Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Comprehensive review of µTorrent

A short testament to how much Blogger (and Opera) kicks Spaces' (and IE's) ass: I'm using a pre-beta version of Opera to write this, which crashed in another tab - and yet I didn't lose any data from this entry. *cough* IE *cough*

Screenshot of µTorrent - click to enlarge
Screenshot of µTorrent v1.2, click to enlarge.

I introduced µTorrent on my MSN Spaces blog. I'm going to write about some of its features here in a bid to get you to convert. ;-)

As you can see from the screenshot, µTorrent tries pretty hard to be like Azureus in a couple of ways, but in most, outshines it totally. To start with, its main feature is its incredible efficiency - almost 0% CPU usage, typically less than 10MB RAM, and to top it all off, it comes packaged as a single executable - no installation necessary - at just 105KB. (However, future versions obviously increase its size. I'm happy with it under 1MB. ;-))

First off, I'm going to admit that that screenshot isn't taken directly from the application. I installed the Junior theme by FOOOD first. Here's a couple more screens from that theme.

Image of a torrent file
Image of my system tray, with µTorrent at the far left
Mouseover the images to get a description.

Now, onto the actual features of the client. µTorrent is a full-featured client - as far as I can see, there are no mainstream features that are directly present in another client (ie. without plugins) but aren't in µTorrent.

The main screen offers you a horizontally-split dialog, with current torrents at the top, and details at the bottom. Details available include:

  • Download completion, showing pieces complete in a graph, and availability
  • Time elapsed, ETA, downloaded/uploaded bytes, download/upload speed, share ratio, hash fails, number of seeds and peers - all the usual stuff
  • Tracker URL, status, time until next scrape, and DHT status
  • Download location, file size, torrent creation date, number of pieces, piece size, torrent hash, and torrent comment
So not much special there. Any item can be right-clicked and copied to the clipboard. The interesting stuff is in the other tabs.

Peers tab. Similar to what's in Azureus, giving you a list of connected peers, their BT flags, their national flags (ie. which country they come from), their client, their % completion, the download speed from them and the amount uploaded or downloaded to them. You can copy the peer list to the clipboard with right-click, or even add a specific peer if you're trying to seed directly to or from a friend. (screenshot)

Pieces and files tabs. Same as in Azureus - shows you the active pieces and files, the pieces needed and obtained on those files, etc. Also allows you to set a specific file to not download, or set it to High, Normal or Low priority.

The speed graph. Just your regular speed graph, but hey.

Image of the speed graph

The logger. If you turn it on, it'll dump all info relating to the torrent here. If not, it just displays info about hash fails.

Finally, there are a couple of features unique to µTorrent that really seal the deal..

  • When a download completes, there is an option to make it appear in a balloon at the bottom-right of the screen, along with the cool popping sound.
  • You can get it to move files to a different location once the download's finished.
  • It supports UPnP, and you can get it to randomize the port used on startup.
  • It supports global bandwidth limiting. You can also set a torrent's bandwidth usage as high, medium or low priority, or to a specific speed.
  • Torrents can have trackers added to them, be set to stop seeding at a certain ratio or after a certain time, and be super-seeded.
  • It has a full-featured scheduler built-in. (screenshot)
  • You can set it to automatically load torrents in a given directory.
  • It's updated frequently, and updating is as simple as clicking 'yes' - after a few seconds the executable replaces itself with the new version.
  • It has an excellent webpage with an informative FAQ and an active forum.

So, what are you waiting for? Download µTorrent now!


Anonymous said...

"there are no mainstream features that are directly present in another client but aren't in µTorrent"

What about header encryption?

splintax said...

IMO, header encryption is not a "mainstream" feature, since it's only present in one client.

But yes, it would be nice to have PHE in µT. :)

Anonymous said...

BitTorrent neophyte here... Am I correct in assuming the "Reqs" column on the 'Peers' tab refers to the 'Piece' being requested? Also, at what point does the "Pieces" tab show any information (I've never seen anything displayed in it while downloading files)?

splintax said...

The Pieces tab shows active pieces - ie. 'chunks' of the complete file that are currently being downloaded. You can see the total number of pieces at the bottom-right of the general tab, for example, an active torrent I have says "1543 x 1.0MB" meaning that there are 1543 1MB pieces (the final piece would probably be smaller, though).

When downloading, you should see a number of active pieces there.

I think that 'reqs' is the number of pieces you've requested from that user, but I'm not 100% sure.

Anonymous said...

Neophyte again... I'm currently 'seeding' only, and this is taking forever. The file size is 3.97Gb and I'm still the only seed. It's showing 1.815 'Availability'. There are 1017 x 4 MB. It says I have uploaded 6.89GB, and this has been running for over 2 days. My question is, is this unusual? I'm beginning to wonder if my settings are correct. (Yahoo=TN-Uomo)

splintax said...

According to Google that is not a bad upload speed. You can stop seeding if you want. Seeding just means that you've helped other people get the file. It's just a good idea to keep seeding while there are no other seeders (availability < 2), since other people won't be able to grab the file if you "drop off".

zed said...

utorrent just need a ban peer feature ........!!!!!!!!!!

splintax said...

No, it doesn't. There's a long thread on the µTorrent forums arguing this.