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12 Clues (and Solutions) to Why Your Torrents Are Slow

Find yourself saying, “Help me! Why are my torrents so slow?” - then you’re not alone. Millions of torrenters across the globe are asking the same thing. Unfortunately, the solution isn’t just some extraordinary quick fix or spurious torrent accelerator program - you’ll actually have to put a little effort into figuring out the cause of those deathly-slow downloads. Here’s a few tips to put you on the right track to faster torrents…

Troubleshooting the exact problem pertaining to slow torrents could just be one simple solution or a combination of multiple options. In any event, we present in order a checklist of possible issues for slow torrent download speeds.

#12 - Antivirus Software & BitTorrent Conflicts

It’s no secret that some antivirus software just isn’t copacetic with BitTorrent clients; µTorrent in particular. If your torrent speeds were top-notch before a newly-installed antivirus (or antispyware) program - and your torrent speeds have begun to wither miserably - this one’s a no-brainer: Uninstall your antivirus program, and/or try another one. Problems may include your BitTorrent client being detected as a trojan (a false positive), or the client is blocked entirely. Known issues include:

#11 - Disable PeerGuardian / IP Blocking Software

We know what you’re thinking: ”You’re crazy if you think I’m going to disable my trustworthy PeerGuardian, and leave myself unprotected”. The truth is, it really can’t help you anyways. The amount of overall protection given by a blocklist is minimal at best. Anti-piracy agencies such as BayTSP are smart enough to use IP ranges not to be found on any list - give them some due credit. If anything - PeerGuardian 2, SafePeer and IP Blocklists will only slow down your torrent transfers by blocking legitimate peers.

If you really must incorporate some form of IP blocking, then at least use the trimmed-down version IPfilterX-u23. It blocks a minimal amount of IPs (about 7,000 IPs and ranges), and is updated about every 10 days.

#10 - Your ISP Blocks or Throttles P2P Traffic

ISPs aren’t exactly torrent-friendly. P2P traffic congests the overall network and accounts for as much as 65% of all Internet traffic, with BitTorrent taking up as much as 75% of that. It’s little surprise that ISPs would want to curb your torrenting activity. While sandvining and throttling has gone by the wayside as of late (as reported by Max Planck Institute), there are still plenty of bad ISPs that constrict bandwidth for P2P protocols. As shown below, stats suggest that both Comcast and Cox have now entirely abandoned BitTorrent blocking.

Cox: Comcast:

Solutions for bypassing a Bad ISP include:

Enabling Encryption in Various BT Clients:

The encryption feature does not mean your session is secure or anonymous, it is merely a way to avoid the traffic shaping measures some ISPs have implemented.

• In uTorrent, adjust the settings in the Preferences > BitTorrent tab.

  • Disabled: This will probably increase your connectability, although it also means your BitTorrent traffic is wide-open for your ISP to see.
  • Enabled: Likely the best option. Allows you to connect to peers who use both the “Disabled” and “Enabled” settings. Enabled = Enabled connections are known to be undetectable by ISPs.
  • Forced: You’ll limit your connections to “Enabled” or “Forced” peers only. While this setting will likely slow down your torrent speed (for a good ISP), it can be integral to outwitting your bad ISP.

• In Vuze (Azureus), go to Options > Connection > Transport Encryption. Select the option “Require encrypted transport”. It’s advised to select a fallback option to allow for non-encrypted connections.

• In Deluge, go to Preferences > Network, and select “Enabled” for both Inbound and Outbound.

• In Transmission, encryption is already enabled by default. However you can set Transmission (Preferences > Options) to only accept encrypted peers.

#9 - Experiment With Alternative BitTorrent Clients

Without question, some BitTorrent clients just tend [to be faster](/2008/03/01/which-bittorrent-client-is-the-fastest/ “Which BitTorrent Client is the Fastest? “) than others. This is especially true for torrenters who use the default settings for the BT client (without making any modifications to the optimize existing options). However, if it’s a concern with a bad Internet provider, µTorrent may fool your ISP whereas Vuze or Deluge may not, depending on the encryption method used & the settings. If you still have dismal speeds across all clients, then more than likely this not the solution. A collection and comparison of 50 BitTorrent clients can be found here at Wikipedia.

Having said that, many torrenters have found moderate success by using a “beta” or specialized client such as:

#8 - Set Proper Upload Speed; BitTorrent Connections

A properly configured BitTorrent client is more important than which client you opt to use. For new torrenters, this is probably the most oft-overlooked (and crucial) solution to faster torrents. A streamlined BT client will make all the difference for both public and private torrents alike.

We’ll use µTorrent for the model, but these settings can be applied universally to all clients.

I - Set a Proper Upload Speed

If your upload speed is set too high, it will eat into your download speed; a setting too low may result in other peers dropping your connection or limiting the data they’re sending to you. Finding a harmonized balance between the two is the key. The general rule of thumb is to select an upload rate that is about 80% of your upload line’s capacity.

Conduct a speedtest - Shut down all Internet activity, and run a speedtest closest to your geographical location. Speedtests can be done at these locations:

Be advised that the speedtest results are shown in kb/s (kbps or kilobits), not as kB/s (kilobytes) as used when configuring any client. A simple division of 8 will convert the kb/s into kB/s.

A Speedtest Example

:

To convert kb/s to kB/s from the results above, we divide 977 kb/s by 8 = 122 kB/s. To get 80% of this, we multiply 122 X 0.8 which gives us an optimized upload rate of 98 kB/s.

Download Limiting: It’s been suggested that using a Download Rate of [0] or unlimited will actually hurt your download speed (or ability to do other things with your Internet connection - such as surfing or HTTP downloading), although we’ve found little to no difference. If preferred, try a DL rate that is 90 - 95% of your actual line capacity. (i.e. 8032 / 8 = 1004 kB/s X .95 = 954 kB/s). This may be a practical solution for ISPs that employ ’steady state speed limits’ such as Comcast.

Additionally, some clients have a built-in speedtest, such as uTorrent - Options > Speed Guide.

II - Optimize Global, Per-Torrent Connections

This is a little trickier than calculating an upload rate, since there really is no magic number due to the numerous variables involved. A setting too high will result in too much bandwidth being used to ping other peers; too low will result in not enough connections. If your TCP max half open connections is not patched, settings that are too high can also negatively affect connections & speed. And of course, your Internet line speed becomes a big factor when choosing these options.

Slower Internet (DSL): If your Internet connection is 256 kB/s (max download rate), try using:

  • — Global maximum number of connections: 130
  • — Maximum number of connected peers per torrent: 70
  • — Number of upload slots per torrent: 3-5

Faster Internet (Cable/Broadband): If your Internet connection is 1.0 MB/s (max download rate), try using:

  • — Global maximum number of connections: 250
  • — Maximum number of connected peers per torrent: 100
  • — Number of upload slots per torrent: 10

Again, your mileage may vary - experiment with these settings.

III - Basic BitTorrent Features

If you’re primarily using public trackers, you’ll want to enable DHT, Local Peer Discovery and Peer Exchange (PEX). There are guides everywhere that explain what these functions are.

#7 - Hack Your Max Half Open TCP Connections

Some will suggest that this is entirely useless, but we’ll include it anyways. Especially since Windows Vista Home Basic has maximum limit of just 2.

Opening up your max half open connections to anywhere between 50 - 100 may result in faster torrent speeds, most notably when torrents are just beginning to connect to other peers. Personally I always apply this patch - but not so much for the torrents. When I don’t apply it and I’m downloading at near full line capacity in uTorrent, I have major complications when using the rest of my Internet connection - say, for browsing the ‘Net.

There are numerous TCPIP patches floating around on the interwebs, including:

Regardless of which option you choose, after patching tcpip.sys you’ll need to correctly change this in the BitTorrent client, as well (if applicable). It’s recommended to change the setting to a lower value than what you used for TCPIP - for example if your TCP limit is now 100, use 80 or 90 in the BitTorrent client (thus leaving some headroom for other Internet tasks).

Changing TCP/IP in µTorrent:

Go to Options > Preferences > Advanced and enter in a new number for net.max_halfopen, click set, OK and exit. Restart uTorrent.

#6 - Ports, Port Forwarding and Firewall Configurations

We won’t dwell on this section much, since every techie blog in the world has something written about this; or it can be found in the FAQ section of most BT clients’ websites. But here’s a recap:

uTorrent Randomized Port: By default, the port in uTorrent is randomized each time it starts, which can be problematic for anyone who uses a router or firewall software. However, it can be helpful if your ISP is throttling your P2P traffic.

Bad Port/Good Port: Otherwise, use a port number from this range: 49152 – 65535 (as these are dynamic and/or private ports; aka ‘unassigned’). Whatever you do, avoid the default ports 6881-6999, as these are assigned BitTorrent ports and are known to be throttled by ISPs.

Also, either disable the Windows Firewall, or put a checkmark in “Add Windows Firewall exception” to automatically forward the port. Remember your port number, as you’ll need to submit this to your router or firewall software (if applicable).

Port Forwarding: Bootstrike has a nice guide on possible port issues with uTorrent and connectability. PortForward.com is absolutely invaluable for any application in combination with various routers. Here’s a short list of guides for each BitTorrent client - click a link below and select your router from the list, and follow the instructions provided (more Port List guides can be found here).

To test if your port is forwarded correctly, use uTorrent’s built-in port test (Options > Speed Guide > Test if port is forwarded properly). Vuze has a similar feature, available in the menu Help > NAT / Firewall Test. If you’re connectable, torrents will appear green in Vuze. Likewise, uTorrent will display a green checkmark indicating good connectability.

#5 - Add More Trackers To The Torrents

**NOTE:

** This tip works only with public trackers - do not attempt with private torrents.

If you want to try to increase the speeds of public torrents, try adding more trackers to the /announce list in the torrent(s). This works particularly well with popular torrents that are found across multiple torrent indexers. It’s likely that the exact same files are being shared across a multitude of different trackers - all you have to do is add their trackers, and presto! you’ll increase the peer list dramatically - but more importantly, the number of seeds. It can also be helpful to finish downloading those torrents that stop at 95 - 99%.

Here are some of the more popular trackers:

  • http://inferno.demonoid.com:3407/announce
  • http://tracker.thepiratebay.org/announce
  • http://open.tracker.thepiratebay.org:80/announce
  • http://tracker.torrent.to:2710/announce
  • http://tracker.bittorrent.am/announce
  • http://tracker.ilibr.org:6969/announce
  • http://bt.fansub-irc.org:2005/announce
  • http://tracker.mightynova.com:80/announce
  • http://www.todotorrents.com:2710/announce
  • http://tracker.taquilladivx.com:80/announce
  • http://www.flushtorrents.com/announce.php
  • http://tracker.torrentparty.com:2202/announce
  • http://tracker.jamendo.com/announce.php
  • http://mythtracker.com:2710/announce

Adding new trackers in uTorrent: See our [guide here](/tutorials/how-to-speed-up-torrents-with-low-seeders/ “How To Speed Up Torrents With Low Seeders”).

Adding new trackers in Vuze: Unfortunately, this has to be done one tracker at a time. In Vuze, highlight a torrent, right-click and go to Advanced > Tracker > Add Tracker URL. “Paste” a new tracker from the above list, click OK and repeat for as many as desired.

#4 - Use an HTTPS: Tracker

Using an HTTPS [https://] tracker can help to outwit your throttling/traffic shaping ISP. Some of the larger private trackers incorporate https as an option in the tracker. They include (but are not limited to):

  • • Waffles.fm
  • • TorrentBytes.net
  • • HDBits.org
  • • RevolutionTT.net

An HTTPS tracker should not be confused with a torrent site that works over SSL. ThePirateBay, Isohunt and others offer HTTPS browsing, but the trackers in the torrent itself are still regular HTTP, and not secure whatsoever.

HTTPS Torrent Creation

HTTPS in Vuze: Using Vuze’s built-in (embedded) tracker, users can create private torrents over the HTTPS protocol. To enable, go into Tools > Options > Tracker > Server and enter your IP address for “Tracker external IP address”. Be sure to checkmark “Enable tracker on HTTPS port”. When creating a torrent, select the option “Use Vuze Embedded Tracker” and put a check in the “Use SSL” box.

#3 - Download The Right Torrents

Selecting the proper torrents is akin to a properly configured BitTorrent client - when done correctly it can increase download speeds tremendously. The key here is to look for torrents that have a good seed/leech ratio. Torrents that are lopsided with a high leecher count and just a handful of seeders will take an impossibly long time to complete.

Below is an example of what would appear to be a newly-released torrent at Mininova.org. Looking at the numbers, it’s little wonder why everyone is complaining about the download speed in the comments for the torrent. With only two people who have it complete, and 9,453 leechers trying to download it, the seeders’ upload resources are spread a little thin to put it mildly.

The torrent right below it, “The Wrestler” will do far better as there are roughly equal the number of seeds/leechers in the torrent. Furthermore, a torrent with 50 seeders and 50 leechers will usually produce much greater download speeds than a torrent with 200 seeds and 2,000 leechers.

The same theory can be applied to similar torrents for the same release - something that is quite common on public trackers. Arranging the torrents by seeders (from high to low) will usually provide the best clue to what will be a successful torrent.

#2 - Use a Seedbox

We couldn’t possibly utter this more vehemently - a [seedbox](/2008/05/01/10-reasons-why-you-need-a-seedbox/ “10 Reasons Why You Need a Seedbox”) will not only drastically increase the torrent download speed, but it will also:

  • • Keep you safe from anti-piracy outfits, since your home IP address is kept out of the torrent.
  • • Hide your torrent traffic from your ISP. You’ll be able to download the finished files via HTTP or FTP - both of which are not normally blocked or throttled.
  • • Your seedbox traffic is not counted towards your ISP account stats, so it’s great for anyone who suffers from ISP ‘capping’. The only time it becomes your traffic is when you choose to download the files from a finished torrent to your home PC, and uploading torrent traffic will never eat into your cap.

#1 - Stop Using Public Trackers, Get Into Private Sites

This is the number one thing that every torrenter should do to increase the speed of torrents. Once you go private, you’ll never go back to public trackers.

Speeds are insane - It’s very possible to max out your download speed with a private tracker, since many torrents are hosted on seedboxes. Unlike public sites where there are no rules for bad seeding habits or hit & runs, they are forever doomed to have more leechers than seeders. The exact opposite is true of private trackers where everyone is trying hard to keep a good sharing ratio.

Private trackers are safer, more secure - Well this isn’t entirely truthful, but anti-piracy agencies already have their hands full collecting the IP addresses of users in public torrents. Very rarely do you hear of a private tracker member receiving a nasty “Takedown Notice” (aside from Demonoid, of course).

No viruses in the torrents - Virii, malware doesn’t exist in private trackers. Everything is exactly as it should be - working. No password-protected RAR files, either.

Private Trackers have a community - There’s an abundance of tutorials and help available to all members; IRC channels for support; forums for chatting - most of which are completely absent from public trackers.

Releases come first to private trackers - Looking for the latest hot new movie or game? You’ll always find it on private trackers first, then the trickle-down to public sites begins. So what are you waiting for, an invitation? Make the switch to private trackers - the hottest thing going in P2P.

  1. Laser Blade Says:

    Good info..Thanks.. :)

  2. Diji1 Says:

    An excellent list of possible problems - outstanding again. Many people do not know about the conflicts with AV especially.

  3. SlyzertVoltrond Says:

    Awesome. I don’t even know alot of it. Thanks for your effort. :)

  4. Ter Says:

    Very well writen article, kudos!

  5. Lightning_Struck_Tower Says:

    Great article sharky. Keep it up.

  6. Poissson Says:

    Again, a top quality article Sharky! Thank you very much!

  7. N3v3R Says:

    Nicely done Sharky

  8. toby Says:

    This nod32 antivirus suck big time.I had 15 trojans that nod32 did not detect.
    Stick to one of these: kaspersky,avira,trust port aec,bit defender,safe n sec,dr web,wba32,g data and save some trouble.And free firewall like outpost firewall.

  9. Treadstone Says:

    You mentioned that block lists don’t work but this article seems to go against
    that theory
    h**p://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/10/p2p-researchers-use-a-blocklist-or-you-will-be-tracked-100-of-the-time.ars

    and seems a hell of a lot more believable than ben’s blog as it doesn’t mention how he comes by his data or what his tech know -how is

  10. Diji1 Says:

    I think it’s pretty obvious that blocklists must be at best only somewhat effective. The article makes perfect sense to me in it’s justifications.

    The real kicker that makes blocklists ineffective against anti-p2p agencies is the fact that it’s public - any copyright enforcer who knows anything will know of blocklists and can easily check and verify that their using a non-blocked IP and there’s many ways of obtaining new IPs that aren’t blocked.

    You don’t have to have any data to come to this conclusion. That report also is making patently false statements: it asserts that:

    ” 2. Researchers found that “avoiding just the top 5 blocklisted IPs reduces the chance of being tracked to about 1 percent.” and then says:

    “The study does have one major caveat, however; it does not attempt to determine if the blocklists actually correspond to tracking organizations like SafeNet.”

    … so really there is no conclusion to be drawn about the chance of being tracked by IP either in the blocklists or otherwise from those statements.

    I know for a fact that many of the banned IP belong to clients serving malware on networks other than BT in any case.

    Many times I’ve read that people use PeerGuardian and still recieve complaints from copyright holders.

  11. mojo Says:

    have you ever seen a problem such as mine: when i first start a torrent from a good tracker, it runs at 1.2, even 1.3 mb/s, then after 30 secs it levels off at 700kb/s and stays there. I have tried different torrent clients, i have tested my connection for traffic shaping, tried turning off peer guardian, my ports are forwarded, tried different upload speeds. My download speed tests register anywhere from 10-15 mb/s (TimeWArner/Road Runner). When the torrent is going at 700kb/s, the speed tests says i still have another 5-6mb/s free. Someone said that the ISP may be boosting the beginning of a download, giving unnaturally high download speeds at first and in speed tests.

    any thoughts would be appreciated.

  12. emily Says:

    I have invites to Demonoid, Waffles, BitMeTv, RevTT, SDBits, Bit-HDTV, HD-bits.ro, STMusic, and Torrent-damage. If you are interested in joining one of these sites, email me at: roberts209@gmail.com

  13. Yatti420 Says:

    1. Install\Update to latest µTorrent build.. (1.8.* or 1.9*) ((µTorrent 2.0 optional))

    2. Ensure ports are forwarded for bit torrent.. (non standard port recommended)

    3. Options >> Preferences >> Advanced >> bt.transp_disposition set to 255

    4. >> Bit Torrent > Protocol Encryption > Outgoing: Forced >> Check Allow Legacy Connections..

    5. >> Connection >> Set µTorrent forwarded port..

    6. >> General >> Associate µTorrent associations >> Install IPV6

    7. Click OK..

    8. Go to speed guide >> Set you speed profile appropriately..

    9. Vista \ Windows 7 - Start > Run *(win-r)* = services.msc

    10. Set IP Helper Service to Automatic and ensure it is started..

    11. Restart µtorrent.. Ensure port is forwarded and enjoy..

    -OPTIONAL SECURITY-

    Highly recommended for security.

    sites.google.c0m-site-whitehat2k9-Home-my-programs-utorrent-ipfilter-updater (Easy To Use!)

    Utilize an ipfilter.dat or program to limit who can connect to your computer!..

    And\Or

    http://www.peerblock.com/

    New fork of the PeerGuardian2 project.. ** HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!**

    PeerBlock lets you control who your computer “talks to” on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of “known bad” computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been “hacked”, even entire countries! They can’t get in to your computer, and your computer won’t try to send them anything either.

    And best of all, it’s free!

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