Increase Download Speed of a BitTorrent Client

Download torrents faster by tweaking the program settings

What Is the Best Port for Torrenting?

NordWood Themes / Unsplash

Some torrent users commonly experience slow download speeds, and a number of factors could contribute to that problem. One possibly overlooked reason has to do with the ports on which the P2P traffic is operating. Since a particular BitTorrent port has to be open on both the router and the firewall to facilitate incoming and outgoing traffic, users who have both of these might not be using the correct settings to get the most out of their downloads.

Increase Download Speed of a BitTorrent Client
NordWood Themes / Unsplash

The issue is having a firewall that's blocking incoming BitTorrent connections that are needed to share files. Given the load-balancing and swarming nature of BitTorrent, clients unable to take incoming requests for uploads are usually allowed less bandwidth for downloads.

What Is the Best Port for Torrenting?

A torrent client sets up a network resource called a port that allows other BitTorrent clients to connect to it. Each port possesses a unique number called the TCP port number. The client normally associates the 6881 port.

However, if this port is busy for some reason, it will instead try successively higher ports (6882, 6883, and so on, up to 6999). For outside BitTorrent clients to reach the client, they have to be able to traverse your network through the port that the client is using.

The router and the firewall both determine whether or not this action is possible since both can be set to open and block ports. For instance, if the client has assigned port 6883 for uploading data but the firewall or router, or both, is blocking that port, traffic can't move through it in order to share torrent data.

How to Speed Up BitTorrent Clients

Most firewall programs let you choose which ports can be open and closed. Similarly, you can set up port forwarding on a router so that it will accept the traffic through the designated port and then forward those requests to the computer that's running the torrent client.

For BitTorrent, many home users set up port forwarding on the TCP range 6881–6889. These ports must be directed to the computer running the BitTorrent client. If more than one computer on the network might run BitTorrent, a different range like 6890–6899 or 6990–6999 can be used for each. BitTorrent uses ports in the 6881–6999 range only.

The router, firewall software, and torrent client all have to agree on the port that's used for BitTorrent traffic. In other words, even if the router and client software are configured to use the same port, the firewall could still be blocking it and preventing traffic.

Here are some ways to increase your torrent speeds:

  • Some ISPs throttle or block P2P traffic. If your ISP does this, use an online torrent client like so that the traffic is seen as regular HTTP traffic, not BitTorrent.
  • Stop your ISP from blocking P2P traffic by accessing the internet through a VPN service that supports torrents.
  • Your physical or wireless connection might be the problem. If you download torrents from a wireless computer, use a wired connection or sit in a room next to the wireless router to mitigate any signal degradation.
  • Low available bandwidth on the network is another reason for torrents to upload or download slowly. A limited amount of data can be uploaded and downloaded at any given time, and when the limit is reached, every device using the network experiences slow speeds. The only way around this is for other devices to stop using the network, or for the network to be upgraded to support more bandwidth.
  • Download only one torrent at a time. When several torrent downloads run simultaneously, each torrent downloads more slowly than if they were running individually.
  • If the torrent has a low number of seeders, there aren't enough sources from which to download the file. Look for the torrent elsewhere with more seeders, or wait for more users to upload the file so that you can download it.
  • A computer that's slow overall, and therefore also slow at downloading torrents, might be infected with malware or might need some of its running programs shut down to free up system resources.

Prioritizing torrents is one way to keep all your downloads running but keep one at the top of the list so that the client reserves enough computer power to download that one first. Most torrent programs support this feature.