Seeding torrents is not a priority for many users. There are fewer and fewer seeders because people don’t realize how important it is to share. But before we go deeper into that, let’s see the definition of seeding.
What Does Seeding Mean in Torrenting?
After you finish downloading a torrent file, you are seeding it. In other words, you are uploading it to other peers who are downloading the same file. In other words, you become a seeder right after your download is complete, meaning you have the whole file, and you are not downloading it anymore.
It’s worth mentioning that before becoming a seeder, you’re downloading the file and uploading the parts you already have. During that stage, you are a peer, someone who still doesn’t have the entire file. It’s correct if we say that a peer is already seeding before having the whole torrent file.
How Does Seeding Work?
The main thing that you should keep in mind is that torrenting happens through the P2P protocol. It means that you don’t download one complete file from the same place.
Each file is divided into many pieces, and you download them from different people. At the same time, you upload those pieces to other peers. The name “peer-to-peer” should make more sense to you now.
Why Is It Important to Seed Torrents?
In simple words, seeding allows a torrent to stay alive. If there are no seeders, the torrent will certainly die, and no more people can download the total amount of parts. Let’s look at an example to understand it better:
Imagine that a certain torrent file has 5 peers and 0 seeds. That means no one has the entire file, and those 5 peers are exchanging the same parts between them. It will get to a point where everyone will have exactly the same parts, and the download will stop. One could argue that one of those 5 peers has the missing pieces that the others don’t, but that’s rarely the case.
The lack of seeders is the most common explanation whenever you see all the peers stuck at the same download percentage.
Besides the matter of the survival of a file, there’s also the speed. More seeders mean that you can download more parts from more people simultaneously. That way, the downloads are much faster.
When Should You Stop Seeding?
Your torrent manager will tell you some information about each file. You can check the ratio tab to see how much you have uploaded so far. Having a ratio of 1.000 means that you have uploaded as much as you downloaded; a full copy of the file.
That should be your minimum; you should at least give back the same amount that you took. But it’s a good practice to give a bit more back. Many people wait until it gets to 2.000 or even 3.000, meaning 2 or 3 times the total amount of the file.
Pay special attention if you are the last seeder
There’s one particular situation that we would like to mention. As you know, your BitTorrent client gives you the number of seeders available for each file. If you see that you are the last seed, and there are only peers left, you should keep in mind that you will very likely kill that torrent if you stop seeding. That is the main reason why it’s impossible to download some torrents.
In this scenario, it would be ideal to keep seeding until a few other peers finish the download and become a seed. That way, the torrent would be kept alive with several seeders.
Seeding is giving back to the community what you just took. If everyone seeded, torrents would remain alive and healthy, with fast speeds.
You should even seed recent torrents that have a lot of seeders. Imagine if everyone would think: “This one has many seeders; it doesn’t make a difference if I seed”. That way of thinking would kill torrents much faster; they wouldn’t last long.
Naturally, a torrent loses seeds with time, and its download becomes slower. Those older ones should have your special attention, because they are almost disappearing.
Seeding them is a way of reversing that situation. Just imagine that your favorite masterpiece won’t be available to the public anymore; it would be a tragedy! Remember, sharing is caring!