Using Bittorrent to Download: How to Use Bittorrent, the File Sharing Client

Peer to peer (P2P) file sharing, despite all the legal clamoring of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), is still cruising along as the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way to distribute files across the internet. Major organizations such as NASA and Warner Brother’s are beginning to take note, and Bittorrent is the program at the forefront of P2P technology.

Look up Bittorrent online and you’ll find a lot of information. Because Bittorrent is under an open source license, there are many different versions of the program out there, such as Azureus and ABC, to name a couple. These programs have extra functions and capabilities that are built on the original Bittorrent code. Of course, if you are a stranger to using Bittorrent, you should start with the basics.

Download the Original Bittorrent Client

The most up to date Bittorrent client can be downloaded at bittorrent.com. Beware of downloading a Bittorrent client elsewhere, as some packages can come with ad-ware or spy-ware, which will be harmful to your computer. The program will work on nearly all platforms, either Windows or Mac. Install it like you would a regular program. The defaults of the program will generally suffice for regular downloading. However, you might want to go into ‘View’ and ‘Settings’ to select the folder that you want your downloaded files to go under.

Getting a Bittorrent File

A Bittorrent file has this look: *.torrent. This file acts like a pointer and information center for the file you actually want, whether it’s a music, video, or image file. It tells the client where to find the file you want and how big the file is. You will need this file to download anything on Bittorrent.

The client itself has a search engine to look for torrent files. However, the results can be limiting. If you know what you’re looking for, you can search on the major online search engines by adding ‘torrent’ to your terms.

Once you find the torrent file, click on it, and a window should launch, asking if you would like to open this with Bittorrent. Click OK and Bittorrent will take the torrent file and start downloading the file you want. It will take a few minutes to initialize and find the sources for the files.

The Technical Stuff

As you are downloading, you are also sharing and uploading the file to whoever requests it. If you don’t want to share, you can take some rather drastic measures, which involve tweaking the program, but this is a P2P client, so when you don’t want to share your toys, others don’t feel the need to share their toys either. In other words, your download speed will slow to a crawl. The program is not set for people who don’t want to share, thus there is no easy way to opt out on uploading.

However, a good thing about the program is you don’t need to keep your computer on all night if you don’t want to. Because the file you’re downloading has already been segmented to pieces, you can restart the program and Bittorrent will know where to start downloading again.

Also, if you’re wondering about the safety of your computer, then try to remember that every file needs at the very least, a torrent file, in order to be distributed. Bittorrent will remember the torrents that you opened, thus enabling it to upload and share the file you’re downloading. However, it cannot do anything to a file that has no corresponding torrents, so your files will be safe, even if it is in the same folder as the files you are downloading.

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