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Getting Into BitTorrent
January 27, 2004
Thomas Mennecke
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Although we understand and appreciate that a good percentage of our users are already thoroughly familiar with BitTorrent, a large number are not. BitTorrent is a relatively new network, however it has exploded onto the P2P scene with a ferocity rarely seen in a file-sharing community.

So what exactly is BitTorrent? BitTorrent is a P2P network that has earned a special place in the file-sharing world. It is relatively simple to use, especially for beginners, as it avoids the complications associated with a complex P2P client such as eDonkey or WinMX. How does it avoid these complications?

BitTorrent clients operate as small applications that are tucked away in the system tray. One does not use the client to search for files like traditional file-sharing applications. The BitTorrent program simply manages your uploads and downloads.

To search for a file you want, you have to find a Torrent site such as Sites like this host what are called “Torrent files.” Say you are looking for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. If you look on a Torrent site such as Suprnova, it will appear as “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.torrent.” Torrent sites do not host the actual mp3 file (or rar file, etc.). Torrent files contain the all the information necessary to make a download happen, such as hash verification and location of the Tracker. What is a tracker you ask?

A Tracker is a central server. It functions very similarly to a supernode or indexing server. When you click on a Torrent file, it connects to a Tracker to find downloading sources. Like Kazaa, Napster or any other network that uses indexing servers, the Tracker does not actually contain the file. Its function is to connect your BitTorrent client to the downloading source. Like its name implies, it keeps “track” of Torrent files.

The BitTorrent network does an excellent job of utilizing bandwidth and discouraging leaching. Once you get started with BitTorrent, you’ll notice that most of your bandwidth is consumed by the BitTorrent client. In addition, you’ll notice that your download speed as well as your upload speed is maxed out. More often than not (depending on how many sources you are downloading off of) your upload bandwidth will be maxed out more often than your download bandwidth. Chances are that most other Internet activity, such as surfing the web, will grind to a snails pace.

The quickest way to get into BitTorrent is to simply head over to the official website by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen. This is the simplest and most basic of all the clients, but it will do the job (we\'ll direct you to alternative clients in a bit.) After you’ve finished downloading and installing the program, head over to where you can either search or browse the list of Torrents until you find what you want. Much like Newsgroups, sites like allows you to browse genres of music and movies.

Once you have completed downloading a file (or many files), it is a good idea to keep your BitTorrent client running. It is common courtesy to upload as much information as you have downloaded. For example, if you download a 200 megabyte file, you should keep your BitTorrent file open until you have uploaded at least this much.

There are many BitTorrent clients and Torrent sites available. One of the most popular alternative clients is The Shad0w\'s Experimental Client. Before you start getting yourself worried about how to share and seed files, we suggest you check out two very excellent FAQ sites, and These FAQ sites will cover just about everything from uploading Torrent files to going into great detail about how the network operates.

You may also want to check out in addition to in order to browse and search for the files you want.

BitTorrent is certainly a step above conventional P2P networks. Its open source and communal nature has made it one of the unsung heroes of the file-sharing community. With its wealth of music, movie and CD/DVD image files, BitTorrent has become one of the top file-sharing networks.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
BitTorrent :: Trackers/Indexers

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