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What is Seeding?

Peers, seeders, and leechers are terms you might have encountered while torrenting. Do you need to be seeding? Or leeching? And what does it all mean? 

In this “what is seeding?” post, we’ll break down this concept and the relationship with the others. Why are seeders important for leechers? And primarily, how to seed a torrent? 

So before going deeper, what is a seeder? In a nutshell, a seeder is a torrent user who belongs to a torrent swarm and has a full copy of the content to share. 

And, what is seeding? Seeding is the process of sharing or uploading a torrent in a torrent swarm. In other words, seeding is sharing the full copy of torrent data to leechers without expecting anything in return. 

Want to know more? Keep reading. 

What is Seeding?

Let’s dive deeper into the meaning of seeding and seeder. 

To deeply understand what seeding or seeder is, you’ll first need to understand how torrenting and BitTorrent works

  1. To download a torrent, you would use a BitTorrent client (such as uTorrent, Transmission, Deluge, or BitTorrent) on your computer with an Internet connection. These BitTorrent clients use the BitTorrent protocol to download or upload data. 
  2. When you load a torrent file or URL magnet into your BitTorrent client, the BitTorrent client reads the instructions on the file (or magnet link) and connects to the torrent tracker provided on the file. 
  3. Once a connection has been established (and identity passed in some cases via a passkey), the torrent tracker sends back information about the torrent swarm to the client. Torrent trackers establish and maintain communications in a torrent swarm. 
  4. A torrent swarm is a group of people (torrent peers, seeders, and leechers) connected via the torrent tracker. This group has a particular and unique interest in a specific torrent. 
  5. The tracker sends a list of peers to the local client (including IP address, torrent client, and more), including the seeders (that hold a full copy of the content) and leechers (that have an incomplete copy of the content).
  6. Your (local) torrent client will connect and start requesting small data sets to the peers in the torrent swarm (including seeders and leechers). The distribution in P2P and BitTorrent acts like a flood, spreading the data to all peers in the swarm without relying on a central node. 

What is seeding in simple words, and why are seeders important? 

So, now that you know the seeder’s role in the torrenting process, let’s focus on seeding. 

What is seeding? As mentioned in the introduction, seeding is the process of sharing the full copy of the file to users (leechers) with only a partial copy of the content. In that sense, both parties, seeders and leechers are important to building and maintaining a torrent.

Once a leecher successfully downloads the entire torrent content and decides to stay in the torrent swarm to continue sharing the content with the rest, it evolves into a seeder. 

Since seeders have the full copy of the content, they are vital for keeping the torrent alive and healthy in the torrent swarm. The longer a seeder remains on the torrent swarm (as a seeder) or, the more content they upload or share, the more chances that the torrent will thrive. In addition, the more seeders (givers) there are than leechers (takers), the file will be more available, thus will download faster.  

A torrent seed (as the name implies) acts as the seed on the ground. Seeders plant the seed (provide a full copy of the content) and remain on the ground (torrent swarm) to take care of the seed (they spend some more of their resources to keep the torrent alive). 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to seeding and seeders. 

a. How do you become a seeder? 

When you download a torrent, you are a leecher. Once you manage to download 100% of the content and continue participating in the swarm, but this time by uploading the content to the rest, you automatically become a seeder. 

b. Seeders vs. Peers?

Seeders are the users uploading their full copy of the torrent content to the leechers in the torrent swarm. Peers is simply the term used in P2P (Peer 2 Peer), referred to as the users (seeders or leechers) within a torrent swarm. 

c. Seeding vs. leeching? 

Seeding is the process of uploading (or sharing) the content (file) to the leechers that (download) the content from you. Seeders do not need to download more data, as they already have the full copy. They are just present to give and not to take. Leeching, however, means downloading the content from a peer (it could be another leecher or seeder). Leechers take data, although they also share in the process. 

d. What is the downside of seeding? 

The downsides of seeding are usually resource-related. Seeding (uploading) content requires consuming lots of upload bandwidth, slowing down the entire Internet bandwidth for other apps and devices. In addition, another downside of seeding is storage. Most people have limited storage on their devices, so they usually move downloaded content to cold or external storage, making it quite challenging to continue sharing. 

e. What is a sharing ratio? 

The seeding ratio or sharing ratio is a critical number for keeping torrents alive. The sharing ratio represents the relationship between your number of downloads and uploads. If you seed (upload) a full copy of your downloaded content, you have a 1:1 sharing ratio. Private trackers require members to maintain at least a 1:1 sharing ratio to ensure members contribute to their communities. This means members must seed (upload) the same amount they leech (download) and, in some cases, more. Some public trackers will also require a 1:1 sharing ratio. 

f. What is a seedbox? 

A Seedbox is a server (box), usually virtual (VPS), designed and built for seeding torrents 24/7. A seedbox solves the challenges of seeding, which is limited bandwidth and storage. These servers dedicated to torrenting are usually rented via a cloud-based seedbox provider. These powerful servers are typically deployed in high-speed data centers and are the best options to remain anonymous while downloading torrents. 

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