Monduna.com's Bit Torrent FAQ

The Greatest File Sharing System Since the Last Greatest File Sharing System

Check out the Monduna.com Bit Torrent Page
This FAQ is not yet complete. Some questions have not yet been answered or are only partially answered.
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Table of Contents

  Basics (BASIC)
What the hell are you talking about?
Why can't you just pick one way to spell BitTorrents / Bit Torrents?
Fine. What is BitTorrent?
And what is a bit torrent?
And why should I get this "BitTorrent"?
Where can I get this BitTorrent?
Ok, I have the client. How do I start downloading files?
Wait, I have to find web sites!? Where is the nifty search feature that the last greatest file sharing system ever had?
So what exactly are these torrent files?
What kinds of media will these torrent files let me download?
I want my files now! Which torrents will download the fastest?
Who created BitTorrent?
How do Bit Torrents work?
Uh ... is there a simpler explanation?

  The Bit Torrent network (BTN)
What is the bit torrent network?
How is the bit torrent network different from other p2p networks?

  Terminology (TERM)
What is BitTorrent?
What is a .torrent file?
What is a metafile?
What is a batch torrent?
What is a client?
What is a tracker?
What is seeding?
What is re-seeding?
What is completedir?
What is leeching?
What is a hash?
What is SHA1 hashing?
What is bEncoding?
What is announcing?
What is a re-release?
What is Python?

  Speed Issues (SPEED)
How fast does my connection need to be?
Why do some files download more slowly than others?
Why is my download speed so low if my upload speed is so high?
Why does my download speed change so frequently?
How can I make my download go faster?

  Legal Issues (LEGAL)
Are bit torrents legal?
Will I get in trouble if I download torrents of copyrighted files?
Why are so many torrent sites being shut down?
Who is shutting down all the torrent sites?
What files/sites are being targeted?
How can I protect myself?

  Downloads (DL)
I just started downloading the file. Why is it already so big?
What is a .bin file? What is a .cue file?

  Web Sites (WS)
Where is the official BitTorrent web page?
How can I set up my own Bit Torrent Site?
Where can I go for help setting up my own bit torrent site?
Where else can I look for answers to BitTorrent related questions?

  Formats/Protocol (PROTO)
What is the format of a torrent file?
What is the protocol for interaction between the client and the tracker?
What port(s) are used by BitTorrent?

  Clients (CLIENT)
Do I have to use the official BitTorrent client to download torrents?
Where can I find other clients?
Have there been any new developments in the BitTorrent sharing system?

  Creating Torrents (CREATE)
What files are needed to create my own torrents?
How can I make a torrent of a TV show?
How can I make a torrent of a Movie?
How can I make my own torrents?
Where can I post my torrents?

  Servers (SERVER)
What mime-type do torrents use?
How can I set up my own torrent server?

  Finding Torrents (FIND)
Where can I find torrents?
Site X has a huge list of torrents, but it won't let me download them! Why not?

  Privacy (PRIV)
Does BitTorrent maintain my privacy?
What personal information is shared with other users?

  Misc (MISC)
How long has BitTorrent been around?
How many people use BitTorrent?
How many BitTorrent related web sites are there?
Why do torrents have such strange file names?
Who makes all these torrents?

  Community (COMM)
Where can I talk to other torrent enthusiasts?
How can I be a good citizen of the Bit Torrent Community?
How can I be a bad citizen of the Bit Torrent Community?

  Development (DEV)
What language was BitTorrent written in? Why?
Where can I find out about Bit Torrent development?
What improvements are being made to BitTorrent?
Where can I make suggestions for things to add to future versions?

  How To (HOWTO)
How can I seed a file?
How do I stop other people from downloading from me?
How can I get statistics for a torrent?
How to start downloading a torrent file if it didn't start automatically (ie you saved the .torrent file itself to your computer)
How do I open a file once it has been downloaded?
If I can't block people from downloading, how else can I be rude?

  Can I... (CANI)
Can I preview partial downloads?
Can I block other people from downloading from me?
Can I continue partial downloads?

  Troubleshooting (TS)
I keep running out of hard disk space.
My download is stuck at xx%
The file I downloaded won't open.


Basics (BASIC)

  [BASIC-1] Q: What the hell are you talking about?
    I'm talking about BitTorrent and Bit Torrents, the greatest file sharing system since ... since the last greatest file sharing system!
  [BASIC-2] Q: Why can't you just pick one way to spell BitTorrents / Bit Torrents?
    Actually, the different spacings are important. BitTorrent and Bit Torrents are very different things. (Like "atone" and "at one", or "mankind" and "mank ind")
  [BASIC-3] Q: Fine. What is BitTorrent?
    BitTorrent is a client used to download torrents.
  [BASIC-4] Q: And what is a bit torrent?
    A bit torrent is a file being shared on the bit torrent network. It has an associated .torrent file.
  [BASIC-5] Q: And why should I get this "BitTorrent"?
    If you want to download very recently released files (new movies, recently aired TV shows), then you will probably be interested in bit torrents. (Bit Torrent downloads are especially fast for these kinds of files.)

    Or, if you want the first kid on your block to connect into the greatest file sharing system since the last greatest file sharing system.
  [BASIC-6] Q: Where can I get this BitTorrent?
    You can get the official Bit Torrent Client from http://bitconjurer.org/BitTorrent/index.html
    You can also use other clients.

    Once you've downloaded a client, you're ready to start downloading bit torrents!
  [BASIC-7] Q: Ok, I have the client. How do I start downloading files?
    Just find some torrent web sites, click on the torrents, and start downloading.
  [BASIC-8] Q: Wait, I have to find web sites!? Where is the nifty search feature that the last greatest file sharing system ever had?
    One of the greatest strengths (and weaknesses) of Bit Torrent Network is the lack of a single centralized hub. Instead, users download torrent files which tell their client which server to look on for information on how to connect to other users. These torrent files are found on web sites set up by Bit Torrent supporters, (who also run the servers that the clients communicate with)
  [BASIC-9] Q: So what exactly are these torrent files?
    A .torrent file (aka metafile) is a small file (with the extension .torrent) containing the information necessary for your Bit Torrent client to download a larger file.
  [BASIC-10] Q: What kinds of media will these torrent files let me download?
    Although any type of media (including software, documentation, pictures, music) could be distributed as a torrent, the vast majority of bit torrents today are video files.
  [BASIC-11] Q: I want my files now! Which torrents will download the fastest?
    The fastest downloads are going to be files that are popular. Due to the nature of The bit torrent network, you are usually downloading parts of a file from other users who are downloading the same file. It makes sense that files with a lot of people downloading them will also be the ones with the highest download speeds.

    Files that are popular include recently (or soon to be) aired TV programs, and recently (or soon to be) released movies.

    Keep in mind though that your download speeds will be proportional to your upload speeds, so a slow connection will be slow even on the most popular files.
  [BASIC-12] Q: Who created BitTorrent?
    The author of BitTorrent, the official Bit Torrent client, is Bram Cohen.
  [BASIC-13] Q: How do Bit Torrents work?
    First someone decides to create a bit torrent. They put together the files that they want to release, start a tracker on a server and generate a .torrent file. The .torrent file is then submitted to web sites, and becomes available to the public. Hopefully the author of the torrent (or someone else) is seeding the torrent during the initial release.

    A user goes to one of these web sites, locates the bit torrent they are interested in downloading, and click on the .torrent link. The .torrent file is downloaded, and the file is passed to the user's bit torrent client. The client uses the file to locate the tracker for the bit torrent. The client then contacts the tracker, which gives the client a list of other users that are currently downloading the file, and adds the user making the request to this list.

    Once the client has this list, it contacts those other users, and tries to download from them. If the user's client is sharing, then other users will share with it. (More precisely, users will share with the users they are downloading from) As the user is downloading the file, their client will be contacted by other clients, and parts of the file will be uploaded to them. Because the pieces of the file are downloaded in random order, all of the pieces of the file will be distributed quickly.

    Eventually the download will complete. Hopefully the user will keep their client running a while longer, to help other users finish downloading the file.
  [BASIC-14] Q: Uh ... is there a simpler explanation?
    Find links. Click links. Wait. Done.

The Bit Torrent network (BTN)

  [BTN-1] Q: What is the bit torrent network?
    The Bit Torrent network is similar to many other p2p networks. It allows you to download parts of a file from several other users that have the file.
  [BTN-2] Q: How is the bit torrent network different from other p2p networks?
    Bit torrents do not require one central server, so it's harder to shut the whole network down. Because parts of files are downloaded in random order, users can download files from other users that only have a partial file (instead of downloading only from users with the complete file). This helps popular files to be distributed more quickly.

    Because there is no central server, links to bit torrents have to be found on the many bit torrent web sites. These sites will link to .torrent files that are hosted on their own or other servers.

    Bit torrents also encourage people to share by making it hard for people to download without sharing, which results in a higher download speed for everyone.

Terminology (TERM)

  [TERM-1] Q: What is BitTorrent?
        BitTorrent is a client used to download torrents.

  [TERM-2] Q: What is a .torrent file?
        A .torrent file (aka metafile) is a small file (with the extension .torrent) containing the information necessary for your Bit Torrent client to download a larger file.

  [TERM-3] Q: What is a metafile?
    A metafile is the correct name for a .torrent file.
  [TERM-4] Q: What is a batch torrent?
    A Batch torrent is a bit torrent that includes more than one file. When you download a batch of files, everything will be saved to a folder instead of to a single file.
  [TERM-5] Q: What is a client?
    A client communicates with trackers and other clients so that it can download torrent files.
  [TERM-6] Q: What is a tracker?
    A tracker is a program run off of a server. The tracker keeps track of all the users that are downloading a particular file. Clients connect to the tracker, and are given a list of other users to download from.
  [TERM-7] Q: What is seeding?
    When a file is first released, no one will have any parts of the file. The user that created the torrent (or someone else that has the complete file) will seed the file by running their bit torrent client, "downloading" to the location of the complete file. They are added to the tracker's list, and all the clients start to download from the seeder.
  [TERM-8] Q: What is re-seeding?
    Sometimes after the initial seeders have stopped sharing, and people have finished their downloads, pieces of a file will no longer be available to other users. (If all the people that had part X of a file finished their downloads and disconnected, then all the remaining users would be unable to complete their downloads).

    Reseeding occurs when someone seeds a file again, after the initial release.
  [TERM-9] Q: What is completedir?
    Completedir is the official program used to create .torrent files. You can download the program from the official download page. Information on using completedir can be found in the Creating Torrents section of this FAQ.
  [TERM-10] Q: What is leeching?
    Leeching is downloading by someone who is not also seeding. (On other p2p networks, leeching refers to people who are downloading without sharing, but that is much less likely to happen on the bit torrent network, so the term has a different meaning.
  [TERM-11] Q: What is a hash?
    A hash is a small amount of data that describes a large amount of data. (More precisely, a hash is a set of bits whose values are a function of all of the bits in a larger block of data) If the large amount of data changes just a little bit, the representative hash changes a lot. Hashes are used to verify that the parts of a file downloaded by a bit torrent client have not been damaged. Hashes are also used to distinguish different files. (A client requests information about a bit torrent by supplying the SHA1 hash of the info section of the .torrent file)
See Also: What is a Hash Function?

  [TERM-12] Q: What is SHA1 hashing?
    SHA1 hashing is the hashing method used by the Bit Torrent network.
See Also: SHA1 Secure Hash Algorithm?

  [TERM-13] Q: What is bEncoding?
    BEncoding is a simple, easy to implement method of associating data types with information in a file. The values in a torrent file are bEncoded.

    There are 4 different data types that can be bEncoded:

    Integers:    Integers are prefixed with an i and terminated by an e. For example, 123 would bEcode to i123e, -3272002 would bEncode to i-3272002e.

    Strings:    Strings are prefixed with their length followed by a colon. For example, "Monduna" would bEncode to 7:Monduna and "BitTorrents" would bEncode to 11:BitTorrents.

    Lists:        Lists are prefixed with a l and terminated by an e. The list should contain a series of bEncoded elements. For example, the list of strings ["Monduna", "Bit", "Torrents"] would bEncode to l7:Monduna3:Bit8:Torrentse. The list [1, "Monduna", 3, ["Sub", "List"]] would bEncode to li1e7:Mondunai3el3:Sub4:Listee

    Dictionaries:    Dictionaries are prefixed with a d and terminated by an e. The are similar to list, except that items are in key value pairs. The dictionary {"key":"value", "Monduna":"com", "bit":"Torrents", "number":7} would bEncode to d3:key5:value7:Monduna3:com3:bit:8:Torrents6:numberi7ee

    bEncoding can look very confusing, but it is actually very easy to write a program that will decode bEncoded data.
  [TERM-14] Q: What is announcing?
    Announcing is releasing a bit torrent to the world.
  [TERM-15] Q: What is a re-release?
    Sometimes when a file has already been posted in the past, and interest in it has died down (meaning that it's moved back far enough in site's lists of torrents that people don't see it any more), the file will be re-released. Re-releasing puts a file back at the top of the lists, and people that are interested in that file but missed the initial release are more likely to see it.
  [TERM-16] Q: What is Python?
    Python is the language that was used to write the original BitTorrent client.

Speed Issues (SPEED)

  [SPEED-1] Q: How fast does my connection need to be?
    There is no required connection speed. However, because BitTorrents can be very large it is desirable to have a fast download speed. (Of course, it's always desirable to have a fast download speed) Keep in mind that the speed of your download is related to the speed at which you upload to other users, so upload speed is important too.
  [SPEED-2] Q: Why do some files download more slowly than others?
    Files may download more slowly if they are less popular, or they are no longer popular. For example, a torrent for a TV show that is going to air 6 hours from now is going to be popular, and will probably download very quickly. However, a torrent for a TV show that aired 3 months ago probably won't be as popular, and will download more slowly. (As a rule, files that appear on the first couple pages of any list of torrents on a web site will probably be more popular than those listed at the end)

    It may also be the case that there are other people downloading, but they all have slow connections.
  [SPEED-3] Q: Why is my download speed so low if my upload speed is so high?
    If you are one of the first people to be downloading a torrent, or you have one of the fastest connections among people downloading a torrent, or you are almost finished downloading a torrent, then it is likely that your download speed will be less than your upload speed. However, over the course of the entire download, the download and upload speeds usually average out to be about the same.
  [SPEED-4] Q: Why does my download speed change so frequently?
    The bit torrent network is a dynamic place. If you are downloading pieces from someone with a fast connection and they disconnect, or run out of pieces that you don't already have, then your download speed will change. If you run out of pieces of the file that people are interested in, your download speed will change. If you close your eyes, your download speed will change.
  [SPEED-5] Q: How can I make my download go faster?
    Pay for a faster connection. Get other people to download the file at the same time. Convince people to reseed the file. Find a way to increase your upload speed. Threaten your modem. Download something other than the torrent that nobody else wanted.

Legal Issues (LEGAL)

  [LEGAL-1] Q: Are bit torrents legal?
    Bit Torrents themselves are entirely legal. However, the use of the Bit Torrent Network to distribute copyrighted material without the express consent of the owner is illegal. Therefore, ripping a DVD and distributing it as a bit torrent is illegal. Recording a TV show and distributing it is probably illegal as well. Distributing a company's software without their consent is illegal.

    There are also certain types of media which are not legal to possesses, most notably pornography involving minors.
  [LEGAL-2] Q: Will I get in trouble if I download torrents of copyrighted files?
    Most likely you will not get in trouble. However, if you do not want to take a risk, you probably shouldn't download torrents of any copyrighted material. Realize that when you download a torrent, you are associating your IP address with that file, and this could be used against you.
  [LEGAL-3] Q: Why are so many torrent sites being shut down?
    Torrent sites are being shut down because they violate copyright law. The people that own the copyrights to a particular work contact the owners of the site, or the company that hosts the site and threaten to take legal action against the site. Sometimes the site's host will disable the site, and sometimes the site's webmaster will take the site down themselves to avoid legal trouble.
  [LEGAL-4] Q: Who is shutting down all the torrent sites?
    Generally torrent sites are shut down by organizations like the MPAA, or the RIAA, which don't want their copyrighted works to used without some money going to them.   
  [LEGAL-5] Q: What files/sites are being targeted?
    Sites that host trackers are the primary targets for legal action. If a tracker host is taken down, then all torrents that use that site to connect to other users will no longer be able to function.
  [LEGAL-6] Q: How can I protect myself?
    Don't download copyrighted material that you have not paid for. Don't post copyrighted material on your website. Wear body armor. Hide under your bed.

Downloads (DL)

  [DL-1] Q: I just started downloading the file. Why is it already so big?
    BitTorrent starts the download process by creating a shell of the file it is trying to download. The shell is a file that is exactly as large as the file will be when it completes. It then proceeds to randomly fill in portions of that shell by downloading pieces from other clients, until the entire file has been downloaded.
   
    Because a shell is created, it can be difficult to tell how much of a file you've downloaded. If you'd really like to know, check out utilities lie TorrentSpy.
  [DL-2] Q: What is a .bin file? What is a .cue file?
    A .bin file is an image of a CD-ROM. The .cue file is used to define tracks for the CD. If you download such files, and you just want to watch them on you computer, try a utility like ISOBuster.   

Web Sites (WS)

  [WS-1] Q: Where is the official BitTorrent web page?
    The official BitTorrent web page is http://bitconjurer.org/BitTorrent/index.html
  [WS-2] Q: How can I set up my own Bit Torrent Site?
    To have a useful Bit Torrent site, you need:

    Torrent Files
        Either start creating your own new torrents, or link to existing ones. (Note however that it is considered rude to link to a file on someone elses server without their knowledge and permission)

    A good user interface
        Provide an interface that helps users to quickly find the files they want. Provide ways to filter through all the files. Provide a search function. Provide statistics on the files being downloaded.

    A way to get people to come to your site
        You can just wait for
search engines to notice your site. However, if you want to speed things up, try submitting your site to one of the lists of torrent sites. (Shameless Plug: Try the Monduna.com Bit Torrent List)
  [WS-3] Q: Where can I go for help setting up my own bit torrent site?
  [WS-4] Q: Where else can I look for answers to BitTorrent related questions?

Formats/Protocol (PROTO)

  [PROTO-1] Q: What is the format of a torrent file?
    Bit torrents are bEncoded dictionaries that contain the following information:
    announce: The url of the tracker
    info: A dictionary of it's own that contains
        name: A suggested name for the torrent (which often includes information about the format of the file), or a name for the folder (in the case of a batch torrent)
        length: Used only if the torrent is a single file. This is the length of the file in bytes.
        files: Used in the case of a multi-file (batch) torrent. It is a list of dictionaries with the following keys:
            length: The length of one of the files.
            path: A list of strings that together form the full path name for the file.
        piece length: The size of each piece of the file.
        pieces: A string whose length is a multiple of 20. If the file is X × 20 bytes long, then pieces is X chars long, and each of the X blocks of 20 chars is the sha1 hash of the corresponding section of the file.       
  [PROTO-2] Q: What is the protocol for interaction between the client and the tracker?
  [PROTO-3] Q: What port(s) are used by BitTorrent?
    The default port for the BitTorrent client is 6881, although if necessary it will automatically try other ports (up to 6889).

Clients (CLIENT)

  [CLIENT-1] Q: Do I have to use the official BitTorrent client to download torrents?
    No. You can use any client that uses the BitTorrent protocol.
  [CLIENT-2] Q: Where can I find other clients?
    Other clients being developed include the Experimental Client, BT++ and the Personal Torrent Collector
  [CLIENT-3] Q: Have there been any new developments in the BitTorrent sharing system?
    Yes. Bugs are being fixed, and the existing client is being improved. For now it appears that the official client is just being made more stable, while other third party clients are being developed which incorporate more features and prettier GUIs.

Creating Torrents (CREATE)

  [CREATE-1] Q: What files are needed to create my own torrents?
    To create the actual .torrent files, you need to download completedir from the BitTorrent download page.
  [CREATE-2] Q: How can I make a torrent of a TV show?
    First, remember that distributing copyrighted material without permission of the copyright owner is not legal. However, if you want to create a torrent just to see what it's like ...

    You need some way to convert your TV/Cable signal to a computer format. This can be done using a TV Tuner card, or some computer devices that can be hooked to your TV. Once you've created a video file, you proceed as you would for any other file.
  [CREATE-3] Q: How can I make a torrent of a Movie?
    First, remember that distributing copyrighted material without permission of the copyright owner is not only illegal, but will cause the MPAA to become very upset with you, and will put you on Santa Claus' list of bad children. However, if you actually own the movie, and are only creating the torrent for personal use (!) ...

    If you're trying to make a torrent out of a VHS tape, then just create it like you would a TV show.

    If you're trying to make a torrent out of a DVD, then you need to rip the DVD (which is to say that you need to convert the video on the DVD to a format like .avi or .mpg). Information and files for ripping DVDs can be found at DivX-Digest.com.

    Once you've created your video file, you can proceed as you would for any other file.
  [CREATE-4] Q: How can I make my own torrents?
    Once you have the necessary software, you proceed as follows:

    Gather all the files that you would like to make into a torrent into a single directory. If you're making a torrent from a single file, put it in the directory by itself. If you are trying to make a torrent from a directory, make it a sub-directory.

    Make sure that your file is appropriately named.

    Run completedir. Click on select, and find the directory that contains your file(s).

    Enter the tracker that you are using in announce url. You must have permission for the owner of the tracker to be able to announce there.

    Optionally, you can specify the piece size. If you make a really small piece size, then downloads for the actual torrent could be faster (because a small piece size means there will be many pieces, and having more pieces makes it easier to distribute your download among several different people). However, if the piece size is small, then several more hashes will have to be stored in the metafile file, making the file bigger. (This may be a problem for the people hosting the .torrent file, especially if they are trying to conserve bandwidth).

    Click make.

    You can reuse your directory for future torrents, because completedir will check to see which files have already been made into torrents.
  [CREATE-5] Q: Where can I post my torrents?
    Once you have created your torrent metafile, and the tracker for the file is ready, you can post it anywhere you want to. (Most sites that distribute torrents are glad to host something new).

Servers (SERVER)

  [SERVER-1] Q: What mime-type do torrents use?
    Bit Torrents use the mime-type application/x-bittorrent. If you are running a server, it is necessary to associate this mime-type with .torrent files, otherwise your user's clients may not automatically launch when a user clicks on a .torrent file.
  [SERVER-2] Q: How can I set up my own torrent server?

Finding Torrents (FIND)

  [FIND-1] Q: Where can I find torrents?
    There are several web sites that you can go to that will link to torrents. You can try to find these sites via search engines. (Shameless Plug: Some bit torrent sites can be found on the Monduna.com Bit Torrent list).
  [FIND-2] Q: Site X has a huge list of torrents, but it won't let me download them! Why not?
        For legal reasons, some sites choose not to link to torrent files, or to host torrents on their server. Although these sites won't let you download anything from them, they often do provide valuable information about a torrent. (If they don't provide valuable information, and they won't let you download anything, then the site is pretty worthless)

Privacy (PRIV)

  [PRIV-1] Q: Does BitTorrent maintain my privacy?
        Yes, as much as possible. The official BitTorrent client doesn't know your name, email address, SSN or credit card number, so it doesn't have any way to misuse the information. I suppose the client could be written so as to steal the information of the host computer, but because the application is open source, someone probably would have noticed anything sneaky like that.
  [PRIV-2] Q: What personal information is shared with other users?
        If you download a bit torrent, then the tracker and other users will know:

        Your IP Address
        That you are downloading the file
        That you were smart enough to figure out how to download a torrent.
        That you have access to a computer and the internet.

        None of these are particularly damaging pieces of information. (You give your IP address to every web site that you visit). However, if someone were determined enough, they might be able to derive information about you from your IP address. If they had legal reasons, they may even be able to force your ISP to give them more information about you. But that isn't going to happen, unless you're doing something massively illegal.

Misc (MISC)

  [MISC-1] Q: How long has BitTorrent been around?
    The BitTorrent concept was outlined at the DefCon convention back in July 2001. However it wasn't until a working client had been around for a while that things started to pick up (in early 2003).
See Also: Wired News: Defcon Keeps Hackers Hooked

  [MISC-2] Q: How many people use BitTorrent?
    A completely uninformed estimate would be that there are about 30,000 - 50,000 users. If I'm way over, then I'll be right within a couple of months anyways ;]
  [MISC-3] Q: How many BitTorrent related web sites are there?
    There are probably around 100 bit torrent related web sites, although these too are growing. Of all the sites, there are perhaps 10 major sites.
  [MISC-4] Q: Why do torrents have such strange file names?
    Because the format of a metafile only allows for a restricted set of elements to be included, people have used the name key as a place to store miscellaneous information related to the torrent. Things you might see are the file format (VCD, DivX, etc), the author name/handle, the part (1of2, 2of2). TV episodes may include the series name, the episode title, an episode 'code' (like #EABF07), or the season and episode (s3e12). Movies may include the year, and the source (dvd-rip, screener, etc)
  [MISC-5] Q: Who makes all these torrents?
    People like you. (If you happen to have created torrents, and you want to be included here in the faq, let me know)

Community (COMM)

  [COMM-1] Q: Where can I talk to other torrent enthusiasts?
    Try the BitTorrent group on Yahoo. (It's a development group, so they're probably pretty excited about the whole thing)
  [COMM-2] Q: How can I be a good citizen of the Bit Torrent Community?
    You can make a torrent. You can seed torrents. You can host trackers. You can download torrents. You can create a good torrent related web site. You can link to good torrent related web sites. You can tell your friends about bit torrents. You can name your dog Torrent. You can donate money to the author of BitTorrent. You can donate money to/pay for ads on one of the major torrent sites. You can develop new, useful utilities. You can read the FAQ.
  [COMM-3] Q: How can I be a bad citizen of the Bit Torrent Community?
    (This is what I get for wanting to be comprehensive)

    You could create a bad torrent related web site. You could report web sites to the MPAA/RIAA. You could launch DoS attacks on torrent web sites. You could post worthless messages to Bit Torrent message boards. You could ask questions that are already answered in FAQs. You could close your
client as soon as you finish downloading a file. You could name your dog DMCA (unless of course you really didn't like the dog ... ) You could keep asking about disabling uploading. You could link to trackers without getting permission. You could link to torrents that aren't yet ready to be seeded.

Development (DEV)

  [DEV-1] Q: What language was BitTorrent written in? Why?
        BitTorrent was written in Python.
  [DEV-2] Q: Where can I find out about Bit Torrent development?
        The official bit torrent site has information on developments to the BitTorrent client. You can also find out about development on the BitTorrent group on Yahoo.
  [DEV-3] Q: What improvements are being made to BitTorrent?
    I am sure that lots of improvements are being made, but I don't know exactly what they are. Perhaps if you look on the BitTorrent group on Yahoo you could find out.
  [DEV-4] Q: Where can I make suggestions for things to add to future versions?
    You could probably just post messages to message boards, and hope that someone with some influence reads your post. You could also try going to the official site and contact the author.

How To (HOWTO)

  [HOWTO-1] Q: How can I seed a file?
    If a tracker for the file you wish to seed is already running, simply connect to the tracker as though you were downloading, and specify the completed file as the target. Your client should behave as normal, except that it will only be uploading.
  [HOWTO-2] Q: How do I stop other people from downloading from me?
    The official BitTorrent client will not allow you to disable downloading. This is in fact a sensible thing, because a client that didn't share would get poor download speeds.
  [HOWTO-3] Q: How can I get statistics for a torrent?
    The really cool bit torrent sites have online statistics for all of their files. There are also some sites that serve no purpose other than to provide statistics for files.
  [HOWTO-4] Q: How to start downloading a torrent file if it didn't start automatically (ie you saved the .torrent file itself to your computer)
    If clicking on a torrent link does not automatically start your client, but instead downloads that actual .torrent file, it means the web site you downloaded from did not properly configure the bit torrent mime-type. To start the actual download for this file, run your client with the .torrent file as an argument.

    For example, if you downloaded the file movie.torrent and saved it to your computer as C:\some\dir\movie.torrent, then to start your client downloading that file, you'd run C:\path\to\bt\btdownloadprefetched.exe c:\some\dir\movie.torrent. (Depending on your operating system, you may need to put quotes around the path the the torrent)
  [HOWTO-5] Q: How do I open a file once it has been downloaded?
    Just open the file as you would any media file. If you are unable to open it, it is possible that you do not have the software necessary to process the file. If it is a movie file that opens and does not play, you may need to get codecs that will allow your media player to deal with the file's encoding.
  [HOWTO-6] Q: If I can't block people from downloading, how else can I be rude?
    The only rude thing you can do is to disconnect your client as soon as you've finished downloading. You could try other methods of rudeness, but it really wouldn't get you very far.

Can I... (CANI)

  [CANI-1] Q: Can I preview partial downloads?
    Probably not. Most preview applications are designed to view the beginning of a partially downloaded file. The pieces of a bit torrent are downloaded in random order, so preview applications won't work.
  [CANI-2] Q: Can I block other people from downloading from me?
            The official BitTorrent client will not allow you to disable downloading. This is in fact a sensible thing, because a client that didn't share would get poor download speeds.

  [CANI-3] Q: Can I continue partial downloads?
        Yes. Simply download the file again, and specify the target as the partial download that you already have. Your client should verify the integrity of the file that you have, and figure out which pieces still need to be downloaded.

Troubleshooting (TS)

  [TS-1] Q: I keep running out of hard disk space.
    Most likely you just need to get a bigger hard drive. However, if you've run out of space, and you are sure that you shouldn't have, and you're running Windows, then it's possible that there are some failed bit torrent downloads that didn't get properly cleaned from your system. Run ScanDisk, and it should find any file fragments that are taking up space that shouldn't be.
  [TS-2] Q: My download is stuck at xx%
        Most likely the person that was originally seeding your file stopped, and there is not enough information spread among the downloading clients to construct the entire file. (If the file has 10 parts, but the only person with part 8 disconnected, then the most that anyone else could download would be 90%). If this is the case, then the file needs to be reseeded.
  [TS-3] Q: The file I downloaded won't open.
    First of all make sure that the file has been completely downloaded. (This can be verified by running your client again, and letting it check the file). If your client says that the file is complete, then you are guaranteed that the file has downloaded exactly as it should have (meaning that there is no corrupted data in the file).

    If the file is complete, then make sure that you have the necessary codecs/players/secret passphrases necessary to open the file.

    If you are sure that you have everything necessary to open the file, check to see if anyone else on the Bit Torrent site that you downloaded the file from has reported a problem opening the file.

    If everyone else seems to be opening the file just fine, reinstall windows.

    If you are fortunate enough to be using a non-windows system, or you use windows but were smart enough to realize that I was only half serious about reinstalling your OS ... then you're out of luck. Maybe you should ask someone more intelligent than me what you should do. If possible you should probably try to mention your problem on the site that you downloaded from, just in case everyone else was too embarrassed to admit that the file wasn't working for them either.

Copyright 2002-2004 Daniel LeCheminant
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