Table of Contents

Connecting with friends

I've just installed RetroShare but channels and forums are empty and searches don't return anything

You need to add friends to your RetroShare, and your friends must add you to their RetroShare. Please see adding-friends.

I am friend with the chat server, but searches/downloads are not working / I can’t see any forum or channel

The chat server is only a temporary way to get access to the network and make friends. Only the chat service is enabled on it. You should go to the “Chat Server EN” lobby and make some friends there. See adding-friends.

I am friend with the chat server, but its icon is grey and I can’t find the chat lobbies anymore

The chat server can’t keep everyone as friends forever and will eventually remove you from its friends list. You can submit your key to it again. See adding-friends.

Can I remove the chat server from my friends?

Once you have enough other online friends, yes.

Keeping it as a friend (or subscribing again to the W2C) can be useful if your network of friends doesn’t give you access to the “Chat Server” lobbies and you want to go there.

I have added friends, they appear in the friends list, but their icons stay grey (offline)

  1. Your friends must add your key too. Talk to them to ensure they've done it. (Note: there’s no point sending them a private message in RetroShare because these are only sent when the connection is established.)
  2. It can take a few minutes before the connection is made.
  3. See the page dedicated to solving connection problems.

How can I know since when a friend has not been online and remove her from my friends?

You can sort friends by their last connection date:

  • Click on the little blue screen icon on top of the friends list, make sure “Hide offline friends” isn't checked.
  • In the same menu, make sure that “Columns”/“Last contact” is checked.
  • Click on the header of the “Last contact” column to sort by last connection date.

If a friend hasn't been online for a while and didn't send a message to warn you that she'll be on vacation for two months, you can simply right-click on her name and select “Deny friend”.

It is common to delete friends that haven't connected in a month. In any case, should this friend try to connect again, you'll be able to see it in your “News feed” (if the “Security” notifications are enabled in the options.)

Sharing files

In the “Files” tab I see that some friends aren’t sharing anything. Should I remove them?

No, they simply aren’t sharing anything in “browsable” mode, which is recommended when you don’t know well all your friends. You’ll be able to find their files (and more!) using the “Search” tab.

Even if they really didn’t share anything, they’d still give you access to their friends’ files.

How do I share my files?

Files that you download are automatically shared as long as they stay in your download directory.

To share other files/directories:

  • Click on the yellow folder icon. OmI0VpM.png
  • Click on the “Add” button and select a directory.

It is recommended to share in anonymous mode and not in “Browsable” mode unless you know and trust your friends.

All files that you add into a shared directory will be detected by RetroShare and shared.

What do “Anonymous mode” and “Browsable mode” mean?

In “Anonymous” mode anyone will be able to find your files using the search without knowing who is sharing them.

In “Browsable mode” mode your files list will be uploaded to your friends and they will be able to browse it in the “Files” tab. They will know that you are sharing these files.

To choose the mode, in the share manager window, you can click on one of the three icons in the “Share flags” column. If the rightmost icon is showing a mask, you are sharing in anonymous mode.

Can I share some files in “Browsable” mode with some friends only and hide them from my other friends?

Yes, since version 0.5.4c. You have to use the groups feature.

You can also manually recommend files to some friends: open the “Files” tab, select the files you want to recommend, right-click and select “Recommend in a message to”.

My own files upload slowly. How can I make uploads faster?

If your upload bandwidth is fully used, you can open the options 9Bbx08w.png, “Server” page, and reduce the “Turtle router” value. It will reduce the number of tunnels going through your node and leave more room for your own uploads.


What are file transfers speed like? Is it supposed to be so slow?

As explained in presentation, anonymous file transfers are slower than direct transfers, but their speed can be anything depending on your network of friends, their available bandwidth, what people around you are downloading and the availability and location of the files you're downloading.

How can I make transfers faster?

  1. Choose your friends as suggested in adding-friends.
  2. Configure your upload and download speed limits correctly (see next question).
  3. Prefer popular files.
  4. Download enough files at the same time to get a decent overall speed…
  5. … But do not download too many files at the same time so as not to overload the network (the default is 5 simultaneous downloads max.)
  6. Share the files you download for as long as possible. It should help the network by shortening the distance between seeders and leechers, and keeping the files available.
  7. Leave RetroShare running even when you’re not downloading anything (that will help your friends download faster).
  8. Ask your friends to download the files you have trouble downloading.
  9. Use the “Progressive” or “Random” download modes, not “Streaming” (progressive is the default).

What values should I set the transfer rates to in the “Server” options?

To maximize transfer speeds, it is important that your Upload speed limit is maximized. It shouldn't be too high, however, or other activities like web surfing will slow down dramatically.

We are going to measure your upload and download bandwidth.

  • Quit RetroShare
  • Open http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/ or http://www.bandwidthplace.com/ and perform the test
  • You need to convert the measured speeds from Mb/s to kB/s and keep 80% of the result, so multiply the results by 100. For example, 2.01 Mb/s -> 201 kB/s.
  • Restart RetroShare, open the options 9Bbx08w.png on the “Server” page, “Bandwidth” tab, and set the “Download” and “Upload” speed limits to the values you've just calculated.

If you notice that web pages load very slowly after you make this change, lower the upload limit.

The overall transfer speeds in RetroShare’s status bar aren’t the same as my uploads/downloads totals. Why?

RetroShare is a “friend to friend” software that uses turtle hopping to hide the real source and destination of file searches and transfers. This means that in addition to your own downloads and uploads, your friends’ searches and file transfers also go through your computer.

Maybe there are cache files being transfered too. To see them, select “Show cache transfers” in the right-click menu of the “File sharing” page, “Downloads” tab.

What are “cache files”?

They are automatically transfered by RetroShare and contain forum messages, channels posts, and shared files lists.

In your downloads list they have names like “54cb61d9f3e156ca31…”, and in your uploads list “grpdist-t24516-….dist”.

To see them, select “Show cache transfers” in the right-click menu of the “File sharing” page, “Downloads” tab.

There are a lot of cache files that disturb my “real” file uploads/downloads. What can I do?

You can:

  • In the Transfers options, increase the maximum number of simultaneous file transfers (for example to 20 or 30) and decrease the number of slots reserved for non-cache transfers.
  • Ask your friends if they can unsubscribe from a few non-essential forums or channels.
  • Ask your friends who are sharing a lot of files in browsable mode if they could switch to anonymous mode, or update their shared files list less often.
  • Remove some people from your friends list, or avoid adding several friends at the same time.

Once the cache files have been downloaded, remember to decrease again the maximum number of simultaneous file transfers to a more reasonnable value like 5 or 10, so as not to overload the network.

Note: A new cache system is currently in development and should improve things noticiably.

Forums, channels and chat lobbies

How can I get access to a chat lobby?

You can see and enter chat lobbies that your friends are subscribed to. Chat messages are sent from friend to friend, without the need for a server such as in e.g. IRC. (“Chatserver” is just a RetroShare node like any other and is not required for access to the chat lobbies.)

If someone is the unique link between two groups of participants to a lobby, and they exit that lobby, it will be cut in half so that people from one side can’t see or talk with the other side anymore. If that person returns into the lobby, then the two sides should be united again.

I can’t access a channel or forum!

You will get the forums and channels that your friends are subscribed to. It will take some time (the cache files need to be transfered to your computer.) Often, restarting your RetroShare helps in downloading more cache files.

Avoid creating new forums before you have a good network of friends: there may already exist one on the topic you’re interested in.

I can’t post to a forum.

You have to subscribe to it first.

I created a test channel/forum; how can I delete it?

Right-click on its name and unsubscribe from it.

Please note that when you create a channel or forum, or post a message in them, they are automatically sent to all your connected friends. Unsubscribing will not delete anything from your friends’ computers. So if you really have to make tests, do it with a RetroShare location that doesn’t have any friend!

How can I change or delete a forum/channel post?

It is impossible. Messages in forums are automatically deleted after a year, and messages in channels after a month.


For more information, see:

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