Speed up your torrent downloads

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 27, 2006
Updated • May 7, 2013
File Sharing, Tutorials

I'm not using bittorrent that often anymore but it is still a great way of transferring large files. You see less complaints of people with low download speed as a couple of years ago but there are certainly some who experience slow downloads when they are using BitTorrent. This can be of course torrent related, if you don't have many seeders or only seeders with low upload speeds you will experience a slow download even if your own Internet connection is capable of downloading a Gigabit per second.

It still makes sense to make sure that the settings of the client that you are using to download are set correctly so that it is not artificially limiting the download speed on your end.  Optimize your bittorrent download speed explains not only basic settings but also advanced ones that help improve the download speed. The article does not only tell you what you need to fill in particular fields, it also explains why the value is the most appropriate one so that you know the reason behind it as well.Let us take a look at the parameters:

Max Half open Tcp Connections: You may need to apply a patch to Windows XP Service Pack 2 because Windows XP limits the number of half open tcp connections to 10. Suggested is a connection limit of half open connections between 50 and 100.

The limit may impact your download speed indirectly. Half  open TCP connections determine how many connection attempts your system makes at the same time. If it is set to 10, ten attempts are made and all others are added to a queue until an active one is processed. So, if you add a torrent where you could easily connect to 50 or 100 seeders and leechers right away to start downloading from all of them, your download speed may suffer as the connections are only established in blocks of 10.

You can download the patch from the Half Open website. Note that the limit is part of all newer versions of Windows as well, and that the patch should work on newer versions as well.

half-open limit fix

The program checks if a patch is required first and displays its interface to you only if the connections are limited.

Maximum Upload Speed: If no one seeds no one will receive files. If all users set their upload speed to a minimum, downloads will be slow. Set this to a reasonable level, suggested is 80%. Some sites force you to keep a good ratio if you want to download torrents from their sites, if your ratio drops below a certain level you will not be able to download at all. Suggested setting is 80% of your maximum upload speed. I'm receiving good results with 50% as well.

Select less if you have a very fast connection. My Internet connection offers 50 MBit down and 10 MBit up. I prefer to set the upload speed to a lower value because of this as I'm not part of sites where you need to keep a positive download to upload ratio. So, 10% or even less may be fine as well.

Maximum Download Speed: If you don't need some bandwidth for other activities on your computer or have enough you can leave this at maximum speed. Use a lower figure if you want to do something besides downloading. (Surfing, chatting). Suggested between 80% - 100%

Maximum connected peers per torrent: I have no experience with the setting, the article suggests a figure of your upload speed * 1.3 which would mean for a speed of 50K that the maximum connected peers per torrent would be set to 50 * 1.3 = 65

Maximum Upload Slots: Suggest value is 1 + ( upload speed / 6). Means for our 50k upload speed example it would be 9.

The article offers a few more tips that may improve your transfer speeds. Some ISPs throttle torrent traffic, two methods to avoid this would be to change the default ports in the BitTorrent client and to encrypt your torrent traffic.


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  1. MikeM said on June 27, 2006 at 7:44 am

    This is GREAT. It immediately boosted my downloads.


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