Utorrent is a file sharing application. "File sharing" means copying files from other private individuals over the Internet. There is no central authority, but the Utorrent program contacts its counterparts resident on many computers around the world. It is these installations of the Utorrent client that implements the network. The only third party element is a tracker file. This gives the client the number of Seeds and Peers to display.
A file available for download is called a torrent. A tracker is a file on a server somewhere on the Internet, that simply lists all the owners of a copy of a torrent, listing their IP addresses. When someone wants to copy a file, they download a meta file for that torrent and load it into the Utorrent client. The client contacts the tracker listed in the meta file to get the list of owners of the file. A Seed is an owner of a complete copy of a torrent and a Peer is the owner of a partial copy. Utorrent downloads files in sections, called blocks. As soon as a downloader has one complete block of a file, the client contacts the tracker and registers itself as a Peer for that torrent. Once all the blocks of the torrent have been downloaded, the Utorrent client contacts the tracker and alters its registration to show that it is now a Seed. If the user deletes that torrent from the Utorrent client list, the program contacts the tracker again and removes its entry as a source for that file.
Seeds and Peers
The Seeds and Peers columns in Utorrent both have the same format. They each show a number, followed by another number in brackets. In each case, the first number is the number of seeds or peers to which the client is presently connected for that torrent. The number in brackets is the total number of seeds or peers reported by the tracker.
If there are Seeds or Peers available, why won't a file download? In an example where there are seven Peers and no Seeds, the chances of downloading the file increase if the report of the seven Peers appears outside the brackets. If the Peers column shows "0 (7)" this means the client found seven Peers listed in the tracker file, but is not currently connected to any of them. The Seeds column shows 0 (0) when there are no Seeds. This means no Seeds were found in the tracker file and the client is not currently connected to any Seeds.
Although Peers are reported in the tracker file, the Utorrent client may not be able to connect to any of them for a range of reasons. The Peer may be behind a firewall that blocks incoming connections and so the Utorrent client cannot make a connection to the Utorrent client holding the partial copy of the torrent. The tracker may be out of date. The owner of one of the partial copies may have deleted the torrent, but something prevented the Utorrent client from contacting the tracker to remove that entry. So there are not really the reported number Peers available. That Peers may be busy sharing the torrent with others and not have time for a new connection. All the Peers listed on the tracker might only hold blocks of the torrent that the downloading Utorrent client already has, and so it cannot download any more sections of the file.
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