Iíve been meaning to write about this for a long time now but never found an Indian forum that had a high level of tolerance and an attitude open enough to permit discussion of this sort. TechEnclave seems like it wouldnít mind, so Iím going ahead and posting it here. It took a lot of effort to write everything Iíve written below, so please donít start flaming me without reading the whole essay. If, after reading it, you have something to add, some corrections to make, or even just want to participate in the discussion, please feel free to throw in your two cents. Any and all contributions are appreciated.
The following essay is intended to be used for educational purposes only. I discourage you from using it for obtaining illegal content from the Internet and anyone who uses the knowledge gained from this article to do so bears full liability for his/her actions. This article purposely excludes links to any of the sources mentioned herein. Please abstain from piracy.
So, what qualifies me to give anyone a speech on what to use and what to avoid? Loads and loads of experience. Iím a voracious downloader and have used pretty much every protocol known to humans, whether it be a smaller P2P network like Gnutella or the much wider in scope BitTorrent. Iíve downloaded from HTTP and FTP servers and Iíve downloaded from websites like RapidShare as well. The only thing I havenít used it UseNet and thatís because there is no way to try it out before paying for a subscription. So I like to think Iím a little more qualified than the average Joe and can be trusted to have good reasons behind my choices.
| Advantages: The argument in favour of BitTorrent is a pretty simple oneóitís all free. Given that a lot of people use these networks for acquiring paid stuff for free, it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that you pay for downloading those files. I mean, if I wanted to pay in the first place, why would I even bother with any of these networks at all? BitTorrent allows anyone to download a free client and use free public trackers to download files from.
The other pro-BitTorrent feature is the sheer size and scope of the network. Since BitTorrent is so huge, you can be almost assured that no matter what you search for, you will
find it. Even the oldest and most obscure bits of digital data can be found somewhere on BitTorrent, lurking in a corner, waiting for some seeders and leechers to come along (more on that in a moment).
Finally, the speed. If youíre one of the elite few who have memberships on pretty much every private tracker out there, youíre all set. Your downloads come in at the maximum speeds your connection can support and youíre a happy camper.
| Disadvantages: For every BitTorrent advantage mentioned above, there is a huge ďbutĒ. OK, maybe not for the part about it being free. BitTorrent is freeófree as in free beeróand there are no two ways about it. But does it really have the older and unpopular files? Technically, it does; practically, not so much. Sure, the files are there in the system but bereft of any seeders, they basically permanently lie on the brink of death. All thatís left of them is a small torrent file that keeps turning up in search results but is impossible for anyone to download anything using.
Speed. Yeah, thatís a joke. Sure, if youíre on a private tracker, youíre all set. But what if youíre not, like the vast majority of BitTorrent users? Public trackers are full of leechers and downloading from them is like an exercise in patience. And it becomes even lousier when you want to download larger files. All too often, people start downloading 4GB files at snail-like speeds, spend a week and gobs of bandwidth trying to download it, only to end up stuck at 94% with a useless file. Public trackers are an utter mess.
So just use private trackers, right? Yeah, good luck with that! Trying to get in on the private tracker game is an exercise in humility. After begging for an invite on hundreds of boards and being refused as many times as they try (please donít take any offense; Iíve done this myself far too many times in my life), a lot of people just give up on their dream of ever boarding the Internetís information superhighway. The worst part is how people expect you to have something to trade all the time, as if youíd be scrounging for an invite if you had any to spare.
And what if you do manage to get an invite, huh? On Indiaís crappy broadband connections with paltry upload speeds, youíll end up getting blacklisted from the site before you can utter the word ďtrackerĒ. BitTorrentís requirement that every user upload at least half as much as he downloads sounds good on paper, what with the obvious inspiring message about having a spirit of community and all that, but itís a pain in the rear in real life. The sad thing is that even if youíre not a leecher at heart (like me) and genuinely want to give back to the community, there is no way for you to do so if you donít have a good connection. There are hundreds to people from other countries with 40Mbps connections whoíre already seeding on private trackers all the time. Do you really think you stand any chance with your 512Kbps upload speeds? Short answer: No, you donít.
One other drawback of BitTorrent, though people do not take it seriously, is that itís much more prone to get you caught by the feds. If youíre using BitTorrent to download illegal content (and I in no way encourage anyone to do that), youíre far more likely to get caught than if youíre doing the same via RapidShare. BitTorrent uses a different port for its activities than your regular HTTP port and is much easier to trace. Of course, itís (thankfully) not a serious issue in India yet, but itís still something you should bear in mind.
Finally, the elitism! This is the worst part of BitTorrent. Iíve sorta already covered it under the private trackers and seeding requirement topics above, but itís such an important facet of my dislike for BitTorrent that it deserves an honourable all its own. If youíve spent time and effort trying to get into the private tracker game, you know what the attitude of the people whoíre already onboard the bandwagon is like. BitTorrent is like the real world and thereís a giant divide between the Ďhavesí and the Ďhave nots,í and until you spend years trying to get onto private trackers and figure out ways to maintain good ratios and make a few friends, everyone will keep treating you like the newbie you are and youíll feel disrespected and alone. I hate how self-important the ďin peopleĒ consider themselves in the BitTorrent world (and this comes from someone who has ratios of 1.69TB up: 1.56TB down on respected BitTorrent sites like TorrentLeech and HD-Bits, so Iíve been there and know what Iím talking about).
[A note about ďHTTPĒ: When I say ďHTTPĒ, Iím including all websites that form a part of it, like RapidShare, Megashares, MegaUpload, NetLoad, etc. and all the forums that help you find stuff to download from these websites.]
| Disadvantage (yes, singular
): It ainít free, at least if you plan to download files larger than 200MB or more than one file at once. If you arenít willing to spend at least about Rs. 300 per month, this method is not for you.
| Advantages: Freedom. Freedom from the requirement of having to upload anything, freedom from having to beg for invites, freedom from being treated like shit, freedom from the slow speeds of public trackersócomplete freedom to download stuff.
Hereís how it works: If youíre a casual downloader who generally only downloads files that are smaller than 2GB at a time, all you need to do is get yourself a RapidShare account. Then you need to sign up for a free account on a forum like Warez-BB and just use the search field to find whatever you want. If itís not on RapidShare, thereís a good chance it doesnít exist. Once you find what youíre looking for (which is a matter of seconds), just drag the bunch of links to the Speed Download icon (the program costs $25 as well) in your Dock to start downloading. (Windows users can use a download accelerator of their own choosing.) And thatís it. The downloads always utilise the full speed of your connection (specially if you queue more than a single file at once), support resuming if your Internet connection drops midway, and are simply painless. No uploads or invites requiredónothing. All you need is a RapidShare account, which you can even get for Rs. 200 per month if you know where to look.
If youíre a high definition addict, like me, youíll also need a Megashares account to go along with your RapidShare account, which will set you back by another Rs. 250 per month. After you have it, itís just so simple to download high definition content from the web, youíll wonder why you ever spent your precious time and effort trying to get in on sites like HD-Bits. There are other sites like MegaUpload and NetLoad but, frankly, if you have RapidShare and Megashares, thatís all youíll ever need.
So, yeah, for the best experience, you might have to shell out up to Rs. 500 per month, but is that really so much for what youíre getting? I, for one, can gladly pay that much for the amount of hassle it frees me from and time it saves me. And thatís not taking into account your dignity, which you pretty much give up when you choose to go the BitTorrent route. And how much are five hundred bucks, really? Theyíre the equivalent of one large pizza from Pizza Hut. For me, itís completely
Iíve been in the downloading game for several years now and switched to HTTP after so many years of trying to get BitTorrent to work for
me instead of against
. Iím genuinely grateful to the person who pointed me to HTTP and am hopeful that my article will enlighten some other enthusiastic downloaders out there as well. In India, we always value money over everything else. But quality comes at a price, my friends, and I urge you to try spending some dough to get decent quality, not just in this particular field but in all aspects of life. Trust me, your life will be better for it.
Feel free to chime in with your suggestions.
[P.S.: If you just absolutely cannot afford to pay Rs. 300 per month for the luxury of downloading stuff from the Internet, I understand your stance in favour of BitTorrent. This article is for people who can but donít because either they donít know whatís out there or do but are apprehensive about throwing in the cash. And although Iím thoroughly convinced about my choices and am sure itís the right one for at least 80% of the people seriously interested in downloading, different people have different situations and requirements to contend with and youíre free to disagree with me (as long as you do it respectfully).]
Update: Iíve re-appended a great chunk of the article that was cut off when it was edited by ĎDark Starí, assuming that it was a mistake on his part. Iíve let the colour stay at the forum default but changed the font back to the one I know if far more readable for lengthy articles. If the moderators want to edit something out, please feel free to do so but do tell me the reason behind it so that I know what the reason behind it was and can be assured that it wasnít done in error. Thanks