Why can't I download torrents?
August 18, 2009 12:52 AM   Subscribe

Although I have downloaded torrents successfully before, I can't get my current system to work. Everything proceeds fine until the actual download - which is stuck at 0.0%.

I'm trying to download torrents from demonoid and openoffice.org and using Bit Torrent for Mac (I'm running osx 10.5.7). The problem seems to be that, according to Bit Torrent, there are "0 peers" for my torrents. Though when I check demonoid, there are plenty of seeders. Even stranger, in a previous test, I did get Open Office to start downloading, but canceled it because Bit Torrent reported a 13+ hour download time. I've optimized the download/upload speed settings in Bit Torrent. I've tried switching to Vuze. What could be going on?
posted by ACF to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
[I'm assuming that you haven't added a router or other networking hardware since the last time a torrent worked.]

Your ISP may be interfering with the download. You may be able to evade this by a) changing the port it's using and b) forcing encryption. It's not good enough to enable encryption, you need to force it. I don't know those clients you mention... but, under Transmission, the option is "ignore unencrypted peers".

It's no guarantee, though. They may be doing traffic analysis, and not packet inspection, to detect bittorrent traffic.
posted by Netzapper at 1:03 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take this test to see if your ISP is throttling BitTorrent traffic.
posted by spasm at 1:29 AM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

Try it briefly on a different network to see if the problem is on your computer or between your computer and the network.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:35 AM on August 18, 2009

Did you try just being patient? Sometimes less-well-seeded torrents can take a bit to get going.

Zero peers shouldn't be a problem. Zero seeds is. Is the torrent client reporting a problem connecting to the tracker? You should be seeing the seeds/peers in the torrent status even if your ISP is somehow interfering. It's usually something like 3(13) where 3 is the number you of seeds you're connected to, and 13 is the total available in the cloud.

The usual remedy to try for ISP throttling is to change the port BT accepts connections on. Forcing protocol encryption might help too, although that will limit how many peers you can connect to. Not sure if you can do this with the official BT client, you might want to try a different one.

(Checking the torrent of OO.org for OSX, it seems to be plenty well-seeded to me.)
posted by neckro23 at 5:41 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Any chance you are running peerguardian or something like that? Alternatively, do you have any ports open for bt on your home router?
posted by 8dot3 at 6:29 AM on August 18, 2009

The torrent might be a private one, requiring registration on the site of origin; those won't work at all. check the torrent info. And yes, you'll find those on demonoid et al.
posted by Billegible at 6:54 AM on August 18, 2009

Good Vuze troubleshooting and config guide here.
posted by white_devil at 2:15 PM on August 18, 2009

Note that demonoid hosts external torrent files. In the search filter, there is a dropdown that says "tracked by" which is set to "both" by default. I set this to "demonoid" -- in my experience, all of those externally tracked torrents are private.

Second of all: If you're behind NAT, be sure to open a port on your machine, forward that port from the router to said machine, and change your announce IP address to match your external address. (If you have upnp enabled, some of this may be unnecessary). I'm not sure about Vuze, but uTorrent has a "test connectivity" button in the config that will tell you if everything is set up right.

This will allow other people to find you. Without freeing an incoming port, torrents take a lot longer to get going because you can only find peers from connections you initiate yourself, many of which will be rejected if you are just starting out. If you let it run long enough, it usually picks up the pace. We're talking overnight here. Do not give up on torrents after a few minutes, especially if it's not an extremely well-seeded torrent (such as popular movies on pirate bay). Some torrents, they are more like a light sprinkle than a torrent. If there are only a few people in the swarm and their client is configured to only allow X connections, you may be SOL until someone drops out. I usually just leave these running until they finish, which can take as long as a week in less-than-ideal circumstances.
posted by cj_ at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2009

Response by poster: This is great advice, guys. I'm going to take all of it. The good news: I now have managed to download some torrents. My next step is to RTFM and figure out why it takes so long. I'll be back if I can't figure it out. Thank you!
posted by ACF at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2009

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