If you are a millennial, you probably have heard of torrents. Before these streaming sites took over, the way to watch movies, listen to music or play video games was if you bought a copy of it or downloaded it from a torrent site.
Before we get into tips, let’s lay down some basics.
What are torrents?
Torrents are pretty akin to Bitcoin. They are decentralized and work on a P2P sharing network.
How does it work?
The files that you download are not stored on a specific server. With torrenting, a small chunk of the file is stored in all the computers that are a part of the P2P network. A ‘P2P communication protocol’ takes those files and breaks them down into these small chunks and sends them from seeders (the ones that store the file) to leechers (the ones that want to download it) through a ‘torrent client’.
Let’s dive into the beginner tips:
First, let’s talk about how to get set up.
Step 1: You need a ‘torrent client’
The ‘torrent client’ is software that has to be downloaded and run on your computer. The most popular client for Mac and Windows is Torch and uTorrent.
uTorrent is an easy choice since it is free. Over 50% of users that download torrents use uTorrent because it is easy and quick to use. Here’s how you can install and set up uTorrent.
And it is pretty easy to troubleshoot. If you are in a position where the utorrent not downloading on your computer becomes an issue, you can easily fix it with DIY tips.
Torch, on the other hand, is a browser with an add-on that allows you to download torrents. The caveat is that it will deliver ads to you while you browse the net. When this happens, you will switch to a different browser.
Step 2: Find the torrent you want to download
Once you have the BitTorrent client on your computer, the next step is to look for a torrent site. There are several of these available online.
Once you find one, you will encounter a search bar. Enter the search terms and scroll through the results till you find the torrent you are looking for.
If you want better video resolution, you will have to wait a while to download it if you don’t have high speed internet. What is more important for your torrent to download quickly is the number of seeders and leechers. If there are too many leechers, it will take a while.
Now you want to download the torrent file or magnet link and open it in the torrent client you already have installed.
It is important to note that you should only be using torrents to download the files you are allowed to. Downloading pirated movies, games, music is illegal and will get you in trouble.
Step 3: Store the torrent file
It is important to decide where you want to store the file in a location and your download will proceed automatically. Once you are done downloading (seeding), consider letting the file seed more. This will allow someone else looking for that file to download it quicker. If you don’t want to do that, then you can remove it from the list.
Step 4: Stay anonymous and encrypt your data
Using a torrent site is not without risk. Here is what you have to be careful of:
- Do not download any material that is copyrighted as mentioned before. You can download free operating systems and freeware but anything other than that will get you in trouble.
- Your internet service provider can analyze your traffic and either slow down speed on those sites or ban you from being able to access them. If you are a student trying to access it in your university, then you will definitely know that there are a lot of sites that can be banned by the service provider.
- There also may be country wide bans on torrent websites that prevent you from accessing them
The solution to these problems is to have a virtual private network. This will encrypt your data when you connect to the internet and route your data through secure servers and give you a new IP address that is also anonymous. This will prevent your ISP from being able to track your online activity.
It’s fairly simple to download a VPN or to use a browser based extension. This also unlocks content on streaming sites that is not available in your country.
To sum up
Torrenting is a great way to download files if you want to get freeware since the P2P framework allows you to route data through a decentralized network. But when torrenting, it is recommended that you use a VPN to keep your data anonymous and safe and be able to access torrent sites.