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Sunday, August 9

Guide : How to use BIT-Torrent

How To Use BitTorrent - Beginners Guide

The program that downloads files from BitTorrent is referred to as a BitTorrent client. So, if you want to use BitTorrent, you need to install a BitTorrent client on your computer. The most popular are BitTorrent, Transmission (for Mac OS X),ABC, Azureus, BitComet, BitTornado, and uTorrent.

The first step is to install one of these programs. I like BitComet because It’s easy to use and downloads fast. So justdownload this file and run it to install the client.

Most of these clients do not have search boxes in them, so what you need to do is open a Torrent file (referred to simply as a Torrent) with the program (client), so that the program can find what you’re looking for. A Torrent is a link to a certain file you can download. For example, a few different people have probably made video files out of, say, “Revenge of the Sith”. Each time someone puts their version of Revenge of the Sith online for BitTorrent users to download, a new Torrent is created that links to that specific version of the movie. Get your hands on a Torrent, and your BitTorrent client will then be able to use it to download the version of Revenge of the Sith that corresponds to that Torrent.

So how do you get the Torrent ? typically, you go to Torrent search engines, which are basically huge databases of Torrents. Popular examples include MiniNova, ISO Hunt, TorrentSpy, and the infamous Pirate Bay.

You may also find torrents that can be downloaded from websites, like this great catalogue of TV-show torrents. You can then right-click the link that takes you to the torrent file and “Save Target As” (Internet Explorer) or “Save Link As” (FireFox). Then just open the file with your BitTorrent client (double-click on the file’s icon) and it will ask you if you want to download the movie. Once you download the video file that this torrent points to, you’ll need to install the Xvid codecin order to be able to play that video file on your media player.

Many video files you’ll find on BitTorrent are encoded in Xvid, as it allows for great video quality despite the small file size. An Xvid file is usually around 700 megs (0.7 Gigs) but looks almost as good as a DVD, which is usually around 9.4 Gigs. So install the Xvid codec, you only have to do it once, and from then on Windows Media Player will be able to play the Xvid video files you get on BitTorrent.

One other codec you’ll encounter often on BitTorrent, since it too allows for near-DVD-quality 700-meg files, is Divx, soinstall Divx while you’re at it. One thing that is particularly cool about video files that use the Divx codec (other than the fact that they look almost as good as a DVD but only take up 700 megs instead of 9.4 Gigs) is that many DVD players today will play Divx video files. This means that even if you don’t have a DVD burner, you can take a Divx video file and burn onto a data CD and watch on your DVD player.

Say you go to one of those sites and search for The Empire Strikes Back Your results page will look like this.

To the right you see a number of Seeds and Leechers for each Torrent. A Seed is a user who has the whole file and is sharing it. A Leecher is someone who, like you, is in the process of downloading the file. So you’ll want to pick a version of the file that has lots of Seeds and Leechers, so that the download is faster and more certain to be successful. (One interesting note is that BitTorrent can see which parts of the file are most rare - i.e. which parts of the file have been downloaded by the fewest Leechers - and make sure those parts get uploaded from the Seeds right away, that way the Leechers will have more of the file between them). I usually click on the Seeds at the top of that column, so that the search results are arranged with the files with the most Seeds on top. Also, most BitTorrent search sites allow you to browse their entire index of torrent files, organizing them alphabetically, by date, by type, or by number of Seeds, so you can see what files have the most Seeds (and thus download faster, and are probably pretty good). For example, to see what movie torrents on BitTorrent currently have the most seeds, click here or here.

Of course, you should also choose based on the size (do you want a 4-Gig DVD image file or a 700-Meg Divx/Xvid video file ?). Once you have chosen which version(s) to try and download, just click on “Download Torrent”. If you associated Torrent files with the BitTorrent client when you installed it, then the BitTorrent client should start up, ask you if you want to download that file, and then start downloading it, and putting it in some folder that I’m sure can be found and changed if you poke around the settings and preferences.

So to recap, you want (say) a movie file. A bunch of people out there have it. There is this thing called a Torrent file (or just “a Torrent”) which will tell BitTorrent clients (programs) how to download that particular movie file. So you install a BitTorrent client on your computer, use it to open a Torrent that corresponds to the movie file you want to download, and the BitTorrent client can then start talking to the Peers and Seeds who can send you bits of that movie file. After a while, your BitTorrent client will have accumulated the entire movie file, and will dump it into some folder in your hard drive.

How To Use BitTorrent

Summarized Step-By-Step

PART A: Download and Install a BitTorrent Client

* Download BitComet. You can do so by right-clicking here and choosing “Save Target As” (Internet Explorer) or “Save Link As” (Firefox).

* Click on “Save File”. Save it somewhere on your computer (like your desktop, your C drive, My Documents).

* When the download is finished, use your windows to navigate your way until you can see the “BitComet_0.94_setup” file’s icon. Double-click on it.

* Click “Run”, “Ok”, “Next”, “I Agree”, “I Agree”, “Next”, and “Install”. The program will install. Click “Finish”. The program will start up.

PART B: Find and Download a File

* Go to a BitTorrent search engine… Say,

* Click on the text field near the top left of the page, and type in your desired movie/album. Say, An Inconvenient Truth. Click “Search”.

* You will be taken to a search-results page. Click on “S”, on the top of the second rightmost column of the table of search results.

* You will probably see a page like this, with a mix of files that are around 700 megs (Divx/Xvid movies that fit on one CD) and files that are around 4 Gigs (files to be burned on DVDs).

* Click on the name (widest column) of a torrent that sounds good. That row will expand to display some ads, aDownload .torrent link, and information about the files that the torrent links to. Click on the Download .torrent link.

* If you have never downloaded a torrent before, a window will pop up, asking what you want to do with this file. Choose “Open with BitComet”, check “Do this automatically for files like this from now on” or “Always use this program to open similar files”. If you have done this in the past, then… (see the next Step).

* BitComet should open automatically and ask you if you want to download this file. Click OK.

* Wait patiently for the file to download. When it’s done, the file will be in the C:Downloads folder.

* If the file is a .AVi, .MP4, etc, then it is a movie file you can watch on your computer or transfer to a DVD, iPod, PSP, etc. If the file ends with .RAR, then it’s basically a kind of ZIP file, and you need to decompress it using WinRAR. If the file ends with VOB, ISO, CUE/BIN, or if it’s a VIDEO_TS folder, then it can be burned onto a DVD for viewing on a DVD player. A few quick Google searches should deliver useful tutorials about working with those files.

Remember, downloading media on BitTorrent is illegal, unless you have purchased the media in some other format or will be using the media in some way that is considered fair use, such as using a small excerpt for non-commercial purposes in such a way that does not detract from the market of the product.

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