World’s Largest BitTorrent Tracker Goes Down

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OpenBitTorrent, the largest BitTorrent tracker on the Internet, has been offline for more than a week. The tracker's domain name, which is registered to Pirate Bay's Fredrik Neij, has a missing DNS record which makes it impossible to reach.

openbittorrentFounded in 2009 after The Pirate Bay shut down its tracker, OpenBitTorrent soon grew out to become a key player in the BitTorrent ecosystem.

Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files themselves.

For several years OpenBitTorrent has been the most used BitTorrent tracker. The free service coordinates the downloads of 30 million people at any given point in time, processing roughly three billion connections per day.

About a week ago, however, the tracker suddenly stopped responding. Those who now try to download a torrent with help from OpenBitTorrent will notice that the connection to the tracker times out.

The problems appear to originate from missing DNS entries. The domain name is currently not linked to an IP-address which makes it impossible to reach.

openbttimesout

Around the same time OpenBitTorrent went down, “sister” tracker PublicBT disappeared as well. The latter reappeared two days ago and is functioning as usual at the time of writing.

Hoping to get more details TF reached out both OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT earlier this week, but we have yet to receive a response.

It’s worth noting that former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij is listed as the domain registrant for the OpenBitTorrent domain. Neij was arrested a few weeks ago and is currently imprisoned in Sweden.

Despite the largest tracker being down most BitTorrent users are still able to share files. In fact, it’s likely that the majority are completely unaware of the downtime.

Instead of using a tracker, most popular torrents work fine when they rely solely on DHT and PEX. This allows downloaders to get info on other peers from each other, instead of a central tracker.

Users of BitTorrent proxy services can experience more problems as they often have DHT and PEX disabled to prevent their real IP-addresses from leaking out. For this group there is no other option than to wait until the trackers return or manually add addresses of other trackers to their torrents.

We’ll update this article if we receive new information on OpenBitTorrent’s prolonged downtime.

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