Torrenting & Seedboxes

INTRODUCTION

This is intended to be a quick guide to what torrents are and how to use a seedbox.

Torrents as they’re commonly called (BitTorrent I believe is the correct name) are seen as small files that you download which then allows you to get much larger files. While these are used (primarily) to distribute files that are questionable, the BT protocol can be used to distribute open-source and legal files as well. One such open project can be found at the Blender Foundation where multiple open projects using Blender can be seen. Some of the repositories are over 100GB and the files are much more quickly acquired using BitTorrent.

HOW IT WORKS

Essentially you connect to multiple persons online that have the same file. Their collective bandwidth is shared to give you the file much faster than if you only connected to one person. This protocol also supports error checking of the files transferred – so the chance of you downloading the files and there being corruption is greatly minimized.

PRIVATE TRACKERS AND RATIOS

While there are multiple torrent sites online,  you may also find some that are private. These can only be accessed through an invite from an existing member or if they allow free signups at certain special events or times of the year. These sites are established primarily on the premise of sharing. This means that you can’t just download a torrent then remove it once it’s finished. You are required to seed (share) the file until you have uploaded as much as you’ve downloaded. So if you downloaded 1GB you should seed back 1GB. This promotes sharing in the community. If you downloaded 1GB and uploaded 1GB then your ratio would be 1.0. If you downloaded 1GB and uploaded 1.5GB then your ratio would be 1.5. If you uploaded 2GB then your ratio would be 2.0.

Most private trackers start you off with an amount and then expect you to keep it that way or better. This means seeding things for a longer period of time to have a ratio above 2.0 & holding the files longer on your PC/laptop. The solution to this if you want to share more with your private tracker community – or the open source community if you’re a developer – is by renting a seedbox.

SEEDBOXES

A seedbox is essentially a service where you pay for an external source to download your torrents. The interface is accessed through a website which may look like a torrent application (uTorrent for example) and the usage is fairly simple.

  • Download the TORRENT file to your PC/laptop.
  • Upload the TORRENT file to the seedbox.
  • Let the seedbox download the actual file (usually faster than your home connection).
  • Download the files from your seedbox through HTTP or FTP interfaces.

Downloading from your seedbox does not affect your ratio. Depending on the service you decide to use there will be instructions to access your seedbox and even stream directly from it. So if you downloaded Big Buck Bunny for example, you could stream the files directly from your seedbox to VLC, MPC-HC or any other player that you prefer.

BEST PRACTICES

While there are a lot of variables to actually using BitTorrent there are a few things that are considered best practices:

  • Seed back what you downloaded. Aim for a 1.0 ratio or higher.
    • This means giving as much as you got. Helps the community and if you’re on a private tracker it will help your status and ratio.
  • Don’t max your bandwidth.
    • If you’re not going to use a seedbox don’t leave the torrent application to decide everything. By default it will max your bandwidth and cause issues like slow browsing or other problems for you and other users if your connection is shared.
    • A general rule is to not exceed 75% of your upload bandwidth. Set the parameters in your torrent client.

For more details on what your settings should be like for a local client, see the wiki section on VUZE.

http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Good_settings

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