again early in morning to stop it. Though Bitcomet comes with a scheduler, but off the happy hours, keeping Bitcomet active will cause long time seeding, also adding electricity bill if you keep your PC on, and waiting for happy hours.

Isn’t there a way out of this vicious circle? So that you may go to bed early and wake up late, …. and still download?? Realizing your dilemma, I reacted and churned out a solution in recent days when I was idle at home, thanks to my holidays. So, I present before you- Auto-connect, the download scheduler. Download it from downloads section, you will always find the latest version there. Or visit the Auto Connect support page-

Download Auto-Connect

Since I have already mentioned a lot of Gyaan in the help file, I prefer being a bit lazy and not repeating it all back here, will just outline the download procedure.

As I had already mentioned while tweaking Bitcomet, tick “Auto resume tasks on program startup” and un-tick “start Bitcomet on login windows”. This will prevent accidental downloads during off happy hours when you log on windows. Also auto resume tasks will help automate downloads, since downloads will start as soon as you launch the client, no need to start tasks manually.

Note: In “Auto resume tasks…” , only those tasks will resume which were running when you closed the client last time. The paused and stopped tasks don’t resume.

Scheduling involves these steps:

  1. First set up auto connect and schedule a dial up task. This implies to only to dial up mode users. Schedule a connect task at least 5 minutes inside the happy hours slot. Also enable wakeup from sleep feature for this task.
  2. Then go on and schedule a disconnect task at least 5 minutes before end of happy hours. This will disconnect you connection at scheduled time.
  3. Then schedule an application run task, a minute or two after the time of connect task. Choose the application as Bitcomet.
  4. Then go on and schedule an application close task. It should be a minute before the scheduled disconnect task. Choose the application to close as Bitcomet.
  5. Then schedule a sleep task. Set the time as a minute after the disconnect task .This will put your PC back to sleep again.

Caution!! :

  1. PC wakes only from sleep or hibernation, it won’t wake up when it was turned off.
  2. Keep you modem turned on when you go to sleep. Schedule will resume, but my software unfortunately can’t press the modem power ON button if it is off!!
  3. You may keep your monitor turned off to save power.
  4. There is no need to wonder how to enable hibernation, if it was off in your PC. Auto connect will turn it ON on first run. But be sure space equivalent to your RAM is free on you windows drive, else hibernation can’t be set!
  5. You need to schedule an application close task for Bitcomet at end of happy hours to hibernate, since Bitcomet won’t let your PC hibernate when a download is in progress.

This schedule will wake up your PC from sleep at dial up task time and connect to internet. Then it will launch your Bitcomet client. Since auto resume tasks have been chosen, downloads will start automatically. At near end of happy hours, Bitcomet will close as scheduled, internet disconnects and then PC goes back to sleep.

Note: The users of PPPoE or always ON mode don’t need steps 1 & 2. They can directly schedule an application run task, with wakeup option, to run their suitable modem reboot module as mentioned in Auto connect support page. PC will wake up, modem will reboot, reconnect to internet and resume scheduled download. Other steps follow accordingly.

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7 Responses

  1. This has been tested to work on Xp. Let me know if there are any issues with Vista …

  2. show example

  3. Auto-connect v1.1 had a major bug which is fixed now …. Get V 1.2 available in downloads sections ….

  4. Hi! The new version of auto-connect is packed using an application … Please report me if there are any false positive regarding the package…

  5. thanks for the tips. i have a doubt. wenevr i try opening any drive in my computer, it opens in a different window. how do i opn it in the same window? can u help me out?
    (my OS is xp)

    • Hi, check if option in Tools > Folder option > General . There is an option ‘Open each folder in the same window’, which should be checked. If now, check it and apply. Verify if this solves the issue.

      If not, this indicates the presence of a hidden file in the drive, an autorun.inf file, which if is functioning means you have a virus infection on your system. There are two ways, first the manual way, is to use kill box to delete it. Second is to do a full system scan using malwarebytes. Read this post : http://pcgyaan.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/35/

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