Imagine you just got done reading about BitTorrent and all the wonderful things that it can provide. Hey, maybe you even want to just use the Vuze content store. Or perhaps there are a few creative commons movies that struck your interest. Wouldn’t it be nice to download them? Too bad you’re living on a college campus which prohibits BitTorrent use. Too bad your network administrator’s response to traffic bottlenecks is to block access to P2P technology. Looks like you might as well just stop reading this article and buy some iTunes songs, right?
The problem with network administration is finding that delicate balance that makes most people happy. Unfortunately that often times means cutting off P2P access in its entirety. Network administrators are forced into a position of blocking P2P traffic for two major reasons: bandwidth and legal concerns.
It’s no secret that P2P technology, especially BitTorrent, consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth. At peak hours, BitTorrent’s total volume of traffic can represent well over half of all data transmissions on an ISP’s network. Like college campus administrators, ISP reaction has been mixed. Comcast established a policy of “delaying” BitTorrent uploads to ease up on traffic congestion. This policy sparked a wave of protests which claimed that Comcast had violated the principles of net neutrality – the theory that all protocols and data transmissions should be treated equally. Because Comcast was only targeting BitTorrent, and no other protocols, the FCC found that Comcast had violated the principles of net neutrality and forced the company to adopt a more fair management policy. Comcast complied, and introduced us to “protocol agnostic” bandwidth management. This means that all protocols will be subject to bandwidth management, not just BitTorrent.
The fact of life for most file-sharers is that at some point, you may be in a position where network administration has imposed serious barriers. Although Comcast only delayed uploading traffic, there are much worse circumstances, such as a network where the BitTorrent protocol is blocked completely. This isn’t a rare circumstance, and a well informed BitTorrent user can circumvent this problem, thanks to a web based BitTorrent program named Torrent Relay.
If P2P technology is blocked at the network level, that means whoever is in charge of the local networks you’re on, such as a college campus or at work, had made a conscious effort to prevent file-sharing. The legal reasons are a great motivator for this as well, as it’s next to impossible for the network administration to keep an eye on all data that transfers in and out of local computers. When a network is blocked, however, regular web access is still typically intact. This is where Torrent Relay comes into play.
Torrent Relay is a web based BitTorrent client. You don’t download or install any client or program, you simply head over to http://www.torrentrelay.com, whether BitTorrent is blocked or not, and now you have full access to the BitTorrent universe. A word of caution, however - there is an extra step involved in the process.
Torrent Relay is a full featured BitTorrent client. As a web based client that finds its most frequent use during times of greater urgency, there are far fewer advanced features available. But that’s OK, it does everything we need it to. And because it's web based, all data transferred between you and Torrent Relay is web traffic
As its name implies, Torrent Relay takes on the role of the BitTorrent downloader/uploader from a remote server. You, as the eager file-sharer, are simply providing instructions to the remote sever, such as telling it what files you want. The remote machine then takes on the role of acquiring the file you want, and then, via HTTP transmission, sends the finished product your way. You’ll never have to worry about P2P protocol blockage because the BitTorrent transfer occurred on a remote machine, and the finished product was a simple HTTP transfer to you. Mission Accomplished!
Torrent Relay – Prepping the Client
Of course there’s not much prepping or installation to do with Torrent Relay. There are only two basic features you need to concern yourself with: adding a torrent file and receiving a download. Torrent Relay is free for basic functionality, but there is a premium version (meaning you have to pay) that has additional options.
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