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Very strange problem. Lengthy description


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I have been using torrents for a long time and have used many clients before settling on utorrent. I've used utorrent very succesfully for a good many months. I mention this mainly to illustrate that my hardware/setup etc, is proven as being capable of handling torrents properly. However, I've now got a problem that is driving me nuts... I'd really welcome any help anyone might be able to offer on this please :)

The symptoms - My torrents work, but they are much slower than normal. My upload limit is rarely reached, yet before it was almost always constantly peaked. My download speed varies a lot, but never reaches its max (it regularly used to), rarely goes above 20k/s, and more often than not hovers between 0 and 5 k/s. BUT, the biggest issue is that when utorrent (or indeed, any other torrent client I've tried to try to resolve this) is running I lose connection to the internet for web, mail, etc. It's only lost for a few minutes, then comes back without intervention from me. It works for a few minutes, then it's gone again, and so on. I've never known torrents cause this kind of behaviour before. I tend to get my torrents from one site, and they are all exceptionally well seeded. I've also tried torrents from OpenOffice and Ubuntu, and whilst the speed has been seen to be slightly better, it's still not right, and more importantly, it's still killing the rest of my internet connection.

The hardware - ActionTec GT701-WG connection to PC via ethernet. No other computers on network. The PC has the Windows firewall disabled but does have McAfee firewall installed (although I've tried disabling this too). I'm on a 1mbit connection (1024 down, 128 up).

The settings - The router's ip address is, and the PC's is In the Network Properties on the PC, I have the IP address specified as, and the Default Gateway specified as The Subnet Mask is set at The DNS servers are specified as provided by my ISP. The port I am using for utorrent is 35111. I have the port forwarded as per the instructions for my router at portforward.com. I also have the port opened in McAfee firewall (but I have also tried disabling the firewall).

In my utorrent Connection settings I have randomize port unticked, enable upnp unticked, add utorrent to windows firewall exceptions ticked, proxy server type set to 'none', global maximum upload rate set to 17k/s with an alternate when not downloading set to 20k/s. The global max download rate is set to 0 (unlimited).

In BitTorrents settings I have Global maximum connections set to 80, Max number of connected peers per torrent set to 40, number of upload slots per torrent set to 6, use additional upload slots is ticked, enable DHT network is unticked, so is enable DHT for new torrents, ask tracker for scrape information is ticked, enable peer exchange is unticked. Protocol encryption is enabled. It was previously disabled (when things worked ok), but enabling it seems to improve it a bit whilst i have this problem (but I may be imagining this!).

My net.max_halfopen is set to 4 at the moment, but I'm pretty sure it was originally set to the default of 8. Either way, it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Additional info - I've noticed that when I'm in a state of not being able to access web pages (due to the problem described above), if I then enter (my router's config pages) in my browser, sometimes it takes a couple of seconds to reach the page, and sometimes I get a page not found message. This seems very strange, but maybe hints toward what the problem might be.

I haven't really made any significant changes to the PC lately that I would have thought likely to have an effect such as I've experienced, but something did happen the other day... I bought a game (Dark Messiah) the other day and something went wrong during the installation of Steam. Somehow I ended up being forced to do a CHKDSK during the next reboot, and some time afterwards, McAfee firewall seemingly detected my router for the first time as if it had only just been connected. It asked me if I wanted to 'trust it' and I obviously said 'yes'. Again, perhaps this is a clue as to the problem.

Many apologies for the lengthy description. I've tried to include all information that seems pertinent to the problem, so hopefully it'll make for a tidier thread in the end. I normally manage to find the solutions to my problems myself in forums, faqs, etc, but I can honestly say I've trawled the forums here and elsewhere and found nothing that helps. I've spent 4 nights on trying to resolve this now, but I've reached a complete dead end.

I would be extremely grateful for any help or advice anyone might be able to offer.

Thanks for reading :)

(edited to add net.max_halfopen setting to description)

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Well, I'm no expert but did you try downloading some file other than torrents? Just a normal file from some website. Do you get the maximum speed?

While downloading, do you get 'disk overloaded' message in the status bar of your client?

These are what I could think of until the experts come to your rescue!

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Thanks for the reply Silverfire. I'd always quite liked McAfee, and was reluctant to remove it, but if you think that's the next step in diagnosing this, then I'll try it out and report back.

I've just thought of another strange symptom that I forgot to mention. If I check whether my port is open at the utorrent port checker page it will show green and say it's ok. If I refresh a couple of minutes later, it may still be green or it may have turned red. It seems to be open for a few minutes, then closed for a few, then open and so on. This cyclical nature also seems to be the way my web access is working too.

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Hi Balajik - yes, I do get full speeds when downloading from non-torrent sources, although of course only when my connection is 'ok' and not affected by my problem. I regularly got max speeds on torrents too before all this.

I've never seen the 'disk overloaded' message that you mentioned.

Could there be a more fundamental thing that I've overlooked? Perhaps something in my OS settings rather than utorrent?

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Ok, if you really have 128 kilobits/sec upload bandwidth then you will NEVER reach 17 KB/sec upload speed.

128 kilobits/sec upload bandwidth is 16 KB/sec file tranfer theoretical max -- and probably only 10-13 KB/sec useable.

What's more, setting µTorrent's upload speed higher than your line's capable alone can explain the problems you're having.

6 upload slots per torrent, even with just 1 torrent going at once, is probably too much for your connection. Reduce upload slots to 3, but leave the use additional upload slots checked. More than 2 torrents at once is also a bit too much for the connection...it makes you a poor seeder and others will be less likely to upload back to you if you're spreading your upload speed too thin.

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I think I must have been mistaken about the 128kilobits upstream.. The maximum I ever seem to upload at normally is about 21k/s but I limit it to 17 to avoid the very problems you described from happening. I'll reduce the upload slots to 3 though, as you suggested, and see what happens.

I still haven't got round to the uninstall of McAfee firewall, but I should add that it has been there for months and months without causing any torrent issues whatsoever. I still intend to do that test though as it has to ruled out (or in even!).

Thanks everyone for your replies :)

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I'm not sure what did it, but my speeds have certainly increased... perhaps reducing the number of upload slots to 3. I'm currently downloading a torrent at >100k/s which is about as good as I could hope for, but still it is taking periodical dips down, and I am still also losing all web access, email, etc.

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your upload speed is not fast, so set max to 12k, with 2 or 3 up slots, force encryption. I don' t rely on upnp, just config my router and firewall properly.

I would use kerio http://www.filehippo.com/download_kerio_personal_firewall/ as a firewall in windows, even the basic version is better than xp's,

who's your isp? keep and eye on your ip address, it changes to a weired number if they are managing your traffic, which could be affecting your speed

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My ISP is UKOnline. I've never noticed my IP address change. I've set it to just 1 upload slot with a max of 15k/s (I can easily go above 20).

The same problem still remains - the only way to guarantee not to lose access to the web is to close utorrent down. The most annoying thing is the knowledge that it's been perfectly ok for so long before now :(

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Recheck to see what your OFFICIAL upload speed is.

Your ISP may allow you to exceed it for short intervals, and THEN start throttling down the speeds.

So µTorrent would run fine at first even exceeding the official limits, then after consistantly exceeding the limits...problems appear.

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OK, I've dropped the upload limit to 2k/s, and there's still no improvement.

The thing is, it doesn't make any difference whether I'm uploading or not. Just having torrents running at 0up/0down or really low speeds like 2up/3down causes me to lose all other internet access.

Whilst I don't have the evidence to prove it, I'm pretty sure my designated speed limits aren't the issue, as I've seen my utorrent upload speed consistently breach 20k/s for many months when things were working ok before a few days ago.

I keep reading threads that mention too many connections, and whilst I'm pretty sure I've made suitable changes to the utorrent settings, I'm not sure that I've made the necessary changes to XP to cater for this. Is there any particular registry entry I can check or something like that?

Sooner or later, I'm going to have to give up on this, and just accept that I can only use torrents when I'm afk or asleep, but in the meantime, I really appreciate all your replies and suggestions. I've listened to them all, and tried every suggestion (in fact, I think they're all still in place now).

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  • 1 year later...


You appear to be on ComCast.

So...you need to use encryption Forced outgoing and possibly uncheck incoming legacy.

Turn off DHT (both kinds).

Disable Resolve IPs under the Peers Window. (That's expensive window-dressing considering it doesn't help download+upload speeds any.)

Reduce half open connection max to maybe 1-4. (You're not firewalled in µTorrent, right? ...so it shouldn't hurt as much as you might think!)

Disable resolve country flags in advanced.

Disable "Enable Local Peer Discovery".

If you've manually port forwarded your router, or don't have a router, Disable UPnP in µTorrent.

The 2nd link in my signature gives suggested settings for uTorrent based on your max sustainable UPLOAD speed.

NOTE: Max sustainable UPLOAD speed is nowhere near max download speed for almost every internet connection in existence.

In your case, you can probably use the 1 megabits/second upload settings...but you may need to reduce total connections to 100 or less because of weak networking hardware and software.

You may want to use lower settings than your connection can handle because it is shared with others or due to monthly bandwidth quotas.

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