What Are Web Seeds? [BitTorrent]

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.

How to use web seeds?

greenshot_2010-11-17_23-30-53Adding a web seeds to a torrent is very easy. If you’re creating a torrent in uTorrent, just add the http (or https or ftp) link to the Web seeds box. Only http, https or ftp links will work. Also, do note that if the torrent has just one file, you can add its http link right away. However, if it’s a directory of files, you can add the http link of the directory in the Web Seeds box and the torrent client will automatically append the file names. If the torrent has just one file, the file names in the torrent and in the web seeds can be different. However, in the second case, where it’s a directory of files and only a http directory link has been given in as a web seed, make sure the file names in the torrent and in the http directory are same, because the torrent client will simply append file name and if they don’t match, the file won’t be web-seeded.

Pro tip: Want to share a file through bittorrent but can’t seed for a lot of time? Host the file on Dropbox and add its public link (or directory link) as a web seed. Your torrent will be alive as long as Dropbox is up (which is always)

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 1 Leaked on Torrents

Hey, Harry Potter fans, don’t visit any torrent sites this week, the latest movie in the franchise, more specifically the second to last one Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 has been leaked on torrents.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which is set to premier this week on Thursday has apparently been leaked on torrents. However, it contains only the first 36 minutes of the movie according to Torrent Freak.

Released by the group iNK, the leaked copy is not a usual DVD screener. Yes, the watermarks and other screener features are there, but instead of the full film the leaked copy only covers the first 36 minutes of the highly anticipated release.

As you can see, this is more likely than not a leak created to create anticipation of the movie, which has earned billions of dollars for all it’s previous movies in the series.

All in all, leaking just 36 minutes of the movies will create a huge suspense among users who would want to watch the movie, and according to Torrent Freak, the movie is already being searched by thousands of users on BitTorrent sites.

If this leak was a controlled one, it looks like a good move by a movie studio who is playing on user anticipation and curiosity even before the movie has released. Leaking Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows before the movie even released and providing users with a view of what they can watch will in fact draw a few users out of those millions of leechers to the theatres, what say?

US Downloads Least Torrents, UK More, Germany Has Rapidshare While Asians Prefer Torrents, Online Movies and Direct Downloads

I read a recent report on one of my favorite sites on the state of how new users are being introduced to torrents. In that article, Torrent Freak stressed on how new people are introduced to torrents thanks to Google Search and now . Of course, that is a fact, but those results are more often than not based on trends, or in the simple language, what people are searching for more related to any topic. A classic example is a "how to" search on Google.

You have to note, that Google themselves are not promoting anything, these are just trends which are driven by local people and what they are searching for. I ran some tests in multiple countries using proxy IP addresses (not website which provide proxy services) which are very reliable and which I pay for to test several things in different countries to understand what people are searching for when it comes to movies and whether torrents are really being pushed so hard to new users.

Which country downloads the most torrents; or at-least searches for them; let’s take a look at it. Starting with US, where I did not need to use a proxy. I searched for the same movies Torrent Freak did and the results were different suggesting that people in US were more interested in reading a review of the movie rather than downloading it.

us_torrents_wall_street_money_never_sleeps

As you can see in the above image, people in US searched more for reviews of the movie rather than the torrents. Of course the torrent did appear in the wall street movie search.

Next up, I hit the United Kingdom through a proxy IP address and the results were alarming to say the least, considering that UK is considered second only to the US in several ways.

 

uk_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

Do you assume Canadians are safe enough to not fall to torrent downloads? Well think again after taking a look at the screenshots below. Once again the top search here was torrents.

canada_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

Next to hit was Europe. I did searches in Germany and guess what was popular there? You guessed it wrong. In these countries torrents were not the most popular means of downloading, it was RapidShare, a huge file sharing network which is known to host illegal movies and music. Considering that RapidShare has their base in Germany, this was not a surprise.

germany_illegal_movie_downloads

Next to hit up was Asia, a continent where most of the software used is illegal. So, did it fare otherwise when it comes to movies? Disappointingly no. Considering that I have lived in India for almost 24 years, I wasn’t really surprised with the results down there. But you can take a look at it for yourself.

india_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

pakistan_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

As you can see from the screenshots above. South Asian countries have more often than not found different ways to watch content illegally.  Though torrents are their biggest search, watching movies online and downloading content is also a big part of their plate.

Concluding

I am not saying that illegal download is only restricted to a particular country. However, in my experience I have found that developed countries such as United States watch or buy more content legally than other countries. It was surprising to see UK and Canada users searching for torrents on par with other developing countries though.

All in all, this was nothing more than just a experiment I intended to run to see who downloads torrents more and where. In the end it led to few revelations which I did not expect and things which I was already in the know.

If you have anything to say, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

Apple Approves Torrent App in the iPhone App Store

Apple has a set of very stringent (and at times, nonsensical) guidelines for the App Store approval process. Many apps have, in the past, been rejected for ridiculous reasons. One category that Apple has always steered clear of approving for the App Store has been BitTorrent apps.

The BitTorrent protocol isn’t illegal, but it is the most common method to download pirated videos and music. There isn’t a single Torrent client on the App Store.

However, this week, the BitTorrent based app “IS Drive” was approved by Apple and added into the App Store. It is available for $4.99. It allows you to check and manage the downloads in your ImageShack Drive account. It also shows screenshots of completed video downloads.

IS Drive App StoreIS Drive App Store

The developer, Derek Kepner stated this in a interview with TorrentFreak: “I’m on dangerous ground here, and I know that. I’ll probably add a search feature where it’s up to the user to manually add the torrent site they want. The app will not be designed to easily break the law and I hope no one intends to do so. But if a user is determined to break the law, what business is that of mine or Apple’s? They could do the same in Safari anyway, right?”

“I always had the thought that if I didn’t call the app a torrent client, Apple would probably let it through the review process. After all, there is no real torrenting happening on the client side. It’s *not* a torrent client. It’s an ImageShack Drive client”

“Plus, I didn’t see any reason for the app to be rejected in Apple’s recently released guidelines. So, I was very careful with this release to not use the dirty word torrent’, and I’ll continue to carefully add new features, so stay tuned.”

IS Drive – App Store

The Pirate Bay Hacked, User Database and Admin Panel Accessible

This is exactly what the RIAA has been praying for years and today, it has finally come true. ThePirateBay, the most stubborn and still going strong torrent and file sharing website has finally been hacked by a group of Argentinian hackers.

The hackers attempted SQL injection vulnerabilities and have claimed access to the user database and admin panel. The compromised user data includes passwords, usernames, IPs and email addresses. However, the group has claimed that it intends no harm to ThePirateBay. It made this attack as a proof-of-concept only. This goes only as far as proving that there are exploitable vulnerabilities.

One of the hackers in the group, Ch Russó who also happens to be a malware researcher claims that,

As any other website, as any other system or mechanism, www.thepiratebay.org has robust parts and soft spots. We beleive that the people behind this comunity always acted with the local laws on their side, and so have we. The community caused problems to huge companies and corporations which turned into threats between this companies and them. What we have done, we did not do it with anger, or for commercial value. As always, we saw the change, the moment and decided to take it. The protocol or procedure done to achieve this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

The page following the link above also shows a video highlighting the hack process.

However, members on ThePirateBay need not worry. Ch Russó has assured that the information gathered from the hack will not be leaked to any authority by any chance.

The vulnerable component has been removed from ThePirateBay now and it is back to security. However, the homepage currently shows this message:
the-pirate-bay-hacked
Update 1: In a totally unrelated event, Demonoid.com is performing a hardware upgrade now which is confusing people even more.

(Via: Softpedia News)

The Pirate Bay: Finally Silenced by Hollywood, But For How Long?

The Pirate Bay is suffering a temporary downtime from some time now.

the-pirate-bay-down

The Pirate Bay as we all know is the world’s largest BitTorrent  search engine. It has been the target of Hollywood studios from ages and now finally, they have found out where to hit so that it hits hard.

An injunction against The Pirate Bay Traffic provider, CyberBunker operator CB3ROB Ltd. & Co. KG from the Regional Court of Hamburg has forced the routing provider of The Pirate Bay to stop routing traffic to their website servers.

The injunction was filed by Disney Enterprises and Paramount Pictures in association with Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros.

Though, this is not the end of The Pirate Bay and they have already claimed that they will be back sooner than we think. The Original news source on this, Torrentfreak, writes saying,

A Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak that they are not planning to wait for a decision from the Cyberbunker team, and that they’ve already set the backup process in motion which will bring the site back online. The Pirate Bay’s servers are untouched and getting the site up and running only requires the routing (IP-tunnel) to go through another provider.

The actual location of The Pirate Bay servers is still a mystery and is expected to remain so for a good long time.
(Image Via: Santuario)

Most Popular Torrent Sites for 2009

2009 has been a mixed-bag year for most torrent hosting websites and torrent trackers, with several being sued, several going legal and several shutting down completely. However, the sites still did well considering the traffic that they served up during the year. Surprisingly, The Pirate Bay (TPB) is still #1 torrent site of the year, with an estimated daily visitors of approx 4.5 million users and page views amounting to more than 26 million per day.

Here are the top 15 torrent sites of the year 2009:

  1. thepirartebay.org
  2. torrentz.com
  3. isohunt.com
  4. mininova.org
  5. btjunkie.org
  6. torrentreactor.net
  7. torrentdownloads.net
  8. monova.org
  9. extratorrent.com
  10. btmon.com
  11. kickasstorrents.com
  12. vertor.com
  13. eztv.it
  14. sumotorrent.com
  15. alivetorrents.com

Most of the top 25 torrent sites for 2009 had an Alexa rank of less than 5000 and Compete rank of under 10000, with TPB coming close to breaking into the top 100. For the complete list of top 25 torrents sites and traffic details, visit Torrent Freak’s post: Top 25 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2009.

µTorrent Web UI for iPhone

utorrent_iphone_dashboard

uTorrent users have an option to control the torrents and downloads through a web interface. However, the interface does not display very well on an iPhone or iPod touch. uTorrent Web UI for iPhone is a application which will give you a familiar look and feel when you manage uTorrent from your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The uTorrent app provides you with a handy dashboard to browse active, downloading and complete torrents along with displaying the torrents by status. You can also stop, start, pause, resume and force start the torrents. If you have finished downloading torrents you can remove the torrents using the Web UI for iPhone.

Download uTorrent Web UI for iPhone

End of Piracy Imminent? SceneTorrents Tracker Shuts Down

Many people are speculating that we might see the end of the world in the year 2012, and the Movie 2012 did more than enough to fuel those speculations. However, are we going to see a end of illegal downloads and piracy sooner than that?

P2P has come a long way since the Napster and Kazaa era, when illegal downloads of music and videos were at its highest. Napster did go legal later, after several court cases, and it definitely changed how P2P was done. Kazaa did flourish for a long time, however, torrents started taking over.

Over the period of several years, torrents have definitely taken over the original way of sharing files through P2P, and it did flourish for a long time, until The Pirate Bay, the largest indexer and tracker of torrents were embroiled in several court cases and had to eventually keep moving their servers from one end of the world to another.

scenetorrents-shutdown

Recently, Mininova gave into the authorities and went legal, however, there are no dearth of alternatives and we also put up a list of Mininova Alternative Torrent Indexers. Now, TorrentFreak is reporting that another private torrent tracker SceneTorrents have shut down operations.

In addition to that, recently Virgin Media, an ISP from UK has decided to setup a watch on illegal P2P sharing and downloads. Another US ISP Comcast had started to throttle BitTorrent downloads sometime back, but had to give in to public pressure and stop doing it.

So are we finally going to see saturation of illegal downloads and piracy? Well not exactly, but we should definitely see a death of the wide scale piracy that exists today. There is no doubt that the Internet will get smarter and there will be new ways of downloading content, legal or illegal. Who knows, in near future we might have a download speed of 100MB or 1GB per second and there would be no need for all these secondary means for sharing large files. Only time will tell what is written in the future. What do you think?