Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Are Web Seeds? [Tutorial]

BitTorrent has been around for a while and like every other technology, it has evolved and become better.  DHT, a form of decentralized distribution; Peer exchange, that allows a group of peers to share a file faster and so, several improvements have been made over the base protocol. One such feature called Web Seeding was implemented in 2006.

What are web seeds?

What seeds give the torrent client the ability to download torrent pieces/data from an http source in addition to the swarm. So if you have a file somewhere on the internet, you can simply add its link to your torrent. Now if the swarm is weak, the torrent client will fetch data from the http source. The advantage, of course, is that a publisher can create a torrent of a file which is already hosted on his server and not worry about seeding it full time, while the user can obtain the data directly from the http source or through the torrent. Either way, the user will get the data from the http source. However, if the torrent becomes popular and self-sustainable, the torrent client will fetch data from the swarm and only use the http seed for pieces which are not available or are deficient in the swarm.
This is a very good approach towards file distribution which can be used by artists, producers who distribute their content online. Using web seeds, they can keep their torrents alive for as long as their servers are up. A perfect balance between load-balancing and content availability.

So, what exactly are we doing?

We are going to upload the file we want to distribute in the "public" Dropbox folder, then use that file's URL as the webseed for a new torrent. Then shut off our computer knowing that our file is well looked-after and you will not receive a stern email from Dropbox.

How to get started

  • First, you need to get DropBox.
  • You need to be minimally familiar with torrents (we'll be using uTorrent).
  • That's it.

How to get it done

  1. Take the file you want to share and put it in the "public" folder of Dropbox. You may want to create a system of folder organization if you plan on making many different files available, just to help maintain your sanity. You will see the Dropbox icon in your system tray have a little blue cycle icon indicating that a sync is in progress.
  2. When the Dropbox icon becomes a green check-mark again, your webseed is ready. You can right click your file and select Dropbox -> Copy Public Link to get the URL.
  3. Open up uTorrent and create a new torrent. Select your file. Add any public tracker (For instance: Paste the webseed URL from step 2 into the Web Seed box. Do not check Private torrent. Click Create and save as... and wait as uTorrent makes your .torrent file.
  4. Done! Give your .torrent file to a friend or post it to a website for millions to see and you can safely shut down your computer to go to work (or whatever), it doesn't matter. Dropbox will seed your file for you, as long as there are no other seeds available. As soon as there are however, those seeders will prevent your Dropbox from being overwhelmed.
Signup For Dropbox here