Dec 9, 2008

How To Setup A REALLY Fast Dedicated Torrenting Server

Have you ever wanted a super fast torrent server in order to more quickly download and seed those Ubuntu iso's? If you answered with a super excited "More Tom Cruise movies!" then this article may, sadly, be for you. I'm not going to do a lot of hand holding in this article, I more want to show you just what is possible with the power of Linux and some disposable income.

What you are going to need:
  • Some basic Linux command line know how, or the ability to do some Googling and learning.
  • Disposable income - anywhere from 40-60 dollars a month.

The Why

You may be wondering why you need money to follow this tutorial, and the answer is that ideally you are going to need either a dedicated or virtualized server in a datacenter running Linux that you have full root access to. Why the need for a datacenter? Well, if you really want this to be a super fast torrent server you are going to need a super big internet connection. Super big/massive/ginormous/huge internet connections are found in datacenters. Hence the need for some extra monthly cash.

If you are thinking ahead a bit, you may be wondering how having a server download your torrent is going to help. After all, once the file(s) are downloaded to the server, you will still need to download them to your home PC. Well, here's the deal, most residential internet connections are heavy on the download capability but measly on the upload side. This means that even though you may have a 10 meg download, if you have a measly 1 meg upload a lot of your downloads on torrents that do not have many seeders in relation to downloaders (a lot of them) will be much slower. If in contrast you had a 100mb NIC that you could use to capacity... well then you could upload a TON and in return get a lot more downloaded to the server in an extremely short amount of time. I have had my own dedicated torrent server setup and running for about 2 months now, and it has cut the time it takes me to get a large download in half. The other side benefit of having a dedicated box for torrents is that you no longer need to keep your desktop up and running throughout the night, and you can continue to seed as seeding will no longer suck up your very finite amount of bandwidth at home.

The Hardware

Alright, now that you have bought into the idea, exactly where should you go to rent a dedicated server? I have had great experience with The Planet , and they are the ones that currently host my torrent server. I am paying a mere $40 a month for my dedicated Celeron box with a gig of RAM, and that includes 750 GB of bandwidth every month. That is a REAL 750 GB of bandwidth a month, these guys aren't kidding around with you. Basically, I can download/upload as much as my 100 MB NIC can handle... it is pretty impressive to see 20 megs of data coming in and out of the box every second. Now, I didn't get that server for $40 a month by looking at their main server offerings, I looked in their bargain bin. Your torrent server doesn't need much as far as processor/memory goes, so picking up some older hardware cheaply is a great way to go. Think of the bargain bin as a woot off for servers, check the page out a couple of times a day and when you see one at a price you like have that have that credit card ready. They get sold really fast, in fact I didn't get my first choice because I was a little slow on entering in all my information.

Note: I'd highly recommend paying the extra $10 a month for the 100 MB NIC card instead of the 10, this will allow you to really utilize the bandwidth available to you.

Once you have put your order in you should have a server that is all setup and ready for you to SSH into (Use Putty if running Windows) within 3 days.

The Software

Now the fun part, we are getting so close to torrent nirvana I can smell it! If you ordered from The Planet you will probably have a CentOs box. If so, follow the intructions here to install rtorrent.

If you are running Ubuntu try the instructions here.

Note: Make sure you install "screen". This is absolutely necessary if you want to leave rtorrent up and running, there are instructions on how to install and use it in the CentOs instructions.

At this point you have an extremely lean and fast torrent application, rtorrent. But what the heck do you do with it? It is just a mostly black screen with some text on it and no instructions on how to get it to do anything. Well my friend, check out the nice command list on the official rtorrent user guide.

This is where rtorrent gets really awesome and flexible, you can set it up so that it will actually monitor a directory for torrent files and automatically start downloading using the parameters that you set in the rtorrent configuration file. Where the rtorrent.rc file is located is going to depend on where you installed the application, so find it and open it with your text editor of choice (try nano if you are new to Linux). This is where you can tell rtorrent what directory to monitor for new torrents, how fast to download/upload, what ratio to stop at and much more. The great thing about having rtorrent monitor a particular directory is that you can then FTP to that directory and just upload a torrent from your PC to the server and it will automatically start downloading the torrent. Once it is done you can FTP to the directory where you told rtorrent to save the files and start downloading that new Tom Cruise movie to your desktop :).


There is even more sweet stuff we could do at this point, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. But my idea is that you setup some sort of streaming video service that you can then point your PC to in order to just stream the movie in high quality, this way you wouldn't have to download the whole file in order to start watching. If you did this it would literally be possible to start downloading a popular movie (some open source/free one of course) and be streaming it in 5-10 minutes. Awesome.

If you have any comments/suggestions for improvement please let me know in the comments. Specifically, if you know of any other good choices for cheap dedicated servers I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write on Bauer-Power El Di Pablo!

About the author:
Rob Steenwyk is the owner/author of Bud Boy Tech, a blog focusing on technology and geekiness. He'd really appreciate it if you added the Bud Boy Tech RSS feed to your feed reader : )

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