Seeding is one of the most important concepts in the torrenting world.
But many people don’t even know what it is, let alone how it works or why it’s important. Let’s fix that, shall we?
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about seeding – and why you should do it.
What is Seeding?
Torrenting works through something called peer-to-peer downloading. This means that, rather than downloading from a server or database that is hosting a file, you’re downloading from other users.
The “seeders” are the users who already have the full file and are uploading it for the “leechers”, who are downloading the file. Of course, it gets a little more complicated than that.
The torrent files are split into lots of tiny parts, so even before you finish downloading a file, your torrent client will start uploading the parts of the file that you’ve already downloaded, assuming there are other users downloading it.
Once you’ve finished the file, your client will stop downloading – but continue uploading. This is known as seeding.
Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the people that download a file actually continue seeding it after they’re done. They simply stop sharing the file from within their client software and go on their way.
These are known as “leeches”. Technically, everyone leeches a file when they download it, but it’s the people who only leech and don’t seed that the nickname refers to.
Why Does Seeding Matter?
It’s easy: the less seeders a file has, the slower it downloads. And if it drops to zero seeders, the download speed drops to zero too – and the torrent will die, either temporarily until someone starts seeding again, or permanently if no one comes back to seed.
This is the reason why a lot of old or obscure torrents either don’t download at all or get stuck at a certain percentage.
Seeding a newer or more popular torrent is nice because it helps other torrenters download the file faster.
But it’s crucial to seed the less popular torrents, to keep them alive.
By the way, many private torrent trackers require you to maintain a certain seeding ratio. If you don’t, you’ll get the boot.
...But There’s a Catch
Seeding torrents is necessary. It’s what makes torrenting possible in the first place.
However, there are two drawbacks to seeding:
- It uses a small amount of your bandwidth in the background.
- It’s riskier than only downloading torrents.
In fact, people who get in the most trouble for “torrenting” often do so for seeding, not leeching. So, it’s understandable that some users might not want to seed.
But again, torrenting isn’t possible without seeders. You might be tempted to think, “let someone else do it”, but that kind of mindset hurts the torrenting community in the long run. And if everyone thinks like that, it’ll hurt you too, since your own downloads will be slower or stop. It’s the torrenting version of karma.
How Much Should You Seed?
Most torrent clients will allow you to see your seeding ratio. The minimum you should shoot for is a 1.0 ratio, which means you seeded as much as you downloaded.
But if you really want to help the community, it’s better to shoot for a ratio of 2.0 or 3.0.
Because like we said earlier, most people don’t seed. They’re leeches.
If everybody seeded to a 1.0 ratio, it wouldn’t be necessary to seed any more than that. But they don’t. And so someone has to pick up the slack.
Don’t Be a Leech
Seeding is what makes torrenting possible. Without seeders, you wouldn’t be able to download the files that you want. And when seeders abandon a file, it dies – and it may not ever come back.
We know it can be tempting to be a leecher. After all, it’s not like anyone will ever find out, right?
But at the end of the day, it only hurts the torrenting community. Give back as much as you receive by seeding.