BitTorrent is a protocol designed for transferring files. It is peer-to-peer in nature, as users connect to each other directly to send and receive portions of the file. However, there is a central server (called a tracker) which coordinates the action of all such peers. The tracker only manages connections, it does not have any knowledge of the contents of the files being distributed, and therefore a large number of users can be supported with relatively limited tracker bandwidth.

A recent extension to BitTorrent is the DHT ("distributed sloppy hash table" or simply called UDP tracker) protocol. A UDP based peer to peer tracker protocol. And the uTorrent imports another UDP based Micro Transport Protocol, called uTP.


In April 2001 Bram Cohen designed the BitTorrent protocol, which he implemented summer 2002. The first program to use the protocol was the original BitTorrent client. Today many applications are availiable, and the protocol is widely used.

Protocol dependencies

Example traffic

XXX - Add example traffic here (as plain text or Wireshark screenshot).


The BitTorrent dissector is (fully functional, partially functional, not existing, ... whatever the current state is). The DHT extension has been supported since r39653. The uTP extension has been supported since r36716.

Preference Settings

Example capture files

SampleCaptures/BitTorrent.Transfer1.cap (Microsoft Network Monitor) Here's a capture with a few BitTorrent packets; it contains some small packets I got whilst downloading something on BitTorrent.

SampleCaptures/BITTORRENT.pcap (libpcap) Capture file of two torrent clients communicationg without DHT or peer exch.

Display Filter

A complete list of BitTorrent display filter fields can be found in the display filter reference

Note: implemented in Wireshark post 0.10.12!

Capture Filter

You cannot directly filter BitTorrent protocols while capturing. However, if you know the TCP port used (see above), you can filter on that one.

BitTorrent (last edited 2012-03-10 14:07:09 by JustinGoldberg)