Grauw’s blog

I have received quite some comments since I initially posted about my BitTorrent clients review article. So, I’ve added a little nuance, and updated the article per the comments that people have given and closer inspection of certain issues that were raised.

In particular, the review of Azureus is now slightly less dismissing and hopefully better succeeds in explaining why I really really don’t like it. Some fanboys were getting really upset about that, many getting to the point of insulting. Pft. Azureus is a mess, even though it may contain a lot of features that you don’t need. I have tried to use it several times, I didn’t like it, and that is that. Period.

My choice of G3 Torrent as the runner-up also caused some comments, and I indeed found it had some issues I initially hadn’t discovered/known about. However, it turns out that it has been continued under a different name, Rufus, with the main issues that it had fixed. So I have updated the review accordingly, and Rufus is now my second choice instead of G3 Torrent.

Finally, please remember that I am not looking for a client that can do everything. Instead I’m looking for a client for the average user, that is easy to use, and does what I need.

You can read the full review here:

» BitTorrent clients review

Grauw

25 comments [reply]

Comments

More about Azureus by Grauw at 2005-10-16 15:40

sixshot posted an nice reply on the µTorrent forum, which explains very well why Azureus is not a good client. I think he makes a good point:

Azureus gets its popularity due to the incredible amount of features it has. The client has a queue system, seeding priority, bandwidth controls, torrent creation function, personalized tracker, auto-update, and lots others. People can be blinded from the truth about Azureus in that most people won’t need to use the features that it has. Yet development continues on without any sign of stopping or slowing. The client is written in Java and as a result has some form of cross-platform ability. Funny... Python originated in the ‘nix/BSD world with cross-platform in mind. There’s even Python for OS X. Due to the client written in Java, you need the Java Runtime Environment in order to run it. Depending on your setup, that’s an additional download. And since it runs in Java, the Java Virtual Machine is run in order to process the client’s Java byte-code. That consumes memory. And because it is a Virtual Machine, that’s a heavy process and consumes CPU cycles.

Many do not realize that some of the simple features, while a few possibly found only in Azureus, exists in other clients. As such, people blindly follow the word of the herd and use it, never realizing that they’re making their computer choke and suffer. The client is good, feature-wise. But its popularity and its numerous features became the client’s drawbacks and downfall.

about windows xp sp2 tcp/ip patch by Matt at 2005-10-16 21:56

you mentioned in one of the bit torrent client installs a patch for windows sp2 for the tcp/ip limitation. basically, from what i’m assuming by the title of it, its a patch taht allows more than 10 outgoing connection simultanously. SP2 limits this to 10 per port and thus p2p traffic is substatally hurt (connections that are waiting to connect, are connecting, or just ended also fall under the connections limitations so it can easily occur). A good way to over come this sp2 ‘limitation’ is to download the tcp/ip patcher from http://www.lvllord.de/ (mirror at http://mitglied.lycos.de/lvllord/download-mirror.htm). It allows you to change the max outgoing connections beyond 10, i prefer 50 or 100. Beyond that you’re really opening yourself up to being a huge worm spreader if you happen to be infected by some sort of worm. Before sp2 windows was virtually limitless in terms of max outgoing connections, so going from that to 10 is a HUGE change. Once you patch the tcp/ip.sys file it tells you to restart but its not nessicary. Also hit cancel if it says one of the windows system files has been changed (obviously.. since the tcp/ip.sys file needs to be edited). It allows you to easily revert back to the previous tcp/ip.sys file through “uninstall” in the command prompt.

I highly recommend it and i hope you pass this on to people in the article... could really change teh speed of torrent downloads if enough people know about it.

-blisk

also.. by at 2005-10-16 21:59

you can see if the limitation is hurting your speeds (if not maybe you alraedy have this patch installed by another bit torrent client) by going to adminstrative tools in control panel and looking through the event manager. should see something called EvID4226 which is the error code/event id when that 10 max outgoing connections on one port limitation has been hit by an application.

more info found here in the FAQ:

http://www.lvllord.de/?lang=en&url=4226patch/faq

by rp_guy at 2005-10-16 22:50

it is not 10 outgoing, it is 10 half-open requests which is fixed in bitcomet

I don’t think installing it is a good idea, then... by Grauw at 2005-10-16 23:30

Ah, thanks for the info. Interesting, I now understand what it does.

Large amounts of half-open connections are caused by viruses, and Microsoft is trying to slow them down with this limitation. For a regular program, that will hardly ever happen, however for peer-to-peer software, that is different because it makes a lot of connections, and it tries to make them to potentially difficult-to-reach or offline users (causing a connection to stay half-open until it times out).

But it is only for half-open connections. This is what Microsoft says about it:

The TCP/IP stack now limits the number of simultaneous incomplete outbound TCP connection attempts. After the limit has been reached, subsequent connection attempts are put in a queue and will be resolved at a fixed rate. Under normal operation, when applications are connecting to available hosts at valid IP addresses, no connection rate-limiting will occur. When it does occur, a new event, with ID 4226, appears in the system’s event log.

Two things to note in particular in this text: it only limits outgoing incomplete connections, and the connections that are attempted while the limit has been reached will still be made.

So this is still a shortcoming for BitSpirit, in two aspects: first because it tries to install the patch without explaining why, and second because the real fix is to just make sure you never hit the limitation by postponing opening new connections when there are 10 or more still in progress. This is probably good anyway, because it reduces the amount of connection requests at once.

Because of that, I also don’t think I should be recommending people to install this patch. You are basically disabling a security measure that Microsoft rightfully added to its OS.

I’ve updated the part about BitSpirit in the article with a small note containing more information about the patch.

Yes, I see them too :) by Grauw at 2005-10-16 23:56

p.s. I looked in my event log to see if those 4226 events showed up on my computer as well, and they do, but only a couple of times per day. So I think Microsoft balanced it out quite well. Surely they were also aware of p2p applications when implementing this security measure, and considered them…

So to say that the limitation is hurting my speed… Given the conditions that are needed for the limitation to become active, and this practical ‘research’ in my own event log, I don’t believe that is the case. It’s probably something that is pulled out of proportion.

Anyways, everyone thanks for the interesting information and thoughts :).

BitTorrent for Dummies by Travis Smith at 2005-10-17 01:22

For those looking to learn more about BitTorrent in general, the first BitTorrent book is now available, BitTorrent for Dummies, ISBN 076459981X, (Amazon http://tinyurl.com/e4xp3 ).

There’s a companion Web site that’s growing up into a substantial resource about BitTorrent: http://www.BitTorrentForDummies.com/
It’s a news hub, a how-to and a book update, all in one.

Hope this helps.

TTFN
Travis

mainline by bitmaster at 2005-10-17 03:54

I’ve had the best experience with Bram Cohen’s original client.. http://www.bittorrent.com

he knows bittorrent the best, and offers the fastest client with a no-nonsense UI.

the beta version has tons of languages AND a search box... pretty nice

µTorrent by yingjai at 2005-11-03 13:33

wow... I’d have to say µTorrent was a great find indeed. thanks! i finally have something to replace azureus with.. i did try their ‘extensive’ sets of plugins and just found that the more i added, the slower it became ontop of the already slow gui.. Rufus came in close with µTorrent, but i just didnt get the feel for Rufus as something seemed odd in my opinion. I used to like ABC a lot, until I kept receiving the problem with the client freezing, which is the reason why i switched to azureus.. anyway, just wanted to say thanks!

re: µTorrent by Grauw at 2005-11-04 01:30

Heh :). Glad you like it too!

µTorrent 1.2 by Grauw at 2005-11-10 04:01

For the ones who interest it, µTorrent 1.2 just came out, and it now supports Mainline DHT (trackerless torrents) which seems to be a popular feature. Along with a slew of other improvements.

Hey by John at 2005-11-16 08:44

How come Bit Tornado was not reviewed? It is just as good as the other Bit Torrent clients out there if not better I find it to be a bit unfair.

BitTornado by Grauw at 2005-11-16 23:50

Hi John,

As you can read in the article, the reason BitTornado was not reviewed was because of requirement no. 1.

Either search for the term ‘BitTornado’ or look here.

I don’t have anything in particular against BitTornado, in fact I’ve used it a long time through TorrentStorm which was a UI wrapper around it, but as the text explains I just think a single-window-per-download user interface is not very convenient, and thus it was not interesting for me to review.

It is not just a matter of convenience by the way, one of the real disadvantages is that in such a multi-window environment usually the torrents can’t have a single incoming port, which makes it a hassle to configure or sometimes even impossible if you’re using a router or firewall.

reading and responding to your “BitTorrent clients review” by Ian at 2005-11-25 14:52

Hello, I found your post through P2Pweblog. I actually never heard of Torrentstorm, Rufus(G3), Arctic Torrent, BitSprit, and ZipTorrent. I first started using the bit torrent system after using KLR and found too many fake files. First using the original torrent app thru Bram, had no idea how to use it, then moved on to ABC, which i stayed faithful for about a year. Moved to Azurerus while a friend told me it was the “next thing”, but hating to use Sun Java i tried it and found it rather ok; although it did have too many options. Then within a week i used BitComet, Bit Tornado to U Torrent back to Azureus to BitComet and finally i’ll stick with U Torrent with the patch and because i like the DHT enabled. Now with Mr.Gates using “windows genuine advantage” scheme it was like looking for a crack for norton appz lol; so i bought my first xp pro disc. However with SP2 about “limiting the number of connections/second” i started using http://www.lvllord.de/ a patch to increase your TCP/IP connections im not sure if it increased my download by much. I’m wondering that in the future that there would be a patch program that u can enable/disable and keep it on my desktop when im not downloading. I do like the Random ports each time u log in, but not crazy about that utorrent dont have an installer. I changed my high speed connection of 3MBs to 6 MB/s, and i would have hoped that i would like to have hoped to have my usual 150kb/s increased twofold, so far my chances with that theory have been crippled. Having no xp with programming, and i have to add you have a rather a quite intelligent nack for downloading and the such, a pat on the back to you. I wouldnt mind finding a more indepth look in Utorrents when u go to Options>Preferences>Torrent Options with the “number of connections, and que settings as to what is a desired preference for optimum performance. Well its up to you to reply with whatever u want whenever u want but i found your review rather interesting and was glad to read it. While living in canada, p2p so far is legal, but i still use PG2(PeerGuardian2), im wondering if pg2 binds a limit to my downloading. when it comes to searching for a torrent i mainly use torrentspy and mininova but since finding out another neat way type this> filetype:torrent = [search term here] and it will pull up a number of already found torrents on what your looking for! Anywayz, i just thought i would reply an tell you my story, theres nothing like downloading illegally when u can do it on the net than stealing it from a store, lol take care

XP SP2 patch, advanced settings by Grauw at 2005-11-26 16:48

Hi Ian,

With regard to the ‘lvllord’ patch for Windows XP SP2, with µTorrent it is not necessary to use this patch (which disables a security measure in XP SP2). It automatically avoids the security measure, in fact, that’s exactly what the ‘number of half-open connections’ option you mentioned is for. Increasing that number will not improve the performance of Bittorrent, it is only limiting the half-open connections, so there is no limit on the total number of opened connections.

There is an item in µTorrent’s FAQ which describes the advanced settings. Note that the default settings are already set for optimal performance, and you normally do not need to modify them.

BitComet by Joeshmoe3 at 2005-12-12 17:48

Just a heads up on BitComet. I have been using BitComet for about a year know and really love it, however there is a major flaw with the program. The DHT flag is not checked in private mode and therefore it has been banned by my main torrent site(they say others are starting to ban as well, but that is unconfirmed by me). As a side note BitLord is also being banned, although I’m not sure if it is for the same issue or not.
Great site and will try utorrent.

BitTorrent by OndrejSc at 2006-01-03 10:00

BitTorrent now has one-window-for-all-downloads user interface, so I recommend you add it.

NAT Traversal? by GDP at 2006-01-04 20:23

As far than I can see only BitComet is a client fully NAT Traversal (‘cause UDP contact feature).
Unfortunately it seems to be banned by most torrent sites... do you know other clients that have UDP NAT traversal? Thanks...

BitTorrent and NAT by Grauw at 2006-01-09 16:58

OndrejSc, thanks for the heads up. I’ll put reviewing the official BitTorrent client on my TODO-list.

GDP, I don’t really know about that. I suppose BitComet is able to traverse NATs with UDP using the STUN protocol, but that’s not supported by µTorrent or any other client that I know of. Most clients (including µTorrent) do support UPnP however, which is also used to do NAT traversal. This will only work when your router supports UPnP though, but most modern routers do.

What will this increase? by markon at 2006-04-22 11:08

> Increasing that number will not improve the performance of Bittorrent

It do not exactly increase speed of download, but it increase speed of torrent start-up. To get full speed of download at high bandwidtch connections (4Mbit and more) it could take up to 30 minutes. But with this it will take up to 5 minutes to get to full speed of download.

I don’t see how by Grauw at 2006-04-28 21:36

Well, I think that’s not true, just an urban legend. People are already biased to start with, think it should help, try out one torrent, and it might just coincidentally be a little faster than they remembered and they immediately assume it indeed does help.

But as torrent speeds are very variable, and we’re talking about reasonably long durations, I don’t think there are many people who have really based their opinion on solid evidence, just perception.

Technical rationale: connections are made in matters of seconds, even fractions of seconds. Only during that time is a connection half-open. So to make 50 connections in a torrent, with each connection taking an average of 2 seconds, it should take only ten seconds at the most for all connections to be established. Even with longer connection times, we’re still talking about maybe a few tens of seconds here.

So I do not see a technical basis for this slowing down the torrent to such an extent.

Also, I have a 100mbit connection, and I never experienced such problems with download speeds as you mentioned. 5 minutes is pretty normal for a torrent to get up to speed (as far as you can talk about a torrent’s ‘speed’, as it is always variable).

BitTorrent 4.20.2 by TorrentMaster at 2006-07-04 22:07

i think BitTorrent 4.20.2 deserves a mention here. much more features than version 4.4.1,and with a nice interface too.not much features,but thats good for people looking for simplicity.its reliable,fast,and ive used it until very recently when i switched to uTorrent. ive tried BitLord(rubbish)BitTornado(fast,but the interface isnt arranged nicely and it looks rather plain)BitTorrent(awsome client,though lack of features)and of course uTorrent(the best client for windows in my opinion).BitTorrent has never let me down. version 4.20.2 deserves a mention methinks. mike

BitCommet is unstable by CyberSan at 2007-05-26 10:07

Just my $0.03 – i have started with Azureus, then after a year i have switched to BitComet 0.85. Few weeks ago i have upgraded it to 0.87, but it is VERY unstable compared to 0.85, so now it is gone

Is it safe to change TCP IP.SYS? by Therock at 2008-03-13 05:26

Hai Grauw, iam particularly knew torrent somewhile ago and just learning that these TCP IP things would hinder connection speed. If i download the patcher and change the limit to 50, how do undo or uninstall if i want to return to original state( which is 10 limit connection)? Can i change more than 50 limit?
Thanks btw and hope to hear you soon

Re: Is it safe to change TCP IP.SYS? by Grauw at 2008-03-18 19:25

Hi Therock,

I wouldn’t say it’s unsafe to change the limit, however I don’t think it gains you very much. Microsoft placed the restrictions there for a very good reason, so it’s not good that some sites/programs encourage you to remove them. Most torrent clients like µTorrent throttle the half-opened outgoing connections to make sure you don’t hit the Windows limit, and many people who have never changed their operating system settings are using Bittorrent without issues.

How to undo the changes depends on the patcher, whether it offers an undo or uninstall option (let’s hope it does!). If not, worst case you have to manually dive in the Windows registry or system files to undo it. Obviously I am not familiar with those tools, because I did not modify my system in this way :).

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