You can’t make your Internet connection faster without spending more money, but with a few simple tweaks, you can easily make BitTorrent faster. How is that possible? It all has to do with how the Internet works.
Make BitTorrent Faster By Optimizing Your Internet Connection
The protocol that powers the Internet is called the Transmission and Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). It’s a combination of several protocols that were each used for different things in the 1970s. BitTorrent mostly runs on the TCP protocol which lets simple programs use the Internet without knowing any details about how your network is set up.
For example, when your BitTorrent client wants to send part of a file to another computer, it only needs to tell your computer two things: what part of the file to send and what IP address to send it to. Your computer turns that request into a TCP packet, which involves all of the following steps:
- If the part of the file you want to send is bigger than the maximum size TCP packet, then the computer splits it up into multiple packets
- You computer then locates the network belonging to the IP address BitTorrent indicated. Most computers today are on a local network, while the computer your sending data to is on another network (the Internet).
- Finally you computer tries to make sure all of the packets get to the other computer. For this your computer sends one packet or a few packets and waits for the other computer to send an acknowledgement that the packets have been received. It repeats this step over and over until all of the packets have been received.
How can all of this make BitTorrent faster? Because BitTorrent doesn’t know what the computer is doing and the computer doesn’t know what BitTorrent is doing, you have the ability to step in and referee the way each system works to get the maximum performance.
Make BitTorrent Faster In Your BitTorrent Program
The top two settings you want to set in your BitTorrent program to make BitTorrent faster are the maximum upload and maximum download speeds. How can setting a maximum speed make BitTorrent faster? Again, we need to look at how TCP works for you automatically:
When you download from another BitTorrent program using TCP, the other program expects you to send an acknowledgement packet (called an ACK) after every packet you receive. That way the other computer knows you’re still connected and can send you any packets you missed. (It’s scary how much information gets lost on the Internet—it can be over 90% on bad or busy network connections.)
But, to send an acknowledgement packet, you need some free upload bandwidth. If that bandwidth is full because you’re uploading the maximum amount of data your connection allows, the acknowledgement packet will be delayed and the other computer will think that you don’t want any more data—and your BitTorrent download will slow down.
The reverse is true of your download bandwidth: if you download the absolute maximum, the people who are downloading from you won’t be able to send their acknowledgement packets, so their download will slow down and they’ll stop sharing new parts of the file with you—again slowing down your BitTorrent download.
To make BitTorrent faster over TCP—to make it always run at its maximum speed—you want to limit your maximum upload and download speeds to about 90% or 95% of what’s possible. How do you find out what’s possible? You can try an online bandwidth speed test, but I find them to be unreliable—the best way I’ve found is just by experimenting. In your BitTorrent program, keep adjusting the maximum settings until they’re so high that you never get to the limit, then subtract 5% or 10% of that speed. For example, my maximum upload speed is 115Kpbs, so I set the maximum at 105Kbps. (You may also want to leave a little room for browsing the Web while you download—this will make BitTorrent faster and let you do something else too.)
Make BitTorrent Faster On Your Computer And Router
Home and office computers and routers weren’t intended to upload files to other computers—but that’s exactly what they do when you use BitTorrent. So there are a few settings you can change that will greatly increase your upload speed—and increasing your uploads speed will make BitTorrent faster by encouraging other users to share with you.
The most important setting is to make sure users can directly connect to your computer through your router and firewall. Your router acts like a basic firewall: it only lets through packets it expects. But it doesn’t expect BitTorrent packets. You can change this: go to you router configuration and look for a setting named Static Routes. In this setting you want to forward the ports 6881 through 6999 to the computer you use to run BitTorrent.
After you configure your router, you need to configure your firewall to unblock the same ports. This won’t expose you to viruses unless there’s a bug in your BitTorrent client—so make sure you use a good BitTorrent client!
Make BitTorrent Faster By Trying Different Programs
One of the easiest ways to make BitTorrent faster is to try several BitTorrent programs. All of the programs are in competition with each other to get the fastest downloads and also to be easy to use, so you should give several programs a try before settling on one particular program.
Here are a few programs you may want to start with:
- Vuze (formerly Azureus)