Setup Guide - Torrents

Torrents or the Torrent Network is the biggest peer to peer file sharing network, picking up the laurels from old school service like Napster and Kasaa. Like its predecessors it's been highlighted by the media for illegal and copyrighted material being shared through its network, but it is a powerful tool for developers on a budget to release open source material that would otherwise cost a fortune if hosted on a traditional web server.

Getting started is as simple as installing a torrent client, with the most popular being BitTorrent acting as a full featured program and uTorrent as a simple lightweight program that offers the basics. For a server setup I recommend uTorrent as the lightweight client allows the downloading to happen while using little resources that could be used to better effect elsewhere.

Installation is as easy as adding any other program to the computer, the client connects to the network automatically due to the lack of any credentials needed and is ready to go.

Getting Data

Downloading files from torrents is similar to http where a link is imported or copied to the client to initiate the download, or alternatively it can be handled by files similar to Usenet .nzb files that point to the wanted data.

Linux Mint offers a Torrent download

When looking to download a file via a specific website, most likely the download will be in a .torrent file download. In this case it's as simple as importing the file to the torrent client to start the transfer.

Alternatively the download can be initiated via a link, known as a magnetised transfer the link provides the same information provided via a file. Magnetised transfers are usually used on indexing sites that archive content available on the torrent network.


The whole point of peer to peer sharing is that what you download is then made available to others wanting the same files, therefore using this download method also uses the upload bandwidth available, which might be an issue if running web or internet media services.

This may be an issue but the average contention or ratio is 10:2, meaning for every 1MB downloaded from peers 200kBps is shared by others, and this is what makes torrent sharing a powerful tool for cash strapped developers, by donating a slice of your bandwidth the data can be made available for millions.

And this is where the legal implications arise, if the files downloaded and subsequently shared are open source or public license then there is no issue. But copyrighted material downloaded and shared is in breach of law and where the media reports mostly comment on.