What do you think of when you hear the word “BitTorrent”? For a lot of people, the word connotes illegal activities. But if you ever need to lawfully host a large file for others to download and don’t have the bandwidth to let them download it directly, BitTorrent—which reduces the strain on your own hosting by allowing users to help upload the file at the same time as they download it—is a great way to distribute it. Here’s how you can create your own BitTorrent file.
1. Download uTorrent
First off, you’ll want to grab the torrent client uTorrent (www.utorrent.com) for the purposes of this demonstration. There are plenty of other methods you can use to create torrent files, but this is our preferred method. Once you have it installed and open, click the File menu and select Create New Torrent (below).
2. Configure Your Torrent File
You’ll start by selecting which file or directory you want to share with the world (below). If you opt for a directory, you can select to exclude files using three different wildcard parameters: an asterisk (matches any text of any length), a question mark (matches any character), or a vertical pipe (used as an “or” statement). So, to use an example, excluding files that match “maxim?m*|*PC” would remove anything from the torrent file that starts with “maxim?m,” where the question mark is any potential character, as well as any file that ends with the letters, “PC.”
Just below the Skip Files box, the Trackers field is both self-explanatory and mission-critical (below). uTorrent automatically slaps the trackers for OpenBitTorrent and PublicBitTorrent in place for your ease-of-use. Both of these sites’ trackers are completely free, though the sites request that you don’t use their trackers to distribute copyrighted works—which you aren’t doing anyway. Neither site features an index, so other users won’t be able to download your torrent file and connect to whatever it is you’re offering. If you’re looking to get your files distributed across a wide spectrum of people, find an indexing site, submit your torrent to its listing, and use its tracker instead.
If the file or directory you’re looking to share happens to have an http mirror, feel free to enter that in the Web Seeds box—the full file path for a file, and the directory path for a directory. This will allow users to download chunks of the file from your hosting server rather than from other users, when needed, which will keep your swarm (the group of people downloading and uploading the file) buzzing along smoothly.
Don’t adjust the “piece size” number, as recommended by the uTorrent crew. If you’d like to keep your files from being automatically searched for by others—in case you upload a file that you suspect has a common hash tag already shared within the BitTorrent world—then check the Private box to disable DHT. (DHT is the decentralized distribution system that allows peers to find new seeders to download from without the need of an actual torrent tracker.) And, finally, click the “Start seeding” button if you want to immediately seed your file or directory after uTorrent creates the torrent file.
And there you have it! Click “Create and Save as” to make the file, then distribute it however you see fit—as more people begin to take note of your share, your connections will rise, and you’ll feel a general sense of accomplishment for having fed the hungry Internet community with whatever it is you sought to give them.