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 themselves aren't illegal. In fact, they have many legitimate, legal uses, including downloading open-source software and 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

qBittorrent - Free Torrent Software
qBittorrent. © The qBittorrent Project

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 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 among 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

Several BitTorrent software programs are on the market. They include the following.

qBittorrent - Free Torrent Software
qBittorrent. © The qBittorrent Project
  • 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 screenshopt
  • BitTorious is open-source software with an integrated web-based management portal.
  • BitStorm, written PHP, doesn't require a database server and runs on any PHP-compatible web server.
Hefur screenshot
  • Hefur is based on C++.
Screenshot of the Vuze torrent client
  • Vuze 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 is a good choice.

Before you download BitTorrent software, check that it works on your server and platform.