How Torrents Work
To download a torrent you need a client (ie. uTorrent) and a tracker (ie. thepiratebay.org). The tracker is simply a website that contains links to .torrent files (or the newer magnet links), these are very small files that tell your torrent client where to get the pieces of the file from.
Torrents are known as Peer to Peer (P2P), this means that you are downloading the files off other users (and not off one big server). The tracker serves to link all the users together and doesn’t actually contain any of the files.
Something to note: If a movie has only just hit the cinemas, you won’t always be able to find a good quality version of it (it will probably be mainly CAM/TS rips which aren’t worth downloading).
When searching for a torrent to download, you need to keep in mind a number of things such as how many seeders/leechers there are, comments about the torrent, whether the torrent has been uploaded by a VIP or Trusted Uploader and also the name of the torrent will give you a lot of clues as to what is in it.
This differs depending on what tracker you’re using, some torrent sites only allow Trusted Users to upload (these are generally private ones) and other sites can have a lot of untrusted users uploading things like viruses and fakes. If a file has been uploaded by a Trusted User, you can safely assume that the torrent is a good one (though you should still check the other things as well such as the name of the torrent).
To see if a torrent has been uploaded by a trusted user, you will see a marker on the torrent, for example with thepiratebay.org, you will see a little skull icon.
Torrent names are made up the name of the thing you’re downloading as well as a bunch of words to indicate the quality and the group that released it.
These examples are for movies or TV shows, but most other downloads will be similar.
They start with the name of the show, followed by the Season or Episode if it’s a TV show, or the Year if it’s a movie. The season is usually in the format S01E02 (aka. Season 1, Episode 2).
After this they will have the Source of the video, here are a few common ones:
HDTV/PDTV = Ripped straight from the TV, you may notice a TV logo in the corner and sometimes the silly popover ads that you get when you’re normally watching TV.
DVDRip = Ripped straight off a DVD, generally average to good quality.
BDRip = Ripped off a BluRay, very good quality.
WebRip = Ripped off a website, ie. Downloaded from iTunes or another video streaming service.
CAM/TS = Recorded in the Cinema with a camera, avoid these, they’re usually really horrible.
R5/R6 = These are DVD’s obtained by the movie company converting the film from the source onto a DVD, it is generally before any sort of processing is put on it, so quality is comparable to a Screener and a bit less than a DVDRip.
After the source is the format it is in here some of the common ones:
720p/1080p = These are high definition, usually the size of these will be greater and normally only comes from a BDRip or a WebRip.
x264 = A video codec, this is usually used for high definition footage.
XVid = An older video codec, a lot of non-high definition footage uses this.
At the end of the file name will be the release group. For the most case this doesn’t matter, though if you’re getting a series, it’s usually good to get the whole series by the same release group so the quality is the same throughout the whole lot (but really, it doesn’t matter).
Here are a few examples:
Packed To The Rafters S06E07 PDTV x264-FUtV
So you can see that this is Packed to the Rafters, Season 6, Episode 7. It has been ripped off PDTV (Pure Digital TV, aka it’s a rip straight off the TV), it is in x264 format and the group that released it is FUtV (for most people, this doesn’t matter, however some release groups you may see around often and know that they’re a good copy).
Kath And Kimderella 2012 1080p BluRay x264-PFa
Kath and Kimderella, the movie was released in 2012, it is a 1080p high definition copy taken from a BluRay and it is in x264 format. It was released by the group PFa.
When downloading a file from BitTorrent, you connect yourself to a swarm of people who either have the file you want, or are currently downloading the file you want. The people who have the file downloaded 100% are called Seeds, and people who are still downloading the file are called Leechers. For torrents to work properly, you need seeders.
The torrent download is split into chunks, as you download chunks that make up the file, you will also seed (upload) them to the other Leechers. Even when you have finished downloading the file, it will continue to do this (so you become a Seeder instead of a Leecher). Common curtesy says you should seed the files you download to a ratio of 1 (this means you have uploaded as much as you have downloaded). Some torrent trackers (websites) will enforce a minimum ratio for your downloads, so you must seed them to a particular ratio or risk being banned from the site.
You should keep in mind how big the file is before you download it, a full 1-2 hour movie can be anywhere from 300mb (really poor quality) to 10-20gb (really high quality). Typically an xvid/DVD Rip will be 700mb to 1.2gb, a 720p will will be 3-8gb and a 1080p rip will be 7-20gb.
Still not sure about a torrent? Go have a look at the comments with it, if it’s a fake, there *should* be a bunch of comments stating this.
If a torrent has been nuked, it means that there was something wrong with it. The problem can vary from major problems like missing footage or audio out of sync to simple things like being named incorrectly, glitching out for 1/2 second or so. Usually when a torrent gets nuked, there’s what’s called a repack or a proper. A repack is a fixed version of the torrent and will usually have REPACK or PROPER in the title.