What can I do if Bittorrent gets throttled or blocked

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 28, 2007
Updated • Jul 30, 2013
File Sharing, Internet

It is important to know what to do if your Internet Service Provider decides to throttle or block certain ports that are used by applications that use the Bittorrent protocol. Comcast recently started using an application called Sandvine which uses a new way to throttle or block traffic.

Sandvine uses something that is called session management which basically limits the number of open connections on your computer without caring about ports and protocols for instance.

This means that the old 'If they block port 6881 I simply use another one" game does not work anymore and even encrypting your bittorrent traffic will not have a positive effect on the amount of connections allowed. This means that your only choice in this matter is to reduce the number of open connections at any given time to a value that lies below Sandvine's limit.

I think we all agree that this is not the most user friendly behavior considering that it effects all Bittorrent users not only those that download the latest movies, music and games.

There are however a few possibilities that I would like to outline to avoid Sandvine and use Bittorrent as usual.

1. Switch to another ISP

This is not easy. I hate switching Internet Service Providers because it could mean that I would have to be without Internet for some time. It could also mean that I would have to pay more or get less for the same amount of money. I would for instance only go back to ISDN if I would have no other choice.

You should definitely search for the ISP name plus a set of keywords such as Bittorrent, traffic shaping, port blocking to make sure that the new ISP is not using Sandvine or similar applications as well.

2. Use Relakks

VPN or SSH connections should work but do cost a few dollars a month. The good thing about those services is that you are not only able to avoid traffic shaping like that of Sandvine or other applications but remain completely anonymous in most cases.

This is probably a better way than to switch to another ISP immediately. I would suggest to try it out for a month and see if the speed that you get is sufficient and that it is indeed working as intended against Sandvine and other traffic shapers.

3. Use a remote solution

Instead of downloading or uploading files from your own computer, you may use a remote service or computer for that. It usually costs money to do so, even though there are some solutions that do not charge extra for that. One is Stream Nation, a recently launched service.


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  1. Martin said on October 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    There is another service that I will try out in the future, it is http://www.swissvpn.net/

  2. TheBox said on October 19, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I tried HTTP-Tunnel v4.4.4000 (the paid for service) and uTorrent v1.7.5 the other day from work (multiple firewalls). Downloading seems ok but seeding seems to be a problem. uTorrent port forward test fails (through HTTP-Tunnel).

    HTTP-Tunnel is more like a local proxy through which applications can be configured to access the internet from a remote location (USA) where-as with Relakks all traffic passes through the VPN and connects to the internet from Sweden.

    Maybe I’ll give Relakks a try.

  3. OLIRC said on September 21, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Or use Utorrent and encrypt traffic see http://www.utorrent.com/faq.php#Does_.C2B5Torrent_support_Protocol_Encryption.3F so your ISP can’t use traffic shaping as he can’t see the traffic.

  4. piceone said on August 29, 2007 at 2:57 am

    yo happy bday dude…u doin good things on ghacks……keep it up!

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