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2000x your Current Torrent Speed: How to Speed up Torrents

November 22, 2008

Note: This guide is not only for uTorrent, as you most certainly can apply it to use in other BitTorrent clients. This guide, however, is written primarily for uTorrent.

If you are new to the torrent world, you may soon realize that all your dreams of sharing files and living life the P2P way fail once you look at the speed of your downloads: 0.3 KBps.

For me, when I saw that, I was ready to dump torrents. Why would one want to use it when there were so many other ways to download? Clicking on an .exe file, downloading it, even through Internet Explorer, was way faster!

But now, if you were like me, you need not suffer anymore. With these tricks, you’ll soon be cruising along at half a megabyte per second no sweat!

1. Understanding the concept of torrents.

To speed up your torrent speeds, you need to understand thoroughly how torrents themselves work. You have trackers, leechers, seeds, torrents, oh my, what does it all mean? While I won’t give you a complete tutorial on the whole aspect of torrents, I will give you this:

Seed: This is, in essence, a copy of the file you are trying to download. Once you finish downloading your torrent, and you leave the file the way it is, you now host a seed. Other people will download from your seed. The more seeds, the faster the download.

Leecher: Someone who disconnects, closes the torrent client, deletes, or moves the file as soon as they are finished downloading. These people do not seed, and are considered selfish. You should always seed a file, and reaching a 1:1 ratio of download:upload is a minimum for torrent etiquette.

Torrent: The torrent is the file itself, the one file that many people have a copy of. It is usually a .torrent file, and this file, when downloaded, will connect you to the trackers and start your download.

Tracker: A tracker is a server that supplies the list of seeds for you. The more trackers you have, subsequently the more seeds you have, and therefore, the faster your download. Some trackers are member-only, while other more well-known ones, like The Pirate Bay, are free for all to use.

Once you’ve brushed up on the basic technique, it’s time to start speeding up your torrent downloads!

2. Point BitTorrent traffic to your computer.

Most of the time, your torrent traffic is brushed all across, and unless you are the minority of us that connect directly to the Internet, you’re probably connected behind a router. In that case, you’ll need to point the traffic to your computer.

To do this, you need to either have a manually-selected IP, or you can opt to change it every time you reboot your computer.

To check your current IP address (in Windows):

Start menu > Run… > cmd > ipconfig. In the list of information, find the one that reads “IP Address:” and the set of numbers separated by 4 periods is your internal IP address. This is usually something like 192.168.1.*** or something.

To change your IP address (in Windows):

Start menu > Control Panel > Networks > [your network] > Properties. In the list that appears on the next screen, click TCP/IP > Properties. Click the radio button “Manually select…” and type in a IP address. Make sure no one on your network is already using this.

(if you are using Windows Vista, it features IPv6 as well as IPv4, but apparently in some cases this screws up your Internet connection. If this happens, you will have to change your IP every single time.)

To select a new port (in uTorrent):

Selecting a new port other than the default is quite important. It’s recommended to do so viruses can’t get in through a default port. This won’t deter all viruses, but you are much better off than the one that comes with uTorrent.

Visit uTorrent > Options > Preferences > Connection. The first text box on the top there will be labeled “Port used for incoming connections:” Click on the “Randomize Port” button next to the text box, and you will receive a port. You can click this any amount of times you like.

Once you have decided on your port, please write it down on a piece of paper. It will be crucial for the next step.

To point BT traffic to that port (on a Linksys router):

Internet browser > In the popup that follows, type in your router username and password. If you have never specified this, it is usually [ user:admin pass:admin ]. If not, check your manual or this default user/pass website.

Click on a page or section called “Applications or Gaming” or “Port Forwarding” or etc. You should be presented with a list of empty dialog boxes, lists, ratio buttons, and even more buttons.

On my router, I got something like this:

Application / Start to End / Protocol / IP Address / Enable (where slashes are the different columns)

If you have never used Port Forwarding before, it is actually quite straight-forward. These instructions were based on my Linksys BEFW11S4 router, but other routers usually do not vary much.

Application: This is your choice. Do something descriptive like “tor” or “btt”.
Start to End or it may be just Port: This is the port you chose.
Protocol: Don’t mess with this. Leave it on “TCP” or “Both”, depending on your router.
IP Address: Type in your IP address here. This is the computer it will forward it to.
Enable: Check this to enable this forward. (In other words, just check it. If there is no Enable option, you can assume it automatically enables.)

And that is it. Don’t forget to save changes, close it, and you just might find your speed jumped a whole lot.

[If you have more than one computer behind a router that is connecting to BitTorrent networks, you can always specify different ports for each computer. Just add another line.]

3. Slow for Vista? Not to worry.

When I got my shiny Vista computer, I noticed that downloads were incredibly slow. Here’s a quick tip on how to solve it. (Note: I’ve only tested it on Vista, and I can’t vouch for its effectiveness on XP or any other OS)

uTorrent > Options > Preferences > Advanced. In the list of “Advanced Options”, scroll down to “net.bind_ip” and type in your IP in the text box to the bottom. Click on “Set”.

4. Hack your Max Half-Open TCP Connections.

This limits the number of IPs you can connect to on Windows XP SP1 and up, as well as Windows Vista. This is supposed to slow down viruses, but it also slows down torrents. Your best bet is to download a patch to unlimit this limit, and run a good firewall and antivirus combination.

To do this, first install this patch (courtesy of TorrentFreak). Select any number between 50 and 100. More is not always better. I would suggest something in the middle.

Next, go to uTorrent > Options > Preferences > Advanced. In the long list of options, scroll down to “net.max_halfopen” and change this to the number you selected when installing the patch.

5. Encrypt your torrents.

In many cases, ISPs will throttle your BitTorrent speeds because it is the BitTorrent users (2% of them) that use up over 95% of the traffic. Therefore, some ISPs will throttle. To stop them from throttling, you can change the default port (not always helpful in this case), or you can encrypt.

Encrypting would slow down everything, but if your ISP is throttling, it will speed up downloads in the long run.

To encrypt, go to uTorrent > Options > Preferences > Network. Check “Protocol Encryption”. Now you are good to go!

6. Unblock your firewalls.

Make sure you let your torrent client through your firewalls, if you have one installed. This one is pretty straight-forward; just look for an option called “Allowed Programs” or “Whitelist” or something alike.

By now, your torrent speeds should be blazing along at at least 200 Kbps depending on the torrent you are downloading. Have fun, and torrent away!

If you liked this post, please bookmark it on your social bookmarking sites. Also, be sure to leave comments if you have other ideas on how to speed up your torrents!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. purpleskyz permalink
    December 10, 2008 4:13 pm

    very useful info.. thanks for sharing!

  2. Jen permalink
    December 18, 2008 4:53 pm

    wow! your advice really worked! thanks so much for taking the time to spell it out for us in english, lol.

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