Is Your BitTorrent Throttled? Try uTorrent 1.9

As first reported by DSLReports, subscribers of Comcast, Cox, Bell Sympatico or other unpopular BitTorrent throttlers & sandviners may now have an alternative solution with µTorrent’s new alpha version 1.9. Peer-to-peer communications have traditionally used TCP, including BitTorrent trackers, whereby ISPs can quite easily “see” what type of traffic is being forwarded. While still in its infancy stages of development, µTorrent v1.9 (current build 13582) includes uTP, which is a variant of UDP (billed as UDP torrenting or micro transport protocol). uTP is an entirely different protocol (transport layer) than TCP that doesn’t require handshaking, and is thus much harder - if not impossible - to throttle.

uTP, simply stated, lays BitTorrent over UDP and has been in the works for some time. Its development was not directly designed to prevent sandvining or TCP RST packet attacks; however, it turns out to be a successful side effect - even if unintentional.

Interestingly, Bell (Sympatico) users may have the most to gain from uTP - at least here in Canada. Bell employs “TCP congestion control” in order to provide a “best effort service” for all users of the network; which simply put means aggressive throttling. Bell even blocks secure VPNs, tunneled traffic, encrypted traffic or anything else they aren’t able to easily identify. Why? Because it’s easier to block all unknown traffic (or, looking at it another way - traffic that a user can hide by tunneling), than it is to allow the few legitimate applications. Obviously, the use of VPNs to hide P2P traffic is not pervasive anywhere, but new subscribers to Sympatico who think they can outwit Bell by signing up to StrongVPN or VPNGates are in for a rude awakening when their torrents stay at 0:0 - they simply can’t connect. Additionally, those who opt for a different DSL ISP are also out-of-luck as these are likely third-party CLECs, whereby the “sold” bandwidth is already similarly throttled before it even reaches them.

uTP in uTorrent v1.9

While the implementation of uTP may not immediately bring widespread success, since connectivity relies on multiple users who have also adopted it (i.e. other users of µTorrent v1.9, or those who have manually enabled it in v1.8.1 and BitTorrent 6.1.x), it is very much a viable solution that has been shown to successfully to circumvent Bell’s throttling. Fortunately, there appears to be a rather large group of Sympatico (Bell) subscribers who are adopting the uTP protocol, as shown in the Peerlist for a popular torrent in µTorrent:

Be advised that µTorrent v1.9 is still in alpha stages, and thus quite buggy, and should not be used on private trackers until there’s a stable release. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, releases and development for v1.9 in the µTorrent Forums:

It should be noted that uTP is not exclusive to just µTorrent. Since BitTorrent™ owns µTorrent, it is also available in versions of BitTorrent 6.1.1 and higher (but uTP is not turned on by default). Both applications are strikingly similar, and the procedure for enabling uTP is exactly the same for both. From a sandvining (throttling) standpoint, it remains unclear whether or not enabling uTP in µTorrent v1.8.1 will garner the same results as using v1.9.

By default, uTP and TCP are both enabled in µTorrent 1.9. Users can switch back and forth between the protocols. Here’s how to enable and disable it in µTorrent 1.9:

Options > Preferences > Advanced, set bt.transp_disposition to:

255 - both TCP and uTP (default in µTorrent 1.9)
10 - uTP only
5 - TCP only
0 - disabled (default in µTorrent 1.8.1)

Speedtest & Connectivity: uTP & TCP

When using the default settings for µTorrent v1.9, uTP and TCP are both enabled as bt.transp_disposition is set to 255. We should note that our ISP is not throttling our connection (you can check to see if yours is - here), and our ISP is not Bell Canada or a CLEC. Sympatico users may (will?) not necessarily report the same results.

But it’s important to notice that we’ve established many connections (in the Peers tab) via uTP from both µTorrent and BitTorrent clients.

So far, there are mixed reactions to uTP. Some see a decrease in transfer speeds; others find it really does work, as mentioned by this forum member:

Wow this is awesome. Prevents my sandvine using isp from throttling. Full u/l speed to fellow [utp] peers. Ain’t seen that in over a year. — jizam - uTorrent forum

uTP Only:

We switched µTorrent over to “uTP only” mode by changing bt.transp_disposition to a value of 10.

Again, using our unthrottled ISP, we were able to establish uTP-only connections in the Peers list, with some impressive (if not similar) download speeds on popular public torrents:

  1. Me Says:

    This will be great for us hughesnet users!!

    They started blocking for me since March 2008…

  2. Hopeful Says:

    I might switch to this under Wine when a stable version comes out. Damn you Bell Canada and your DPI!

  3. broli Says:

    Nice i’m glad.
    Can’t wait for a stable version, this should mean for faster speeds all around.

  4. gkrules Says:

    I have Comcast and it doesn’t work too well for me.
    Speeds I normally get on a private tracker with uTorrent 1.8:
    200kb/s - DL
    20 kb/s - UL [at the most]
    Downloading/uploading from a server on the web:
    1mb/s - DL
    200kb/s - UL

    With uTorrent 1.9 I get:
    100kb/s - DL
    2-3kb/s - UL [at the most; the torrent I used had 20 seeds and around 190 leeches]

    It might be because of the private tracker, but I’ve went around all the trackers I have, and all of them are pretty slow. I went back to uTorrent 1.8

  5. gkrules Says:

    Oh yea, the city I live in also has a pretty big group of pirates, which might have affected somethings…

  6. Poissson Says:

    I’m with Bell Sympatico and this works!!

    At this time of the day, I usually get ~30Kb/s and it’s currently downloading at 300Kb/s! (which is almost my top speed, but the torrent may just be a little slow)

    But shhh don’t tell Bell :)

  7. Jeff Says:

    From my reading of the article, this option is available in 1.8.
    Is there any reason it is necessary to update to the beta to use this?

  8. mail2345 Says:

    This worked perfectly!
    350 kb/s DL, 50 kb/s UL
    1 kb/s DL, 5 kb/s UL

    Also has bigger effect with ipv 6.

  9. Yatti Says:

    Definately try it my connection is saturated again for the first time in like 4-5 years.. Damn Rogers Internet.. :|

  10. gl7 Says:

    another bt client “bitspirit” have been included the similiar option long ago, it is called “UDP Transport”, and yes, it work really good here, if another same client users connected, i can get full speed download and upload.

  11. zwar Says:

    just tried it and im very happy to say that it worked, no more 30Kb/s bs. bell can kiss my…
    but seriously this is good news. now if i could figure a way to do the same with emule…

  12. sta1ns Says:

    This screenshot is of my uTorrent 1.9 Beta downloading from TL during my P2P Download Speed limit my ISP set to 40kb/s max.
    330kb/s is my max speed.

  13. X-TRiAL Says:

    What the hell. I just installed the beta think whey nice fast downloads but I am only getting 20KB/s max atm. I am on BT’s 8Mb option, however usually around this time should be getting only around 8KB/s. Slightly better but not that big improvement for me compared to all of you out there!

  14. X-TRiAL Says:

    Ok this thing does work it is amazing!
    I can’t believe it!!
    Getting around 150+KB/s :D

    (This is during BT’s peek hours BTW)

  15. kempoxp Says:

    my upload speed was 10 mByte/sec and when in uTP i only get 3, so i switched to tcp only and voila everything works fine. so it is a good ideea to let tcp option too.

  16. thesun Says:

    is there a way for now to do the same thing on utorrent 1.8.2 or 1.8.1 that might get similar results. im on private sites so i can use betas and unstable version but i want to get past throttling

  17. Visssss Says:

    Damn!! Instant results for utp!!
    Before, 20kBps.
    After, 80kBps!!

  18. Visssss Says:

    Yup!! And upload speeds just went up to the max!!!

  19. A. Nonymous Says:

  20. Sheeplag Says:

    uTP is awsome for Malaysian users. We’ve been throttling by our ISP’s. But., it’s sad that UTP is dev secretly and not open to the public.

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