Just call me a downloadin' noob. I didn't hear about ImageShack's new BitTorrent hosting service until late this weekend--too late to sign up for an account and give it a whirl, alas. But in case you're slower than I about all-news-BitTorrent, I'll give you a quick run-through.
In a twisted sense of irony, given how much the company hates less-than-legal message boards and what-have-you, ImageShack is currently beta testing a new free BitTorrent downloading service. If it works, it promises to be quite a dramatic improvement for downloaders like me who are stuck purveying their Linux distributions and other wares across crappy Internet connections. Here's the deal: instead of downloading and seeding the various chunks of a specific .torrent at your house, you let ImageShack's servers do the work for you. Upload or link a .torrent to the site, and ImageShack will seed and distribute it, not you. Once the file reaches 100% capacity, ImageShack cuts off the Torrent and gives you a download link to grab the full file, HTTP-style. Done and done! You don't have to leave your computer on for weeks to grab a file.
ImageShack's interface is as minimal as it is easy-to-use. Only you can't use it: the private beta is closed right now!
Of course, nothing's ever without its caveats. In this case, ImageShack comes with a pretty hefty Terms of Service. Use the service to grab any copyright files, and you've basically given the company fair right to release your personal data--in this case, your IP address and other identifying characteristics--to the po-po:
"However, ImageShack® reserves the right to release user information if user has violated the ImageShack® Terms of Service, if the user has committed unlawful acts, if the information is subpoenaed, or if ImageShack® deems it necessary or appropriate."
You're also bandwidth limited, so don't begin salivating at the thought of filling that new terabyte hard drive with a bigger (legal) movie library. Both ImageShack's servers and your personal download limit will be capped at 15GB. And, worst yet, everyone under the sun is trying out the beta service right now, which has led ImageShack to close testing to any new accounts. Still, a boy can dream of service-based BitTorrenting that converts your files to easy downloads at the drop of a hat.
But he doesn't need to.
I've been doing a bit of research, given my impatience with ImageShack's beta system. And I've come up with some results-- mostly paid-for, alas. But still, ImageShack isn't the only "torrent server" in the world, and if speeds are as important to you as they are to me, you might want to check 'em out!
At a mere $0.60 per transferred gigabyte, you won't break the bank using MrGigabit to download your files. That said, the service has a strict policy against illegal material, so tread at your own risk. Your own <$1 risk, that is.
It's not currently accepting new members, but you can submit your name to be added to LeaseTorrent's membership queue. It'll cost you at least three Euros per month for 5GB of disk space and one active torrent, with additional torrent streams (or extra 5GB chunks) coming in at approximately 1.5 Euros apiece.
If you want to go the Maximum PC do-it-yourself route, check out TorrentFlux. Slap this on a web server for instant GUI-based access to your torrent queue and downloaded files. The catch? While the program's free, you're own your own for the web server. Sneak a NAS box into your buddy's apartment, fire up TorrentFlux on an unused computer at work, or shell out some cash for a hosting provider. Up to you!
Speaking of torrents at work, I stumbled across a fun little site whilst searching for torrent servers. Head on over to BitLet for a Java-based BitTorrent downloading application. It's perfect if you're stuck in a setting that doesn't allow you to, say, install torrent downloaders. Or surf for lolcats. I digress.