If you are running WinXP, don’t rely on the firewall supplied by Windows XP, it’s not adequate to handle the duties of a dedicated firewall. Get something else like Zone Alarm, it’s free.
When you install software that requires access to the Internet, most firewalls will give you a chance to allow this change in the system, and a window will pop up prompting for your attention to the matter.
We’ve written these examples specifically for Limewire but many P2P programs are configurable in a similar manner. If you run a firewall but you are NOT using a router, you may still need to configure Limewire to grant it access to the Internet and fine tune the connection. To do this; run Limewire and click on the TOOLS > OPTIONS menu. Click on Advanced > Firewall Config and check the ‘Listen on Port’ number. This is the TCP Port number that Limewire uses to access the Internet. Use a port number between 49152 and 65534. Most experts agree that numbers within this range are best for any P2P program, as they are unassigned numbers. Also, be sure to select the “Use UPnP” setting as well, this will allow Limewire to configure itself with the firewall software. Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’ to save your new settings.
If you are NOT behind a router and you still can’t connect, you may need to manually add the port number through the firewall software. Run your firewall software and look to see if Limewire is listed as an allowable program. If it is listed (and it should be) make sure that the port number listed there is the same number that you entered in Limewire. Some firewall software does this automatically, and no further settings need to be altered (since you’ve already granted access to the program).
If you STILL can’t connect, take a look at your proxy settings under Advanced > Proxy and make sure “No Proxy” is selected and that all the fields on this settings page are blank. More tips for tweaking Limewire can be found here.
NOTE: If you use more than one P2P client (including any BitTorrent client, mIRC etc.) then you must have a different port number assigned to each program. Do not assign the same number for each program, even if you don’t intend to run them at the same time. This will cause a conflict regardless of whether you use a firewall or not.
If you are behind a router that you cannot configure, visit www.portforward.com for more information on what you should do. They can test your firewall setup through an Internet connection, and they have a huge list of routers that are cross-indexed with port-using software to give you the proper configuration. You’ll need to know the make/model/brand of your router.
There are only a small handful of factors that can be attributed to the download speed and improved performance of P2P programs. They can include any or all of the following:
A fast Internet connection.
Generally this is paramount to all other factors. There’s not much you can do with a 56K dial-up connection. Invest in high-speed Internet (cable, DSL, satellite).
Whether or not you are being traffic ’shaped’ by your ISP.
This is an especially hot topic as of late. Comcast (US) has recently been caught for practicing ‘traffic shaping’ on its customers. Even Sympatico (Canada) has even recently admitted to throttling the bandwidth of its users during peak times as well. More and more ISPs are now employing some sort of scheme to thwart these applications - aided by the rapid development of this technology and its availability to them. One ‘quickfix’ for this is the port range that the client program uses. If you are finding extremely slow speeds, try changing to a number between 49152 and 65534, or if you are currently in that range, change to a different number within it. Don’t forget you may need to forward that new number in your firewall settings if you are running one. Click here for more information on ISPs and blacklisted ports.
Many P2P programs run in the background after being closed, which can lead to ‘one-directional’ traffic. So be sure they’re terminated when you close them, not just minimized to the taskbar. See our column about ‘ISPs and Speed‘ for other tips.
Download files that have the most number of users sharing them.
Select files that have a high number of available sources. Not only will this increase the download rate of the file, but it minimizes the chances of it not working/playing or containing malware. If you download a file from just one user, you are completely reliant on the upload capacity of that user. When a file is downloaded from ten users, all ten can potentially assist simultaneously by uploading different parts of the file at the same time.
Properly configured download/upload settings in the P2P client program.
This could include a variety of settings, sometimes specific to the P2P program. Most clients like Limewire, Shareaza and BearShare generally have the exact same changeable settings.
When it comes to download speeds, most P2P programs are installed with a minimal set of default settings (even when they ask for the user’s proper “connection speed” during setup). Settings affected by this are:
- Download and Upload speed settings (bandwidth).
- A limited number of files able to be downloaded at the same time (sometimes called ‘Tasks’ or ‘Transfers’).
- Bad port number (almost always).
- A restricted number of search results shown.
- Uploading (sharing) is usually turned ON by default.
- Minimal ‘network’ connectivity (ie. Not all the Networks are turned on or connected to).
Changing the client settings to increase speeds (in Limewire):
Other settings can affect the speed in which you download: Go to TOOLS > OPTIONS and click ‘Speed‘. Make sure the connection speed is as close as possible to your actual Internet connection. Cable/DSL users, select Cable/DSL as shown. ‘Disable Ultrapeer Capabilities’ should also have a checkmark. As well, you can turn off the ‘OOB Searching’ as well if you need to (but it will slow down your search results).
You also want to fine-tune your download settings. Go to the TOOLS > OPTIONS and click ‘Downloads‘. Make sure that your download speed is set to 100%. This is important. Also, change your “Maximum Downloads” to a higher number (i.e. 30), so that your files aren’t stuck waiting in your own queue. Most P2P programs come installed with a low ‘Max Download’ number to accommodate PCs that have minimal Internet bandwidth and processing capabilities.
Last thing to do is check your upload settings. Go to the TOOLS > OPTIONS and click ‘Uploads‘. Be sure that the slider is positioned so it doesn’t take TOO much of your bandwidth, or turn it off entirely. You can even disable and/or turn off your uploads, remove your shared folders etc. and it will have no ill effects towards the downloading rate. (Unlike BitTorrent, where downloading is usually proportional to the uploading).
Not all P2P programs allow for ‘uploading’ to be disabled (or else the downloads will be adversely affected). Soulseek and ExoSee are two examples. Some protocols of P2P are completely reliant on the ’sharing’ aspect of P2P. This is particularly true of Direct Connect and BitTorrent.
I use KTorrent, on a Linux Mandriva 2010 distro. All your hints and tips are squarely aimed at Windows OS, do you have any tips for us Linux users.?