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I did not write this. It comes from the latest issue of CPU magazine and was written by Steve Smith. I thought it would help someone.
Tips & Tricks
November 2005 • Vol.5 Issue 11
Page(s) 93-94 in print issue
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Tweak Your Torrents
The BT (BitTorrent) approach to distributing and downloading files can be demanding on your network and PC performance if the client is not properly configured. So, this month we’ll show you how to streamline your BT client experience. (Although we used Azureus [www.azureus.com] to illustrate many of these tips, you can still use these techniques in other clients.)
Clear The Router
Many new users of BT clients discover that their router drops its Internet connections frequently and requires rebooting. This occurs because the client is using more simultaneous connections to the Internet than some routers can handle.
BT (BitTorrent) clients can overwhelm your router and cause it to lose its Internet connection, so decrease the number of allowable connections.
BitTorrent doesn’t have an easy way to limit connections from within its interface, so dropped-connection sufferers may want to switch to Azureus. In Azureus open the Tools menu, click Options, and highlight the Transfer item. Go to the last box labeled Maximum Number Of Connections Globally. Many routers choke when the client tries to open 300 or more connections at a time, so try putting different figures in this box starting with 200. Experiment to see if your router tolerates increased connections. The problem usually occurs when several torrents are downloading at once, so test the setting by filling your Azureus queue with popular torrents. For the Maximum Number Of Connections Per Torrent box, try dividing the global maximum by the number of torrents you typically have running at once. If you had three files downloading at once, then try putting 300 as your maximum global setting and 100 as your per torrent setting.
You can also make performance tweaks in the Transfer window. In order to maintain control over the performance hit any BT client makes on your network and PC, put limits on upload and download bandwidth. For instance, in the top two boxes in this Transfer section, decide how much bandwidth you want to allot to torrent exchanges and experiment with how these numbers affect your other online browsing and downloading.
Unclog Torrent Blockages
When you use a BT client such as BitTorrent or Azureus, you may be puzzled by the slow download rate (even with popular torrents). If your PC is sitting behind a router, a firewall, or both, then it’s likely that they’re blocking ports that let other BT clients download pieces of torrents from you. Any limit you place on sharing torrents with other clients also caps the bandwidth you can use to download. So you need to make a larger range of ports to your network available to others.
Routers can choke your BT client’s ability to share torrents unless you use port forwarding.
With a router, first determine your IP address in the local network. Click Start, Run, and type CMD in the Open field. At the prompt type ipconfig and write down the number you see on the IP Address line. Type exit at the prompt to close the window.
Log onto your router (consult your router’s documentation for instructions) so that you can use port forwarding to open a larger range of network ports to your PC. Our Microsoft Broadband router has its port forwarding controls in the Security section labeled as Persistent Port Forwarding, so we’ll use this as an example. In the first box, we entered Azureus as a description to remind us why we’re opening these ports. In the In-bound ports section, we entered the range 6881-6889, set the type of access to TCP, and entered our IP address in the Private IP Address section. In the Private Ports section, we entered 6881-6889. Finally we clicked Add and logged out of the router.
Get Through The Wall
Even if you have port forwarding set up properly on your router, the software firewalls on your PC still may block incoming port calls. If you’re running Windows XP SP2 with the newer Windows Security Center, Windows Firewall may be on by default. To let your BT client work with the ports that the router is forwarding to it, click Start, Settings, Control Panel, and Windows Firewall. Click the Exceptions tab and Add Program. From the list click the client you’re using and click OK. This may speed up some BT clients.
However, if things are still sluggish, you need to tell the firewall to open specific ports. In the Windows Firewall Exceptions tab, highlight the BT client and click Add Port. In the next window, type the name of the BT client in the Name field, and in the Port Number box, type 6881. Click the TCP radio button and click OK. Unfortunately, the Windows Firewall won’t open up a range of ports in one window, so you need to repeat this procedure for every port number between 6881 and 6889. If you’re using Azureus, then you may also try entering these same eight ports with the Add Port function again, but click the UDP radio button. Every third-party firewall program is different, but some such as ZoneAlarm and Norton will let you enter your BT client as an “exception” or a “trusted program” that communicates freely with the Internet without opening specific ports.
IP blockers such as PeerGuardian 2 are imperfect but try to block IP addresses belonging to media industry snoopers.
Avoid Prying Eyes
As all file sharers know by now, the movie and recording industries actively monitor P2P networks. With the BT protocol, it’s easy for them to tap into a torrent and see the IP addresses of the other peers sharing the download. According to Olivier Chalouhi, lead designer of Azureus, the one way to run this program anonymously is to use the beta version of the I2P (www.i2p.net) anonymizer network. Unfortunately, this requires a convoluted installation of several programs and command line parameters, and even then the result is a system that only works with others using I2P. Likewise, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is beta testing an anonymous network called Tor (tor.eff.org), but this system isn’t yet prepared to handle the traffic of P2P downloading.
Although its effectiveness is questionable, you could install a freeware IP blocker called PeerGuardian 2 (methlabs.org/projects) that blocks incoming traffic from IPs that are known or suspected to be part of the surveillance networks. You can use this if you’re running the original BitTorrent client. In Azureus there’s a plug-in available called SafePeer that uses a similar block list as PeerGuardian, but it only loads when Azureus does. Use the Plugins menu to open Installation Wizard and follow the prompts until you get a list of plug-ins. Check the SafePeer box and continue through the menus to install it. When you restart Azureus, SafePeer will download the current IP block list (adding about 30 seconds to the load time).