BitTorrent's 'Altruistic mode' will force you to upload double of what you download

In an interesting move, BitTorrent, the company that owns the BitTorrent and uTorrent clients, has announced a new “altruistic” mode for their clients.


In an interesting move, BitTorrent, the company that owns the BitTorrent and uTorrent clients, has announced a new “altruistic” mode for their clients.

This mode will, strangely enough, force you to upload twice as much as you download and won’t let a download finish until that happens. As VentureBeat explains, enabling the mode will ask the client to download parts of a file only if there are at least two peers who want it. If there aren’t enough peers, you won’t be able to download the file.

The BitTorrent protocol (which BitTorrent, the company, doesn’t own) works by splitting a file into multiple parts and having a “seeder” upload said parts. Those who download the parts are “peers.” As peers download parts, they can in-turn seed those parts to other peers. This ensures efficient use of available bandwidth.

If peers outnumber seeders, download speed drops drastically for the peers.

Altruistic mode will ostensibly force the creation of seeder “swarms” since every seeder will have to upload at least twice what they download.

As BitTorrent explains, “The intended use of Altruistic Mode is to help out a swarm. This can help other peers download faster or ensure a peer has a good sharing ratio. This is especially helpful in conditions where there are already plenty of seeds, which often happens after a torrent has been available for a while.”

This mode is entirely optional and needs to be enabled by the user. We’re not sure why anyone would want to use this mode in the first place though. If you really want to seed a file so badly, BitTorrent and uTorrent already give you the option to set a seeding ratio manually. Setting a ratio doesn’t affect your download in any way and you can still share all you like.

BitTorrent is calling this feature an experiment for now.

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