Most clients use only one port per download. They start at the bottom 6881 and if you start a second download 6882 is used and so on. ISP's are starting to cap and in a few cases block the known port ranges however. For this reason many of the newer clients are using much higher port ranges. Many also randomly change the port range. This is causing problems for people that need to configure their firewalls and forward ports in their router as all that must match the ports the client software uses. Most of the clients that offer random ports as a feature have an option to lock it down to a specified range in the configuration however. Also another school of thought is that allowing multiple torrents to use the same open port number is a good idea. After all the more open and forwarded ports you have the more your security is lowered even if just a tiny bit. Also XP with the SP2 firewall usually only allows one open port at a time unless you manually configure services like this.
If you use easytree as well as zappaters their page should show you without the red port numbers if everything is configured properly. Remember that you only need to configure as many ports as you think you would ever have torrents running. In other words if you never download and or seed more than 3 torrents at a time you only need to open three ports.
My advise is to dump your client and try the all new original BitTorrent client 4.0. Set it to a high range like starting at 59321. Set all your firewall and port forwarding to the new higher range and see what happens. Finish your downloads first however. Also set it to always save in the folder you usually save the torrent folders in. I've tried several clients and this one seems to be the most stable and has the least drag on my system. The new version just came out and has a bunch of new features.
Now to answer your question about speed. If your allowing your client software to upload at your connections maximum speed it will slow your download. This is because for each piece you download a response file must be sent telling the peer you downloaded from that the piece was received. This is separate from the data your uploading to peers and is just part of the presses. If your upload rate is maxed out it can choke off the communication of your download and the download will slow. What you want to do is join a large swarm and determine what your maximum upload rate is and then turn it down just a little like maybe 10 or 15%. This will allow free communication about your downloaded pieces and they should come faster. Keep in mind that the bittorrent protocol itself is a tit for tat system and generally the faster you can upload the faster your download will go so don't turn down the upload speed to much.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark D.
Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 4:33 PM
Subject: [Zappa-List] Bit Torrent Dilemnas

Greetings, community. I've been getting into Zappateers a bit lately,
and I'm wondering if someone on here can tell me if there is anything I
can do to increase my bit torrent download speeds. I believe I already
established a static IP address and my Windows firewall seems to have
made accomodations for my torrent client (called eXeem) for ports
6881-6888 or 6889 or so, but some of these shows are taking 24 hours or
more. I have a cable modem, btw. When I look at the the network
configuration of the client it says the listen port is 6881; does this
indicate that it is NOT using the higher ports? I hope these questions
are relevant; this stuff's new to me.

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