How to Make a Torrent

Sharing in BitTorrent is a little more involved than with other P2P applications. This is the result of the protocol that makes this distribution system so efficient. BitTorrent shares content by breaking it up in small pieces and distributing them randomly between peers. Those peers then share these pieces with each other. This saves the seed the trouble of sending the same pieces over and over to different peers and enables all the peers in a swarm to participate to the distribution of the files regardless of their percentage of completion.

In order for all those peers to know how to put all the pieces back in the right order and use the content, BitTorrent clients requires a special reference file called a Torrent. The torrent is what you download from the site and load into µTorrent. All the peers and seeds involved in the distribution of any given file have the matching torrent loaded into their client. In order to share your own content over the BitTorrent network you need to create a torrent for this content.

Things to consider before hand

By now, we'll assume that you have downloaded a few torrents and are familiar with torrent indexing sites (if not, refer to the Beginner's Guide). In order to share your content, other people must have access to your torrent. The most common way to do this it to upload to a torrent site.

  • Before you make a torrent, it would be wise to pick a site and review its policies and rules, which can be found in their FAQ section.
  • Your site of choice may have restrictions about content; some do not allow porn, some specialize in specific type of content (such as music, or anime).
  • Your site of choice may also have some specific requirements about content and demand that you add some extras to your torrent such as signature files and ads.
  • Some public sites require registration for uploading; all private sites do.
  • It is important to consider the size of your content for two reasons: first, not everyone has sufficient disk space for very large torrents; and second, larger torrents require longer seeding times. In such cases consider making multiple torrents based on some practical partition such as years, season, parts.
  • Before making your torrent, select your content's location carefully as it will have to remain there (during initial seeding at least).
  • The files in your content must not be modified after you have made the torrent, as this would cause corruption in the torrent.
  • Make sure the files are not in use while you make the torrent.
  • There is no need to compress multiple files into one archive. Many torrenters find it annoying. It also requires twice the space: once for the original and once for the archive.
  • You may wish to make a torrent for exclusive distribution among friends and family. In such case, you may choose to distribute your torrent in some other manner.

Create a new Torrent

You can make a a new torrent easily using µTorrent's built-in torrent maker:

µTorrent menu > File > Create a New torrent

This opens the "Create a new .torrent" dialog box; all you need is to fill in the required information...

The Source

Here is where you specify the location of the content you wish to share. Before selecting the path chose whether you are sharing a single file or multiple ones. If you are making a torrent with more then one file, those files must be located in a single folder, with nothing else in it.

  1. Select "Add a File" or "Add a directory."
  2. Browse your way to the location of file or directory you would like to share.

The Tracker

A tracker is an application or script on a system that relays connection information about peers on a given torrent. However, it is most important since without it BitTorrent clients would not know how to find other clients sharing the same files. µTorrent knows which tracker to contact by reading the announce URL in the torrent. Trackers generally look like any other internet address (http//somewebaddress:portnumber/announce). If you need a tracker you may:

  • Check the site where you wish to upload the torrent.
  • Private sites usually provide their own tracker.
  • Public sites may also provide their own tracker, or include the URL of generic ones.
  • In a pinch, look at the properties of a torrent you have downloaded from the site you wish to use and copy the tracker from there (but in such a case wait to test the torrent out before uploading it to the site as even those tracker may require you to have registered the torrent with them first).

µTorrent supports HTTP and HTTPS (SSL) trackers. UDP trackers are not supported. µTorrent also supports torrents with multiple trackers; trackers from the same server (with similar URLs) must be grouped together and those from different servers separated by a blank line.

µTorrent contains an "embedded tracker" intended for people wishing to share with a small group for a short period of time. This should not be used for sharing torrent over public or private sites, but only for private stuff and over short periods of time (along the lines of family movies shared with friends and such).

  • The embedded tracker URL is: http://your_ip_address:port/announce (where your ip is your computer's ip address and port is µTorrent's listening port)
  • The embedded tracker must be enabled in: µTorrent menu > options > preferences > Advanced > bt.enable_tracker: set to "true".

Warning: Using the embedded tracker requires you to have the same IP address and the same port as long as the torrent is active. This means if you use a dynamic IP and randomized port and get disconnected from the internet, your IP and port will get reset, and the torrent will die.

Comments

You may add a comment about the torrent (in µTorrent these comments appear at the bottom of the general tab.)

Piece Size

When making a torrent, the content gets divided in small pieces for easier transfer and management. You may use this option to select the size of the pieces. As a rule, the larger the content the larger the pieces. Most people should leave this setting to auto-detect and allow µTorrent to make the proper selection.

Others

  • "Start Seeding" will automatically load the newly made torrent into µTorrent when you have completed the process. Some may wish to disable it if the site they are uploading to requires them to "re-download" the torrent for seeding (this occurs with some sites requiring passwords or cookies). If unchecked, you will need to load the torrent into µTorrent manually for seeding.
  • "Private Torrent" will disable DHT (Distributed Hash Table) and PEX (Peer EXchange), which are alternate means of getting peers from other peers instead of the tracker. This is particularly useful when the tracker is unavailable for some reason. However some private sites do not allow it because it keeps them from monitoring users' share ratio properly and allows members to share torrents with unregistered users.

Create and Save As...

This is the final step in making a torrent. For all intents and purposes it works just like saving a file in any other application.

You should save the torrent in an appropriate location, such as where your other torrents are located or in the folder of the torrent you are making (this will not affect the content).

Naming conventions:

You can name your torrent anything you want, but remember that other people need to search for it and find it. The name should be significant, and representative of the content. Calling it "My first torrent" will not tell anything about the content, and few people will take a chance and download it. You may have seen this naming convention around before:

"My Vacation movies_1996_CAM_MPG_BYME.torrent" which would translate as: "title_episode_quality_format_maker.torrent".

  • "Title" should be simple and descriptive if needed.
  • "Episodes" is a number used when dealing with sequential torrents. It can be a date, a release, or a label with season and episode (common formats include 102, 1x02, and s01e02, which all translate to season 1, episode 2).
  • "Quality" denotes the source or the type of file.
  • "Format" gives peers an indicator of what will be needed to use the content (xvid, doc, avi, mp3, iso, etc).
  • "Maker" shows the credits for the torrent and/or the content.

Remember, many operating systems limit file names to 256 characters so it's better to plan ahead.

Making your Torrent Available to Others

The most common way to do this is to upload it to a torrent site. If this was your intention you should have read up on the site's policies, rules and procedures of that site before uploading.

Uploading the .torrent

  1. Using your web browser, go to the site (log in if needed).
  2. Navigate your way to the upload page, and follow the instructions provided.
  3. Some sites allow you to add comments and descriptions. Try to put something you would find useful as a peer.

Do not panic if the torrent just sits there without uploading, it may take a while for other people to notice the torrent and start downloading it. It may take longer if the content is something obscure with limited appeal.

Private Trackers

Some private sites will require you to download your own torrent from their site so you can seed it.

  1. Download your torrent from the site and load it into µTorrent (it should go to download mode and show 0%.)
  2. Stop the torrent, right-click on it, and select "Set Download Location" in the context menu under "Advanced".
  3. Browse your way to where the content is located (i.e. the same path you specified when making the torrent) and open. For torrents with multiple files, make sure you point TO the containing folder and not IN it.
  4. Start the torrent. µTorrent will start checking the files (% will rise rather quickly), and when it reaches 100% it will start seeding (the larger the torrent the longer this will take).

Guide written by Pelo, styled by Determination, µTorrent