From the vantage point of BitTorrent initial seed

Right now I’m the initial seeder for a fairly large torrent, which means that I’m the one who initially made it available for download on BitTorrent (and nobody else has a complete copy yet). I’ve been seeding for over two days now and many of the peers are just hitting 80% downloaded, meaning I’m almost done with the initial seeding. I’m using the Azureus BitTorrent client, and it’s interesting to look at the Peers tab for the torrent and see what the peers are up to.

BitTorrent seeding

The torrent contains eleven different files of equal sizes. Note how most of the peers have the first file completely downloaded. Some of them probably specified in their BitTorrent client that the first file in the torrent should get high priority. I do this on my own sometimes when downloading torrents, either because I want to be able to watch something before the whole torrent finishes, or I want to check out that the quality is good, and thus, the rest of the torrent is worth downloading. Enough other people had this general idea that the first file completed uploading well before any peer got to even 50% downloaded.

Another interesting thing to look at is how some of the peers are selectively downloading only some of the files from the torrent. This torrent I’m uploading is a compilation torrent of a whole season, some of which is available in individual torrents, so these people are filling in the holes in their collections. The second and second-to-last file, in particular, have been very hard to find on any of the public tracker sites (and indeed, I had to mess around on a private tracker for days to get them), hence why they are more popular than the other files.

One final thing to look for is the variety, of lack thereof, of BitTorrent clients that are in use. ĀµTorrent and Azureus are by far the most popular BitTorrent clients (not just in this torrent, in all torrents). The official BitTorrent client by Bram Cohen, which Azureus reports as “Mainline”, is severely outstripped by the clients that came later. It does make sense though. The official client was good for its time when it first came out, but it’s far been eclipsed by the likes of Azureus. I wouldn’t like going back.

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