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Instant Guide to BitTorrent

This is yet another very quick guide to technology for friends!

What is BitTorrent?
This is a way of sharing files between computers over the internet ("peer-to-peer"). In some ways this is similar to Napster or Kazaa ie you use a piece of free software to download files from other users and they can upload from you. The difference is that instead of downloading an entire file from one other person, you download bits of files from a number of different users and your software pieces it together. This makes downloading more efficient but, if you're reading this, it is a geeky detail you're not likely to be interested in!

First get the software:
There's a ton of different programs ("BitTorrent clients") you can use for this (see here). I personally can vouch for uTorrent as being nice and easy to use.

Now find files to download:
Unlike Napster, Kazaa or LimeWire, the file search facility is not embedded in the downloading software. You need to go to certain websites to get the file ID (the "torrent") which when you download/open, will give your BitTorrent client all the info it needs to start downloading.

The sites that have detail on torrents can come and go (they are being shut down all the time). However some websites try keep updated lists. At the moment, the two websites I like best for finding torrents are isoHunt and TorrentSpy.

Things to Note:

  • Obviously files you download may be subject to copyright so you have to be responsible about this.
  • The selection of files available with BitTorrent far surpasses anything you will find with Kazaa. Just about any TV show you want to see is there. You can also find movies, books, software and music.
  • As you download you will also be uploading. That's how the software works: the bits you download can be shared with others.
  • You can download files that may be over a Gigabyte. This means downloading can sometimes take days depending on how many users are sharing the file. So unless you have unlimited broadband access, this may not be very useful to you.
  • Even if you are only able to download part of a file, you can turn your computer off and resume later. In that sense it's far superior to the old forms of file sharing. Note, however, that if you are downloading a file which very few people are sharing, you may find that there can be times when it is not available.

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Blogger Missbossy

Update: Two new sources for torrents that you should check out are Vertor and Now Torrents

Monday, February 02, 2009  

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