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I know Bittorrent is often used for illegal downloading and whatnot, but I mostly use it on the rare occasion to download things like Linux distributions. Many of these download sources let you download from HTTP, possibly FTP, and they also provide a .torrent file.

I encountered one of these earlier today, and I naturally hit the torrent file, since it typically downloads faster through BT and also reduces the load on the web server. But, my Bittorrent program couldn't find very many seeds/peers, so I had to resort to HTTP. After a few minutes of downloading, Bittorrent finally kicked in with a load of seeds and peers, and I canceled the HTTP download, since the BT speeds ramped up and would quickly surpass the HTTP-downloaded amount.

So I thought, what if a Bittorrent client would accept not only a .torrent file, but also one or more HTTP/FTP download locations? It could then be smart about downloading from Bittorrent seeds and peers, while simultaneously downloading chunks of the file from the HTTP and FTP download locations. It's an odd hybrid between a "download accelerator" and a Bittorrent client.

Is there any sort of program out there that does this?

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Interesting question, it would take some sort of programming genius to blend the two totally different download technologies. Bittorent divides the file(s) into many small pieces for distribution, HTTP however does not, it is usually one contiguous file or set of files. –  Moab Jul 15 '10 at 20:59
    
Also, the HTTP server would probably have to support resuming, for optimal bandwidth use. –  Hello71 Jul 15 '10 at 21:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I use a command line tool called aria2 and it does what you are describing.

http://aria2.sourceforge.net/

Features

Multi-connection Download aria2 can download a file from multiple sources/protocols and tries to utilize your maximum download bandwidth. Really speeds up your download experience. Lightweight aria2 doesn't require much memory and CPU time. The physical memory usage is typically 4MiB (normal HTTP/FTP downloads) to 9MiB (BitTorrent downloads). CPU usage in BitTorrent with download speed of 2.8MiB/sec is around 6%. Fully featured BitTorrent Client All features you want in BitTorrent client are available: DHT, PEX, Encryption, Magnet URI, Web-Seeding, Selective Downloads and Local Peer Discovery. Metalink Enabled aria2 supports The Metalink Download Description Format(aka Metalink v4). Old Metalink v3 is also supported. Metalink offers File verification, HTTP/FTP/BitTorrent integration and Configuration for language, location, OS, etc.

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BitTorrent has a technology they call BitTorrent DNA. I believe it is mostly BitTorrent traffic for downloads but can fall back to HTTP if there are no seeds available.

As I said in my comment to Josh K: "The Blizzard downloader for World of Warcraft patches does a hybrid HTTP / BitTorrent download. It starts from HTTP and goes to BitTorrent if there are peers / seeds available. Continues on HTTP if no peers / seeds."

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