BTAccel – the Web-Based BitTorrent Client

Transfer large files to devices that can’t run BitTorrent, circumvent network P2P throttling, or use on networks with poor upload capacity.

BTAccel has created a new, web-based BitTorrent client that offers file-sharers some interesting new download options. Users need only a web browser to download content, giving devices like smart phones and game consoles that cannot run a native BitTorrent client the ability to still transfer large files.

It doesn’t need Java or any other plugin. All of the functionality and BitTorrent connectivity happens inside the BTAccel data center. Simply enter a .torrent URL and the BTAccel server connects to the swarm on behalf of the end user. It then downloads it and makes it available as a single, manageable zip file.

Because the service is like any other web page to most firewalls, and does not require upload capacity from the enduser, BTAccel provides BitTorrent access to most Internet connected devices.

The BTAccel data center is connected to multiple Internet backbone providers to accelerate downloads from most parts of the Internet. In many cases it can retrieve content faster than one could with a decent broadband connection, myself included.

As an example, I have a 2MB/s connection at home, but BTAccel peaked out at over 9MB/s in one case as it downloaded the content to their servers. However, the download speed I achieved in turn maxed out at about 290KB/s so in my case it wouldn’t be something I’d use at home. My dad however, has a lousy Clearwire connection which does throttle BitTorrent, and would make a lot of sense to use in that case.

BTAccel says that it doesn’t support private BitTorrent tracker sites that “require user authentication beyond what can be passed in a URL.” So it won’t work for, but it will for sites like RevTT. Note it does say that it maintains a 1:1 ratio.

I think the most likely use will be for those using networks with P2P throttling, censorship, or upload capacity issues. It also can be a handy way to share content via BitTorrent with family and friends without worrying about technical or configuration issues. Simply prepend a torrent tracker with and they get a page that grabs the content and spits out a “zip and download” button when it’s done downloading it to their server.

Now once it’s done downloading to BTAccel’s server it stays there for two weeks so others you send the link to afterwards won’t have to wait for BTAccel to download it again.

The service is free, but it does plan to roll out premium services at some point that give people priority download service with “no wait times” that will range from between $9.67 – $24.99 p/mo. The details on this are still being worked out.

The service is still in invite only alpha mode, but BTAccel hooked us up with 500 invites. Simply enter the invitation code “zeropaid500″ in the signup option.

In any event, I had a chance to talk to Tom over at BTAccel and ask him a few questions.

1. Where is BTAccel based?

BTAccel’s servers are based in the US and in Europe. The engineering team is located in China.

2. How precisely does the service work?

BTAccel is a hosted torrent client. It basically works like any other torrent client, except it does not run on the users machine but inside our data center. When the user requests a particular torrent, our service (we use the transmission client) communicates with the tracker, requests peers and participates in the swarm on behalf of the enduser. When the file has been completely received, the enduser who requested it can download it from the BTAccel website with any web browser.

3. What sort of user is BTAccel intended for?

BTAccel is not designed to replace a full fledged torrent client such as vuze, but to augment it in certain scenarios.

There are a couple of specific use cases where btaccel can add value today to endusers who are familiar with torrents yet have a specific issue that prevents them from running a regular torrent client, for example:

  • Devices that are incapable of running a native torrent client
  • Smart phones, game consoles, locked down computers
  • Users on networks that are not optimized for p2p applications (for example an ADSL line with limited upload capacity – or a wireless device)
  • Users on networks that have blocked p2p applications
  • Quick access to the torrent network from an Internet Cafe
  • Some content providers might want to also prepend “” in front of their .torrent URLs as an alternative to those casual users who do not have a torrent client.

BTAccel in it’s current alpha incarnation requires an understanding of torrents, etc. It is our goal to make the service easier to use over time so casual users who need access to one or two torrents can get those without having to download and understand a torrent client.

4. With some users obviously using BTAccel to download copyrighted material, is there any infringement concerns?

BTAccel respects copyrights. Our policy is to investigate any allegations of copyright infringement brought to our attention. BTAccel will block requests for copyrighted materials and remove files containing such copyrighted materials from the Site’s cache (if such file still exists on the cache at the time of notice) if the site is made aware of such requests. While we are not actively monitoring traffic passing through the network, if we are made aware of specific end user violations of our Copyright Policy, we may terminate such user’s account and block their access. Please see the terms of service for more information on this.

5. In your FAQs it mentions premium plans that range from $9.67 – $24.99 per month. What are the differences between premium and free service, aside from wait time, if any, and between the range of premium service?

We are in alpha testing and don’t know yet what the exact differentiation between the premium and free service will be. For now we are planning capacity so that at least during non-peak usage hours there will be no waiting times. We expect to have peak time waiting periods though. Premium users will never have a wait time. We are looking at differentiating premium services based on volume of traffic that a user would like to pass through our network. Would like to be able to find the right mix, so that casual users can always use the service for free and those users who really get a lot of value out of BTAccel help support us. We hope to get a lot of feedback in the coming months as to how we can best strike that balance.

The service is still in invite only alpha mode, but BTAccel hooked us up with 500 invites. Simply enter the invitation code “zeropaid500″ in the signup option.

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