What Is Torrent – Beginners Guide

You would have heard a lot about Torrent, BitTorrent, Utorrent and most of you would be using it as well but never got a chance to understand it fully that what really Torrent is and How to use it efficiently. Everyone around us talking about it, using it, downloading tons of files, legal and illegal stuff but until you don’t understand this technology properly, you can’t utilize its features correctly. Most importantly, lack of knowledge can frustrates you because you would not be able to download anything completely or can cause your PC hell of problems as well because the downloaded files can contain viruses or malwares.

What Is Torrent?

Torrent is an extension of a file which you download from a website. It’s a text file containing information related to the data which you are trying to download. The information may contain file size, file name, comments, tracker, URL, and so on.

What Is BitTorrent and Utorrent?

Now here is a thing which confuses most of the people. First of all BitTorrent is a method (Protocol — a set of rules and description of how to do things) which you use to download files shared by other people using a peer-to-peer (P2P) distributed file system. It basically defines how many computers can transmit chunks of data together in the most efficient way possible.
The software which you use to download files using this BitTorrent protocol is known as BitTorrent client and the Famous client softwares are BitTorrent and Utorrent.

Why To Download Anything Using BitTorrent Client Software

The classic (old) way to download anything from Internet is to search for a website on Internet where your software / movie / document is available and then click the Download button to begin the downloading process. Let’s say there are many other people like you who are also downloading the same file at the same time when you are downloading. In such situation what will happen is that your downloading process will become slow and there is a possibility that the website can get crash or if by any chance your PC gets hang or your internet connection get disconnected, then you have to re-download the whole file again.
The advantage of using a BitTorrent client software to download anything from Internet is that it doesn’t download your File from single source. Means whoever is downloading the file (including you) will become a source computer and will share that file automatically with those who are searching for that file. For example, if you are downloading a file using any BitTorrent client and your download is 25% completed and it’s still downloading, you will be sharing that 25% with other users on Internet who are using BitTorrent protocol.

Let’s Make It Simple – Step By Step

To make the things easy for you to understand, let’s assume that you are looking for a movie to download.
1. First you have to download a torrent file of that movie (which is a very very small file and doesn’t take any time for downloading).
2. This torrent file has some basic information including the details of that Main Computer on Internet who is keeping the records of that movie which you are trying to download.
Note: This main computer is known as Tracker, whoever is downloading the file is knows as Peer / leecher and who has a complete copy of that file is known as Seeder.
3. Now you have to open that torrent file in a client software (for example BitTorrent or Utorrent).
4. BitTorrent client software will look into the torrent file and then communicates with tracker to find other computers running BitTorrent client software that have the complete movie (seeders) and those with a portion of that movie (leechers).
Note: Actually all the computers who are running BitTorrent client software connects to a central “tracker,” which tells them the location of the other computers who are downloading that same file and where to get the pieces of the file each computer is looking for.
5. All the computers who have parts of that movie then start transferring data between each other, without ever directly involving the tracker and your computer also starts receiving multiple pieces of the movie file simultaneously.
6. Moreover, the downloading of file is not in any particular sequence. BitTorrent client software downloads the pieces of the file from different computers that could be the beginning, end, or middle part of the file.
7. During the downloading process, you can shutdown / restart your computer anytime without worrying about anything. Each time you turn on your computer and starts the BitTorrent client software, the downloading begins automatically from the point where you left.
8. And once the download is complete, then all of these chunks are combined together to make a single file.
9. Because of this thing, BitTorrent is so fast as compared to classic downloading method.
Note: If you continue to run the BitTorrent client software after your download is complete, then others can download BitTorrent files / data from your computer. By doing this your future download rate will improve because you are helping the BitTorrent community. The downloading speed is controlled by the BitTorrent tracking servers. So it means if you share your downloads then you will be rewarded with a higher download speed and if you won’t , then your download speed will be slowed down.

Terminologies You’ll Hear Often Related To BitTorrent – MUST KNOW

Client : A program used to load / open the .torrent file so that you can connect to other people

Indexer : Indexers are websites which list (index) .torrent files
Leecher : A leecher is someone who is downloading (and uploading) a file. You are a leecher if you do not have a complete copy of the file you’re trying to get.
Peer : A peer is the same as a leecher, but without the negative connotation.
Seeder : A seeder is someone who has a complete version of the file you are downloading. If there are no seeders, you probably won’t be able to download the file.
Swarm : The swarm are all seeds and peers that are connected together. So if your client shows 5 seeds and 10 peers then that’s your swarm.
Tracker : The tracker is a server that has all the info about the people that are downloading and uploading the file. The tracker itself does not have a copy of the file, it only tracks the uploaders and downloaders and makes sure people are able to connect to each other. A tracker is not the same as a website that hosts torrents.
Health : A torrent is kept healthy by people seeding as much as possible during their download and after it has completed. Lack of people sharing in this manner will cause a torrents health to lower, and possibly to die-out.
Ratio : The data you uploaded divided by the data you downloaded. Ratios above 1.00 means that you have uploaded the complete file, and more

Important Notes

We know that on Internet, there are people out there who aim to harm your computer by spreading malicious files.
  • Always read what you are downloading, and check the comments if possible.
  • Check the torrent name if it’s matching with the file you are downloading. If you are unsure, don’t download.
  • If you don’t trust the source of the file, then you should use caution when opening it.
  • Always run a virus scan on the downloaded files.
  • Because any files can be shared through BitTorrent, lot of adult content is available.

Last Words

You will find this information a bit geeky at some stage but i have tried my best to explain in as much easy way I can. These are the things which every computer user should understand in order to work efficiently and make his computer stable and secure from unwanted attacks. In the next post we will discuss how to use a BitTorrent client software and how to configure it.

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