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Author Topic: Using and understanding TORRENTS  (Read 1101 times)

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wcool

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Using and understanding TORRENTS
« on: December 30, 2019, 06:42:37 PM »

This post is for new and current members of MouseBits. In this post I shall try my best to let you understand the concept of 'torrents' and how to use them. I shall try my best to answer these questions:
  • What are those words, 'torrent' and 'magnet link'?
  • What can a torrent do for me?
  • How does it work?
  • Are torrents illegal?
  • What do I need to do to start using torrents?
  • How do I download torrents from MouseBits?
  • I want to help out and share what I downloaded!
  • Help! I still don't know what to do!

If you have any questions and still don't understand, please leave a message in this thread and we'll try to help you out. Also, please leave a message if you have read through and have a tip to make the guide even better!

NOTE: I am also working on creating a guide about uploading torrents. However, this isn't ready yet and I might post it in it's own topic as it's a bit more involved than simply downloading...

I just want to download a torrent and am not interested in the other stuff, what can I skip?
If you want to download a torrent, scroll down to read the following small sections:
  • What do I need to do to start using torrents?
  • How do I download torrents from MouseBits?

What are those words, 'torrent' and 'magnet link'?
A torrent is one of the many ways to share files with others. The one important thing about a torrent is that it is a very economical way to share large (or a lot of) files with a lot of people. Generally, when people use the word 'torrent', they mostly refer to a very small file that ends with '.torrent' (e.g. 'awesome_video.torrent'). A magnet link is a variation on the torrent file, so you do not have to deal with these small 'torrent' files anymore and can simply click on a link in your browser after which the right application will open for locating and downloading the files.

What can a torrent do for me?
The most simple answer to this question is: Sharing larger files and/or a lot of files by using an efficient method. Files can be anything you like. Some examples:
  • Audio (music, recordings, albums you made...)
  • Video (free videos, your home videos, music clips...)
  • Pictures (family pictures, free wallpapers...)
  • Documents (brochures, books, historic documents of your family...)
  • A combination of all the above or something else you want to share...

So, all types of files can be shared with torrents.

How does it work?
A torrent is only a means of downloading the file(s) you actually want. In fact, a torrent only contains the necessary information that is needed by an application. This application can then locate, download and assemble the files in the correct order for you, so you can use them. You could see a torrent like being a typical download manager, but with which you also share what you have downloaded. The efficiency of torrents is in the way it contacts other participants. The torrent application will always start with the closest (and easiest) participants it can reach.

Things a torrent does and does not do:
  • DOES: Knows stuff about the files you want to download or want to share, so it is able to send and receive the files (file size, folder structure, name of each file).
  • DOES NOT: Contain your file. It only contains information ABOUT the files and places where it could find (pieces of) those files.
  • DOES: Keeps a record on locations it can contact to get a list of other participants (people's computers) where the files can be found.
  • DOES NOT: Let everybody access your entire computer.
  • DOES: Shares the files you have downloaded with that specific torrent with other participants.
  • DOES NOT: Infect your computer with viruses. This only happens if you are downloading the torrent from questionable sources.

Are torrents illegal?
You might have heard on the news that torrents are a form of piracy and that it is illegal to use them. This is not true! Torrents are 100% legal. The bad name comes from the fact that they are used a lot for piracy/criminal activities (illegal sharing). Again, using torrents is 100% legal, but if the files you download with it are copyrighted (like movies, music or commercially available Disney audio!) you are downloading illegally! This is why we only have non-commercially available material available for sharing.

What do I need to do to start using torrents?
The only thing you need for getting started with torrents (legally!) is an application on your computer, laptop, tablet or phone. I will list some popular and safe applications for you to use with torrents here on MouseBits:

Windows 10 systems (computers, laptops, tablets):

Apple/macOS systems (only macOS/OS X products, not iOS):

Linux based systems (Debian, Ubuntu, Manjaro...):

How do I download torrents from MouseBits?
There are a few simple steps for downloading a torrent from MouseBits. Please keep in mind that, as a private community, we can't work with magnet links and work exclusively with the small torrent files.

  • Make sure you have the 'member' role. You can verify this in your control panel. It is also displayed at each forum post under your username. If not, go here: https://mousebits.com/smf/index.php?topic=10223.0
  • Head over to the torrents section: https://mousebits.com/index.php?page=torrents
  • Browse/search for something you'd like in the overview. You can also directly hit the green arrow to download it.
  • Click the name for more information, click the name again (it contains 'torrent' in front of it) to download it.

I want to help out and share what I downloaded!
Glad to hear that you want to help out! To keep sharing your download (this is called 'seeding' in torrent jargon), simply do nothing. If there is no activity, it could mean three things:
  • There are enough seeders and you are simply 'not needed' at the moment.
  • Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) could be blocking or slowing down torrent traffic on purpose.
  • You have a port that is closed. For this, please check your firewall settings and consult the manual of the torrent application and your modem/router.

Help! I still don't know what to do!
If you still can't get your head around all this torrent jazz then you should first look if there is already a topic that solves your problems. If not, open a new one and the community will help you out to get started.

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Credits/source: This post has been composed with information from the Bittorrent forum (https://www.bittorrent.org). If you want to find out more about the technical side of torrents, it is the first place to start reading.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 09:57:40 AM by wcool »
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