A Guide to Torrenting
What is a Torrent/BitTorrent?
A torrent file is a computer file that is part of the BitTorrent file transferring protocol. The torrent file is a file stored on your computer that allows you to download and upload digital content.
BitTorrent, on the other hand, is simply the name of a file sharing method. To utilize a torrent file, you would need a BitTorrent client, which is simply a computer program that allows you to load the data from a torrent file in order to send and retrieve data to and from other users.
Think of the torrent file as a map of sorts, and the BitTorrent client as a courier who both retrieves and sends information. The torrent (the map file) tells the courier (the BitTorrent client) the addresses of where to retrieve data, and where to send the data. Without the torrent files, the BitTorrent client would be lost and unable to function.
How to Use Torrents to Download Files
Now that we have established what torrents are, we can move on to explain how to download using them.
First, you would require a BitTorrent client, such as Deluge, which is a program on your computer. Once the client is downloaded and installed, you then need to acquire torrent files, which can be found from online websites such as The Pirate Bay. You need to download the torrent file, double-click it to load it into the BitTorrent Client and then wait as your content downloads.
What is a Seed? What is a Leecher?
The terms “seeds” and “leechers” appear on the websites for each torrent file. These numbers denote the kinds of users that are connected to the torrent. “Seeds” are people who have the full, complete file and are currently uploading the data to others. “Leechers” are people who are still in the process of downloading the files and uploading in limited capacity.
You generally need at least 1 seeder to start distributing content through a torrent. The rest of the leechers will then download from the seeder and once complete, become additional seeders to upload content. For the torrent to remain active, there needs to be at least a few seeders, and if a torrent has 0 seeds, then that means it is dead. Even if you were to download and use a dead torrent, you would not be able to download any actual content, it will always remain at 0% unless someone connects to the torrent as a seed.
The Way Downloads Work
Torrents send data is through small randomized packets, which means that files do not get downloaded sequentially. For example, a music album which has 10 mp3 files is sitting at 80% completed. Even though it says 80%, it does not mean 8 mp3 files have finished, it simply means out of the total data, 80% has been retrieved. If you take a look through your BitTorrent client, you will see that each individual file is at a random percentage. What this means is that you must wait for the torrent to reach 100% completion before closing or deleting the torrent. Be aware of this when downloading large file size torrents, as it could take a long time depending on your internet service speeds. If you only require some files within the torrent, be sure to manually select which files to download via your BitTorrent client.
Recommended BitTorrent Clients
There are a lot of BitTorrent clients floating around on the internet today. The clients on the list below are the most popular, and as such have active support from developers and should work with a wide range of different computer hardware setups.
Deluge is lightweight, has a very clean UI, and still has all the features you need. Deluge has support for a multitude of plugins and can be integrated into Chrome or Firefox. The client also allows you schedule your torrents, so that you have complete control over what files get downloaded first. The client is completely free with no ads.
Another free client that is constantly updated. qBittorent is open-source and has a UI that is similar to uTorrent’s. It is very lightweight and features an integrated, customizable search that can look for torrents from sites such as The Pirate Bay. This client is also free and does not have any ads.
This client aims to use the least amount of resources. You may want to use this client if you have a slow and dated computer system. It has the same basic sets of features as the other clients and is also open-source and free, but does contain ads. There is also a lack of plug-in support and due to the focus on being lightweight, there are less features than the other clients on this list.
4. uTorrent (current version)
This is the most up-to-date version of uTorrent and the client itself has been around for years. It is lightweight and has many features, but the free version of the software contains ads. This client used to be the definitive BitTorrent client until the developers began to monetize the software and introduce ads into the free version.
5. uTorrent 2.2.1
This is an older version of uTorrent before the whole ad debacle. There are no ads in this version, but it is not supported by any developers. It may or may not work with your hardware setup, but the main features of uTorrent are there. For some people, uTorrent is what they always used and to them, what isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed.
There is an ocean of torrent websites nowadays, and navigating through them to try and find the content you want can be overwhelming.
1. The Pirate Bay
The oldest torrent search engine. You are bound to find what you are looking for from this website. It has been around despite the owner being arrested and the main server being relocated several times in the website’s lifetime. The Pirate Bay probably has the highest amount of torrent users on the internet and you can find anything from movies to games and music albums. Be sure to look for torrents with the green (VIP) and purple (Trusted) skulls. These symbols mean that the torrent is uploaded by someone reputable and should be relatively safe to download.
This is another top public torrent website. RARBG mainly focuses on movies, but you can also find a decent selection of TV show episodes on there as well. The website is very easy to browse, and the related torrent system allows you to find smaller, active torrents in case you cannot find what you are looking for.
This is probably the best alternative to Pirate Bay if you can’t find the game you’re looking for. Many game piracy groups upload their cracks and update files onto this site. There are also various groups that compile game repacks and upload them onto 1337x.
LimeTorrents has steadily been increasing its user base over the last couple of years. While it still dwarfs in comparison with The Pirate Bay’s, the website is very easy to read and has a useful comment system. You can see which torrents are good or bad, which ones are active, and the site has a verification system to prevent users from downloading dummy files or viruses.
Another aggregate website in the vein of Pirate Bay. The website is not as popular as The Pirate Bay, but still has a decent selection of content. There are easy to find categories that you can search through, and you may find what you’re looking for if you weren’t able to find it on the other listed websites.
Torrenting is actually a fairly simple process. To the uninitiated, torrenting can seem like a complex and arduous process, but it is actually fast and easy.
For the most part, you should be fine using any BitTorrent client that is ad-free and sticking with the trusted or VIP uploads on Pirate Bay. Sometimes finding the content you want can take a while, but the key is to use multiple websites.