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I've heard a claim that a torrent with zero seeders can actually be downloaded in a finite amount of time, because not all people subscribe to the same torrent file, but you can still find them using other techniques such as DHT. Is this true in practice?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

DHT and Peer Exchange are not tracker related, but program related, so yes they can find people who are downloading the same file but are not connected to the tracker you are using. Those people that are found might be either seeders or leechers.

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But aren't these people found by the DHT/Peer Exchange listed as seeders, either in your own torrent client and/or the website hosting the torrent? If a torrent file shows no seeders in your client, does it actually happen that seeders show up later? –  ripper234 Jul 18 '09 at 10:53
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Site (All of those that I'm aware of) only get their info form the tracker and will not list the users that you might get from DHT and PE. However programs [which support these services] will show them and so if your client says there are no seeders then the chances that one will appear are very very small, as said in another answer, one can request people to re-seed on the site where the torrent file is hosted. –  Eran Jul 18 '09 at 11:16

Yes, it is true in practice - but not always. With no seeders, there's no guarantee that 100% of the download is available.

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From this BiTorrent FAQ:

When there are zero seeds for a given torrent (and not enough peers to have a distributed copy), then eventually all the peers will get stuck with an incomplete file, if no one in the swarm has the missing pieces.

When this happens, someone with a complete file (a seed) must connect to the swarm so that those missing pieces can be transferred. This is called reseeding. Usually a request for a reseed comes with an implicit promise that the requester will leave his or her client open for some time period after finishing (to add longevity to the torrent) in return for the kind soul reseeding the file.

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DHT clients do not need tracker to operate, so it can download without any seeders, as seeders are reported by tracker itself. Good explanation of DHT relating to torrenting can be found at : http://www.tamiltorrents.net/forums/showthread.php?t=8819

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Yes, this is actually possible. I've downloaded torrents that are literally dead: 0 seeders and 0 leechers shown. Right now I'm downloading a 1.7GB file at my normal speed.

However, I'm confused as to how this actually works.

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