More Technical Notes:

Azureus ‘sharing’ versus ‘seeding’

Results from a earlier torrents :

To arrive at what I reckoned would be the best way of making my media files available took some guesswork, trial and error. 

What follows is a story probably only of interest to sad geeks like myself, but I'll tell it anyway as some kind of personal catharsis...

There’s a confusion, maybe particular to ‘Azureus’, in the idea of ‘sharing’ a file.

Many of the ‘how to’ guides out there, quite reasonably, talk about what to do if you want to share files using BitTorrent. Even guides that specifically mention Azureus don’t especially suggest a difference between the idea of ‘sharing’ and the idea of ‘seeding’.

Intuitively, whatever BitTorrent client software you use, if you create a torrent, publicise it (i.e. tell the world about it) and open the torrent, then, because you’ve got the files already, you are, by definition, ‘seeding’. And, as far as most people would be concerned, that’s you sharing the files – ‘seeding’ just being a technical term for sharing.

However, Azureus has a ‘share’ menu option distinct from its ‘create/open torrent’ options. Azureus also supports its own tracker functionality (discussed further below).

Now, from what I can make out, it looks to me as if the ‘share’ option may be appropriate only if you are using Azureus as the tracker for your torrent, but not really if you are intending to use a public tracker.

With Azureus acting as the tracker this may not matter, you don’t necessarily need to open your own torrent, - other people should be able to connect via the ‘share’ process.

However, if the torrent was created with reference to a public tracker, then ‘sharing’ doesn’t seem to work. – At least, that’s what I found with my public tracker tests.

Anyway, partly because of the confusion around Azureus idea of 'sharing', and partly because I wanted to make the torrent available to 'Pirate Bay' website, - who insist on you using their (i.e. public) tracker, I eventually decided to release my first main torrent with reference to public trackers.

The intention was to use the following trackers: - Pirate Bay’s - Mongo56 -

As it turned out Pirate Bay wouldn't let me do this, - either as a result of intermittent problems they were having, or because my torrent broke one of their 'rules' (multi-tracker?), - it was difficult to tell. I tried a few tweaks, but eventually (after I felt I was starting to lose the will to live) - I abandoned them and just went with Mongo56 and Bittorent-Support. 

In theory, those two trackers (Mongo56 and Bittorent-Support) are all that the original main torrent (the one that used to be downloadable from the previous page before I updated it) should've been referring to.

In practice, if you saw reference to anything else, esp. (- Pirate Bay’s) or (- mine) then these were spurious references, and yet another example of the wonderful world of information technology. - Seriously though, I don't know how they would've got there, - If they were there (and I'm not saying they were for you - maybe it's just something I saw at my end) then I'm suspecting perhaps another 'quirk' of Azureus which maybe didn't let me properly delete previously referenced trackers, and which I haven't yet had the time or inclination to further investigate.

I didn't investigate it much further because the availability of the public trackers that I used turned out to be so unreliable that it severely compromised the first main torrent anyway. Clients with 'decentralised tracking' functionality mostly managed okay, but for everyone else the torrent was more often than not scuppered with the tracker websites down.

And so it was that I went back to the idea of releasing downloads using a private tracker.

Again, most of the guides out there tend to emphasise use of Azureus 'share' functionality for doing this. I thought would be quite authoritative so I tried to follow that.

The confusion here for me centred around notions like (as the guide said) "the torrent that you have just created is also called a 'Share' ".  I followed the instructions to the letter but I could not find any created torrent. I searched the entire hard drive and there was nothing.

I ended up deleting the 'share' and simply using Azureus regular torrent creation functionality (‘create/open torrent’).  Here you can specify whether you want the torrent to use a public or private tracker (i.e. private meaning using Azureus embedded tracker functionality). Using create torrent you can see a .torrent file as the end result.  It was then a case of right-clicking the seeding torrent to 'host' it (I know - more unnecessarily confusing terminology!) and that was it done.

I later figured that I could've maybe seen my torrent through the 'share' process via the tracker's webpage ( i.e. http://domain.i.chose:portnumberichose/ via the guide) and via the page I could've downloaded the torrent.

However, not only is this not very intuitive, it's not at all easy to do from behind my (Netgear DG834) router's firewall  - presumably because the IP address is (effectively) self-referential.

There might be a way round that, but anyhow, I reckon you also lose editorial control of your torrent not creating it yourself via the create torrent option and instead relying on the 'share' option, for example, you can't put a useful torrent comment in if leaving torrent creation to the 'share' process.


Earlier Technical Notes

Question Re. an Initial Test File - Sacred_Weeds_e2_Salvia_divinorum_pt1_v0.1.torrent:

Why didn't you use a public tracker?

The way I went with this with an initial test file was letting Azureus serve as its own tracker on one of my PCs. Some of the guides I read either glossed over this, didn’t mention it at all, or otherwise suggested that using a public tracker was the way to go.  - Another reason why I tried to use a public tracker with first main release.

Results from Initial Test File - Sacred_Weeds_e2_Salvia_divinorum_pt1_v0.1.torrent:

The first test torrent was submitted to TorrentSpy (torrent search website) and this soon resulted in a spike of activity. Connection by multiple peers was followed by a good number of seeds, and what looked like good download speeds.

However, an issue I had is that while this was happening, TorrentSpy’s ‘health’ statistics remained unchanged. They did not update to indicate that I was happily up and running. I checked this as long ago as 12 hours after submission, when I had 15 or so seeds, and 22 hours after submission, when I had 8 seeds.  I’m sure the unavailability of good statistics would put some potential downloaders off. It would be much more encouraging to see healthy stats.

This struck me as something of a catch 22 situation. With healthy stats encouraging more downloads, and more downloads in turn encouraging healthy stats, it seems like a good idea have a number of seeds and/or downloads going before submitting to TorrentSpy.

If you look at TorrentSpy’s latest releases page you’ll see that most newly submitted torrents have no statistics available. However, a few of them do have stats. I can only assume that ‘latest releases’ with healthy stats must have been publicised elsewhere first, for example, on other torrent search sites, before being submitted to TorrentSpy.

Bearing this in mind, I thought I would have a go at submitting information to Pirate Bay, thinking maybe the best way to go when I came to do full release would be to get something started elsewhere before TorrentSpy.

I tried, but Pirate Bay would not let me upload the initial test file Sacred_Weeds_e2_Salvia_divinorum_pt1_v0.1.torrent. It complained ‘Invalid tracker’.

If you’re with my story so far you’ll have read how I used Azureus’s own tracker function.

I appreciate that I could've simply created another torrent for Pirate Bay (and others) but I don’t want to have separate torrents unless I have to. I think that separate torrents would create separate ‘swarms’ – each of which would not perform as well as a single larger one.

For this reason I postponed my main release of the full download, – pending results from a second test torrent SW_e2_Sd_pt2. This second test torrent was created primarily for release on Pirate Bay, after which I announced it to some other search sites, then to TorrentSpy to see if could get it to start there with healthy stats.

As it turned out using a public tracker turned out to have no benefit with regard to the update of TorrentSpy stats. - Another reason I've in the end gone with Azureus own private tracker.