Why Is uTorrent Killing My Internet?

Written by marie cartwright
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Why Is uTorrent Killing My Internet?
Slowed Internet speeds are a common symptom of file sharing. (network cable image by .shock from Fotolia.com)

UTorrent is a popular torrent-sharing software, used by file-sharers worldwide. However, at some point, many users experience a noticeable decrease in their Internet speed while using this program. Uou can alter your uTorrent usage to make your browsing Internet run faster.

It is important to note that there are many artists, musicians and programmers who use file-sharing programs such as uTorrent to distribute their creative materials. However, there are also many who use these programs to illegally share copyrighted materials. Before downloading a torrent or uploading your own, make sure that you have legal permission to share that file.

How Torrents Work

What makes torrents special is the way in which they are downloaded. Instead of downloading a full file from one source, a torrent simultaneously downloads portions of that file from multiple users. Downloading a single torrent requires your computer to connect to several different computers.

If you've used uTorrent before, you'll have noticed that your download speed greatly increases with the number of "seeds" (complete torrent files) that are available. The fewer seeds, the longer it takes to download. Your download speed increases with the more file sources your computer connects to. This is good for your torrents, but bad for your overall Internet speed.

Limit Your Downloads

It is common for file-sharers to select multiple files to download at once. Given the need for torrents to access multiple sources, it quickly becomes obvious why this can slow down your Internet. If you're downloading twelve files, and each of those files have 10 seeds a piece, that's 120 connections your computer is making. If you yourself are a seeder and have uploaded files to share, then chances are that other computers are downloading from you as well.

The simplest way to ease the strain on your Internet is to stick to downloading only one or two torrents at a time. While this can make some file-sharers impatient, it's the best way to ensure that you're not clogging up your Internet with dozens of connections. Torrents also tend to download faster if they are downloading on their own.

Tweaking Your Global Connections

Within the Options>Preferences menu on uTorrent, you can instruct the program to only accept a maximum number of global connections, as well as a maximum number of connections per torrent. This can help both your download speed and the overall speed of your Internet. There is great debate amongst uTorrent users as to what the ideal global connection limit is, but it depends on your computer and what sort of Internet connection you have. Start by limiting the connections to 120 and experiment from there. Some users say that this amount makes their download speeds too slow, while others may go as low as 20 connections. Only you can determine what the right balance is for your machine.

Leave Your Torrents Alone

Another solution is to let your torrents download while you are away from the computer. Doing other things on the Internet while your uTorrent is running just adds to the bottleneck of connections. This is particularly true if you're doing things such as watching streaming video or playing online games.

Some file-sharers combat this problem by only running uTorrent while they're away from the computer. They may line up their downloads before they head out to work or leave their computer running while they sleep. Torrents can take a long time to download, so if you're concerned about your Internet speed, it's best to find a way to pass the time that doesn't involve using the Internet.

Shared Networks

For those of you who play online games, it's likely that you've heard the following phrase from a teammate experiencing a slow connection: "Hang on, I think my roommate is torrenting." If your computer is on a shared network, then the number of connections slowing down your Internet increases exponentially. Before downloading a torrent, check around to see what the other Internet users in your house are doing. Not only will doing so help you to find good times to download your torrents, but it's also a courtesy to those whose connections you may be slowing down.

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