Torrents are one of the best ways to distribute Software, Audio and Video across the internet. It is also one of the most popular with many sites preferring it to share software. Examples are Linux distributions and the Internet Archive. However many ISPs frown upon this technology and even go so far as banning it or throttleing your connection if you are using it. The main reason for this is due to how much licenced content is pirated using Bit-Torrenting. So how do we get around this and how do we Download Torrents Safely in 2023?
Lets get into it….
A Bit of History
Back in the beginning of the internet, or lets say the mass adaption of the internet, around the mid 90s. The fastest way to download anything was over Usenet or Newsgroups. Usenet servers originally were designed as a distributed discussion systems but soon were found to be used to encoded binary data and start to distribute video, audio and software. such encoding was limited to 60,000 characters and so larger files had to be distributed into may conversations across Usenet.
In the Early days of the internet this was fine, as we didn’t have very big download requirements. As the internet became more popular Usenet became too complicated for the average user. So as time passed something else was required. In 2001 Bram Cohen designed the protocol and the world changed, well at least the file sharing one!
Bit Torrent is a peer to peer (p2p) file sharing protocol to distribute files over the internet using decentralising, each host on this network is called a peer. A bit-torrent client both downloads files and then uploads (seeds) for other users (leachers). The original up-loader is soon forgotten and can disconnect their torrent client with the knowledge that the file will be seeded without them.
These days, BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, such as video files containing TV shows and Video clips (Mk4), or even audio files containing songs (MP3). In 2019 it was the most dominant file sharing protocol, with 2.46% of downstream, and 27.58% of all the internet traffic.
Trouble with Torrents
There are a few thing to be aware of when downloading files from Torrenting Web sites if you are not using any privacy mechanisms.
- Your ISP can see if you connect to sites that provide pirated torrents. In some cases an ISP will ban these sites so you can’t connect to them. This is usually circumvented by using a privacy browser such as tor!
- Check the rules from your ISP about torrenting otherwise expect unexpected letters from your ISP. Its better to play it safe.
- Did you know that when you download a torrent, you connect to a torrent tracker server which is responsible for connecting peers to other peers so files can be shared. Once you connect to the tracker, your IP address is visible to all peers that are participating in this file sharing.
- Your ISP does not know what files you are torrenting, only that you are doing it. There is an common idea that all torrenting is bad so they don’t care if you are downloading from legal sources.
- If your ISP suspects you are downloading Torrents, in some situations they could evem throttle your internet connection.
What is an IP address?
In the very simplest way, An IP address is like your phone number and how you recognised on the internet. Each connection to the internet has a Unique IP address and makes it easy to find information about the user and their location.
Download Torrents Safely 2022
There are a few ways download torrents. Lets explore the most popular ones.
Native bittorrent clients installed on your local PC. This is the worse way to do it. Your IP is visible so your ISP and all the peers your are seeding to can see it. Some times even large Media Coperations are monitoring these IP address and ISP could report you. Don’t do this if you have privacy concerns!
Torrent Client and VPN
Having a VPN on your PC with a torrent Client can be an effective way to download Torrents. However what happens if your VPN restarts or goes offline. Then you have a problem as your real IP will be leaked. The best solution is to run a combination of qbittorrent, Gluetun and a VPN service all wrapped up in Docker. You can check out my seedbox tutorial on how to do this yourself.
SeedBox to Download Torrents Safely
These are the ultimate tools for hard core uploaders (seeders) but they can be expensive. One of the most popular one is Rapidseedbox.com
Download Torrents via Web Clients
When using a web client to download torrents, there is no need to worry about sharing your IP Address as this service does the downloading it for you. Then the file is usually available for direct download which removes the torrent aspect completely. Some of them even can move completed downloads to online cloud storage services like Google Drive!
There are many sites providing web clients that will do the torrenting download for you. Then you can download it as a direct download or sync to your cloud drives. I have selected ones that have free options so you can try them out, but the best experience comes from paying. At the time of writing webtor has the cheapest option of €1 per month.
- Torrentsafe, TorrentSafe is a fast and private torrent downloading service that takes place in your browser without the need to download any software.
- Bitport.io, Download files to a secured cloud. I have used this one and its pretty good.
- Wetor, Webtor is available on all platforms and has the cheapest offering.
Sharing Files Safely via P2P
Another option is to use Peer 2 Peer web sites that do the sharing for you. You can upload the file and just share the link to the recipient.
- ShareDrop, is a free web app that allows you to easily and securely share files directly between devices without uploading them to any server first.
- FilePizza, Free peer-to-peer file transfers in your browser.
Torrents are one of the best file sharing technologies and the fact that even after 20 years it’s still one of the most popular ways of sharing files. This shows how robust the technology really is. So stick with some of the above ideas and you will be able to Download Torrents Safely and Privately in 2023
I hope you get some value from this post and hit me up on the tweet machine if you have any questions.