Originally Posted by Muslim Soldier
This varies according to a number of different factors, but if used properly they are the fastest method of filesharing currently available.
Firstly, there is the question of how fast your connection is. Ideally you should use broadband - most downloads using dial-up will take a very long time.
Another thing that will affect your download speed is how many people are sharing the file you're downloading. The more people have it, the quicker the download speeds will be for everybody. Someone who has a complete copy of a file is called a seed
. People who are trying to get that file are called leechers
. When you're browsing torrents and choosing which one to download, go for one that has a lot of seeds, because then it will be much quicker than one that only has one or two. (If there are no seeds, then you can't get the file at all.)
Another issue that sometimes arises is to do with internet firewalls. Sometimes they block the port that your computer is communicating through when downloading, and this will drastically reduce the speed of your downloads. It's possible to tell the firewall to unblock that particular port and sort the problem out. This is called port forwarding, and you can find out how to do it here
. You have to be sure which port your bit torrent client software is using in order to be sure that you're not exposing your computer to any unnecessary risk.
Here's the general bit torrent FAQ that the above link is extracted from:
Bit Torrent FAQ
Hope that helps.