Hello all. Since many of you are experiencing BitTorrent downloading for the first time with this tour, I'm going to try to put together a short guide with a few tips and maybe answer some common questions. (Maybe this could get stickied for a while until newer people get used to BT downloading? I've tried to help out in individual threads, but it would be easier if there was a specific, noticable post)
First, you will need a BitTorrent client, the program that will take the .torrent file you get from somewhere and use it to download your show. I personally use Azureus (http://azureus.sourceforge.net
) but there are many programs out there with similar features. I will, however, only be able to answer really specific questions regarding this program. So if you're just starting out, I'd recommend using Azureus so we're all on the same page. Plus, if you ask any questions, I'll probably be able to help you a lot more if you're using this program.
After you install the program, it should automatically detect some of your settings and pretty much set itself up. You will, however, need to do a few things outside of the program.
You need to know if you are behind a firewall. If you're using a router, chances are it has a built in firewall. You will need to open ports so the BT program can properly communicate with other users and the tracker it uses for your show. This is done by going into your router's configuration and setting Port Forwarding to ports 6881-6889 (these are the common bittorrent ports). The way to do this for some specific brands of routers can be found here: http://userpages.umbc.edu/~hamilton/btclientconfig.html
Scroll down a bit and you can find some helpful info.
If you are behind a software firewall, such as ZoneAlarm for example, then you just need to add your bittorrent program to the "allowed" list or whatever it's called in your specific program.
Also, Windows XP users. XP has it's own, really bad, built in firewall. You need to turn this off. This can be done by going to Start Menu > Settings > Network Connections, then right-click on your connection > Properties > Advanced > then the Windows Firewall settings. Turn it off from there.
OK, we're just about ready to download some shows. First we need to make sure our bandwidth is set up properly in our BT program. You should find out what your upload and download capabilities are. You can usually do this by checking with your ISP. It's usually listed on their site somewhere. It'll be, for example something like 350 kb/s download, 35 kb/s upload. These numbers all depend on your ISP plan, but we'll use them in future examples. So, in the BT software, I usually keep my max download to unlimited because I rarely reach the max speed anyway. In Azureus, this is on the Tools > Options > Transfer area. Set kB/s max download speed to 0 (0 means unlimited). Now, the upload speed can really hit your performance hard, which many people don't realize. You do, of course, want this to be as high as possible so you are sharing with others, but at the same time, if this is too high, it can and will choke your total bandwidth (both up AND down) and you'll get some really horrible speeds. I usually set this number at about 10 Kb lower than my upstream bandwidth, which would be, in the example I gave above 25 kB/s.
That should be it! Look at the .torrent file you've downloaded and make sure it actually has the .torrent extension. Some 2005 Torrents
If it has none (it's just xxx and not xxx.torrent) you can just add the .torrent to the end and it will be fine. Double-click that file and it should load up your BT software. You'll notice what appears to be all the files from the show on your computer in a matter of a few seconds. These are not complete files. They simply act as a kind of place-holder for the files you will be downloading. You cannot play these files (or do anything else with them, really) until they are completely done downloading. You can, however, set specific files to different priority levels (or even prevent them from downloading all together) so they download first if you want. For example, say you want to read the .txt file for a show. On the My Torrents screen of Azureus, double-click the listed show and it'll bring you to a more detailed window with tabs. Click the Files tab and you can see all the files for your specific torrent. Find the txt file and right-click it and set the priority to High. It should download quickly. You can see it's done by looking at the % complete column. Then you can view the txt file as you would normally. Any file that is at 100% you can then play, convert, or do whatever you want with (just don't try to move it out of the directory).
The most important thing when dealing with torrents is seeding to others after your download is complete. This is the whole basis of the system. If everyone shut down their BT program as soon as their download was finished, the system would not work. You should try to keep your torrent seeding until your upload:download ratio is AT LEAST 1:1. That way you've given back as much as you've taken, and it helps everyone else get better speeds.
One final thing to keep in mind. If you jump on a torrent right after it was posted and there are very few seeds, you will get slow speeds. There's nothing you can do. It's just supply and demand. If there's only one seed, and 25 leechers, you can only download so fast. The best thing to do is be patient. Your speed will go up as more people finish the download and start seeding.
I hope this helps a little bit. I've tried to be as helpful in specific threads as I could be, but I figure it's just easier to find some answers in one place, and it also makes it easier for me and others to help less experienced people out.
Please try to post all torrent related questions here, not in a link to the show or whatever, so everyone else can see your question too, and maybe it'll help them as well.