When we spend most of our time on our PC, and it would not be wrong if I say we have shrunk our world into it. Most of the time we look for ways to kill boredom on the weekend or to listen to our favorite music, to watch any TV shows or movie, to download and play games on the PC. All these exclusive stuff we love to download from many download websites and other platforms, but undoubtedly BitTorrent is the best place to satisfy all your download cravings in one place, without waiting the whole day for your download to be completed. Are you wondering what BitTorrent is? Or new to Torrenting? Then you are in the right spot, in this comprehensive torrent guide, we will elaborate all the major aspects of the torrenting world. Before we move on, you need to understand all the major terms related to BitTorrent downloading.
In the past days when we need to download files, we used to search the key terms and visit the recommended websites. To download the file (especially some large files) the process was painful, and it used to take a lot of time because of many reasons. One of which is the download mechanism, where the websites upload the files on their server (open for downloads) and many, in fact, thousands of people try to access it for downloading in a single day. Which means many people at the same time seeking to download one single file, which is why it burdens the website server due to heavy traffic and take too long, in the worst cases after 98% download completion, the download fails. This was an annoying and inefficient way of downloading files which needs a lot of improvement to provide users a better downloading mechanism around the world. In 1999, the step to improve this mechanism was taken by one company by launching an application named Napster, which introduced the concept of Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing system. However, Napster was only limited to music files and later it was shut down as it was held liable for copyright infringement in 2001, but the idea of Napster did not stop. Other P2P file sharing websites were launched and later it was further modified and then born the file sharing giant to date, BitTorrent. There are differences between a P2P file sharing mechanism and BitTorrent, although the basics are similar, BitTorrent has modified version of it with enhanced downloading structure, that we will explain later in this torrent guide.
How Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Works?
The traditional method of downloading a file from one source with a reduced download speed when replaced by peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing the users loved it due to its performance. In a P2P file sharing the files (music, videos, audios, games, documents, ebooks, etc.) are shared using the peer-to-peer networking technology. In a peer-to-peer networking technology the files are shared among one node (peer) which is the end-user computer to the other node (peer) which generates the request of desired files. In P2P file sharing system the files are shared between two or more PCs, one which has the file and other downloads it directly from that PC and no central distribution server is required which is why it ease the file sharing the process, and files are shared with fast speed. All the computers in P2P structure participate as a source of the file, and all the nodes (PCs) have access to each other’s files. See the image below to understand.
The P2P file sharing model was further modified as BitTorrent, which is now the largest and most popular file sharing protocol all around the world. To understand BitTorrent, you need to know the terms below.
What is Torrent?
In the BitTorrent file sharing mechanism, a torrent is a computer file which stores all the metadata of downloadable files (music, movies, TV shows, games, e-books, documents, etc.) It is like a map which guides the users about the files which are available for download in the system. Torrent can be of various types like movie torrent (which carries information about all the movie files available for download) game torrent, music torrent, etc. Take a look at this picture to understand better.
What is Torrenting?
Torrenting is the process which involves all the steps and elements starting from downloading a torrent to find the files and their sources, then downloading the files through BitTorrent protocol through which the files are broken up into small chunks are distributed among the users on the P2P network for faster downloading speed.
Know some Torrenting Terms
I have listed down some essential terms which you must know to properly understand the guide, as the terms are used throughout the article.
- BitTorrent client- a BitTorrent client is the most crucial part of the entire torrent process, It is a piece of a torrent which reads the information on a torrent and initiates the download process.
- Peer-In a torrent process, a peer, is a user’s PC participating in the torrent process, i.e., download and upload of the files.
- Seeder-A seeder is a person who has the complete copy of the torrent files which are being shared across the network.
- Leecher- A leecher is a person who has an incomplete file of torrent and participates in the torrent network to download the complete torrent file. A leecher calls as a seeder when he/she complete the download of the torrent file and share it with the network.
- Share ratio- Share ratio shows a user’s upload and download status of a particular torrent. It a ratio between the amount of data used for downloads and amount of data used for uploads (uploads/downloads). The share ratio of 1 adds up to a good user reputation, where less than 1 displays as a negative reputation because a user must give the network as much as he takes from a torrent network. That is how it works.
- Swarm- A Swarm shows all the PCs (seeders and leechers) participating the torrent process.
- Tracker- A Tracker is a torrent server which stores information about the users, like who has the particular torrent file and who needs by analyzing the requests. It acts as a bridge of communication between seeders and leechers. Most of the trackers are open for public, but there are some private trackers as well, which needs registration to use.
- Index- As the name says, an Index is a list of information of torrent files, which is available for search on websites.
What is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is peer-to-peer file sharing protocol launched in 2001 by Bram Cohen, a computer science student. BitTorrent was a pioneer in the idea of distributed downloads, where a large file is divided into in small encrypted chunks, and then these pieces of the file are distributed among multiple computers in the peer-to-peer network. The idea was a hit as it was more efficient and consumes a small amount of bandwidth from each PC than the existing P2P file sharing networks like Kazaa and eMule; where the file source is a single PC that could be offline any moment.
A note to all the BitTorrent beginner’s: BitTorrent (BT) is not a particular program but a method to download and upload files by using a distributed peer-to-peer file sharing system. The different programs that you use to share a file using BitTorrent protocol are called BitTorrent (BT) clients.
So, don’t get confused, BitTorrent in not like the P2P protocols which you have been using in the past, it is different that those but not difficult at all. In this guide, we will clear all your confusions related using BitTorrent.
How BitTorrent Works?
The thing which differentiates BitTorrent with others is that it divides the file sharing process among all the users who have downloaded the files or who are still downloading the files. As BitTorrent breaks up files into hundred of the small chunks, you don’t have to get the entire file downloaded and then start sharing it. Once you get one chunk of the file, you can initiate sharing that file with other users. Which is the reason BitTorrent is so much fast in downloading, it doesn’t wait until the whole file is downloaded and rather get a chunk of the file and start sharing it with others on the network. To download and file through this BitTorrent method, first you need to know something about the rules, the copyright laws, then find a good BitTorrent client and download it and now search for a good torrent and complete the process as explained in detail below, in the torrent guide.
Let’s Get Started with BitTorrent
Know the Copyright Laws
No technology is good or bad, what makes it good or bad is how the majority of people use it. Unfortunately, digital file sharing on the internet has a bad reputation of piracy. Although peer-to-peer file sharing is legal in all parts of the world, which means that downloading stuff for personal use is not prohibited or illegal, downloading a file for distribution purpose is considered as piracy, and it is strictly forbidden in many countries. Torrenting is often accused of piracy and copyrights violation and the reason why many copyrights protection authorities around the world have ceased many torrenting websites. It is due to how the process of BitTorrent works, which makes everyone a downloader and distributor as well. When you are connected to any torrent swarm your IP address is visible, so to avoid any problem regarding this issue, the safer option is always to abide the copyright laws displays on the tracker websites, the good one shows the copyrights rules therein for users to be aware of them. Just like one in the picture below;
Search for a Good BitTorrent Client
For a smooth and efficient torrenting, it is recommended to get a good BitTorrent client, which are clean as well. For that, you can look up to the list of BitTorrent clients on Wikipedia which is legit and right, or you can just get the most recommended and top clients like;
All of these are safe, free and lightweight and compatible with all the major operating systems. Keep in mind to get the latest and updated version of the client so that no bugs or issues are there. Now let’s start the actual steps of downloading and installing the BT client.
Download and Install the Client
These are the steps of utorrent BT client downloaded and installed on Windows XP if you opt to choose another client as mentioned above, the steps are almost similar.
- Go to any of the links above (I chose utorrent) and download the client file.
- Now click on the downloaded file to run the installation, your operating system will ask your permission to install the file, click run to continue the process.
- Now in the third step, the screen will recommend downloading the client from its parent site to avoid any malware threat.
- This is the final step where you will be asked the installation location of the file.
Configure the Client
BitTorrent client is just like any other program file which can be downloaded and installed, for better performance and results you can configure it, here’s how;
- When your start the installed client for the first time on your system you the Utorrent provides you assistance with its speed guide.
- This speed guide will assist you to select your actual upload speed. If you don’t know the speed of your connection’s upload speed, then Utorrent let you run speed tests from DSLReports website, which can be done by pressing the button on top of the image above.
- You must not run any other program while testing your speed by pressing the above button for the real reading, do it three to four time to get the average reading of your speed.
- Select a select nearer to your average upload rate in Connection Type (shown in the picture above).
- When you start Utorrent for the first time, it will automatically select the Current port (shown in the picture above) for you. A port is placed from your computer receives the communication signals coming from external networks. To check whether the port is receiving signals or not, click on the button which says ‘’Test if port is forwarded properly’’ (shown in the picture above).
- Now click on the ‘’Use Selected Settings’’ button (shown in the picture above) and you are ready to start.
Note: To recheck your upload speed, you can use the Utorrent toolbar, option and then Speed guide. Now the preliminary configurations of Utorrent have been completed; you can now begin your torrent download.
Your First Torrent Download
Torrent download is like any other file download and even it has some search engines dedicated only for torrent files information. These search engines have stored millions of torrent file information and listed it in a searchable index that where we can get the particular torrent, basically it acts as a map or index and that is why it is called index. Finding a good torrent search engine is the most important and right thing to do before downloading your torrent file because many websites are working as an index and contain thousands of malicious files which can be dangerous for your system and can infect your machine. The reliable and good torrent search engines filter all such malicious files and keep the index clean for the users. Following are some recommended torrent search engines after some Giants have been shut down due to legal threats faced by them.
Torrent index Sites
- The Pirate Bay-With more than 3.5 million users it is the torrent index giant, keep clean and junk free torrent information files. The most recommended, however, it always has been struggling with legal issues, but so far no action taken against it except the browser blocked it lately with a warning page.
- Mininova- The oldest torrent searching websites and undoubtedly keep clean, virus free torrents.
- Isohunt-It also has been struggling with legal threats every now and then, but it is also a good name in torrent websites.
- Legit Torrents– It only lists the torrents which come under public domain and 100% legal.
- Etree- It is for music junkies, a musical torrent index websites with free legal concert recordings.
NOTE: The above-mentioned websites are the torrents indexes, which means they only keep the searchable list of .torrent files which has the information related to a particular torrent on any other torrent websites. The links of the websites listed above may not be accessible when you click due to two main reasons either it is blocked in your region or the site has been shut down.
There are a few torrent meta-search engines as well, which keeps the record of torrent websites on one page. You can type and hit the search for any torrent keyword, and you will get the most relevant result. Unfortunately the most popular meta-search engine Torrentz ceased its operation lately, the reason, however, is guessable that it must be facing some legal threats from the copyright authorities, so it said Goodbye to millions of its users, and it was a sad day for the whole torrent community. Shortly after that it Torrentz was back with its clone Torrentz2.eu and it is now working with its full capacity However, Torrent-Finder is still in operations.
Let’s Begin the Torrent Download
Now you are aware much about torrent indexes and search engines in this Torrent guide; it’s time to get started. Follow these steps to download your first torrent (if you are a beginner).
- Select any of the above listed torrent search engine (I used Mininova), go to the website and hit the torrent search term you are looking. Remember that a torrent file is a small information file of 15 – 100Kb and not the whole file, it forwards you to the content of whole file and people in the swarm having the file. The .torrent files are shared by people from all around the world.
- Click on file you want to start download it to your computer; it will only take 5 to 10 seconds as it is a very small sized file.
- Now browse your downloaded file and use your BT client (utorrent) to open the file, or double-click it to open it with utorrent or simply drag and drop the file to the client software.
- Now your software will start the torrent download by fetching information by the tracker as who is also downloading that file and getting the what chunks they have.
- Now the tracker will look for the sharers participating the download and will mark them as a seeder or leecher. For a faster and healthier torrent download look for a torrent which has a high number of seeders.
- Now the download will start. Initially, the speed can be slow, but don’t panic it will gear up the speed as time passes and swarm gets bigger (more users equal to faster speed).
Note: The time of download is dependent on the size of your torrent file, the speed of your internet connection and the quality of the swarm. Once the download is completed, and you got what you want and done so much for it. Now it is recommended to let others take it as well and don’t delete the remaining .torrent file and shut the client software, give the swarm as much as you have taken, to be a good and reputable torrent community member.
How to Download torrent files safely?
Now you have learned much about torrent and how it is downloaded in this Torrent guide, you need to learn about the threats of torrenting. When you eagerly search a torrent, there is a bright chance you may fall in the den of any malicious torrent files and recovery might be impossible or the damage can be irreparable. Consider the following points while downloading the torrents to avoid such threats.
- Do read the comments by the downloader to know about the quality of torrent.
- Always download a Torrent from a reliable torrent website, and it is recommended to join a private tracker as the manage the quality of torrents, but registration could be hard as well.
- It is recommended to avoid the download of files zipped and split into a mass of Kb files; these usually are fake torrents contain malicious files.
- Make a habit to always read the rules and copyright policies of torrent websites before any downloads and download responsibility. The rules and copyright policies are displayed on all the reliable and reputable torrent websites.
- To avoid your identity to be leaked on a torrent swarm or to keep it away from your ISP’s eyes, use torrent VPN for anonymous torrent downloads.
Note: We here at Best VPN Analysis do not condone piracy, and we urge you to please download responsibly.
Is using BitTorrent legal?
The BitTorrent itself is just a P2P file sharing protocol, and the legality of it depends on the individual trackers which are responsible for directing and managing the users toward particular torrent (legal or illegal) and apparently the users themselves. There are many legitimate uses of BitTorrent, for instance; like many community-based Linux distributions provides torrents for their ISOs. Fans of Phish usually record live shows (so long as they comply with Phish’s policy on music trading) and then they share them online, many artists also do it themselves.
Conclusion of the Torrent Guide
In this Torrent guide, we have picked all things from scratch regarding downloading, P2P file sharing and then every aspect of BitTorrent and the terms related to it. We firmly believe that this will be helpful to all the torrent users in their process of torrenting as responsible users, who know how to use technology responsibly. BitTorrent undoubtedly is a breakthrough in P2P file sharing the world which is beneficial in many ways for the internet users as elaborated above in detail.