Problems with bittorrent files on OS X...
April 25, 2006 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Having probs downloading torrents. I'm on OS X. Can anyone help me or walk me thru how to make it work consistently?

1. I used to have no problems but then I moved to a new apartment (kept same provider) and now the site I usually go to keeps giving me this error:

"bad data from tracker - not a valid bencoded string"

The FAQ on the site says this message means: "If this error keeps repeating and download never starts, it probably means that you're not authorized to download. This can happen if you surf the web through a proxy, bit the bittorrent client is not (we'll see you as two different IPs). Try to click download again, and/or if possible remove the proxy server."

However, to my knowledge I don't have a proxy server. How do I fix this problem?

Also, when I go to other sites to get torrents (which are much slower than my regular site), they work fine. (They just take forever. ie, many days vs. a few hours.)

2. I am using Tomato Torrent as my software but I've heard other programs like Azureus are better. I've tried them all and they all immediately give me errors like "Unable to bind TCP incoming server socket to 6882 - Can't assign requested address" and "Error while processing advanced socket options. Can't assign requested address" and "Failed to establish listen on port UDP: 6882. Check that other applications aren't already using this port" (I make sure the program is the only thing running and I still get that error).

3. I have spoken to my ISP ( and they say they absolutely do not block any ports.

So, can someone tell me exactly what I need to do to get a torrent program to play nice with my iMac?

I'm a complete newbie so step by steps would really be appreciated. Thank you.
posted by Manhasset to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
How are you connected? Via a router? I'd also check your network preferences to make sure you haven't inadvertently changed something (like activating a proxy setting)

FWIW, I actually like using Tomato Torrent. Nice and simple.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:23 AM on April 25, 2006

Try stuff from a different server; perhaps one of the more public ones - you don't have to finish the file, just try it out.

check for other sites that have files. (delicious is a social bookmarking system).

Also, for the heck of it, check to see what the status of the OSX firewall is.
posted by filmgeek at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: No router. Just my computer right into the cable modem.

I don't know what a proxy setting is so doubt I changed it and don't know how to check.

filmgeek, I mentioned above that I have no probs downloading from other sites, but they're very slow.

My firewall is on but there I have Tomato (and other programs I tried) bypass it by punching these numbers in

TCP: 49152-49162
UDP: 49152-49162

I have no idea what they mean, but someone gave them to me before and they worked before I moved.
posted by Manhasset at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: Also, I just turned off the firewall, tried Azureus again, got the same error (#2 above).

I also tried the torrent from the faster site and got the same error (#1).
posted by Manhasset at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2006

You kept the same provider, but did they give you the same IP address at your new apartment? Could the torrent site you're visiting be using your IP address as part of its authentication stuff?
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 AM on April 25, 2006

"Unable to bind TCP incoming server socket to 6882 - Can't assign requested address"

This means some other process is occupying the TCP port you've told Tomato to use. Since your listen port isn't reachable, you're going to have terrible torrent performance. You may think you've closed other programs, but something is using that port. Try configuring Tomato to use a different set of ports.

Solve this before you start worrying about configuring the system's packet filter.

"Punching numbers in" doesn't bypass packet filtering. When you're configuring the so-called firewall, you're telling it which ports should permit incoming traffic. You want to select the same ports that are used by your application (Tomato, in this case), not some arbitrarily selected values from your friend.
posted by majick at 8:41 AM on April 25, 2006

Slow torrent performance is usually caused by your downloading peers being unable to establish connections to you, which is usually caused by firewall configurations that don't let their requests actually reach your BitTorrent software.

Those numbers you punched in look like port ranges, and they don't make sense to me for BitTorrent, which usually accepts incoming connections on ports 6881-6889. If you unblock that port range, you may find you get faster torrent downloads (unless you've actually configured Tomato, with which I am totally unfamiliar, to use ports in the 49152-49162 range instead).
posted by flabdablet at 8:43 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: majick, that's the error I'm getting from Azureus, not Tomato.

Just so I'm clear: Tomato works perfectly fine when I use it anywhere except the site I most want to use (and used to use, no problem). When I try to get Torrents from there, I get the problem outlined in #1, above, about bad tracker/proxy server.

Filmgeek, are you able to tell me what #s you have punched in, since you say you use Tomato?

flabdablet, I punched 6881-6889 in the tcp and udp boxes for Azureus on the firewall and still get the errors in #2 above.

Also, I do not have the same IP address but, as far as I can tell, Tomato doesn't ask for my IP and neither does the torrent site that's giving me the new error (tvtorrents).
posted by Manhasset at 8:59 AM on April 25, 2006

Unblocking 6881-6889 won't stop Azureus etc. being unable to bind to ports in that range. As majick said, this inability is caused by something else (probably some part of Tomato) already having bound itself to them at the time you try to install Azureus.

What it will do is allow inward connections to those ports, so when you use a BitTorrent client that's bound to one of them, it will download stuff faster. That is, I'd intended it as a fix for the sloth of your other sites, not for the failed Azureus installation. For the time being, just stick with Tomato because that's what you know.

If your preferred site is convinced you're connecting through a proxy, you can find out here whether you are or not.
posted by flabdablet at 9:19 AM on April 25, 2006

Also, it's been a while since I used Azureus, but I do remember it has a box somewhere in its config pages that allows you to hand-enter your public IP address. It's possible Tomato also has such a box. What are the chances that at some point in the past you (or a helpful friend) has used this, and entered your old IP address?
posted by flabdablet at 9:26 AM on April 25, 2006

Get a friend with a Windows laptop to try out your connection. There are some torrent trackers which block particular clients.
posted by tommorris at 9:46 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: Ugh. My head is swimming.

Thanks for all the answers, folks, but I'm ready to give up. I don't really understand any of this stuff an no one I know does either.

flabdablet, I clicked that proxy link and it tells me:

"Possible Connection Type: High Anonymity(Elite) proxy or direct connection."

So I guess all of a sudden I'm on a proxy, though I have no idea what it is or how this could have happened without me doing something.

It's possible Tomato also has such a box.

Yeah, I changed it before and just double checked that it's correct.
posted by Manhasset at 1:58 PM on April 25, 2006

If you google "rogers bittorrent traffic shaping" you may find that you're not getting straight advice from your ISP.

You may get randon torrents working because some traffic will be on non-standard ports and/or using the header encryption, confusing any efforts to slow bt traffic.

From what that google search is telling me, if you are indeed somewhere Rogers is slowing traffic, you may just be screwed.

Or it could be something else entirely, I don't know anything about Macs really.
posted by tiamat at 2:00 PM on April 25, 2006

I am also running the latest version of Mac OSX and i've had nothing but problems using any bittorrent OR P2P programs. I was just convinced that it was because i connect to the internet via a public wireless service and that they had banned it or something, but this question makes me think it might be some configuration of the Mac. I can most often get some torrents started, but they stop before anything can finish. And when i start, say Acquisition, it won't connect to any networks. Y'argh! is all i can say.
posted by indiebass at 3:54 PM on April 25, 2006

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