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How to Use BitTorrent

Updated on May 19, 2007

Setting Port Number

Upload / Download Speeds

BitTorrent is a very popular method of peer-to-peer file sharing, but instead of downloading and uploading files through just one peer like traditional p2p networks, it transfers files across many peers simultaneously. If you are downloading a file that is in high demand, you could be downloading parts of the file from dozens of locations simultaneously. While movies and TV shows tend to get the most attention, open source projects like Linux are becoming popular downloads as well.

There are many different BitTorrent clients available for downloading files, but many users consider Azureus the best option. This guide will walk you through the installation process of Azureus.

There are several files that you will need to download and install for a successful and safe installation of Azureus:

  • Java (version 1.5.x or greater) if you do not already have it on your computer.
  • Azureus client from
  • Azureus SafePeer plugin from This plugin blocks downloads from known contaminated sources.

Open the Azureus client and change the default port. This program uses only one port, unlike the other BitTorrent clients. The default for BitTorrent uses for ports is 6881-6999. These ports may be blocked by your ISP.

To change your port, click View > Config > Server and change the number in the box for Incoming Listening Port. You can choose any number between 49152 and 65535.

Once you have set your new port number, test it with Gibson's Research port probe. Simply replace the XXXXX with your chosen port number.

If your port is in Stealth mode or Closed, you will not get optimal speeds while using Azureus. To prevent this, you will need to map the port number on your router to the port number on your computer. The steps for doing this will vary according to what type of router you are using. has a rather extensive listing of router instructions. Zone Alarm users, please read the important note in the Warnings section below.

To forward the port you defined for Azureus, this is the general information you will need:

  • Application or Description field: Azureus
  • Port Range Start: Port number you selected for Azureus
  • Port Range End: Port number you selected for Azureus
  • Protocol Type: Both (or TCP if Both is not an option)
  • IP Address of your Computer: Type ipconfig on the command line to find this number
  • Enable: Check the box to enable the port forward

There may be some instances where you will need to repeat the Port Range Start and Port Range End for the local machine (also known as Private Port).

For maximum security, it is always a good idea to login and uncheck the Enable box when you are not using Azureus. This action will protect your computer against someone scanning your computer looking for open ports. This is a simple way to add extra security to your system.

In addition to opening the ports on your router, you will also need to allow Azureus access to the internet through your chosen firewall. To do this, simply add Azureus.exe to your applications list.

One of the best ways to optimize your BitTorrent experience is managing upload and download speeds. Most cable customers have an average maximum upload speed of 40-43 kbps. Azureus' maximum upload speed is set at 40. This setting could max out your upstream connection without using any other connected applications. It is recommended that you set the max upload speed to 10 or 20 KB/s so that you do not need to worry about flooding your connection. The download setting defaults to maximum available which very rarely maxes out the available speed from your ISP.

Also in the Config area, you can set things such as the default download folder and where you want the .torrent files to be saved until you have finished the download. To hitch in to the network, you need .torrent files. These tell your Azureus client where to find files on other BitTorrent PCs on the internet. Click here for a listing of torrent download sites.

Helpful Tips:

Unlike other P2P file sharing networks where you have a program on the computer, open it up and enter the file you are looking for in the search box to get a list of files, BitTorrent uses trackers.

If you try to be a free rider (also known as a leecher) and download without contributing uploads, you risk the possibility of being banned by sites that require a reasonable ratio of uploads to downloads.

If you are trying to download a new file with 1 seeder and 50 leechers it will be slow. You can wait a while for the seeders to increase or check a different site. The number of seeders and leechers is generally displayed on each site, so a file with 130 seeders and 40 leechers will download fast. You can expect a 700mb download to take about 4 hours if there are plenty of seeders.


BitTorrent files should not be abused to acquire copyrighted content for which you do not have a license. In most cases this means label CDs, DVDs, and copyrighted software. Ensure your download is legal before proceeding or download at your own risk.

Read up on copyright laws in your country before downloading any content. The illegal downloading of any media files is "piracy" and is, in many countries, subject to very severe penalties. It is your responsibility to ensure you are not committing piracy by downloading or uploading a file. You can read the DMCA to learn more about U.S. copyright law in the digital age.

Important Notice: Zone Alarm products version 5.x have been reported to be not compatible with Azureus due to an issue with their TCP filter, TrueVector (vsmon.exe). Symptoms of this issue include, but are not limited to, 100% CPU usage, slow transfer speeds, corrupted files, trouble establishing incoming and outgoing transfers, complete network outages, complete system freezes, random reboots, and blue screens of death.

Removing Zone Alarm's firewall protection will not solve the problem because the filter will still be running in the background. A complete uninstallation is required. This issue is not limited to Azureus, and has been confirmed by users of many other file sharing clients.


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