Ratio, Seeds & Peers – No These Aren’t Fruits!
So I was hanging out with my friend Brad the other day and immediately after he completed downloading the latest season of House of Cards from Torrent, he removed it from his list and went about on his merry way binge watching Robin Wright give us one of the most legendary performances on the series ever.
Now, being a staunch humanitarian and an avid torrent user myself, I was completely astonished at two things.
One, a Netflix subscription costs $11 a month, Brad.
And two, all my life I’ve known Brad, I was unaware of the fact that he was such a Leech!
What’s a Leech? Well, before I get to that, let me break down some of the most used torrent terms, namely, seeds and peers.
Most of us have always wondered what these terms actually mean but a lot of us have been unbothered enough to go out of our ways and look these terms up! When I was first introduced to Torrent, all I was told is that the higher the seeds the faster the download, which is a good rule of thumb to live by.
But, what is a “seed”?
How do I get more seeds for the file that I’m downloading? Is there any way I can contribute to increasing download speeds? Is the term peer equally related? Is Brad a cheapskate for not spending $11 on a Netflix subscription?
If you know answers to all these questions, then I don’t really know why you’re on this page. On the contrary, if you don’t know answers to any of these questions then you’re in luck.
As you’re well aware of the fact that Torrent is a community, the only way to completely download a file from torrent is if the file has enough seeds.
When you start downloading a file, you essentially become a peer. A peer, aka you, is someone who does not have the complete file but wishes to download the file. When you initiate the downloading process, you’re downloading the parts of the file that you do not have and simultaneously uploading the parts of the file that you do have.
(Ps. This is exactly the reason why when you’re downloading a file you can see a download speed, as well as an upload speed.)
A seed is someone who has completed downloading the file, yet chooses to upload the file. This helps other users/peers download the file at a higher speed. If there are no seeds, chances are the other users will never be able to completely download the file unless all the peers who are downloading the file have all the parts of the file among themselves which is a rare phenomenon.
This also explains why everyone who has ever been introduced to a torrent client has been told that the higher the seeds the faster the download speed.
(The term Leech as mentioned earlier is equally related as it used to describe a person who downloads the file but never seeds it. However, in some cases, the terms Leech and Peer are used as synonyms. The term Leech is also used to describe a person who stops/limits the uploading process while downloading the file itself.)
To dive a little deeper into the technical jargon – when you’re downloading the file, the upload speed of the all the seeders combined becomes your download speed. Similarly, when you seed the file, your upload speed helps other peers in their download speed.
If you ever paid attention to your Economics class, the concepts are quite similar to the flow of demand and supply. If there is a higher number of seeders (suppliers), you will have a faster download speed (lower price). Conversely, if the number of peers (demand/consumers) is greater, then this might adversely affect the download speed (higher price).
What does a ratio mean then?
The ratio indicates the ratio of the amount you’ve downloaded as compared to the amount you’ve uploaded. A ratio of 1:1, or 1.0 depicts that you’ve uploaded as much as you’ve downloaded. Anything below 1.0 is a Brad-like attitude, which means you’ve downloaded more than you’ve uploaded and you should certainly reassess your priorities. On the flip side, a ratio above 1.0 means that you’ve uploaded more than you’ve downloaded.
An essential rule you must follow is seed the file for at the least one peer. This can be seen in the Ratio column. A ratio higher than 1.0 indicates that you have seeded the file for a minimum of 1 full copy.
The torrent community is a tight-knit, integrated community and the moral of the story is that you do not want to be a Brad.
Seed your files for as long as you can and make the life of other people easier.