For this content to travel from one part of the world to another, the BitTorrent ecosystem needs reliable trackers. Unfortunately, reliable public trackers are much harder to find.
In recent weeks prominent trackers such as OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT have been offline most of the time. Even more concerning, the associated websites also stopped advertising the tracker addresses in public, suggesting that they may retire in the near future.
Amidst all this trouble there is one tracker that stands out in a positive way. Founded less than two years ago, Demonii has grown out to become one of the largest and most stable trackers.
This week it broke a new record by serving more than 30 million people at the same time, which is a 100% increase compared to last year.
At the time of writing Demonii is serving 30,508,293 peers and 24,402,432 seeds, while tracking a total of 4,209,378 torrents. That’s more than the top three trackers were serving in 2013, combined.
TF spoke to the operator of Demonii who told us that they are keeping the tracker online with relatively few resources. It currently runs smoothly on ‘just’ three dedicated servers.
“At this moment we are hosting the tracker on three medium-sized dedicated servers which are linked up to each other and are synced to always be up to date. This adds redundancy if anything fails and also eases the load overall,” Demonii’s admin says.
Despite the modest setup, the number of connections it handles per day is mind-boggling.
The servers are processing a constant stream of data at the rate of 180 Mbit per second, and the graph below shows the UDP connections for one of the servers averaging around 600,000 per minute. Across the three servers this adds up to well over two billion connections per day.
The 30 million peer milestone and the connection statistics make Demonii the largest currently active BitTorrent tracker.
While some have argued that trackers are obsolete, as DHT and PEX allow peers to share the same information among each other, Demonii’s operator disagrees.
“PEX and DHT are ‘good enough’, but some people out there are looking for something better than ‘good enough’,” he tells us.
“Having trackers speeds up the initial peer finding significantly. Sure, it’s not an absolute must in order to download via BitTorrent but while there are functional trackers out there, I really don’t see and understand why people argue that they should be avoided and made obsolete,” he adds.
Aside from speeding up initial connections, trackers are also essential for those who use proxies, as they often have DHT and PEX disabled to prevent their real IP-addresses from leaking out.
In any case, Demonii is not going away anytime soon. The tracker is already on its way to another milestone. The 40 million peer milestone will probably come into view later this year, but first there are a trillion more connections to process.