BitTorrent Power Tips From The Makers of Vuze

While BitTorrent Inc.'s hugely successful uTorrent client grabs most of the headlines, there is another mainstream client that every BitTorrent user should be aware of. Vuze, previously known as Azureus, is a ridiculously powerful torrent client with more features than you ever knew you needed. Today we hand over to the guys at Vuze for a handful of power tips to transform straightforward downloads and improve productivity.

While simple to use if so desired, Vuze is probably the most complex and powerful of all BitTorrent clients if users are prepared to take a look under the hood and explore its array of features.

But despite its undoubted capabilities, in years gone by when processing power and RAM were in relatively short supply, some users had little choice but to use a more lightweight client such as uTorrent.

These days, however, most seasoned BitTorrent users are blessed with more hardware resources than they need, so any ‘resource hog’ notions should be long gone. In fact, on our test machine Vuze uses up 30% less resources than Firefox with a couple of addons. If you haven’t tried it for a while, Vuze is absolutely worth another look, especially when you consider the impressive range of gadgets available (such as the Mainline DHT plugin) and the fact that it’s open source.

Today we take a look at a Vuze feature that might easily be overlooked, but one that offers some powerful functionality that could increase your productivity and transform your torrenting habits.

Vuze Categories

The categories feature in Vuze is very powerful and can be used to automate tasks and perform some very neat tricks.

Also known as tags in some clients, a category can be assigned to a torrent to classify it in some way, family videos or news items for example. Vuze currently supports a single category per torrent.

To manually assign a download to a category you can right click on it and select ‘Assign Category’ – this gives you the option to create a new category or select an existing one. (see large screenshot below)

So, categories are used to contain downloads. Once you have a category you can right-click on it to set category specific options.

You have per-category upload and download speed limits, ability to stop/start all the downloads in the category, and the Auto-Device option which we’ll come to in a little while.

Automatically Assign Categories to Subscription (RSS) Downloads

Some torrent sites and content producers provide RSS feeds for their torrents. When added to Vuze these are known as ‘subscriptions’.

Once added to Vuze, right-click on a subscription and select ‘Assign Category’ – all content downloaded through that subscription will be automatically assigned to that category. Then we can perform neat tricks, such as assigning that category for auto-transcoding to an external viewing device.

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Assigning a category to auto-transcode to device

First, in the right hand pane make sure to switch on ‘Device Playback‘ and install the addon when prompted. Make sure your device is connected to your network and right click on category and select ‘auto-device’. Choose your device, and the encoding format, and all torrents in that category will be sent to your device automatically.

An example flow that uses the auto-device feature would be if you were using BitTorrent to share family movies and you wanted to put them onto your iPad to watch them. You would create a category for these movies (FamilyVids for example) and set the Auto-Device to be your new iPad.

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Whenever you started downloading a new family video you could drag+drop it onto the FamilyVids category sidebar entry to assign it to that category. This will automatically queue it for transcode and transfer to your iPad. Interestingly, it will actually perform the transcoding in parallel with the download to minimize elapsed time, although this feature is still in beta.

Using an RSS feed to trigger remote downloads and transcoding to another device.

Although RSS feeds are offered by torrent sites, it’s also possible for regular users to create RSS feeds to automate the sharing of content with their friends.

To extend this example to include the assignment of a category to a Subscription, let’s say your brother was using Vuze and creating family videos.

First, he could create a MyVids category and use the ‘Sharing’ feature in Vuze to drag+drop his videos onto Vuze to automatically create torrents and seed them. Then he could assign these torrents to the MyVids category and use the ‘Create local RSS feed’ option on the category to create an RSS feed containing those videos.

He could then send you the RSS feed link and you would add that to your Vuze client as an RSS feed (known in Vuze as Subscriptions). You would then set the category for that RSS Feed to be FamilyVids.

Now, whenever your brother adds a new video to his Vuze’s MyVids category it will automatically end up on your iPad.

More Vuze power tips coming soon.

The Vuze BitTorrent client can be downloaded here and the Vuze wiki is available here.

Thanks to Dan Kochis, Paul Gardner and Arron Mogge at Vuze

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