BitTorrent Apps, download speeds and Port Forwarding

Mac BitTorrent Apps

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a little new to BitTorrent. I’ve known about it for a long time, but I never really used it until the other day. I didn’t really know what to expect.

In my last post I also mentioned a great article over at that has a nice introduction to what BitTorrent is, so I won’t go over that again here. I will concentrate on BitTorrent applications, download rate, and a good lesson I learned about Port Forwarding.

There are several BitTorrent applications out there for the Mac. In my testing I looked at Transmission, Bits on Wheels, and the “official” BitTorrent application… simply called, BitTorrent.

First, there’s Transmission. It is by far the simplest of the three. It’s very straight forward, with no frills what so ever. I actually found it to be a little too simplistic, lacking some of the basic features, like the ability to differentiate between peers, and seeds. I would recommend not using Transmission until it progresses a little further.

The second is BitTorrent (the official app). If you are looking for a basic application, that has all the functions that most users will need, without a lot of clutter and confusing extras… this is the app for you. It has one feature that I like that is missing from the other two, the ability to specify the amount of time that you continue to seed after your download is complete.

The third, and by far the most feature packed, is Bit’s on Wheels. Although I personally like all the extras, and variety of ways of viewing the data, this one may be a little overwhelming for the casual user. It’s definitely geared a little more towards the geeks out there.

All three apps performed about the same when it came to speed. I didn’t see a noticeable difference between them. Choosing between them really come down to features and ease of use. I personally am torn between BitTorrent, and Bits on Wheels. I like the different views provided by Bits on Wheels, but I really like the timed seeding feature of BitTorrent.

Port Forwarding
This next bit is for anyone who has their computer hooked to a router. When I downloaded my first BitTorrent files, they were INCREDIBLY slow. I knew that the speed was partially dictated by how many seeds and peers there were, but it seemed like something was wrong. I was correct. Because my computer accesses the internet through a router, my BitTorrent application was not communicating very well with other peers. I needed to activate port forwarding on my router. The two bits of information you’ll need to do this are the port your app is using (many default to 6881, but check your apps preferences to make sure), and the IP address of your computer (you can find this in your network system preference).

Most routers are configured either through software that came with the router, or through a web interface (browser). Since they are all a bit different, I can’t tell you exactly how to access the feature. But basically you need to login to your router, then look for an item called “Port Forwarding”. Once in that section you should see a field for what port you want to forward (enter the port your app is using), and what IP address you want to forward it to (the IP address of your computer). What you are doing here, is basically telling the router that any requests that come in for that port, should be redirected to your computer… allowing for better (and faster) communication. This may sound a little complicated, but if you are comfortable tweaking your routers configuration, it should be a snap to do. You should notice a sizable bump in speed, considering you are connected to enough seeds and peers.

1 thought on “BitTorrent Apps, download speeds and Port Forwarding”

  1. It might also be a good idea to change the port number, since some ISPs are slowing down traffic over the default port (6881). Change it to something like 7885-7895.

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