Downloading With BitTorrent

Similar to needing a URL, like http://www.utorrent.com, to go to a website and download content, a .torrent file is required to download content available through BitTorrent. Most of the time, you can download this file from a website, though you can also get it from a friend or some other form of transfer. Many websites offer .torrent files as one method of downloading files available through that website. Sites that contain .torrent files are generally repositories of only the .torrent files, and usually don't create or directly make available any of the content being shared. These sites are either index sites or trackers. While torrent index sites list .torrent files for download, torrent trackers merely coordinate the swarm. Many torrent trackers function as a torrent index as well, listing the torrents that it tracks (and sometimes, torrents from external trackers as well).

So where do you go about looking for these .torrent files? Searching with your favorite search engine, and attaching the word torrent to the query generally works wonders in finding you decent results, but BitTorrent also includes a built-in search bar to some of the more popular .torrent file search engines.

Adding a Torrent

Once you obtain the .torrent file you wish to download, you simply import it into BitTorrent. There are several ways of achieving this in BitTorrent:

  • Double-click the .torrent file (only if .torrent files are associated with BitTorrent)
  • Drag-and-drop the .torrent file into BitTorrent
  • Select "File" then "Add Torrent" (or press Ctrl+O) in BitTorrent and open the .torrent file
  • If you know the direct URL to the .torrent file, but don't have it on your hard drive, you can select "File" then "Add Torrent from URL" (or press Ctrl+U) in BitTorrent and enter the URL of the .torrent file

After opening the .torrent file, tell BitTorrent where you'd like the torrent contents to be saved. If BitTorrent doesn't automatically start downloading, you can start the torrent job manually by selecting the torrent job in the list and pressing the "Start" button on the BitTorrent toolbar, or by right-clicking the torrent and selecting "Start".

What to do After the Torrent Job Finishes Downloading

After a torrent job finishes downloading, you may view the files that you have downloaded. While you can also remove the torrent job from the torrent jobs list if you so wish, you are highly encouraged to leave the torrent job seeding (uploading after you have obtained every piece). Although the length of time that you should leave the it seeding is not defined in particular, it is recommended that you share until the amount of data you upload reaches at least the same as the amount of data that you have download, also known as reaching a 1.0 ratio. This ratio is calculated by dividing the amount of data you have uploaded by the amount that you have downloaded. Granted, it is technically impossible for every person in any given swarm to reach a 1.0 ratio, but people who leave the swarm before even getting close to that ratio are abhorred in the BitTorrent community, and are labeled as leechers (which carries a strong negative connotation). Because leechers have a detrimental effect on swarms, some people resort to vigilante tactics and block connections to leechers. Additionally, private trackers may ban leechers.