Thursday, May 8, 2008

Does your ISP Slow Down Torrent Downloads?

There's much talk lately about ISPs that block or slow down torrent traffic. Users who have enjoyed the great download rates of torrents, find themselves looking at very slow connections, with no apparent reason.

ISPs that throttle torrent traffic were recently exposed by Azureus. The data was gathered from many users, using the Azureus plugin, and it confirms that Comcast continues to use TCP-resets to manage BitTorrent traffic on their network, but they are not alone. You can read the full results of the research here (PDF format).

Now the research is expanding. If you are using a different torrent client than Azureus, and you want to check if your ISP is messing up your downloads, you can do it with this service. The test servers are working hard, and you might get a "busy" response - so simply try again later.

The test creates a BitTorrent-like transfer between your machine and our server, and determines whether or not your ISP is limiting such traffic.

The test focuses on the BitTorrent protocol. This type of traffic can be identified by the port it is sent on (e.g., TCP port 6881) or by BitTorrent content headers which occur in the packets.

It's going to be very interesting to see the results. I am still waiting for the servers to clear, so I can run the test myself. Updates will follow.