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I am on a home wireless network with three other users. One of them downloads torrents 24x7.

Whenever the other person is doing his thing with torrents, my laptop's Internet speed drops to a crawl. My laptop is a Toshiba L675 with 8GB RAM and a 500 meg HD. I don't think I have a hardware issue, so my question is:

Can constant sustained usage of torrents be interruptive to others sharing a common router?

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Based on context, I think you meant "router" in your question, not "server," and I changed it among my other edits. Apologies if you actually meant server (and please explain). I also suspect you have a 500 gig HD, not 500 meg, but I didn't change that one. – Pops Oct 21 '11 at 22:12

Yes, the torrents are likely causing the slowdown. A router only has so much bandwidth to use to connect to the Internet. A torrent is essentially a bunch of files being constantly downloaded from and uploaded to other computers, so they tend to suck up a bunch of bandwidth, and all network connections will slow down as a result.

The best alternatives are to either:

  • Ask the torrenter to limit/throttle the bandwidth use (usually settable with a setting in the torrent application) when you need to use the Internet
  • Not use the wireless but actually plug in with an Ethernet cable. The speed gain this gives you will probably make up for the slowness the torrenting is causing.
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If you can get him to throttle his speed in each direction to about 85% of the maximum speed he typically sees in that direction, that will likely eliminate the problem. He'll still get almost the full download speed, and limiting the usage to under the maximum will avoid queuing backups that kill latency. (Which is what is probably bothering you.) – David Schwartz Oct 21 '11 at 22:18
OKay so if he has a 5-25Mbps connection (pretty standard) and is using 54-300 Mbps wireless how exactly will plugging into a 100/1000 plug help? The rest of your answer makes sense, this part makes no sense if his WAN is saturated plugging into a LAN port is not going to help. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Oct 21 '11 at 23:00
This is slightly wrong. The router has tons of bandwidth to connect. On a typical router, that is a 10/100 or better port on the WAN, meaning that the router is capable of at least 100 megabits per second. The limiting factor is NOT the router, but is the actual bandwidth of the connection itself. Switching to an ethernet cable instead of a wireless connection will not likely do anything to alleviate the bottleneck. – MaQleod Oct 21 '11 at 23:47
Typical SoHo routers are not capable of anywhere near 100Mbps on their WAN. They have a 10/100 port, but their CPU cannot actually NAT traffic at rates anywhere near 100Mbps. – David Schwartz Oct 23 '11 at 1:49

Torrents are quite capable of using every bit of available bandwidth. Thankfully, most torrent apps allow throttling, and some can even schedule the throttling automatically. For instance, after midnight the app runs at full bandwidth, but between 9am and midnight it only uses 1 or 2 mbps.

You should talk with the person downloading the torrents and come to an agreement regarding his use of "all" the internet.

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