*Disclaimer - Please note that everything below is perfectly legal. I take no responsibility for anyone using this information to perfom illegal practises*
[U What is Bittorrent?
Bittorrent is a P2P file transfer protocol. Basically it means you are directly swapping information with other users and not downloading anything from a stored server.
The main difference between bittorrent and other methods (Which you've probably heard of via names like Napsters, Gnutella etc) is that you don't downloadin the whole file from one person and thus can't be inconvenienced by one user turning off his connection halfway through a big download.
Bittorrent splits up the file into bite sized chunks and you download these small chunks. This also means that the pressure on the original uploader is lessened as the very first person to download one of these small chunks from him immediately becomes a seeder of that chunk and so on.
You also connect to many users at once to fully utilise your maximum download speed (which is normally higher than upload speeds). e.g. you could be downloading from 50 people at once, each has a different chunk of the file and so you can maximise your download speed without choking other users upload speeds.
[U What do I Need?
Firstly you need a client. I'll be concentrating here on the most popular one, Azureus, but there are others you might like to check out such as Utorrent, Bitcomet and so on.
You can download Azureus for free from here - http://azureus.sourceforge.net/download.phphttp://azureus.sourceforge.net/download.php
(You will also need the Java engine if you don't already have it on your computer, it can also be downloaded from the above page).
[U How Do I Set Up Azureus?
After you've installed the program you'll need to set up a few of the options.
Note: If you are using a wireless router you will need to set up 'port forwarding', I won't cover this in the guide as you should already know how to do this if you have a router.
There are many guides to using Azureus on the internet so I will just cover a few of the basics...
Firstly select Tools - Options from the menu and the Options screen will open. The sections you need to pay immediate attention to are the following...
Transfer - Here's where you set what speeds and bandwidth you want Azureus to use. Set your 'Kb/s glbal max upload speed to about 80% of your max. This will insure you don't upload at 100% of your max and throttle your download. (You should know your max upload speed but if not you can run a test for it
online at - http://www.dslreports.com/stest?java=1http://www.dslreports.com/stest?java=1
Most people leave their download speed at maximum (please set it at just above your maximum download speed rather than leave it at unlimited as that can cause some problems for some people)
Set max connections per torrent (this is a setting that can trip some people up as it's annoyingly technical. For the majority of users setting it to 50 will be just fine)
Files - You should set up a folder on your computer specifically for downloading, for now called 'Downloading'. In that folder you should create another folder called 'Torrent Files' or something similar.
Now in this Files section you can point to these folders at the correct places. The one called 'Torrents should be the one in the top of this page.
Files - Completion Moving - Here's where you point to the 'Downloading' folder.
The above two url points means that when you download a torrent file, see below, you save it in the Torrent Files folder and when Azureus has finished downloading a whole file then it will move it from there to the Downloading folder automatically.
Queue - Max simultaneous downloads shouldn't be particularly high even if you have a fast connection. It pays dividends to concentrate on a few files at atime rather than trying to download a lot at once.
[U Ok, so Now What?
Well you should have Azureus set up and some nicely organised but empty folders all sorted. Now to the downloading part.
First you need to download a torrent file. These are tiny files which tell your Azureus what to look for and download. If you are using Azureus to download a piece of software from a site they will link you to the torrent. If you are looking for a 'legal' file from elsewhere you can use Torrent search engines.
Personally I find http://www.torrentz.comhttp://www.torrentz.com
to be the best search engine.
I also use the specific sites of http://www.mininova.orghttp://www.mininova.org
(There is a list at http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/peersharing/a/torrent_search.htmhttp://netforbeginners.about.com/od/peersharing/a/torrent_search.htm
if you don't like any of the above)
If you use a search engine like Torrentz then it will search a selected amount of specific sites for whatever you are looking for and give you the results in order of 'health' i.e. how many seeders and peers it has.
(Seeders are uploaders who have the entire file on their computer and Peers are those who only have a part of the file)
Do a search for something you want to download. Go to the site at the top of the list, download the torrent file into Torrent Files. Open Azureus, click the Open Torrent icon and open the torrent you just downloaded. It will now add it to your download screen and hopefully start downloading. You can watch the screen to see if there are any problems. You can see how many seeds and peers you connect to (out
of how many are connected to the swarm), how fast you are downloading (and after you have finished downloading your first chunk - called 'pieces' - how fast you are uploading and so on.
Azureus allows you to pause at any time and resume later. If you find what you are looking for but in a folder filled with other files you don't want then Azureus allows you to open the torrent and select the other files to not download.
[U Anything Else?
Well if you download any video files you will need to be able to watch them. In most cases Windows Media Player will be just fine but sometimes you will not have the relevant codecs (think of them as decryption files). You can download these codecs from various places online but you will most likely need to definitely have divx and xvid.
I download all my codecs from - http://www.free-codecs.com/http://www.free-codecs.com/
(Personally I just use the K-Lite codec pack that comes with all the latest codecs as well as Media Player Classic and keep it updated but you can just download individual codecs if you prefer)
You can also purchase MPEG4 dvd players, more commonly known as divx dvd players even though they also play xvid and others, and then watch the downloaded videos on your normal television set.
Finally - Be Careful!. I know some of you will use this information to go download crazy but be aware that just like anywhere else on the internet there are twats who want to ruin your day. If you download anything especially if there aren't many seeds or peers so you don't know that many others have downloaded and checked it before you, have your virus checker up and running and any other protection you see fit.
I hope this helps those of you who have no clue what downloading really is about, I'll be cleaning it up and adding anything I've forgotten etc. People are free to PM me with any questions or ideas for additions and so on.