Cancel Cable

Chris Fehily

Part 4

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To set the maximum upload rate automatically (OS X): Quit all programs that access the internet, including browsers, mail/chat clients, antimalware, Skype, iTunes, and backup tools.

Open uTorrent.

Choose uTorrent > Preferences or press Command+, (comma).

In the Preferences window, click Bandwidth, and then turn on "Limit upload rate automatically."

To set the maximum upload rate manually (Windows or OS X): Quit all programs that access the internet, including browsers, mail/chat clients, antimalware, Skype, iTunes, and backup tools.

Open your browser and go to a website that can test broadband speeds. I use or, but you can find others by searching the web for speed test, bandwidth test, internet connection speed, or a similar phrase. (Always run an independent speed test. Don't use the speeds that your ISP advertises.) Run the test and note your upload speed. For more-accurate results, run the same test two or three times and calculate the average upload speed.

If necessary, convert the upload speed to kilobytes per second (KB/s).

Different sites report upload speeds in different units, such as megabits per second (Mb/s) or kilobits per second (Kb/s). The case of the letter "b" matters: an uppercase "B" means bytes and a lowercase "b" means bits. One byte = eight bits. If your upload speed is reported in KB/s, then use that number; otherwise, convert to KB/s by using one of the following formulas: To convert from Mb/s (megabits per second) to KB/s, multiply Mb/s by 128. For example, 0.95 Mb/s 128 = 121.6 KB/s.

To convert from Kb/s (kilobits per second) to KB/s, multiply Kb/s by 0.125. For example, 909 Kb/s 0.125 = 113.6 KB/s.

To convert from MB/s (megabytes per second) to KB/s, multiply Mb/s by 1024. For example, 0.115 MB/s 1024 = 117.8 KB/s.

Multiply the upload speed by 0.8 and note the result (80% of capacity). For example, 117.8 KB/s 0.8 = 94.2 KB/s.

Open uTorrent and do one of the following: In Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Bandwidth (in the left pane) and set "Maximum upload rate (kB/s)" to the number that you calculated in the preceding step (rounded to the nearest whole number). Click OK.

In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > Bandwidth, turn off "Limit upload rate automatically," turn on "Limit upload rate manually to," and then set the limit to the number that you calculated in the preceding step (rounded to the nearest whole number). Close Preferences.

Other Settings.

Though uTorrent's default configuration settings work fine in most cases, you can adjust them to suit you.

Limit download rates. If uTorrent is hogging bandwidth and slowing your browser, Skype calls, or other internet applications, you can do any of the following: Shut down uTorrent for a while.

Limit the download rate. In Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Bandwidth (in the left pane) and set "Maximum download rate (kB/s)." In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > Bandwidth, turn on "Limit download rate to," and then set the download limit.

Try a limit of 80%95% your bandwidth's download capacity. To return to the maximum download speed, set the limit to zero (Windows) or turn off "Limit download rate to" (OS X).

(Windows only) Throttle downloads on a schedule. Choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Scheduler (in the left pane). Repeatedly click the boxes in the 24 7 grid to set hourly speed limits.

Adjust upload rates. If you followed the instructions in "Limiting Upload Rates" earlier in this chapter, then you limited your upload rate to about 80% of your bandwidth's upload capacity. If you adjust this rate, keep it within about 70%80% of capacity or your download speed may suffer (either choked by uTorrent or swamped by outbound traffic).

Elude traffic shapers. Some ISPs engage in traffic shaping, intentionally blocking or throttling BitTorrent traffic (politics and money). If your ISP shapes traffic, then your BitTorrent downloads will progress more slowly than your normal (HTTP/FTP) downloads. The Vuze Wiki lists bad ISPs. You can determine whether your ISP is throttling traffic by using the Max Planck Inst.i.tute's Glasnost service. The arms race between pirates and ISPs has left it hard to fool traffic shapers but a few basic countermeasures (short of switching ISPs) may help: Encrypt your BitTorrent traffic. In Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > BitTorrent (in the left pane) and set Outgoing Protocol Encryption to Enabled or Forced. In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > BitTorrent and set Outgoing Encryption to Enable or Force. Forced encryption is the stronger setting.

Use random BitTorrent ports. A port is a numbered tunnel for a certain kind of internet traffic. BitTorrent by default uses ports in the range 68816999 (typically port 6881). To keep traffic shapers guessing, you can randomize the port that uTorrent uses to listen for incoming connections. In Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Connection (in the left pane) and turn on "Randomize port each start." In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > Network and turn on "Randomize port during launch."

Ports must be unfirewalled. Be sure that UPnP and NAT-PMP port mapping are turned on (their settings are near the Randomize setting). If you router doesn't support automatic port mapping, search for port forwarding in the resources listed in "Getting Help" earlier in this chapter.

Check firewall settings. You can make sure that your firewall has an exception allowing uTorrent traffic. In Windows, open the Start menu and choose Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall > "Allow a program or feature through Windows Firewall" (in the left pane). In OS X, open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences > Security > Firewall > Advanced. For third-party firewalls, read the doc.u.mentation.

Check for updates. To be sure that you're using the latest version of uTorrent, check for updates automatically. In Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > General (in the left pane) and turn on "Check for updates automatically." In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > General and turn on "Automatically check for updates."

Check connectivity at a glance. A color-coded network icon on the right side of the status bar indicates your connectivity. (The status bar runs along the bottom of the uTorrent window. To show it in Windows, choose Options > Show Status Bar or press F6.) A green icon means everything is OK. A persistent yellow icon or a red icon means a router or firewall problem. A clear icon means no torrents are active. Clicking the icon opens the Setup Guide (Windows) or Network Preferences (OS X). For details, open the uTorrent help file and search for status bar.

Try a different BitTorrent client. If you install a different BitTorrent client, it will register itself as the default program for .torrent files. In Windows, if don't want uTorrent to be your default client, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > General (in the left pane) and turn off "Check a.s.sociation on startup" (for details about a.s.sociations, see Chapter 3).

Chapter 7 BitTorrent Search Engines.

Start with large, well-maintained, active sites that have flourished despite legal and technical attacks: The Pirate Bay.

isoHunt btjunkie Kicka.s.sTorrents ExtraTorrent.

Finding BitTorrent Search Engines.

No site is all-encompa.s.sing, so you may have to visit a few to find a torrent of interest. You'll eventually settle on your favorite sites and keep others in reserve for hard-to-find or special materials.

Sites come and go, and one day your favorite may go dark, block connections from your country, or be overrun with spam, malware, or ads. It's not hard to find BitTorrent search engines but keep in mind that file-sharing traffic, like most types of internet traffic, follows a power law (also called the 80-20 rule): only a few sites get the vast majority of pirate visits while the rest fight for Try any of the following methods to find sites: Read Wikipedia's comparison of BitTorrent sites.

Search the web for file sharing news or torrent news and scan articles for promising sites. Popular pirate news sites include TorrentFreak, ZeroPaid, Slyck, and FileShareFreak.

Visit Alexa, a web traffic and ranking site, and search for file sharing or bittorrent. They list top file-sharing sites.

Search the web for bittorrent sites, torrent search, or a similar phrase. Don't trust "Top BitTorrent Sites" lists unless they quote traffic statistics from a legitimate source like Alexa, Quantcast, Compete, Nielsen, or Google DoubleClick.

Find out who's being ha.s.sled. Reputable pirate sites are regularly sued or seized by trade groups and governments. Anti-piracy outfits go by initialisms: MPAA, RIAA, IFPI, CRIA, ICE, BPI, USCG, APB, and many more. Lawsuits usually fail to shut down sites and seizures only shift sites to different domains (web addresses). Scan the file-sharing news at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), or visit Google News and search for, say, MPAA sues.

Search for BitTorrent sites in other languages, particularly Asian and European languages.

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Features to Look For.

Some sites display a search cloud of the keywords used in that day's most-popular searches. In some clouds, the font size of keywords corresponds to the frequency of the search. Click any keyword to replicate the search.

Most sites have RSS feeds, which let you subscribe to a continually updated list of new torrents. Feeds can list all new torrents (like drinking from a firehose) or only certain categories of new torrents. RSS feeds are marked by orange icons on the webpage or in the browser's address bar. To subscribe to a feed, click its icon. For details, search for rss in your browser's help system.

Some torrents will appear as dead (no seeders) but it's possible the search engine isn't taking trackerless torrents into account. Trackerless torrents use the DHT (Distributed Hash Tracking) and PEX (Peer Exchange) protocols to dilute the need for a central tracker. Open a dead torrent and within minutes you may find peers via DHT or PEX. In uTorrent, DHT and PEX are turned on by default. To view or change these settings in Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > BitTorrent (in the left pane). In OS X, choose uTorrent > Preferences (Command+,) > BitTorrent.

uTorrent, Vuze, and other BitTorrent clients have built-in Search that you can configure to work with your favorite search engines. In uTorrent for Windows, choose Options > Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Advanced (in the left pane) > UI Extras.

BitTorrent search engines aren't the only places to get torrents. You can send or receive .torrent files via email or chat or download them via blog links.

Spotting Fakes.

Antipiracy groups, scammers, and malware writers plant fake torrents, which can be downloads that never finish, unplayable videos, mislabeled files, or virus-carrying executables. Some fake-spotting tips: Delete any movie that requires you to download and install a rogue media player, like the trojan-laden 3wPlayer, DomPlayer, or x3 player. Be wary of videos that won't play in VLC media player. For details, see "Media Players" in Chapter 11.

Delete any torrent that makes you visit a website to get a pa.s.sword, install a codec, or "activate" something.

Don't download movie, music, picture, book or other media files packaged as or with executable (.exe) files.

Suspect .rar and .zip archives (see Chapter 5) and .url files (see "Malicious Links" in Chapter 4). Many legitimate torrents have these files, but be vigilant nonetheless.

Scan the torrent's user comments. Look for "Fake!" or queries about pa.s.swords or special media players. For popular torrents, comments like "Contains a trojan" can mostly be ignored as false positives from rookie pirates.

Beware of heavily seeded torrents with few user comments. If a two-year-old movie has twenty thousand seeders, it's a fake.

Avoid too-good-to-be-true torrents, like a DVD or Blu-ray copy of a movie seeded just as it premiers in theaters.

Favor torrents released by organized piracy groups. Group aliases (MAXSPEED, aXXo, or EZTV, for example) are part of torrent names. Some sites flag trusted groups with special icons, foiling scammers who forge group names on fake torrents. VCDQ lists and rates group releases.

Compare the size of the torrent to its description. The size of a two-hour .avi movie should between about 700 MB and 1.5 GB.

Look for torrents that are verified as safe or high-quality by site operators or privileged users, or are heavily upvoted by ordinary users. Sites that verify torrents flag them with special icons.

Some BitTorrent clients carry malware and are banned by various BitTorrent sites. Use one of the clients listed in Chapter 6.

Download torrents from private sites, if possible, or popular public sites (Chapter 7) where fakes are more likely to be quickly spotted and removed.

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