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Uploading and downloading large files on the internet can be stressful and time-consuming, especially if you use traditional download solutions. But thanks to BitTorrent clients, accessing online content can be smooth and hassle-free. Torrenting clients access content faster and retrieve any file online.
If you are unfamiliar with torrenting, you have come to the right page. Below we provide a full introduction to torrenting, including all the information you need to know. Read on to learn about the basics of torrenting, get to grips with the security and legality concerns, and learn top tips about having the best experience.
Probably the best place to start is with an explainer of what torrenting is.
Torrenting is the use of a BitTorrent Peer-to-Peer (P2P) to share files more effectively. The technology depends on a community of decentralized users to share files, which means it's not dependent on a single website or source to download. You can download the same file as other users directly from the same source, reducing the network load, making the transfer more seamless.
Let's take a close look at torrenting and why it can be useful.
There are specific terms that are unique to torrenting that it is helpful to understand before you start downloading files. Here is a list of the main terms:
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer protocol used for sharing files on a decentralized platform. What makes this protocol unique is that you can get portions of the files from the person who originally created the files while also getting portions from other downloaders. The main benefit is this maximizes the data exchange. In other words, downloading large files would be very difficult and take a long time, but BitTorrents breaks it down into portions.
This is one of the most familiar methods used in large file transfers because it does not create overloading on websites. Because everyone is both sending and receiving, the process becomes more efficient than when downloads are from the same server.
This is another crucial term to understand if you want to know about torrents. An indexer is a website that puts together a list of torrents and descriptions. It's also a place where users create a community around the content files. You open the indexer when you want to share, download, or request files. It's like a forum or an IRC channel where people can create a community around the content.
A tracker is a special server that assists in communication by directing peers through the BitTorrent protocol, initiating downloads, and maintaining statistics. People sometimes call indexers trackers because each indexer comes with its own private tracker. This general definition can help you avoid confusion, which is why it is important to know the difference. A tracker routes small pieces of data (packets) to downloaders and assists them in connecting to other downloaders as they work on chunks of files.
Users become a seeder when they finish downloading but continue uploading to other peers. A leecher is someone who only downloads but does not upload. Leechers are often seen as a problem and can be banned from the tracker. Therefore, it is crucial to seed as you download.
Public and Private Tracers
Private trackers are like clubs based on memberships – you can only use them if you are registered to a specific network. Public trackers don't need any registration for downloaders to access. They are always free and open, although they don't offer as good an experience as private trackers with a sturdy community.
A client is like a person on the other side of BitTorrent. Their job is to manage your torrents, connect you to other peers and manage the data on your side. In other words, the client does the hard work after the tracker has given instructions on your next move and where to connect. If you are looking for the best BitTorrent client Giga-Rapid has a nice and up-to-date overview.
How it Works
Now that you know the terminologies, it should be easier to understand how it works. Torrents are small files that work as instructions for the tracker. To download any file, you must first open the tracker's site and download the torrent file, which is usually less than 30KB. You need to open the torrent from your BitTorrent client and start the download. This process does not require any particular skill since it is very easy.
Using the right device is very important. Since you are uploading and downloading vast chunks of files, you need a device that has a large storage speed and the right processing speed. You will also need a browser and probably a VPN. Most importantly, you will need a strong internet connection and a BitTorrent client on your computer to manage the torrents and file downloads. An antivirus like Kaspersky is also worth installing on your computer. This is important because reports show that Microsoft 365 users are at risk of ransomware. So, it is necessary to have an antivirus for when using BitTorrent.
Step by Step Guide using qbittorrent as an Example
Step 1: Download and install your preferred BitTorrent client. One of the most reliable clients is qBittorrent.
Step 2: Get a torrent file.
Step 3: Double click on your .torrent file to download it into the client. You will see a popup with dialog options for specific downloads.
Step 4: You can select your preferred location for the torrent once downloaded and then click OK to continue. The torrent file will now start downloading.
Step 5: Let the process complete. You will have options on the queue to pause, stop, play, delete, and much more.
Since BitTorrent is a protocol, the individual trackers define what is legal and what is not. The tracker will be liable for any copyright violation and, consequently, the user. It would be best to avoid blindly downloading copyrighted materials.
One of the main concerns people have when using torrent clients is the legality of these services and torrents in general. In simple terms, BitTorrent services are not illegal because they do not host the content. Instead, they merely provide a platform for users to download torrents.
When it comes to other aspects of the torrenting process, the situation is more complicated. BitTorrent is just a protocol, and it is the trackers that define the content and whether it is legal or not. For example, the content within the tracker may have copyright on it, so if you install the torrent file you may violate copyright laws.
A classic example would be downloading a movie or other type of media that you do not own. In theory, your internet service provider (ISP) and copyright investigators could monitor BitTorrent networks and punish users torrenting illegal content. Actions range from simply sending a warning letter or slowing down internet speeds to pursuing legal action.
ISP punishments – speed throttling or warnings – are quite common, while it is virtually unheard of for legal action against individuals. You would need to be torrenting constantly to draw such attention and end up in court. However, to action from ISP, most torrent regulars use a VPN to keep their activity anonymous.
Remember, the action of torrenting is not illegal, but downloading copyrighted material without permission from the owner is.
Alternatives to qBittorrent
As you might expect, qBittorrent is not the only torrenting service available. Below are other platforms that you may want to consider. (see here for a more detailed list to find the best BitTorrent client for your purpose)
- uTorrent: Launching in 2005, this is one of the pioneers of the BitTorrent scene and uTorrent is the most popular desktop client.
- Deluge: One of the best lightweight BitTorrent options, Deluge is an open-source client known for its numerous plug-ins.
- Vuze: While Vuze is not the kindest on system resources, its simple interface makes it a good option for torrenting newcomers.
- BitTorrent: With its customizable UI and drag-and-drop tool, BitTorrent is a modern torrent client. Although, it does come with ads.
Tips for Safe Torrenting
Here are some tips that will help you stay safe while torrenting.
- To get robust security features and high download speeds, use the best torrent clients. Leading services come with dedicated servers and often a built-in VPN.
- Another good option would be to invest in a seedbox hosting solution. These online tools free your PC from consuming too many resources and help you download torrents more efficiently. These are essentially service providers that allow you to run popular BitTorrent clients on a remote server. Importantly, you don't need to keep your PC on 24/7 to have your remote BitTorrent client running.
- Always use a secure network to connect to a torrent client, preferably a VPN. You can easily avoid some preventable vulnerabilities if you know the right security measures.
- Check that you are using the right seed to avoid malware and other risks. Choose files carefully and make sure you are downloading the content you want.
- Install a good antivirus. Cybercriminals target torrenters more than anyone else, so using good antivirus software keeps your system secure.
- Join a torrent community, especially using private trackers who preserve high-quality torrents.