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Is BitTorrent safe?

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  • 8 min read

BitTorrent is a popular file-sharing protocol that allows users to download and upload files from multiple sources simultaneously.

You can download or upload any file, software, music, film, or TV show. But is BitTorrent safe to use? What are the ethical and legal implications of downloading files from BitTorrent?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions in detail. But before that, let us understand you BitTorrent works.


How BitTorrent works?

BitTorrent is an internet transfer protocol that uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) network to distribute files. So how is this protocol different from other file transfer protocols such as HTTP or FTP? Unlike the HTTP or FTP protocols, BitTorrent does not rely on a single server to provide the file.

Instead, BitTorrent breaks the file into smaller chunks and distributes them among interested users. These users are known as ‘peers’. Each peer downloads a chunk from others and uploads their chunk to the server. In a way, this creates a swarm of data exchange.

To download a file from BitTorrent, you need a torrent client. A torrent client is a software that manages the torrenting process. You will also need a torrent file or a magnet link containing important information about the file you are about to download from BitTorrent. The information could be about the file name, size, number of chunks, and location of peers.

You can download these files or get the magnet links to several so-called torrent websites. You can also go to websites like uTorrent, which is a repository of torrent websites. Although, uTorrent is banned in many countries and using uTorrent could lead to potential legal troubles. Read your country’s copyright and piracy laws first.

You can start the download process once you have the torrent file or the magnet link. While downloading, your torrent will first connect to a tracker, a server that tracks the peers in the swarm and help them find each other. The tracker will list all the peers with your file, and your torrent client will begin downloading.

As you continue to receive the chunk of data, your torrent client will also start sending the chunks to the peers. In a way, when you download the file from BitTorrent, you become both the downloader and uploader.

Also read: Is Rocket Money safe?


Is BitTorrent safe to use?

The BitTorrent protocol itself is legal and not inherently unsafe. It is a file transfer protocol used to transfer files over the internet.

There can be many legitimate users of BitTorrent, such as downloading patches, updates, or mods for video games, accessing public domain or Creative Commons licensed content, such as classic movies, indie music, books, or software, or distributing large files efficiently and cheaply.

However, you can fave legal consequences if you use the platform to share copyrighted material without the owner’s permission. Downloading copyrighted material is illegal in most countries, and as you simultaneously upload the files, too, it can have serious implications depending on the severity of the laws in your country.

If you have no intention of downloading pirated material and want to use BitTorrent only for legal purposes, then you should have no problems.

Nonetheless, you should take some security precautions while downloading files from BitTorrent:

Selecting the right torrent client

The choice of your torrent client holds substantial sway over your online security. Opting for a reputable torrent client ensures virus-free downloads and heightened privacy safeguards.

If your preference leans towards a web-based seeding supportive client, consider BitTorrent. It boasts user-friendly features, comment support, and a dedicated help centre, making it especially welcoming for newcomers.

Additional commendable torrent clients facilitating swift and secure downloads encompass qBittorrent, Vuze, and uTorrent, all accessible without cost.

Here is a list of the top 7 torrent websites.


Steer clear of scams and phishing

What is phishing? Types of phishing scams and how to protect yourself?

The virtual landscape teems with torrent directories, blogs, and forums housing torrent links. Regrettably, some platforms have counterfeit files and deceitful URLs linked to malware-infested content.

When downloading a torrent file, ascertain its origin from a trustworthy source. In the absence of corroborative information about a torrent site, exercise caution as it may be unreliable and fraught with potential hazards.

Counterfeit torrents pose risks of malware, viruses, and Trojans that imperil your system integrity and may compromise personal data. To safeguard against such perils, restrict your downloads to dependable torrent websites.

Prominent platforms like Pirate Bay and established torrenting sites often indicate verified torrents, granting assurance of their safety.


Inspect torrent file feedback

While adhering to trusted sources, torrent platforms remain susceptible to dubious uploads from unverified contributors.

Despite appearances, torrents could harbour dangers like malware, which might harm your computer if downloaded without prior safety checks.

A means to gauge the safety of a file lies in scrutinizing user comments. Numerous torrent sites allow users to comment on downloaded files. A substantial number of positive comments typically denotes a file’s safety. Always inspect the torrent file feedback to download from BitTorrent safely.


Engage private torrent communities

Torrenting communities, often called private trackers, comprise peer groups exchanging files exclusively within the community. Access to these groups is often invitation-based.

Community oversight ensures periodic evaluations of shared files, removing those falling below quality standards. Since the content originates from community members, it typically remains free of viruses and malware.


Harness effective antivirus software

Want to keep your safe while torrenting on BitTorrent? Download an antivirus asap.

Torrents can be malicious, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Thus, a robust antivirus program becomes indispensable for torrent users. An optimal antivirus tool automatically scans downloaded files, alerting you to potential malware.

Premium antivirus software often features real-time monitoring, preemptively blocking hazardous torrent sites. This guards against clicking on spam-ridden sites with redirecting links. Conducting a comprehensive system scan supplements the antivirus’s capabilities.

Reputable antivirus providers like Norton and McAfee offer longstanding high-quality services, shielding your computer from malware and malicious software. Certain free antivirus programs also deliver an extra layer of defence.

Here is a list of the top 10 antiviruses for Android.


Implement a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Downloading a torrent exposes your IP address to fellow downloaders. This vulnerability allows individuals to trace your location based on your IP address.

Utilizing a VPN represents a prime strategy for torrent safety. VPNs encrypt your traffic and route it through servers in remote locations, rendering your online activities invisible to your ISP and others.

VPNs mask your IP address, making it appear like you’re accessing the internet from another geographical point. Additionally, VPNs mitigate the risk of hackers infiltrating your device and pilfering personal information. VPNs can also circumvent website blocks and access region-restricted content.

Thus, using a VPN can make your BitTorrent experience safer.

Here is a list of the top 7 VPNs for all platforms.


Resist downloading copyrighted material

Steer clear of downloading copyrighted content, as engaging in illegal downloads poses grave consequences. The internet abounds with copyright violators who distribute protected material without authorization. Prudent diligence is necessary to eschew infringing on intellectual property rights.

Safeguarding your torrenting pursuits entails adhering exclusively to legal content. Engaging in unauthorised distribution or downloading copyrighted material can lead to penalties and, in extreme instances, legal repercussions.

For example, downloading a movie still in theatres via BitTorrent could result in criminal charges for intellectual property theft.

Copyright laws protect creative works, encompassing art, music, literature, and more, shielding them from unsanctioned copying or distribution. Obtaining permission from copyright holders before torrenting copyrighted material is crucial.

Furthermore, remember that some uploaded files on torrent sites may be irreversible. Alternatively, explore legitimate avenues like Amazon Music or Apple Music for copyrighted content access.

In conclusion, BitTorrent is a useful file transfer protocol that you can use to download non-copyrighted materials. However, you must take precautions while hunting for the files, and you’re good to go.

Also read: What is the BT_Datachannel error? Quick Fix 

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: [email protected]

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