Overview
Tracker and BiTorrent error messages
Achieving optimum download speeds
Is downloading with BitTorrent safe?

Overview

By its nature, BitTorrent can be unpredictable!

Torrents are only “alive” for as long as someone else is seeding the file, if no one is seeding  then it might be “dead”. Sometimes you wont know if it’s alive or dead until you’ve tried to download the file; sometimes you can see how many seeds or peers a torrent has before you download.

If you are able to see the stats, the higher number of seeds and peers there are the better. The main thing to understand is that downloading and uploading torrents can take a bit longer than other P2P networks and it may take a while to get going. Just because you aren’t getting lightning speeds or things aren’t happening as you might expect, it doesn’t mean there are problems.

Just give it some time and see what happens.

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Tracker and BitTorrent error messages

Trackers can also be unpredictable. They sometimes experience very heavy load and because of this the connection to them may be lost or not gained temporarily. If you think the torrent is active but your client is telling you otherwise, it’s probably a tracker issue. Just give it a bit of time to see if it sorts itself out first of all. If your client has problems connecting, it will keep on retrying over and over again. Just give it time. If you have given it time or you are getting error messages then have a look at the common BitTorrent error messages seen below for a possible solution.

  • Problem connecting to tracker – (10061, “Connection refused”)
  • Problem connecting to tracker – (10054, ‘Connection reset by peer’)
  • Problem connecting to tracker – (111, ‘Connection refused’)
  • Problem connecting to tracker – (10060, ‘Connection timed out’)
  • Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 503: Connect failed
  • Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 404: Not Found

These can appear for a number of reasons. One is that the tracker might be down for a short while (as I mentioned above, this could be for a number of reasons), another is your net connection might be down, or the torrent may no longer be on the tracker (possibly deleted). You could also be banned from the tracker in some cases (for leeching a file).

  • Problem connecting to tracker – HTTP Error 400: Not Authorized

Sometimes you need to be a member of a certain forum / tracker before you can download a file. If this is the case you will usually see a web address in the problem field (or maybe in the name of the file) – go there and register to access their downloads.

It can also be because someone has uploaded a torrent onto a tracker that doesn’t want to carry that type of file and it gets binned.

If you think something is wrong, you can drag and drop the torrent into TorrentSpy for more detailed information. Have a look on their site for more information and a free download.

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Achieving optimum download speeds

Most modern clients allow you to manually set your upload and download limits.

By setting your max upload limit to around 80% of capacity, you will maybe increase your speeds. Whenever you receive a piece of a file, your computer will send an acknowledgement back to say that it received it OK and another piece can be sent. If your upload speed is at maximum it will have trouble sending back the acknowledgement meaning you will have to wait longer for your next piece.

Try to pick torrents that have a lot of seeds and/or peers. Generally speaking, the more people sharing the quicker your download will be. Make sure that you have correctly configured your firewall or router if you have one. By default most firewalls and routers will block BitTorrent traffic. For more information on how to set things up correctly, have a look here.

Be wary of downloading things that aren’t popular. If you download a big file which no one else is interested in you will have trouble seeding it again after. If you don’t seed then your download to upload ratio goes way down and you could end up getting banned from sites.

If you are having problems downloading a file for whatever reason and can’t find a solution on this site the next best place to look is the forum associated with the site you are downloading from. Ask around, explain the problem and hopefully someone will help you. If you can, maybe send an instant message or email to the original uploader.

If you download a file which then requires a password before you can open it (usually compressed files), the password can sometimes be part of the filename, especially if it has a web address in (the web address is most likely to be the password). If that doesn’t work then ask around on the forum or site it came from.

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Is downloading with BitTorrent safe?

In short, no. When downloading or uploading your IP address is visible. That said, the actual chances of you being caught are slim, even slimmer if you don’t live in the USA.

But, if they do catch up with you, you might receive a letter like the one below.

Worst case scenario if they catch you is that you’ll get prosecuted by the copyright owner. In some cases, you’ll just get booted from your ISP. In others nothing may happen at all. It all depends on the situation.

The problem is, essentially there is nothing to stop the copyright owners of the file you are downloading from downloading it themselves. If they do this, they can see all of the other IP addresses in the swarm (not good….).

There are measures you can take however. You can use some sort of blocklist to stop known “bad” IP’s from connecting to you. This only works as well as the IP’s that are in it though.

Still, if you want to use one just to afford some sort of protection you could use a client that makes use of the SafePeer plugin. The plug-in imports a list of known ‘hostile’ IP addresses, and blocks them from connecting to you. If this sort of thing really bothers you, you might want to try Protowall which offers more advanced protection. Nothing is going to offer 100% protection, but using something is better than nothing!

Example anti-piracy warning notice

From: antipiracy1@unistudios.com
Reply-To: antipiracy1@unistudios.com
To: xxxxxxx
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2004 17:49:58 -0700
Subject: *** DMCA Notification [Notice ID: 542761]

[Part 0 (plain text)]

—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–

Hash: SHA1
Re: Unauthorized Use of Universal Motion Pictures
Notice ID: 542761

27 Jun 2003 00:46:56 GMT

Dear Sir or Madam:

Universal City Studios Productions LLLP and its affiliated companies (collectively, “Universal”) are the exclusive owners of copyrights in many motion pictures, including the motion pictures listed below.

It has come to our attention that _____ is the service provider for the IP address listed below, from which unauthorized copying and distribution (downloading, uploading, file serving, file “swapping” or other similar activities) of Universal’s motion picture(s) listed below is taking place. We believe that the Internet access of the user engaging in this infringement is provided by _____ or a downstream service provider who purchases this connectivity from _____.

This unauthorized copying and distribution constitutes copyright infringement under Section 106 of the U.S. Copyright Act . Depending upon the type of service _____ is providing to this IP address, it may have legal and/or equitable liability if it does not expeditiously remove or disable access to the motion picture(s) listed below, or if it fails to implement a policy that provides for termination of subscribers who are repeat infringers (see, 17 U.S.C. §512).

Despite the above, Universal believes that the entire Internet community benefits when these matters are resolved cooperatively. We urge you to take immediate action to stop this infringing activity and inform us of the results of your actions. We appreciate your efforts toward this common goal.

The undersigned has a good faith belief that use of the motion pictures in the manner described herein is not authorized by Universal, its agent or the law. The information contained in this notification is accurate. Under penalty of perjury, the undersigned is authorized to act on behalf of Universal with respect to this matter.

Please be advised that this letter is not and is not intended to be a complete statement of the facts or law as they may pertain to this matter or of Universal’s positions, rights or remedies, legal or equitable, all of which are specifically reserved.

Very truly yours,

Aaron Markham
Manager of Internet Anti-Piracy,
Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations
VIVENDI UNIVERSAL ENTERTAINMENT.
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
tel. (818) 777-3111
fax (818) 866-6339
antipiracy@unistudios.com

*pgp public key is available on the key server at ldap://keyserver.pgp.com

Notice ID: 542761
Title: 2 Fast 2 Furious
Infringement Source: BitTorrent
Initial Infringement Timestamp: 24 Jun 2003 224:51 GMT
Recent Infringment Timestamp: 24 Jun 2003 224:51 GMT
Infringer Username: None
Infringing Filename: 2.Fast.2.Furious.(TCF).DivX.TS.DaDuck
Infringing Filesize: 722749015
Infringers IP Address: xxxxx
Infringers DNS Name: xxxxx
Infringing URL: xxxxx:6881/2.Fast.2.Furious.(TCF).DivX.TS.DaDuck

—–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–

Version: 8.0

iQA/AwUBPvuUtUAGe/JElwagEQKxQgCeLpouJw11JK6ww3oBIBkrhHHS0b4An0UwovuVag7jvguM267KcTHQxJQt=HzIL

—-END PGP SIGNATURE—–
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