Torrenting is one of the easiest ways through which you can share large media files in the quickest possible time. But many people, assuming it rocket science, believe that using torrents is extremely difficult. If you are also one of them who thinks that torrenting is not your cup of tea, then, stay tuned with us as this beginner’s guide to torrenting will let you know how to download torrents safely.
BitTorrent – BitTorrent is one of the most popular methods for sharing large media files such as a video file, music file, or software. It is a protocol for transferring such files through a highly decentralized peer-to-peer sharing system. With the help of this method, you can download files from more than one server at a time.
Torrent – Torrent is the file that is circulated on various peer-to-peer sharing platforms. It is basically a type of .torrent file that you search for downloading your favourite media files.
Here, it is important to note that .torrent files are not the actual files you are looking to download. In fact, they are just small files that contain some details of the main file. They just guide your BitTorrent client to download the files you want.
Unlike conventional files, torrents are not uploaded on single servers. Instead, they are available through numerous servers. That is why their downloading usually takes less time.
BitTorrent Client – A BitTorrent client can be considered as software that downloads your favourite torrents. It is a program that downloads the actual file from the .torrent one. Its job is to read, process, and then download the .torrent file for you.
Peers – Peers are all those users who are involved in the uploading and downloading of any torrent file. Your BitTorrent client will also become a peer once you start torrenting.
Peer-to-peer sharing – When two or more than two computers, connected in a single network, share media files and other resources, without the help of a central server, then it is called peer-to-peer sharing. Each computer participating in peer-to-peer sharing acts as both server and client at the same time.
Seeders – Seeders are those users who have already downloaded the files that are being shared on the peer-to-peer sharing platform. They upload such files to the other peers.
Leechers – Leechers are those individuals who do not own the complete file but instead, they are downloading it from the same network. Once they are done with downloading the file, they become a seeder and further upload it for others.
Generally, to achieve fast downloading speed, it is good to have more seeders than leechers.
Swarm – It is a sum of all the seeders and leechers (collection of all the peers) available on a network. All the users (or computers) participating in the file sharing process are termed swarm.
Tracker – The tracker is nothing but a server that keeps the record of seeders and leechers. As it tracks the IP address of all the users, it possesses all information related to the torrent files i.e. which user has the file and who needs it. There are both public and private trackers available on the internet.
Indexer – A indexer is a website that contains a whole list of torrent files. As it indexes torrents, you are required to visit the site for downloading them.
How does BitTorrent work? Working of the BitTorrent protocol
Before knowing how BitTorrent actually functions, you must be aware of working with the traditional file transferring method. The conventional file-sharing system completely depends on a single server that stores files. It is commonly termed as the central server.
Anyone who is searching for a media file (be it a movie, music, game, or any other software ) has to download it from the central server. The real downside of this method lies in the fact that as soon as the number of downloaders increases, its downloading speed becomes extremely slow.
Apparently, the traditional system does not seem to be fruitful for sharing large files. BitTorrent file sharing method, unlike the conventional one, does not rely on a single server. In this decentralized method, files are stored on the computer of all those users who are participating in the peer-to-peer sharing network.
In this technique, torrent files are broken down into thousands of small pieces that can also be uploaded on the swarm by anyone who is downloading it. You are not required to download the complete file before sharing it with others. Once you have downloaded even a small part of it, you can simultaneously upload it for others.
Now, you might have understood why this method of file transfer is too fast. Since the torrent files are distributed across the network of computers (also called the swarm), so users can even share a small chunk of a file with others, at an amazing speed.
This distribution of media files is much better than storing them on a single server.
Is Torrenting Safe?
Apart from having all these amazing features, the BitTorrent protocol also has its own demerits. Despite being one of the fastest file transferring methods out there, torrenting is also a bit risky.
This is only due to the fact that once you start sharing files with others, your IP address gets exposed to hundreds of other peers connected to the same network. This might be a threat to your online privacy. Consequently, you might face some legal issues as discussed below.
Is torrenting illegal? Legal aspects of Torrenting
Torrenting isn’t itself illegal. What really illegal is downloading torrents of someone’s copyrighted content since almost every kind of creative work (movies, TV shows, applications) is available on torrenting websites.
Unsurprisingly, a large number of countries in the world consider downloading torrents as a criminal offence. Though a few governments allow you to download them for your personal use, yet its distribution is always prohibited.
As in a BitTorrent protocol, each user becomes a downloader as well as a distributor, all such copyright laws are certainly being violated while torrenting. Therefore, you should avoid downloading copyrighted material as much as you can.
You can further check the legal aspects of torrenting in this wikipedia article.
What are the requirements for downloading Torrents safely?
1. Strong Internet connection – First and the foremost requisite for downloading your favourite media files is a strong internet connection. Obviously, it is quite important as without having a decent internet connection, you will not be able to download with that ease. So, make sure you have a capable internet provider so that you can download them smoothly.
2. A BitTorrent client – Secondly, you will be required to download and install a BitTorrent client in order to access your torrent files. It is noteworthy that without the help of a client, you can’t process the downloaded torrents. You can easily find a decent BitTorrent client out there.
There are free as well as paid BitTorrent clients available on the internet. In comparison with the paid BitTorrent clients, free clients generally contain tons of advertisements. Moreover, it is always recommended to opt for a paid one as it also offers other security-related features.
Once you have installed the BitTorrent client on your device, you are now required to visit the various torrenting platforms. But before that, you might need a Virtual Private Network for accessing these websites safely. We have discussed it later in this post.
3. Torrent website – Lastly, for downloading torrents safely, you must be aware of the websites that allow you to download torrents for free. Several websites offer torrent related to various categories.
Whether you are looking for only movie-related files or any particular software, there are numerous dedicated platforms that offer a specific type of torrents. For example, YTS and Zooqle are two popular torrenting sites that only contain torrents of movies and TV shows.
Similarly, there are some websites that only contain music, software, or games.
Never download Torrents without a VPN
As it is an established fact that the torrenting sites pirate copyrighted material, they are often banned by various state authorities. In that case, a VPN might prove helpful to you as it allows you to access all the geo-restricted sites out there. Moreover, it also hides your IP address, makes you anonymous, and thus protects you from all kinds of legal issues.
It would be a lot better if you get a VPN that has an inbuilt antivirus installed in it. Many torrent files essentially come with highly damaging software that might affect the security of your device. As an antivirus regularly scans your files, it can easily protect your system.
How to download Torrents safely?
As we have stated earlier, downloading torrents is extremely easy. You are just required to follow a few steps for accessing them.
Then find the downloaded file in your system and open it with your BitTorrent client. While downloading it through the client, you will see its total size and the number of seeders and leechers.
After downloading the file, you can also scan the file just to check whether it contains malware or not. However, it is not a mandatory step but is still advised.
After that, you can access your downloaded media file. You can freely download the latest games, songs, movies, and TV shows with the help of these steps.
Why you should use a VPN for downloading Torrents?
Now, before knowing how a VPN helps you in torrenting, you need to have a basic understanding of how a VPN works. And you need not worry if you are not having any technical knowledge as I am not going to introduce difficult-to-understand tech-related terms before you. I will try to keep it as simple as I can.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, basically hides your IP address while browsing the internet. It changes your IP address so that no one could track your online activities. It just makes you use the internet anonymously without exposing your details online.
Another thing that a VPN does is the encryption of your data. It encrypts all the torrent files you download in such a way that your ISP can’t get any useful information out of it. In this way, it helps you in hiding your browsing history from your ISP.
Now you must be wondering how these features are beneficial for torrenting. Let me explain it to you. As I have mentioned above in this post, most of the files available on the torrenting website are copyrighted and thus their sharing is illegal.
And if you download those files without using a VPN, then your IP address gets exposed to your ISP as well as to other peers in the swarm. By taking this information from your service provider, the respected copyright authorities can easily trace you. Afterwards, they might also file lawsuits against you.
Thus, by protecting your IP address, a VPN prevents legal action against you.
5 Best VPN services for Torrenting
NordVPN is our top pick among the 5 best VPN services for torrenting. The Panama-based VPN is offering its services since 2012. And since Panama has no data retention laws, therefore your private data would be 100% safe after using it.
The super-fast VPN has 5400 servers in 59 countries. Its NordLynx technology, based on the WireGaurd protocol, offers great downloading speed for torrents. Moreover, you can simultaneously use the VPN on 6 devices.
Apart from torrenting, NordVPN is also helpful in accessing geo-blocked streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, and many more. With 256-bit AES encryption, it is one of the most secure VPN out there.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services that provides its users with about 3000 servers in 94 countries of the world. The reliable and fast VPN is available on multiple devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Moreover, a single subscription of the VPN can be used on 5 different devices.
ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption and DNS/IPv6 leak protection which is Domain Name System/Internet Protocol version 6. That’s why we can safely say that the VPN is completely secure.
Additionally, it has a strict no-logs policy, which means you can freely browse without the fear of getting traced by them. All these features come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark is an excellent VPN that allows you to torrent as much as you can safely. The VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy. It is quite evident that the VPN majorly focuses on your privacy.
With unlimited bandwidth across all its servers, the VPN really encourages torrenting. It offers a reasonable downloading speed in 60 countries. It neither keeps nor shares your personal information with anyone.
It is the most budget-friendly VPN that has no connection limits. It can be installed on PC, Mac, iOS, or Android. Moreover, the affordable VPN also offers risk-free 30 days money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost is another value-for-money VPN that you wouldn’t want to miss. It is one of the most easy-to-use VPNs available on the internet. You can effortlessly set up the VPN on any of your devices.
In addition to the 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy, Romania-based CyberGhost VPN also possess an inbuilt kill switch feature. Like the other VPN mentioned in this post, it also has a strict no-logs policy.
Considering the wide range of security features and 45 days money-back guarantee offered by the CyberGhost VPN, I don’t think it is a bad choice to go for.
IPVanish is a popular VPN in which you will get a wide range of servers to choose from. It really cares about your privacy and thus follows a strict no-log policy. With unlimited bandwidth, the VPN also offers fast servers.
Another interesting thing I liked about the VPN is that it provides the users with a feature to change IPs after a specific time. Moreover, like its many other counterparts, IPVanish also uses a shared IP address.
It has performed well in the speed tests performed by various websites and therefore, torrent downloading speed would not be an issue with this VPN.
It should be noted that we do not encourage piracy in any way, shape, or form. Apart from downloading pirated content, torrents have a lot more legitimate uses. There are hundreds of legal torrents available on the internet.
Nevertheless, if you have already decided to download copyrighted media through torrents, make sure to use a good VPN service.