How Torrents Work - Featured

Even though torrenting isn’t as popular as it used to be (thanks to Netflix and other media streaming services), it is still one of the most reliable file sharing methods. It’s quite simple to use and can be a great way to share large files with your friends. However, torrenting is often seen as an illegal activity. There are many misconceptions surrounding it, which is why we decided to put together a short guide to the basics of torrents. So, what is torrenting and how torrents work? Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: TechNadu does not condone illegal file sharing or copyright infringement. Even though P2P file sharing technology is legal, many of the files exchanged via P2P are indeed copyrighted. Uploading these copyrighted files can put you at risk of a civil lawsuit. While these lawsuits are often class-action cases, some have been targeted at individual users in an attempt to make an example of them.

Use a VPN for Torrenting

Many of you will be surprised to know that your Internet browsing is fully visible by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). These companies have the power to collect your personal data and hand it over to third parties. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep your data protected and inaccessible to anyone who tries to collect it. This is especially important if you plan on downloading and sharing torrent files.

ExpressVPN for Torrenting

TechNadu strongly recommends using ExpressVPN to encrypt your Internet connection, change your IP, and make your device impenetrable to malware. This particular VPN software scored the highest in our tests, which can be seen in our ExpressVPN review. Use the provided link to read all you need to know about this easy to use and highly powerful application.

Make sure to sign-up for ExpressVPN and enjoy the Internet as it should be – open and without any privacy concerns.

Torrenting (P2P File Sharing): The Basics

Did you know that torrenting debuted in 2001? Thanks to a Python-language programmer, Bram Cohen, the world got to use this amazing technology. Actually, this was groundbreaking back in the day, if you can remember the state of things back then. The Internet was still slow, and cloud-based technologies were intended for enterprise consumers. It took a few years until torrenting really became popular with computer users and quite unpopular with anti-piracy government agencies. Still, this doesn’t stop us from using torrent files and downloading all kinds of media to a wide range of devices and platforms.

P2P File Sharing

What’s So Special About Torrents?

These days, we have several different methods of downloading files. As you know, there’s the traditional downloading where you copy a file from a remote server. In addition, you can also download cloud-based files. This happens when someone uploads a file to their cloud (such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and many others) and you access that cloud to download the file. In addition, there are torrents.

  • Torrent networking doesn’t depend on a server. That’s because torrents are bits of data scattered across many computers. In other words, you take small bits of data from other people’s computers to complete the download on your device;
  • In general, torrents enforce 99% quality control by filtering out corrupted and dummy files. Especially in their early days, torrents were perfectly safe to download. Even though there is some abuse of this system these days, they are still considered to be very reliable and non-threatening;
  • When it comes to downloading files to your computer, you can take advantage of your Internet connection up to its fullest extent. Torrent downloads aren’t limited, and they can be downloaded as fast as your Internet connection allows;
  • Finally, torrents files are open-source and advertising-free which means that no single person can profit from torrent success. However, the situation is a bit different with torrent clients that are usually powered by ads.

What is Torrenting?

Now that you know a few interesting bits of information, let’s get to the point. First, let’s  take a look at the differences between two of the most often used torrenting terms – ‘Torrent’ and ‘BitTorrent’.

  • Torrent is a very small file (a few bytes in size) that only contains metadata about the files you want to download. Torrent files don’t actually contain any data – like a movie you want to download, for example – it only contains information where that movie is located;
  • BitTorrent is a file transfer protocol that powers torrents. So, this isn’t a file type but instead a protocol that breaks down large files into pieces, and connects those pieces into large files on your computer.

As you can see, there is a difference between these two, even though they can be used interchangeably. However, it’s important to know the differences which will help you to understand more advanced terms we’ll use in this article.

How Torrents Work?

Instead of using a centralized server to download files from, torrents work in a decentralized manner. Every participant in the file sharing is actively downloading or uploading files, which means that torrent users need to rely on each other. First, let’s take a look at some of the most important terms you need to be familiar with.

  • Peers are users that are actively downloading or uploading files. In other words, this term refers to every member in a file sharing (P2P – peer-to-peer) network;
  • Seeders are those who have the fully downloaded files on their device. They are seeding the files, which means that they allow other users to take bits of data from their computers;
  • Leechers are those who are downloading the file. In other words, they are taking bits of data from seeders in an effort to complete their downloads;

P2P Diagram
  • Indexers are torrent websites. These websites act as repositories of torrents, where you can browse different types of media and get the torrent you need;
  • Trackers are bridges between peers (members of a P2P network). These are actually URLs and servers that aid in file transfer by routing small data pieces between uploaders and downloads;
  • BitTorrent clients are specialized applications that act as a requirement for downloading torrent files. If you want to download and use torrents, you need a BitTorrent client installed on your platform or device or choice.

What Do You Need to Download Torrents?

Almost every device and operating system can use torrents to download files. However, these are mostly tied to desktop operating systems. Here’s what you need to download torrents.

  • First and foremost, you need to install a reliable BitTorrent client on your computer. All of these are functioning in the same way, which is why subtleties are what sets them apart. On top of that, this type of software usually comes free of charge. To help you get started, here are our recommendations for the best torrents clients of 2018. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten MacOS users. Make sure to read our guide to the best Mac torrent clients as well.

Torrent Repositories
  • Then, you should also know from where to download torrents. Here are some of the most popular torrent sites you can find online. However, we know that many of you want to stay on the safe side of the law. Therefore, make sure to check out the best legal torrent repositories that offer movies, TV shows, software, books, and more.

That’s it. First, make sure to install a BitTorrent client and make sure to know where to look for torrents. We recommend you to use popular repositories which usually bring safe and malware-free files. Please note that many torrent websites (especially smaller ones) are used to distribute corrupt files and viruses, so make sure to keep your computer protected.

The Torrent Download Process

Now that you know all about how torrents work, let’s take a look at how to download them. We’ll be using everything we said before and put all that knowledge into practice. Keep on reading.

Torrentz2 Search Engine
  • Once you find the torrent you’ve been looking for, download it to your computer. These are very small files that vary from 15kb to 150kb. In other words, you should download them quickly;

Torrentz2 Search Results
  • Next, open the previously installed BitTorrent client. Windows and Mac users can double-click on the torrent file to open the BitTorrent client. Alternatively, your operating system might open the torrent file automatically, without saving it to your computer;
  • Your BitTorrent client might ask where you’d like to save the files you plan on downloading. Find a location and add the torrent to the client;

uTorrent File Download
  • Now, the torrent client will begin searching for seeders. It will use the data found in the torrent file to find those who already have the file downloaded. In case there’s a large number of seeders, your files starting to download in a few seconds. The more seeders you connect to, the faster your download will be. That’s why it’s crucial to download torrents with plenty of seeders, and a limited number of leechers;
  • All there’s left to do is to wait for the files to be downloaded. In case there are many seeders available, this only depends on the speed of your Internet connection;

uTorrent File Seeding
  • Once you fully download the files, you will automatically become a seeder. This means that you’ll help other torrent users by letting them take bits of data from your computer. We have a short but helpful guide on how to seed torrents, so we recommend you to check it out.

Additional Resources: What’s Next?

We hope that now you know how torrents work. However, this isn’t where you should stop exploring this topic. Here are a few additional interesting articles.

  • In case you’ve decided to use uTorrent (and we hope you did), here’s how to use uTorrent including some helpful tips and tricks;
  • Next, you need to know what to do with different file types after your download them. Check out how to open torrent files on your computer;
  • Finally, you should know that everyone can create torrents and take part in the community of torrent users. Here’s how to create torrent files.

Final Thoughts

Dear TechNadu fans, that’s it. We hope that you found our guide on how torrents work to be helpful. If you have any questions or doubts, feel free to post a comment below.

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