How do you use BitTorrent?

BitTorrent is a filesharing P2P client for downloading music, movies, applications or other such desirable files. It can often be faster than unrelated programs (like Limewire; Kazaa) because of the sheer amount of people involved.

BitTorrent downloads are managed by "trackers," which are usually named after the website they are affiliated with (meganova, mininova, torrentspy, etc. - note that some trackers are private and require registration, which is usually as simple as browsing to the tracker website and applying for a username and password). These keep track of how many people are "seeding" (uploading) or "leeching" (downloading) the file, swarm speed, pieces, infohash strings, and a whole bunch of other stuff that it deals with just so you don't have to. Nice, huh?

When you download a ".torrent" file, it should automatically open with BitTorrent (as BitTorrent automatically associates .torrent files with itself). This acts almost like a website address for your client, linking it to the tracker and starting the download. From the moment you begin a download, you become a "leecher."

When the download reaches completion, that is to say, 100%, you become a "seeder," and as long as you have an active internet connection, you will still be "seeding" the file to existing leechers and new leechers.

BitTorrent is useful because it allows people to share large files without these files having to be hosted on a website, using up costly bandwidth. In short, it makes things cheaper for webmasters.

Some notes:

1.) Be careful what you download. Often, if it is an application or even sometimes otherwise, malicious code (viruses, spyware, adware, etc.) might very well be included. It is no one's fault but your own if you use BitTorrent without protective software.

2.) BitTorrent is often used to infringe upon copyright law. As painfully simple and cheap as this makes things for you, the F.B.I. doesn't like you stealing money from others, and they will prosecute. It's happened to me. Don't be dumb. If you're not sure whether it's alright to download what you're thinking about downloading, it's best not to use BitTorrent.

3.) When starting a download, always look at the number of Seeders and Leechers and check how often the tracker is updating the Torrent. Torrents with a high ratio of seeders to leechers will provide much faster downloads. But if the tracker isn't updating the torrent status often enough, you might think that you have a beautiful torrent of all existing Alfred Hitchcock movies that has 154 seeders and 2 leechers, and be stuck with a dead torrent. It's happened.

Other than that, there's really nothing to it. Download the torrent file from a torrent tracker site (use Google.com to find whatever movie or album or program you're looking for, but include the word "torrent" in your search) and wait until it's completed and enjoy!

P.S. You will be loved if you continue seeding the torrent for a while after you've finished. Don't be stingy.

Your friendly neighborhood Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel,

~Tamias