What Is a Bit Torrent Tracker?

Trackers manage the transfer of peer-to-peer files

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BitTorrents have a bad reputation because they have been used for piracy, but they aren't illegal in themselves and they have lots of legal uses, including downloading open-source software or public domain files. A BitTorrent tracker is server software that centrally coordinates the peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer of files among users. 

About BitTorrent Trackers

BitTorrent Tracker software serves up torrent files for download from a website.

The tracker maintains information about all the BitTorrent clients using each torrent. Specifically, the tracker identifies the network location of each client either uploading or downloading the P2P file associated with a torrent. It also tracks which fragment(s) of that file each client possesses to assist in efficient data-sharing between clients.

BitTorrent clients connect to a tracker when they log on to the server to work with torrent files. The tracker notifies the client of the P2P file location, which is normally on a different, remote server. If the BitTorrent tracker fails or is taken offline, clients are unable to continue sharing P2P files. The tracker normally uses TCP port 6969 for network communications.

BitTorrent Tracker Software

There are several BitTorrent software programs on the market. Before you download, check that the one you like works with your server and platform.

They include:

  • qBitTorrent is lightweight but efficient tracker software. It doesn't have all the features of some other tracker software, but most people don't need all those features.
  •  BitTorious is open-source software with an integrated web-based management portal.
  • OpenTracker is free open-source software designed to be fast and to consume few system resources.
  • BitStorm is a tracker that is written in PHP. It doesn't require a database server and runs on any PHP-compatible web server.
  • Hefur is a BitTorrent tracker written in C++.
  • Vuze tracker software has been referred to as "ridiculously full featured." This makes it a bit bulky and resource heavy, but if you want all the bells and whistles, Vuze delivers.