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BitTorrent for Beginners: Share Large Files Using Your Own Private Tracker

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Want to share some large files with a few friends, but worried about how you’ll keep the file transfer private?  Here’s how to use uTorrent as a simple tracker and share files privately with your friends.

Note: this is the fourth part in our series explaining how BitTorrent works—be sure and read the rest of the series, where we explained what BitTorrent is and how it works, how to create your own torrents, and then how to protect your privacy on BitTorrent.

Image by nitot

Preparation: Find Your Public IP and Configure Your Router

Before we begin, we’ll need some important information.  First, you’ll need your external IP address.  A very easy way to find this out is to visit WhatIsMyIP.com.  You’ll see your IP address in a large font in the format XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX, and you’ll need to copy that down.

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If you have a DNS service like DynDNS.com, you can use your DNS redirect URL instead of your IP address.

Next, you’ll need to find out which port you’re accepting incoming connections on, whether it’s open or not.  Open up uTorrent, and go to Options > Preferences.  Click on the Connections Tab on the right.

Connections Pane

Next to where it says “Port used for incoming connections” you’ll see your port number, so copy that down.  We need to check to see if that port is open so leave uTorrent running, go to the uTorrent Port Checker, plug in your port, and submit.  If all is good, you should see something like this:

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If not, you may need to make some changes to your router configuration.  Lastly, we need to  enable uTorrent’s built-in tracker.  In uTorrent’s preferences, click on the Advanced tab.

bt.enable_tracker = true

Click on “bt.enable_tracker” and change the value to True.  Then, click OK and restart uTorrent for the changes to take effect.

Creating a Private Torrent

Now that everything is configured and we have all of the important information, let’s create a new private torrent.  Go to File > Create New Torrent.  Essentially, you’re adding your own IP address and port as a valid tracker, as in this screenshot:

New Torrent settings

As you can see, we put our information under the Trackers section in the following format:

http://ipaddress:port/announce

http://localhost:port/announce

The “localhost” portion is a reflexive reference which tells uTorrent that whatever computer it’s running on is also a valid tracker.  Make sure that Private torrent is also checked off.  This prevents sharing of the torrent using other methods such as PEX and DHT.  Now, unless someone has the torrent you created, they cannot download your content.

For some added security, you can force encryption on outgoing connections.  Go to Options > Preferences, then click on BitTorrent.

Outgoing Protocol Encryption = Forced

Next to “Outgoing,” choose Forced and uncheck “Allow incoming legacy connections.”

A few important notes:

  • uTorrent MUST be running in order someone to download the torrent from you.
  • Your IP address must not change during seeding (sorry dial-up users).  If you have a DNS redirect, then things should work fine.
  • Your port must not change during seeding.
  • If you forced encryption, your friend’s client must be configured to allow encryption.

uTorrent isn’t powerful enough to create a full-blown tracker, but it does work well on a small scale and in our tests it seeded to 10 people without any issues.  It’s perfect for sharing files with some friends without using a public tracker and sacrificing your privacy on both Windows and OS X.  While Transmission doesn’t have this functionality built-in, we’ve heard excellent things about running uTorrent in WINE so our Linux users aren’t left out, either.

Don’t forget to check out our other articles in this series:

And, of course, share your own tips and experiences in the comments!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 11/1/10

Comments (15)

  1. Elizabeth

    this is awesome ! I was using Dropbox to send my files however, files over 2gb, I had to pay for the extra
    gigs.. now I don’t ! I also wondered how these folks sent files via this torrent system :)

    I have but one question: I set up my first torrent via your instructions but what how do I share the file
    with my friends ? In other words, how do they find my files ?

    I appreciate you and all you do to continue to teach me the ways of the world,,,,,,technology !!

    Elizabeth

  2. ION

    Very useful now I’m read to share some files.

    @Elizabeth I think the answer to that would be that you need to send
    the torrent file to any friend you want to share the files with.

  3. rafi

    or you can use opera unite, simpler easier and straight from your opera browser..

  4. f

    how can we print this article ,I mean any chance of printable version.

  5. Elizabeth

    Hello ION and Rafi :)

    I don’t know how to send to them directly…..do you ? Rafi, you mentioned “opera unite’ so I will download
    Opera and read up on it and hopefully I will have sent my first torrent :-)

    @f I printed the pages of the article by doing a print view, shrunk it a bit then printed the tutorial pages.
    I don’t think there is a printable pdf version, but then again, I could be wrong :)

    Ok I’m off to check out/download Opera (it’s the only browser I don’t have). Will come back and post a success message or more questions (smile)

    I appreciate you ION and Rafi for taking time to respond to my message :) have a wonderful evening !

    Elizabeth

  6. Roi

    @f
    You can use this javascript function below that will make this page into a readable/printable version
    Just copy and paste into your address bar while on this page and press enter.

    javascript:(function(){readConvertLinksToFootnotes=false;readStyle=’style-newspaper';readSize=’size-medium';readMargin=’margin-wide';_readability_script=document.createElement(‘script’);_readability_script.type=’text/javascript';_readability_script.src=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/js/readability.js?x=’+(Math.random());document.documentElement.appendChild(_readability_script);_readability_css=document.createElement(‘link’);_readability_css.rel=’stylesheet';_readability_css.href=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/css/readability.css';_readability_css.type=’text/css';_readability_css.media=’all';document.documentElement.appendChild(_readability_css);_readability_print_css=document.createElement(‘link’);_readability_print_css.rel=’stylesheet';_readability_print_css.href=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/css/readability-print.css';_readability_print_css.media=’print';_readability_print_css.type=’text/css';document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(_readability_print_css);})();

  7. Miguel

    The article does not say how do I distribute the torrent to my friends. In theory is supposed to be a .torrent file that they upload in uTorrent to start downloading.

    Can you show how to do that? Thanks!

  8. Miguel

    Ignore me, how to create a torrent is shown in another session that somehow I skip. Now I have everything I need to share our files with all the friends. Great job, thanks!

  9. Miguel

    One last question: how about how to add authentication to my tracker, so only people registerd can download data? As it is right now if I create a torrent using my tracker and that goes to the wild, everyone can download its data. Can you show us how to do that?

    Thanks!

  10. tralala

    Whatever you do on p2p, first of all: install and enable ipfilter.dat in your p2p software!

  11. ceejayjackson

    GREAT INFO!!!!!! Is there any way I can print this?

  12. tle_new@windowslive.com

    @f
    You can use this javascript function below that will make this page into a readable/printable version
    Just copy and paste into your address bar while on this page and press enter.

    javascript:(function(){readConvertLinksToFootnotes=false;readStyle=’style-newspaper’;readSize=’size-medium’;readMargin=’margin-wide’;_readability_script=document.createElement(’script’);_readability_script.type=’text/javascript’;_readability_script.src=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/js/readability.js?x=’+(Math.random());document.documentElement.appendChild(_readability_script);_readability_css=document.createElement(‘link’);_readability_css.rel=’stylesheet’;_readability_css.href=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/css/readability.css’;_readability_css.type=’text/css’;_readability_css.media=’all’;document.documentElement.appendChild(_readability_css);_readability_print_css=document.createElement(‘link’);_readability_print_css.rel=’stylesheet’;_readability_print_css.href=’http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/css/readability-print.css’;_readability_print_css.media=’print’;_readability_print_css.type=’text/css’;document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(_readability_print_css);})();

  13. Paul

    @f and @ceejayjackson: In file menu select: File, “Print to PDF…”, a great add-on in Firefox.

    @Roi: I copied, I pasted, I pressed Enter … nothing!

  14. astral_cyborg

    Great article. I have one question about the private tracker thing. The actual server the torrent sharing through the utorrent application is our PC, which is running it or a uTorrent server (for example the utorrent.com domain), which provides that support through the uTorrent application?

    PS. DropBox rules generally. I highly recommend it, too.

  15. Sagara

    hmm nice guide but i hav some questions..

    does this method is some like similar to FTP, that is because my local speed is 2x faster than my external internet speed, so i would like to know if I share a file with a friend in the same country will i get 2x speed or speed will be the same?

    +1 @ astral_cyborg

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