Every computer user’s first roadblock (usually) is using Torrents. We’ve all heard of them, and are quite curious with what they have to offer. I can’t quite imagine what life would be like if I didn’t know how to use torrents, so I’ll teach you enough to get along and walk on your own two feet.
First, I want you to remember that what you download and do with your computer is your own responsibility! Unfortunately, we are not in the position to help you out if you “accidentally” pirate any software or seasons of Friends.
You’ll need a BitTorrent client for your computer. As a Mac user, I prefer Vuze, although I’ve heard great things about Transmission and uTorrent as well.
How to use Vuze
You can usually get by with any ol’ client, as long as you can interact with it. Make sure you’re familiar with the UI! You should be familiar with where the download progress bar is, where the expected time remaining is, and how to set upload/download max limits (can usually be done by right-clicking).
The torrent client isn’t exactly the most important part — the torrent is! Here, I’ll introduce you to two sites that aggregate torrents, meaning they gather torrents from around the Internet and index them, and thus allow you to sort from a greater variety.
There are tons of confusing things about torrents: trackers, specific files, and legality issues — but ultimately, the only thing you need to know is that the seed-to-leech ratio needs to be high. (Although brushing up on legality issues should be a priority as well. ;))
What is a seed-to-leech ratio?
A seed-to-leech ratio is the number of seeders to leechers. You want this number to be as high as possible! Basically, always pick the torrent with the highest number of seeds (hosts/uploaders) to leeches (downloaders). (In the picture, the green numbers represent the number of seeds and the blue zero is the number of leechers.)
If you’re given an option to go with 300 seeds and 500 leeches or 50 seeds and 30 leeches, go with the torrent with 50 seeds. You’ll notice that the speeds are dramatically faster and often quite capable of reaching breakneck speeds.
If/when a download ever appears to slow down or freeze, it never hurts to right-click a torrent and click Update Tracker. This prompts the client to refresh the list and hopefully find more peers on, which you can obtain the file from.
Where do Downloaded Files go?
You can set a location for your files to get downloaded into. By default, Vuze creates a Vuze Downloads folder in your Downloads folder.
You can always change the location from within Vuze. Simply click the Vuze menu, and select Preferences. From there, select Downloads and you can change the location within the bar.
How can I Stop Seeding?
I usually don’t prefer for people to stop seeding (sharing is caring). If in some cases, your Internet is lagging though or if you’re not legally allowed to upload music but are allowed to download, then I can sympathize with you. Stopping uploading (seeding) is simple: simply select the torrent that’s complete, and select Stop at the top.
Start Getting Friendly with Torrents!
They’re only going to be more and more mainstream: HD trailers and documentaries are starting to be released via torrent. It’s useful to learn how to better use torrents, and how you can take advantage of this nice piece of technology.