Legal Uses for Torrents: The 101 on How to Use Torrents
Torrents get a bad wrap. Most people assume they’re used for illegally downloading things like movies, music, and video games. But that doesn’t have to be the case!
While the majority of people use torrents for illegal means, there are plenty of legal ways to torrent. Torrenting is one of the fastest, most convenient ways to download anything you can think of. If you’re not on that torrent game, here’s a complete guide on how to use torrents and why you should.
What Is a Torrent?
Torrents are files hosted on a given device that you can download from the web. A user uploads a torrent to a tracker website like the piratebay, which makes it available to anyone with an internet connection and the link. It differs from a regular download in a few ways.
Torrents are different from direct downloads in the way they’re downloaded. When you download a torrent you’re utilizing peer-to-peer (P2P) technology. This means you’re taking parts of the completed file from the uploader and anyone who has already downloaded the file.
The more people that download and seed a torrent, the more sources the download will pull from. That means a faster download. Your torrent client will take small, completed pieces of the torrent from each of these sources.
This makes for a quicker, collaborative download process.
It’s a completely safe and much faster way to download just about anything. Unless a torrent has zero seeders, there are no real downsides. You’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.
Torrent files are small, usually only a few KB in size. The true size of the file is downloaded bit by bit through your torrent client. This is convenient for the sharing of large-sized files.
Why Use Torrents?
Aside from faster speeds, downloading torrents offers some perks that direct downloads don’t. The ability to pause and resume files is one of the big ones.
If you’re downloading a large file you may not have time to sit and wait for it to finish. With torrent files you can pause and resume files at your discretion, meaning you aren’t tethered to your computer. There’s also an added level of organization.
Torrent files are kept organized through your torrent client. Having all your files accessible in one place is always better than forgetting where you’ve put something and having to search around.
Torrenting also gives you the opportunity to contribute to the torrenting community. When you download a file, you know you’re helping someone else somewhere on earth gain access to the same file, which is a pretty neat feeling.
Always remember to seed your torrents after download — it’s only polite.
Plus, thanks to torrent sites, it’s never been easier to find a download you want. Visit a few sites and do some searching and you’ll almost always find what you want. No more dealing with sketchy direct download sites, and no more scouring the vast corners of the internet.
How to Use Torrents
It’s easy to get started torrenting. All you need is a good torrent site and a torrent client and you’re ready for your first download.
A torrent client is a program that allows you to download torrents. It’ll hold and display all your torrent files in one place. The client will also give you all the necessary statistics, like seeders, peers, download time, and percent complete.
Some of the most popular torrent clients are uTorrent, BitTorrent, and Vuze. All of these programs are free, with some offering the opportunity to pay for more additional features. A free torrent client is just as good as any other, as long as its from a trustable source.
You can even get torrent clients on your phone and tablet!
uTorrent is a good place to start. Many see it as the best torrent client for Mac and PC for its simplicity and trustability. If you want something with more features or a different look though, there are a lot of options out there.
Many clients even double as media players, so you can stream your content to other devices.
Find a trustable torrent site like publicdomaintorrents.com, and find a file that interests you. You want to find a torrent with a high seed number — these will be the fastest. As long as there are one or two seeds though, you should be good.
The torrent file will be extremely small and download directly. Once you have this torrent file you can move it into your client. Drag and drop, or open it and select the client and begin the download.
You’ll be asked where you want to download the file to, and what pieces you want to be downloaded. Congratulations, you’re downloading your first torrent.
What Are Seeders, Leechers, and Peers?
There are a few common torrenting terms that are helpful to know when stepping into the scene.
Seeds/Seeders is the most important term to know. A seeder is someone who has already downloaded the file. The more seeders there are, the more people your torrent will download pieces from.
This means a faster download.
Leechers are other users downloading the same torrent. They become seeders after the download has completed. Leechers leech off each other to help their downloads finish faster.
Peers are users who have part of the file downloaded. The parts they have will seed to other downloaders, and the parts they don’t will be seeded to them.
A good torrent will usually have a high balance of seeders and leechers. If you’re the only one downloading a torrent, that means the only place you’re collecting the file from is the host of the file. If there are, say, 10 seeders, then your client will download the file from those 10 locations, making it much faster.
Once a torrent is complete, it’ll start seeding. When seeding, you’re allowing others to download the file from your computer. Be a good person and do a little seeding!
What Is the Legal Status of Torrenting?
Some people believe that the act of uploading and downloading torrents is itself illegal. This is not the case.
The internet runs on uploads and downloads. Downloading a torrent is as legal as downloading something directly. It’s the content of the torrent that can be illegal.
For example, if you download a copyrighted film from a torrent site you’re committing a crime. The same goes for downloading books, albums, and anything else you’re supposed to pay money for. This is known as pirated content.
Uploading pirated content is illegal. Uploaders are often the ones caught for piracy. The laws differ from country to country, but in the majority of places, you can be prosecuted for these crimes.
Although websites like the piratebay are often shut down, they aren’t technically illegal.
Thepiratebay works as a host for uploaded files. It’s not their express fault that the content users upload is illegal.
But because most of the content is pirated, countries are constantly going after the piratebay. They’ve gone to court over it, had their site routinely IP banned throughout the years, and struggle to stay up at times.
So no, it’s not illegal to torrent; it’s just illegal to torrent illegal files. As long as you stick to the legit sites you’ve got no worries.
Are There Legal Torrent Sites?
Torrenting is often used for downloading illegal files. These include movies, videos games, books, and computer programs. But any file can be made into a torrent, and not all people use them for illegal means.
There are torrent sites out there that only allow legal content onto their webpage. One of these is publicdomaintorrents.info.
Publicdomaintorrents hosts a huge selection of public domain movies available for torrenting. These include a ton of Charlie Chaplin films, horror and animation classics, and some truly obscure pieces of film history. If you’re a film buff you’ll find a lot of great, totally legal files on this site.
Archive.org offers both direct downloads and torrents. This extends beyond film to books, documents, audio, pictures, and programs. Not all files on archive.org are available for torrent, but a large amount of them are, and they’re all public domain.
If you’re using the Vuze client, Vuze Network hosts a vast collection of legal torrents. These include podcasts, TED Talks, and music videos from rising artists. People can upload their own torrents, but only legal ones are allowed on the Vuze Network.
Legittorrents.info offers a lot of legal software downloads, as well as the usual selection of public domain offerings. If you’re looking for some public domain tunes, torrents for popular freeware programs, or even a few games, this is the place to go. The site is easy to navigate and popular.
And these are only a few of the legal torrent hosting sites. If you’re trying to stay legal, avoid sites like the piratebay and l33t7x. The majority of the files on these sites are pirated and could lead you down a troublesome road.
What Other Legal Uses Are There for Torrents?
Torrents are one of the fastest ways to share large files between computers. If you’re a researcher, a professor, or any type of professional, uploading a torrent is a great way of sharing large files with peers. You could also use torrents to share photo albums and personal videos.
Some companies make their software downloads and updates available via torrent. Video game developers Blizzard makes all their updates available via torrent. This is particularly helpful if you have a slower internet connection and want to download these files on your own time.
You can also use torrents as an alternative to restrictive programs like Dropbox. There are filesize limits with programs like Dropbox unless you want to pay extra.
If you’re looking to save money, try creating a torrent file with anything you might want to share between devices. Then, simply download the torrent file to your given device! Torrents can be downloaded to phones, computers, and tablets.
How Do I Create a Torrent File?
Torrents come in a .torrent file. Using uTorrent or other torrent clients, you can easily create and host torrent files yourself. These files will only be a few kb in size but will allow you to transfer multiple gigabytes worth of files between devices.
Creating and hosting a .torrent file is easy.
First, put the files you want to share together in a folder. Go to your torrent client (we’ll use uTorrent for an example) go to ‘file’, and click ‘create torrent’. You’ll be asked to select the source of the files.
Navigate to the folder with the files you want in your torrent and select it. You’ve just created a .torrent file. But you’re not done yet.
To host the file for download you’re going to need to use a tracker. A tracker is a type of server that lets you download the file p2p between devices. It’s essentially what’s hosting your torrent.
Many torrent sites offer public trackers. Look up “public torrent trackers” and you’ll find lists of trustable trackers to use. There are also private trackers, but these sites are usually run on an invite-only basis.
Once you create your .torrent file you’ll be asked which tracker you want to use. Copy and paste the tracker URL into the box presented and you’re done. You will now have a link to your .torrent file that you can give to friends or use on other devices, allowing you to re-download these files endlessly.
Torrent Smart, Torrent Safe
Torrents are the present and future of downloading. Whether you’re looking for a classic film or doing some filesharing, torrents can make your life a lot easier.
Now that you know how to use torrents, you can safely begin downloading, uploading, and reaping the benefits. Torrent smart, torrent safe, and torrent proudly. You’ve got nothing to worry about!
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