• The top BitTorrent trackers
  • The top BitTorrent trackers
    Written by battye
    Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:04 am

    The BitTorrent tracker acts as the middle man between two peers sharing files over the BitTorrent protocol. Often combined with a BitTorrent index (the list of files available) it is often the point where a download is initiated, and provides a plethora of statistics to users, such as how many seeds and leechers are on a particular file.

    The tracker is a sophisticated web-based application. When you open a .torrent file in your BitTorrent client to begin downloading your desired file, your client contacts the tracker through the internet and obtains a list of peers to initiate the file transfer. Throughout the download, the client will communicate with the tracker to update information such as status, percentage downloaded, and also to obtain an updated peer list. An updated peer list will mean your file will have more sources to download from, and as a result the file transfer will gain speed.

    Many trackers have been targeted by the music and movie industry authorities due to their role in the distribution of copyrighted material. As a tracker doesn't actually distribute any copyrighted material itself, but acts as a mere starting point for it, it is a grey area as to whether they are legal or not. The most high profile closure of a tracker was in December 2004 when SuprNova.org, at the time the worlds largest source of BitTorrent files, stopped offering its services due to the number of legal notices they received.

    Many new trackers were spawned after the closure of the immensely popular SuprNova. Newnova.org was one such reincarnation that did not last due to legal threats. Snarf-it.org and Mininova.org are two examples of sites that have had exceptional ongoing success. According to torrentfreak.com, Mininova is the world's most active and most popular BitTorrent tracker, which is no great surprise considering it is among Alexa's top 50 websites on the internet and was the 9th most "Googled" word in 2006.

    IsoHunt.com took second place, while thepiratebay.org came away with 3rd. In mid-2007, The Pirate Bay reopened SuprNova after the tracker had been offline for nearly 3 years but as yet, SuprNova has not come close to nearing its former glory having not even ranked on torrentfreak.com's list.

    The saddest torrent story of 2007 comes from the folks at Demonoid though. The semi-private BitTorrent tracker, which was among the top trackers going around, was forced to close it's doors due to threats made by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. While it's future is uncertain, the owner has made an effort to keep the community together through its forum. A precedent has been set with SuprNova, so we may see more life in the old dog that is Demonoid.
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