Frequently Asked Questions:
General - Getting Started
- What is a torrent file?
- How do I use/open a torrent file?
- Where can I find BitTorrent download links?
- I am using a browser other than internet explorer and clicking the links doesn't work. What should I do?
- Can I stop the download and resume later?
- How can I share a completed file I closed earlier?
- Does BitTorrent have any spyware/adware/viruses included with it?
General - Slightly More Advanced
- What are seeders, peers, and leechers?
- What are trackers?
- Can I make my own BitTorrent files?
- How do I uninstall BitTorrent?
- I downloaded part of a file, and want to resume from another (not BitTorrent) source. Can I?
- Can I copy a half complete download to a different computer or hard drive and resume the download?
Speed, Uploading, & Downloading
Errors and Problems
- I clicked a link I found. It won't start downloading, or says something about a tracker connection error. Whats going on?
- I was downloading fine, but it reached xx% and stopped. Why?
- BitTorrent makes my machine Blue Screen or restart without warning. Why?
- What do all these red errors mean and how do I fix them?
Can the Author of this site...
General - Getting Started
What is a torrent file?
A torrent file is simply a file with a .torrent extension. They are relatively small, usually in the 1-100 KB range (about the size of a Microsoft Word document). Torrent files are not video files, music files, rar files or anything like that. All they can do is tell a BitTorrent client how to download the real files you want (which may be music, videos, etc.).
So if someone finds a file with a name like this: "Trailer-Lord of the Rings-Return of the King.torrent", it is not the movie trailer. But it will tell your BitTorrent software everything it needs to download the trailer for Return of the King.
How do I use/open a torrent file?
From the above question you should know that a torrent file is a data file for use by a BT client. If a client is correctly installed, there are at least 2 ways to begin the download of the real file you want. You can simply left click a link in your browser just like it is a regular link. If you have issues with other browsers try internet explorer. Or you can save the .torrent file to your hard drive (right click, save as), then locate the file and double click it. Some more advanced clients can add torrents from within the program as well.
Where can I find BitTorrent download links?
Check the links on my links page for more info.
I am using a browser other than internet explorer and clicking the links doesn't work. What should I do?
If you are using MoZilla, Netscape, Opera, or whatever and clicking these links does not work, try using Internet Explorer. Some sites don't properly work with all browsers all the time (but they are getting better about it). Or you can save the .torrent file to your hard drive and double click on it as well.
Can I stop the download and resume later?
Yes. Just close your BitTorrent client, and then when you want to resume just click the link again (or open the .torrent file). Direct it to the same directory as before. It will check the existing file(s) and figure out what it still needs to download. If it starts downloading from the beginning again stop it and make sure you are telling it to save to the right location.
It used to take a long time to resume some of the larger torrent files out there. Now many of the clients have a fast-resume option, which basically means the client "remembers" what it has downloaded. No long checking required anymore.
How can I share a completed file I closed earlier?
Just find the link again and click it (or open it if its on your hard drive), and select the directory with the files in it. It may check it again, and if it finds the file(s) are complete it will begin to upload. Simply leave it open to keep sharing. Note that you cannot resume if you have renamed the files. If you did you have to change them back.
Does BitTorrent have any spyware/adware/viruses included with it?
No. The original client has nothing of this nature, and I believe all the alternate clients are also free of any spyware or advertisements. While the programs themselves do not have viruses in them, it should be noted that with the nature of file sharing someone could disguise a malicious file in something you may wish to download. While I have not heard of anyone experiencing this on the BitTorrent network, it is still highly recommended to have anti-virus software running and updated often, as well as an active firewall.
General - Slightly More Advanced
What are seeders, peers, and leechers?
A seed is someone who has the full file and is still sharing. Users are encouraged to do this whenever possible. Peers are those who are downloading a file but have not yet finished.
Leechers are generally people who download lots of stuff but do not share (thus missing part of the point of file sharing). For BT, usually a leecher is someone who closes their client within minutes after the download is complete. This is frowned upon by most other users. Some trackers actively kick people who have bad enough upload to download ratios. Sometimes people use the word leecher when they mean peer.
What are trackers?
A tracker is kind of like a server. Once you click on a torrent file it will connect to a tracker. It then communicates some stuff to the tracker like how much you have downloaded, uploaded, and how much you have left. It also sends info through the the tracker to the other people sharing the file, like who needs which parts. Just like a server though, if the tracker goes down the peers can't communicate with each other, and it doesn't work.
Can I make my own BitTorrent files?
Yes. It is recommended to have a fairly good upstream to get it started, especially if the file(s) are large. You can set up a tracker yourself if you have a box that is online 24/7. But most individual people use a public tracker. You can find one to use at beehive.info. I recommend using maketorrent to create the torrent file, but others such as completedir work as well.
How do I uninstall BitTorrent?
Try Control Panel, add/remove programs first. You can also check for uninstall.exe the directory your client is installed in. If they aren't there reboot and try again them again (may appear then if you haven't restarted since installing it). If it still doesn't work try doing it manually as described here. If you have clients besides the official one there may be more registry entries.
I downloaded part of a file, and want to resume from another (not BitTorrent) source. Can I?
No... not really. BitTorrent downloads chunks from throughout the file and sticks them where they need to go in a somewhat random order. So if you want a 500 MB video file, it just fills in random little chunks as it sees them available to download - most likely not from beginning to end. Most other sources (FTP, DCC, HTTP, etc.) just download the file from beginning to end. This basically means downloading with BitTorrent is incompatible with most other downloading methods.
Can I copy a half complete download to a different computer or hard drive and resume the download?
Yes. It will check the file like always and pick up where it left off. This assumes the file isn't corrupt from copying it from a bad hard drive or something weird like that.
Speed, Uploading, & Downloading
Do I have to upload while I download?
Yes. Its part of the network - it forces you to share while you download. If you don't like it go leech on some other file sharing network or hack the source code yourself.
I'm downloading my first file. What in the world am I uploading already?
The same file you are downloading. Thats how it works - it constantly sends and receives chuncks from throughout the file you are downloading.
Can I limit how fast it uploads?
Yes, but not directly with the official version. Try one of the experimental clients or others listed there with this feature. Note that limiting uploading may also limit your downloading speed!
Why can't I download faster?
One of several reasons. You may be behind a firewall or router - you want this question to learn how to open your ports. Maybe your upload speed is capped either by you or your ISP (e.g. dial-up, most forms of cable and dsl), or your upload speed may be incorrectly set. If you share (upload) slow you will usually download slow as well - Your download rate is proportional to your upload rate. However, if you upload more than about 85% of your upstream speed it might adversely effect your download and web browsing speeds. Set the upload cap around 85% of the max upstream speed.
Besides opening ports or uploading more there isn't much you can do. Get TorrentSpy and use it to check how many people are downloading and sharing the file. If there are only a few people sharing it or lots of people but only a couple complete copies your downloads will likely be slow. This is exactly why most sites encourage you to share after you finish downloading - speeds will suck if nobody shares any more than they have too.
And FYI - most people on better connections hate people on cable with max uploads of 15 KB/s that complain about not getting 100+ KB/s downloads. If thats your upload speed you may get good download speeds sometimes, but don't expect it to happen. Again "Your download rate is proportional to your upload rate."
Why am I uploading faster than I am downloading?
Again, this program forces you to share. Overall it usually average out - you might send fast and download slow for a few minutes, and then they might flip for a few minutes. The best thing to do when getting large files is open the client, make sure it gets started, and come back in a few hours.
I use Bit Tornado. What do the colored lights mean?
They tell you how the transfer is going, and change depending on connections and stuff. If you left click the light it will pop up a window with descriptions. Here's a screenshot of it. In general: Black - Waiting to connect, Red - No connections at that time, Yellow - you are probably behind a firewall without ports open, Blue - no complete copies connected to you, Green - Its all working great.
I am behind a NAT/Firewall/Router and my download is slow. Can I fix this?
Yes. If you don't know what a firewall is, basically it is a thing that helps keep people out of your PC or network that you may not want there. Some of these are hardware based (e.g. in a router) and others are software (e.g. Zone Alarm). If you have one of these running (which is highly recommended!) you need to tell it to open some ports so it lets the data you want through.
There are now a wide range of ports that different clients use. Usually you can change these somewhere in the options of your program. The current official client still uses 6881-6899. Look in the options of your program if you use another client to figure out what it is trying to use. Then follow along in whichever section applies to you.
Router: There are many router brands and models out there, all slightly different. This is a quick overview so find your instruction book if you are new to this. Open Internet Explorer, and go to 192.168.1.1 (thats your router's address, unless it is different with your model). This will bring up a login screen. You may need to consult your instruction guide to get the login/password if you haven't set this up before. Some Linksys models have admin as the default password, no login name needed. If this is your first time messing with this change the password to something else now.
Find your page or tab for port forwarding. Give your entry a name (BitTorrent) if it has a spot for that. Enter the ports 6881-6899, or whatever your client is trying to use. Usually you can enter a range of ports, if not do it one at a time. For a while you needed one port for each download you will have open at the same time, but clients are now starting to get around this. Select TCP, I believe you do not need UDP selected. Enter your local IP address. (If you don't know your local IP address under the start menu click on run, type cmd, hit return. At the command prompt type ipconfig. You should have an IP address like 192.168.1.xxx - thats your local IP). Last check the enable box (if you have one). Apply the settings and have fun.
Software firewall: Similar idea, but not quite the same. There are many different programs, so here's how to do it for zone alarm. For different programs try to follow along and change what you need to. Open Zone Alarm, click on firewall, and then the main tab. Under Internet Zone Security click custom. Scroll down to Allow Incoming TCP Ports, check the box, and enter 6881-6899 (or whatever your client wants to use). Do the same for Allow Outgoing TCP Ports. That should do the trick.
I am behind a NAT/Firewall/Router and cannot use or forward ports 6881-6889. What can I do?
If you can't use these ports (maybe your on a .edu and your university blocked these ports because of BitTorrent or something), you can change which ports BT uses. There is an option to do this in most of the clients now. You could also use the command line parameters as well if you use the official client (See Brian Dessent's FAQ for info on this). Yet again, open/forward whatever ports you change these to in your firewall for best results.
My internet shuts off when downloading. What can I do?
If its still off unplug your cable modem and plug it back in again to reset it. Of course that would raise the question how are you reading this without your internet connection... Anyway, the sad part there is no easy solution for this problem. Some people claim upgrading firmware and/or drivers for your network cards, cable modems, routers, etc. helped them, so try that first.
I've got this problem now, and its drove me nuts. Being in college I had 2 setups - one at home one at school. At school it worked fine - Insight was my ISP, had a linksys router and a modem from another company. At home it was the same ISP, wireless version of the same router but the modem was a linksys BEFCMU10. For a year or so nobody seemed to know much about it, but the problem for most of us is your cable modem.
If in doubt and you have a home network, try connecting to other computers on your network next time the internet dies. If you see other computers, the router is fine and the modem is the trouble. These modems screw up when they have lots of connections in a short amount of time and at high speeds. This is exactly what Bit Torrent does for popular files. Some people have claimed these same modems choke when doing stuff with SSH. Check out this forum thread on it.
Since it is the modem, changing the open ports in your router will have no effect. But there are three things you may be able to do. First, you could see if there is a newer firmware version for your cable modem. There is for the Linksys BEFCMU10. That sounds simple enough to fix, but DOCSYS regulations say only your cable company can update the firmware on your cable modem. So you will then have to call your cable company and try to get them to upgrade the firmware from their end - which they may or may not do.
The next solution is to get a new modem. You could try RMAing yours and hope you get a slightly newer version with the better firmware. But that could leave you with no internet for week or two. Or you could just spend the money and buy a new one.
The third thing isn't really a fix, its a work-around. Since the problem happens when the torrent gets too many connections at the same time it overloads your modem, you need to limit the amount of connections and/or the speeds. To slow or stop this I recommend using Bit Tornado or Azureus. In Bit Tornado click on Prefs then advanced, and change the Max Peer Connections option to something below 60. Some people found 20 or 30 to work best - you'll have to play with it to see what works best for your system - I'd start low and work your way up after a while until it starts doing it again. In Azureus you want the "add connections slowly" option.
Errors and Problems
I clicked a link I found. It won't start downloading, or says something about a tracker connection error. Whats going on?
Its probably not on your end. Basically you cant get that file to work at that time. It could be there are no seeds, or nobody sharing any parts of that file at that time. Or if you got the tracker error this usually happens when a tracker is either down or under heavy load, thus not allowing you to connect at that time. Try finding a different torrent from another site of the same file(s), leave it open and hope it eventually goes back up, or try back later.
I was downloading fine, but it reached xx% and stopped. Why?
Most likely there are no seeders (people with the entire file) still sharing. How is this possible? Say an old file is only being shared by 1 person who has the whole file, and 3 people are trying to get it from him. If that one person goes offline, the other 3 will continue to share with each other. However, there may be some chunks that none of the 3 people have gotten yet. They will eventually all reach the same amount complete and stop downloading, since it has nowhere to download the missing pieces from. If this happens you can try leaving it open and wait for someone with the missing parts to re-connect. Look around where you got it from - some sites may allow you to request a re-seed, thats about all you can do besides leaving it open. If this happens share the file when done so this doesn't happen to others!
BitTorrent makes my machine Blue Screen or restart. Why?
Note: Sometimes Windows XP (maybe others) restarts by default instead of showing a blue screen. You may want to disable that if you get unexpected restarts using BT. The FAQ from the official BT site recommends updating drivers for your NIC and/or modem to fix blue screen issues when downloading.
What do all these red errors mean and how do I fix them?
I don't feel like trying to collect and type these all up so here's a site explaining most of them.
Can the Author...
tell me of a site with the TV series/movie/album/whatever?
No. I get around a thousand unique visitors on here a day. I can't go looking around for everyone. Plus that may be getting into copyright problems - and this site's policy is not to do anything that may be considered a copyright issue. Go to my links page, you can get links to lots of sites from the sites I listed.
...re-seed a torrent file that no longer has any seeders?
No. Too many hits on this site for me to do this for people, and too many files out there. Also it may be against this sites copyright policy. Sorry - some sites have requests for re-seeds. Check to see if where you are getting yours from does.
I am running MAC OS 9 (or other not as common as windows OS). Can I download?
You didn't answer my question! Where can I get the answer?
- For general usage info look at my page for beginners here.
- Since there didn't seem to be one place on the internet for talking about most the file types you run across in file sharing (and I was getting lots of questions) - check out page 2 of my FAQ for info on different file types.
- Another pretty good FAQ for BT is available from monduna.com. Take a look here.
- If you are having general program issues (especially if its with the official version), you may want the official FAQ.
- And last use this page if you wish to set up your own BT Server.