How Does Torrenting Work?
People who practically live on their computers swear by torrenting the files they want to download. Torrenting is different from regular downloading, and most people find it to be a more convenient and accessible alternative. If you’ve never torrented before, it’s easy to get started. You just need to know how to find a good torrent, what some basic terms mean, how to start downloading, and how to keep yourself safe.
What is a Torrent?
A torrent is a file (or group of files) that is shared peer to peer, sometimes abbreviated as p2p. When you’re downloading something via torrent, you’re downloading it from someone else (or most likely a group of people) who have what you want. This is a download processed through a torrent downloading program, rather than through a web browser.
How is Torrenting Different From Other Downloads?
When you download a file from the internet, you’re downloading it from one source. Say you’ve found a public domain audiobook you need to listen to for a school project. You’d click the link and download it directly from the website’s server, where the traffic is competing with all other traffic on that website. It’s direct, but it may be slower.
Large file downloads directly from websites can sometimes take hours to complete. That’s where torrenting has the advantage. You’re getting a file from many people at once, which bypasses a lot of the restrictions that slow down the speed of a download. All parts of the file can be accessed simultaneously and without competition.
Is Torrenting Illegal?
There is a grey area where torrenting is concerned. Anything that’s legal to download for free is legal to torrent for free. Materials offered for free can be torrented at your leisure. Anything in the public domain, such as royalty free stock files or public domain movies, books, and music are always legal to torrent. With anything else, you’re torrenting at your own risk.
Though it doesn’t happen very often, your internet service provider can disconnect your service for torrenting files that have been subject to copyright or DMCA (digital millennium copyright act) complaints. This is especially true if you’re using the open internet to torrent, where your activity can be monitored.
What is a Torrent Client?
A torrent client is a program that’s used to download a torrent. It’s a small piece of software that won’t take up too much space on your computer. It loads vital information about the torrent, allows you to customize your download speed, and makes it easy for you to share or take a torrent.
Torrent clients are easy to use. They have a simple interface, and there aren’t many things to tool around with in order to get your download going. You simply add the torrent to the torrent client, and wait for it to finish downloading.
What is a Magnet Link?
Magnet links, or magnet URIs, are an easier way to load torrents. By clicking a magnet link, a prompt comes up asking if you’d like to open the torrent in your torrent client. You can also use magnet links as copy-and-paste sharing methods. If you want to send a torrent to your friend, you can copy the magnet link and send it to them via email or message. They can then add the torrent for themselves.
Peers, Seeders, Leechers, and Health
Peers, seeders, leechers, and health are some of the most important things you need to look at when you’re selecting a torrent to download. The number of peers you’re connected to is the number of computers available that are sharing the file you’re trying to torrent.
Seeders are people who have already completed the download, and they’re sharing it so you can download it as well. They’ve simply made the file available to you. Torrents with high seeders download faster. Leechers are people who are uploading and downloading at once. They don’t have the full file, only parts of it.
If a file has a lot more seeders than leechers, it’s going to download quickly. Files with more leechers are difficult to download, because seeders aren’t sufficiently supplying the whole file. That download may be stuck on incomplete for a while.
The health of a torrent has to do with the ratio of seeders to leechers. A torrent of high health has many more people supplying than taking.
Is Torrenting Safe?
Any time you download something, you’re taking a risk. If you’re downloading from a reliable torrent site and you choose a file with a lot of seeders, chances are that it’s probably safe. If the file contained anything malicious, the seeders would have known about it and stopped seeding.
People who torrent have a tendency to help each other out. Check the comments on a torrent site before you select a file to download. If someone found out that the file either wasn’t what it was supposed to be or that it contained some unwanted extras, they’re likely to leave a comment to alert others.
Be wary of torrents with few seeders and no comments, unless you’re familiar with the uploader who made the torrent available and it’s someone that you trust.
How Do I Protect Myself While Torrenting?
People who torrent frequently often use VPNs, or virtual private networks. These networks shield your online activity from anyone who may be attempting to access your information. A lot of people take comfort in the fact that their peers can’t get any identifiable or sensitive information from them due to the protection that a VPN provides.
VPNs also mask your location, muddying the waters for people tracking downloads. If your internet service provider has a tendency to bring the hammer down on people for torrenting, using a VPN will make it harder for them to do so. VPNs are also great for people who torrent via public WiFi, such as college students. They seal the vulnerabilities and keep you shrouded in a little bit of mystery – your business never becomes anyone else’s business.
If you have a favorite torrent site or a favorite torrent client, feel free to leave a comment below to share it with others. The more people join your torrent site, the faster the downloads will work.