There is a trend globally for ISPs to deliberately reduce torrenting speeds. These techniques are called bandwidth shaping or throttling.
Throttling is a targeted attempt to categorize web traffic and slow down some of those categories. HD video streaming and torrent downloads are two very common targets for throttling. They generally throttle for one of two reasons, or even both:
- Torrenting Legal Implications: When your ISP slows your torrenting speeds, it is basically stating that they are discouraging file-sharing. Many torrent users seek to download legally distributed video or audio files. But others push the limits, downloading copyright protected materials and exposing the ISP to legal battles. By slowing torrenting speeds, your ISP is protecting itself. At the same time, it’s encouraging torrenters to find another provider.
- Torrenting Takes a Lot of Bandwidth: With some shared BitTorrent files approaching over 10GB, these massive files are bigger than a normal download. These files are being simultaneously downloaded by users across the globe. This causes serious lags of bandwidth speed. By throttling your torrenting activity, the ISP can regain control over bandwidth capacities that are being gobbled up by sharing huge files.
Using a process known as Deep Packet Inspection, your ISP will analyze all the data you receive or send across the Internet. This process not only determines what you are doing, but it also evaluates the kind of data you are using or accessing. Video, music, torrent files, etc, are all analyzed through Deep Packet Inspection. It’s even possible to identify the exact file and where it came from.
It’s important to remember that your ISP is the gateway for every Internet interaction you have. They have access to everything you do. The ISP can sort your data packets, blocking and slowing whatever categories they wish. This process is called throttling.
Identifying the Throttling
When you drink a milkshake, the amount of the delicious frozen treat and the ease you can sip it depends on how big of a straw you are given. In the computer world, think of data as your milkshake. When given a big straw, the shake is easily sipped. When you are throttled, your ISP gives you a coffee stirrer to sip your thick shake. It’s slow, it’s hard, it’s discouraging, and it takes forever to even get a sip through such a small straw. While you may be able to drink the entire shake eventually, it will take you a very long time.
How to Avoid Torrent Throttling from the ISP
The ISP depends on categorizing and sorting the traffic you are sending and receiving to identify and throttle it. That being said, you need to block the ISP’s ability to do Deep Packet Inspection. The easiest way to do this is using a VPN.
A VPN will block the ISP from reading your traffic by encrypting all your data. This prevents the ISP from being able to sort or categorize your traffic, allowing you to enjoy maximum bandwidth with no throttling.
Then, it will reroute your traffic through one of its VPN servers. From there, the data is forwarded on to its destination. As an extra layer of protection, the data is encrypted, making it impossible for your ISP to access it.
Using a VPN
While the concept may seem a little complicated, all you really need to know is that the software is easy to install and use. It’s as simple as installing the software from the VPN provider you choose and clicking the “connect” icon. The VPN will take it from there.
VPNs not only encrypt your data, but they also provide secrecy and levels of anonymity that you can’t find with your ISP. You can visit any place you like and download or torrent files without fear of being “caught” by the ISP. Because the VPN will change your IP address, no one can find out your identity in the BitTorrent swarm. This makes all your torrenting activity safe and anonymous.
It has become quite competitive over the past couple of years, and the reliability and services have improved drastically. Because of the risks involved, a completely free VPN is not recommended. It’s worth to pay for a VPN software to guarantee your protection. You can find affordable providers, some of them go as low as $3 per month.
Final Thoughts on Torrent Throttling
The best solution to bypass torrent throttling by your ISP is to get a VPN. Trying to switch ISPs is not a guarantee that they won’t throttle your torrenting activities as well.