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Is my ISP throttling my torrent downloads?

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First the essentials;

Bitcomet 1.20


Thomson Speedtouch 330 modem

Win XP (SP3)

Win Firewall

AVG (free version)

ISP: Tiscali/TalkTalk - up to 8mb/s

Over the last 2 days I have noticed that my torrent downloads have slowed down to a trickle (0<->10kb/s) despite many seeds. On 23 may 2010 i downloaded the torrent http://isohunt.com/torrent_details/14624207/photoshop+cs2?tab=summary at an average speed of 350kb/s. Today i tried to download the same torrent but been getting download speeds of ~1-4kb/s depsite many seeds. I have seen the same behaviour with other torrents from jaybob.

I then tried another test suggested by another post in Bitcomet forum and that was to download Open Office as a torrent download from Open Office.org. The download speeds for this torrent were 'normal'i.e. 400kbps.

If my ISP is restricting torrent downloads, is it possible that it can select specific torrents or torrent hosting sites for restriction whilst allowing others without restriction?

Speednet.net test results show speeds fluctuatiing between 1.2 mbps to 5.4 mbps. The Glasnost results suggest that my ISP might be hindering torrent downloads:>

"1 out of 3 Bit-torrent transfers on port 6881 failed to download any data. It seems like your ISP hinders you from downloading BitTorrent traffic on port 6881 to our test server. "

Before I contact my ISP with my concerns, is there anything else that I can do to confirm that my torrent downloads are being blocked?

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Port 6881 is a port well-known BitTorrent port which many ISP may be monitoring for BitTorrent traffic.

You can change your port to a port from the ephemeral range (above 49152) and see if you get the same behavior. You can also try using encryption on the BitTorrent traffic (activate it from the Options page) and see if you still get the same behavior.

If an ISP really wants to throttle P2P traffic, there are sophisticated tools which will allow it to do so, pretty much regardless what measures you take. But many of them just use some feeble means such as monitoring some specific ports or monitoring for certain protocols.

So, you should try these first. If you still get slow speeds on BitTorrent, then only after that you can talk to them.

But make sure first that your client has all the proper settings (an open listen port, general upload speed capped to 80%, and that you don't run simultaneously more torrents than your upload speed allows), that is, make sure that it's their fault that you get slow speeds and not yours.

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If an ISP is throttling, they're generally throttling all traffic and not specific torrents, or even each torrent. So if the OO torrent is unaffected, the issue is probably elsewhere.

Having a lot of seeds is no assurance that a download will be fast. Indeed, it's nearly irrelevant, given that the vast majority of most of your downloads comes from other incomplete peers like yourself and not from seeds.

When you have a speed issue, check first the trackers to see if you are getting through, or there's an error message. Check next the peers to see how many you're connected to and what % they have. Don't forget to look at the health! Check to see that you're getting REMOTE peers, or that your listen port shows open.

Check all of the issues that you know about, that might affect your speed, and all the things Wiz mentions. Definitely change your listen port, no sense making an easy target of yourself no matter what.

Throttling is not that common and is generally made very clear to the customers, under the guise of "fair usage" or some silly thing like that -- like bandwidth was water from a well and they're only pumping it instead of creating it. Throttling also has a different profile when it happens - you're still transferring, but not trickling, just slower than you can account for, like 50% or 35% speed instead of full speed. Something like 2% or 5% is not a throttling profile.

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Thanks for all your comments. I did try different ports and changed encryption settings but alas nothing worked.

However, before I decide to investigate the settings within Bit comet again, I want to report that whilst I was waiting for a response from the Bitcomet forum, I decided to download uTorrent and run it with its default settings. To say I was pleasantly surprised was an understatement. I found that all the torrents that were downloading extremely slowly in Bitcomet, raced ahead in uTorrent with download speeds of 250-350 kbps!.

Unless you have any further advice/guidance on how to proceed from this point, my current impulse at the moment is to uninstall and re-install Bitcomet to see if this solves the issue.

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If you reinstall, then you should do a clean reinstall. That is, make sure that the BitComet folder is gone for good from the Program Files folder. Make sure that you export your Task List first and copy the \torrents folder to some backup location first, if you don't want to loose all your current tasks.

If it turns out to work ok after reinstalling, then after testing a while you will be able to restore the Task List back.

But if you simply reinstall, and don't set up your client properly, that may mean that you still won't get maximum download speeds.

You haven't told us anything yet about the settings I've mentioned in my previous post. They are paramount for a proper working client.

If µTorrent worked well out-of-the-box for you, it's most probably because of its uTP protocol which manages the exact settings I was talking about.

Unless you give more info on your settings (or some screenshots of the Statistics and Peers tabs) we're going pretty blind here and can't draw any further conclusions without knowing more facts.

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I have attached 3 docs with screen shots of some of the settings in Bitcomet. I havent a clue why Bitcomet is running so slow with most torrents. Again, I used uTorrent to download a torrent which downloaded at 350-400kbps whereas the same torrent task in Bitcomet was downloading at speeds 1- 20 kbps.

Hopefully the screen shots will shed some light. Also I found that uTorrent uses 53514 as the listening port.

In addition I have found BitComet a bit top heavy/ cpu intensive whereas uTorrent is quite light.stats_summary_scrnprnt_bitcomet.doc peers_trackers_scrnsht_bitcomet.docconnection_bitTorrent set_bitcomet.doc :blink:

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As I said, you need to limit your Global Upload Rate to 80% of your tested upload bandwidth (beware that BitComet uses as most BitTorrent clients kB as a measuring unit and not kb or Mb as your ISP). (You don't seem to even have read or understood my previous recommendations).

Therefore, you need to test your connection (repeatedly at different daytimes if possible) and come up with an average upload rate which you'll use as a base starting point for your calculations. You may use this guide to follow detailed steps on setting up the Global Upload Rate.

It's not a difficult thing at all once you got the hang of it, but for the first time, you should take your time and read through it once.

Also, based on what you say about your connection "up to 8Mb/s" I infer that you're speaking about your download maximum.

Therefore, if you have a typical ADSL link you'll have about 1Mb upload, which is waaaaaay too little to be running 48 simultaneous downloading tasks (unless you download from some private trackers, where you may have lots of seeders and few peers but even then you'd stretch even your download bandwidth too thin).

This thing added to your unlimited upload setting can bring your client to your knees very easily. As you can also see in the guide above you should use the next math for your running tasks: when you divide the Global Upload Rate between the number of running tasks the upload speed per task should never go below 8-10kB/s.

The bigger your max available upload speed for every task, the higher speed you may obtain; this setting alone can't guarantee you that (there are other factors involved, as well) but you open the door for the possibility to obtain it.

One thing is sure, if you won't have a minimal upload speed of at least 8kB/s per torrent available, you're almost certain to get very low speeds (or none at all) on most of the torrents (all the peers will gradually choke you and find better peers in your stead so you'll be left trading with no one).

So, to sum it up:

  1. Cap your global upload speed to 80% of your tested upload speed (use a site such as dslreports.com or speedtest.net and make sure your speed is transformed in kB before multiplying with 80%).
  2. Make sure that you run only that many simultaneous torrents (seeding and downloading) that your upload setting can bear (for your connection type I'd say maximum 3-4 but you'll get maximum speeds with 1-2).

After that see how it works.

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I am not a tech wizard but I know when something isnt right. As far as I can recall, when I was on Bitcomet 1.19 things appeared to be fine. Its when I upgraded to 1.20 and then 1.21 that I began to notice the very slow downloads. Up until now I have never had to fiddle with the settings.

I decided to clean uninstall and reinstall Bitcomet 1.21 and removed all the tasks. However when I tried to download a previous torrent task that downloads at 400 -500 kBps with uTorrent and approx. 350-400 kBps with Bitcomet 1.19 a few days ago, I was still getting speeds of approx 2-6Kbps. This is the ONLY task in the list. My previous screen shots showed a list of tasks - but all of these had been set to stop.

I then - as per your advice - capped my global max download to 500 kBps (from average download speed = 5.21 Mbps)and uploads to 30 kBps (from average upload speed 0.36 Mbps). I also set the simultaneous download tasks to 3. I did see an apparent improvement where the download cycled between 2 kBps to 150 kBps. Still slow compared to the 350-400 rate i saw a few days ago with v 1.19 and yet there are plenty of seeds >48.

I might be thick but what I dont fully understand is why I can get very fast downloads with uTorrent when its global max download and upload settings are set to unlimited (i.e. not capped).

At the end of the day I want a product that can be used straight out of the box. For some reason, whether its a bug in the new versions or the settings within Bitcomet, it has stopped behaving as expected over the last few days. If uTorrent can provide me with an 'out of the box' solution, why should I keep fiddling with Bitcomet?

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µTorrent uses their newly implemented uTP protocol which manages the bandwidth exactly for avoiding the need to manually cap your upload bandwidth.

That's why you don't need to limit your upload rate anymore with µTorrent. The previous versions of µTorrent (prior to the introduction of uTP) had the same need to limit the upload speed as BitComet and as all the other BitTorrent clients out there.

If you like µTorrent better and are content with the way it works for you, there is no one saying that you shouldn't keep using it instead.

I was merely trying to answer your questions and find a solution to your problem but I'm not in any way trying to persuade you that you should use BitComet and only BitComet.

Nevertheless, I've been using BitComet for a long time and updating as soon as every new beta or release came out. Although I may have encountered other minor bugs that I've reported back to the development team, I always have got and I am still getting speeds as high as my connection allows, with BitComet.

That is to say I've never had speed issues of this type. And there are tons of other users which can corroborate that. If you say that you get max speeds for Open Office or Linux distros and slow speeds only for certain torrents, then this seems a bit odd.

I don't want to infer anything further without seeing or knowing the results of more thorough tests upon this matter.

As I said, if µTorrent seems to get the job done for you, then by all means keep using it.

Just out of curiosity and for testing purposes, could you PM me with the links (or the info-hashes) to some of the torrents which don't work for you in BitComet but work well in µTorrent. I'll post them invisibly here, for all of the staff who want to be able to try them and see if we get the same slow speeds you get.

I for one, certainly should be getting speeds alike since I'm using the last version of BitComet. Since I have µTorrent installed as well I should be able to compare speeds in both clients too.

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I have no trouble with either link. BitComet connects and starts downloading at maximum speed for my connection on each torrent. The issue doesn't seem to be BitComet itself.

The way your system and your network connection are currently configured, µtorrent's default settings seem to work well for.

But when version 2.3 comes out and it automatically upgrades you, who knows? If you change ISP's or get a different system, who knows? You can try switching to Vuze then, I suppose, but sooner or later you're going to run out of clients to switch to.

I mean, c'mon. First you said it was your port. It wasn't. Then you said it was your ISP throttling you. It wasn't. Now BitComet itself or something about those torrents, but they work just dandy for me. You have to configure any client properly, just like you have to trim a sail or tune an engine for best performance. If you don't, things won't work so well, but it's never the sail's fault.

It's not so terribly difficult to configure a client, and doesn't require vast, arcane technical knowledge. It does require adjusting to some highly variable things that only the person setting it up for THIS system and THIS connection, can know or do, so no default setting is going to work well for everyone.

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I NEVER said that it was my port - I NEVER said that it was my ISP throttling - I NEVER claimed that it was this or that !

I was merely flagging up an issue I was experiencing and looking at potential causes.

As for configuring bitcomet or any other client for that matter, if you don't know what to do and are new to this then it does become a challenge.

I suggest that you get off your high horse and become more humble with your advice otherwise you hinder more than help- you smart asre

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I suggest that you get off your high horse and become more humble with your advice otherwise you hinder more than help- you smart asre

Surfings69, there is no need to get upset. Keep in mind that your being helped by volunteers who freely offer their time and professional training to support a FREE product. We aren't Microsoft who earns billions of dollars a year, yet many will agree we have a better support system to help members.

I think the point kluelos was trying to make is that we have eliminated all these suspected causes, and eliminated that it is a bug in bitcomet by testing these torrents with multiple staff members downloading them. We have gone way over an beyond the limits of offering advice, and I seriously doubt you'd find uTorrent support offering to do as much.

Regarding your problem, I have a couple ideas. uTorrent is a very simple, very lean program that uses few resources. It's designed to do only one function, download torrents. BitComet does much more, so if we have eliminated the possibility of settings being the cause of your poor performance, I'd suspect it's related to system resources. If your ram memory and/or cpu time are becoming maxed out, any program will basically "fall on it's face" (so to speak). Since uTorrent doesn't do as much, it can run using less resources.

When downloading OpenOffice, your connecting to seeds from a commercial server, so you getting at least a few connections that are sending you a great deal of bandwidth. In traditional torrents you will get less bandwidth from each connection and need much more connections, so this could be maxing out your available resources.

Regarding uTorrent. If you get BitComet and uTorrent running to their optimal levels, you will get the exact same speeds form both on convential torrents, because the speed will be limited by your internet connection, and the peers you connect to, not by your torrent client. However since you run mostly public torrents, bitcomet has the advantage of being able to find you sources via LTseeds, http/ftp and emule sources, which utorrent cannot. This could even allow you to complete download of a "dead" torrent that would never download with uTorrent, and in turn, you could then seed this torrent to others, allowing other peers to complete a torrent that previously had no hope of completing.

Regarding uTorrents utp protocol. This will only effect connections between peers who use it. Example: if your using uTorrent 2.xx version, then any peer with uTorrent 2.x will use utp, others will use tradition tcp or udp.

This new protocol is NOT faster. In ideal conditions it can perform upto the speed of tcp/udp. The only time you will see it cause a speed increase is when using a poorly tuned client that is unable to reply to connection requests due to no available bandwidth.

Adjusting your client to your internet connections abilities isn't a hard thing to do. An experienced user can do this in a few minutes, and even a novice can follow one of our guides and do a very good job of this in less then an hour, much less if they are efficient.

Regarding Protocol Encryption. Its good to enable it, but if you use it set to "always/forced", then you cannot connect to peers that don't have it enabled, or are using clients that don't support it. Use always/forced settings only if your 100% sure your isp is throttling bittorrent traffic.

Regarding bitcomet version. If version 1.19 worked better for you, then I'd recommend you use it. It is impossible for our developers to test new versions on every possible combination of hardware and software, so you may have a combination that is causing a problem.

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Thank you for your comments. Regarding the comments that kluelos made, I was upset with the manner and words he used when apparently 'advising' me.

The point I was trying to make was that experience can sometimes tempt one to act 'smart'. To be a good 'teacher' one must temper this occasional compulsion and work within the students sphere of experience without making them feel 'dumb'.

Regarding version 1.19 , I cant seem to find a download. So far every download which suggests that i am getting version 1.19 turns out to be version 1.21.

Is it possible for you to provide me with a link for version 1.19?

Many thanks.

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I've checked the two torrents you gave us (I've made your post invisible so that only staff personnel can read it).

They both downloaded at 500kB average, which is the top of my connection's capabilities (4Mb/s). My OS is also XP SP3.

Therefore, I can confirm that it doesn't seem to be a general issue/bug related to BitComet. I'm not sure why it's happening only to you. If you set a cap on the upload speed, have an open listening port and don't run too many torrents (downloading and seeding) at once then all the basic conditions for getting top speeds are fulfilled.

It may be the particularities of the software installed on your machine that conflict somehow with BitComet or use the bandwidth behind your back or something else. I can't tell for sure.

But they worked perfectly for me. No great fluctuations in speed or other visible problems.

If you wish to go further with experimenting, then you could try and install another copy of the OS on a different partition and install only BitComet to test it on a brand newly-installed system and see if you still get this issue. Because IMHO it's almost definitely related to your computer's software configuration.

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I went back and installed versions 1.19 and 1.14 and tried downloading the Open Office torrent OOo_3.2.0_Win32Intel_install_en-GB. This time download was almost non-existent.

I then installed BitTorrent 6.4 and saw the same very slow downloading behaviour with this torrent. I also installed BitLord 1.1 and saw the same slow download pattern.

However, uTorrent 2.0.2 continues to download this torrent and the ones previously posted at speeds of 400-500kBps. No issue with slow speeds with uTorrent.

I then decided to install Vuze and saw similar download speeds for these torrents as with uTorrent.

I haven't a clue why uTorrent and Vuze would or should show different download behaviour.

Not sure if it would be worth my time to partition my hard drive and install BitComet there unless for purely academic reasons.

In the end the issue either lies with a software conflict between Bitcomet and my system and/or some form of ISP interference. However I found it strange that BitTorrent and BitLord behaved similarly.

I guess the options available to me have been decided by experiment. I wish that I knew why Bitcomet, BitTorrent and BitLord have stopped functioning as expected.


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Still cannot make BitComet download any faster. Keep trying with the Open Office torrent for 3.2.0 version. The fastest download speed that I have achieved with BitComet and this torrent has been ~ 80kB/s.

Also BitTorrent did eventually (after about 5-7 mins) begin to download the OpenOffice torrent at >500 kB/s. uTorrent begins to download the OpenOffice torrent at >500 kB/s within 1 min.

Other Info: Not sure if this adds anything to the potential solution but the seeds and peers stats for BitComet, BitTorrent and uTorrent are as follows for the Open Office 3.2.0 torrent

BitComet: seeds/ peers - 30(200)/ 30(1086) port 19241

BitTorrent: seeds/ peers - 50(900)/ 1(232) port 55814

uTorrent: seeds/ peers - 48(887)/ 2(234) port 53514

Turning off the windows firewall did not seem to make any significant difference with BitComet.

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Another suggestion which just came to my mind.

If you still feel like it, you could try and boot up from a Live Windows CD (a Windows version which runs from CD/DVD and doesn't need installation) and use a .zip version of BitComet (which doesn't need installation; you can just copy it on the HDD and run it).

This way you won't have to repartition your HDD or install another OS.

You'll still have to make a Live CD (if you don't have one or can't get your hands on one) but I guess there are tutorials on the net on how to do that.

That is, if you still feel like getting to the bottom of this. I wish I had more detailed help for you but this seems like an issue closely related to your system's software configuration and one need to really be able to get his hands and eyes on it in order to troubleshoot effectively.

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If I'm not mistaken, the recent version of Bittorrent client ARE uTorrent. Bittorrent Inc purchased uTorrent Inc back at about version 1.6.x, and shortly after they installed a new skin on uTorrent and relabeled it as bittorrent. (correct me if I'm wrong about this)

Also, if memory serves me right, talk/talk isp was notorious for interfering with p2p. This may no longer be the case, but a couple years ago we had a huge number of complaints about them.

Regarding BitLord client. This is a hacked version of bitcomet .57 I believe, or .56, and is very outdated. I wouldn't even waste your time testing with it.

As for why you suddenly are having poor performance even with a version of bitcomet that performed well before is a mystery to me, but you may find the easiest way to fix it is to reformat your drive and reinstall windows. Personally, I prefer diagnosing and fixing problems, but most technicians prefer to reinstall windows. You know exactly what has to be done and it requires no thinking if you fix problems this way. I do have to admit that can sound attractive at times.

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Thanks for your thoughts- i would like to get to the bottom of this but I am a bit concerned that I may not have sufficient tech know-how to create a live windows CD - but willing to try.

The other suggestion mentioned was to create a partition on my HDD and run the program from there. However, I dont know how to do this. I have tried XP Disk Manager but this wont allow me to create a partition on my HDD. I have also tried Easeus Partition Master professional and this also wont allow me to create a partition. From what I can gather, in order to create a partition on a HDD that already has an OS installed or has data on it cannot be partitioned unless you re-format it.(??) Somebody else has suggested using Acronis Disk Director.

Any help on this would be appreciated.

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You can use Paragon Partition Manager or Symantec Partition Magic (there are others of course, I just used these more). Acronis is known to be good as well. They don't need to re-format your drive.

If you only have a single primary partition (with the OS installed on it) you'll have to use the "DOS mode" or whatever equivalent the program you'll use has. That is, the program needs to restart your PC and boot an minimal OS image on which a minimal special created version of the application can run (with graphical interface as well).

From there you'll be able to repartition your disk (granted you have enough free space on the HDD). You'll need to resize the actual partition and in the free space resulted you'll create another new one. There is always a possibility that something will go wrong, therefore a backup of the OS and all important files, is mandatory.

I won't even mention now that running the OS on the same partition you use for data storage is a not very smart idea.

OTOH if you have a different partition which you use for data storage then it's a lot simpler. All you'll need to to is resize the partition, then in the free space created you can create a new primary partition on which you'll install the OS. But you might need a boot manager installed as well, if you want to be able to switch between the two OS-es. I can't remember if XP updates the boot files for all the installed copies of Windows so that you won't need a third party bootmanager.

But you'll be able to do all this running the program from Windows, without rebooting in "DOS-mode" if you work on partitions others than the current system partiotion.

If you're not very comfortable with this and don't feel like experimenting, the other solution I suggested might be easier.

There are tons of tutorials on the net for creating a Live XP CD. Look what Google returns for "how to create live xp cd".

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I just wanted to make sure that you know the reason for creating a new partition isn't just to run bitcomet from it, you will need to install windows in this new partition and boot to this newly installed windows in order for the test to be valid.

I think it's always a good idea to have at least two versions of windows running on a PC. This allows you to use one to fix the other, and gives you a quick way to get your computer booted up if your operating system becomes unusable for whatever reasons, but what I think your going to find is that bitcomet runs well on your system with the new windows installation, leading you right back to the initial problem with your system, which you can either diagnose, replace (reinstall windows), or simply ignore.

If it was my computer I would consider reformatting the harddrive after forming three partitions, one for primary windows installation, one for secondary windows, and the third for data storage.

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Many thanks for all your suggestions. If I feel brave I might do both: create new partition with another XP installed on it and a live windows CD.

I have 3 HDD's: C with XP and apps on it including storage of data, back up drive for storage of data (using SyncBack between this drive and C drive), and media drive for photos.

Will let you know the outcome.

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