Download a torrent from behind a firewall

Automated disclaimer: This post was written more than 16 years ago and I may not have looked at it since.

Older posts may not align with who I am today and how I would think or write, and may have been written in reaction to a cultural context that no longer applies. Some of my high school or college posts are just embarrassing. However, I have left them public because I believe in keeping old web pages aliveā€”and it's interesting to see how I've changed.

Is your ISP practicing traffic shaping so restrictively that you can't use torrents?
Use an encryption-enabled torrent client, such as Azureus.
  1. Get Azureus from (You need to have Java installed on your machine first.)
  2. Run and configure Azureus:
    • Skip any updates, because they rely on torrents.
    • Set your proficiency level to Intermediate, so you can change the encryption settings later.
  3. Go to Tools -> Options -> Connections -> Transport Encryption, and require encryption.
  4. Under Mode, set your proficiency to Beginner. (Beginner has all the options you'll ever need as a downloader.)
  5. Restart Azureus, and let it do any updates it deems necessary.
Encrypting the transport layer prevents your ISP from determining what kind of traffic is passing through. If it can't tell it's a torrent, it can't slow or restrict it.
If you are only trying to avoid traffic shapers, set the minimum encryption level to Plain, which only obfuscates the packet headers. If plain encryption fails, Azureus will automatically escalate to RC4, which encrypts the entire packet. If you are also trying to avoid being caught downloading commercial music or software, you should probably use RC4 as the minimum. Actually, the best way to avoid being caught pirating is to use an extension like SafePeer. Encryption won't do anything, because your IP address is still visible.

Responses: 15 so far Feed icon

  1. Muzufx says:

    Thanks a lot for this mate.....

    hails AZUREUS ... and not to forget: YOU

  2. Tim McCormack says:

    Sure thing!

    Oh, and if your ISP prevents you from downloading the .torrent files themselves, you might install tor + privoxy + vidalia and then the torbutton extension for firefox. I should write a blog post about that, too.

  3. Michael says:

    Even if this is 3 years old, it's still very relevant. I go to boarding school, and they won't let us download torrents. This is VERY helpful!

  4. Tim McCormack says:

    Glad to hear it, Michael!

  5. Thomas says:

    This dosen't work for me, i'm still not getting any dl speed, any suggestions?

  6. Tim McCormack says:

    Thomas: This post is over 3 years old, and traffic shaping/blocking technologies have changed. I don't think I can help you.

  7. Thomas says:

    oh okay, just thougt it still would help, when it helped Michael.

  8. Stephen says:

    so I'm attending Northeastern and I was wondering how easy it is to torrent, they told me I have to register my mac address with resnet and all that. any words of advice?

  9. Tim McCormack says:

    @Stephen: Northeastern does not block downloading of .torrent files or bittorrent traffic in general, though they may throttle the traffic to reduce network load.

    Registration is a common practice now at universities. I don't like it one bit, but I understand why they do it. If you don't want them snooping on your traffic (since they claim a right to do so), get a server slice elsewhere in the world and SSH tunnel your traffic through that box.

  10. Stephen says:

    Alright, thanks.

  11. Will Pk says:

    "get a server slice elsewhere in the world and SSH tunnel your traffic through that box."

    How do you go about doing that? can you write a quick guide on it?

    Thanks in advance


  12. Tim McCormack says:

    @Will Pk: It's not something I have a whole lot of experience with, but here's what you'll need to find out in order to do it yourself:

    How to do port forwarding with your SSH (probably dynamic forwarding, maybe also reverse forwarding), most likely either PuTTY or OpenSSH Whether you want a full server, a remote terminal, or just a proxy (and how much it will cost you) What the bandwidth and traffic policies of the service are

    If you just want tunneling for a specific protocol, you may want to investigate more specialized services. For instance, I've heard of a bit torrent traffic anonymizer service that seemed pretty reputable. (I don't recall the name.)

    And hey, if you manage to set something up... blog about it!

  13. MauroChSS says:

    Still working.......... :)

  14. Manish says:

    @Will Pk You can do that you require a Hardware outside your organisation not to mention Public IP reachability on it. Then depending upon the hardware you will have different procedures to set them up, e.g. If are using a CISCO ASA firewall(at remote end) you need to install Easy VPN(Search Youtube for how to) if you have a Server with Windows server running on it You can use PPTP or SSTP VPN on it. Once you have set up and connected ur Client machine to remote VPN, u can change SOCKS proxy in your browser to and port no to VPN Tunnel no(u will get this from ur VPN client software) and thts it.

  15. ace_berry says:

    This solution still works....

    Thanks for posting this!!!!!

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