Guide to Downloading Torrents with BitTorrent

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Almost everyone knows that BitTorrent is a way to download files, they may not know how it works, and legal ways to use it although they know it exists as an internet entity.

If you are a tech buff, you might already know that P2P (peer-to-peer) networking can power feats like Windows OS updates, Android App installations, Linux downloads, Chromebook updates and more.

Using BitTorrent for Android App installations is especially helpful to speed up the process, but be sure to know that your app source is legit. If you download a malicious app you’re asking for a virus and might end up in a cell phone repair shop.

We’ll describe how this works, but even if you aren’t interested in the inner workings, we’re going to share a few tips on how to enhance your experience when you upload and download files.

How Does BitTorrent Work?

Many people think it is a program, but it’s not. Rather, it’s a way to download files using P2P file sharing. It’s a protocol you will use to download files.

The programs come into play when you use the torrent method to obtain files and these are called BitTorrent clients.

Its a great way to download files and programs because it is a distributed system. All users who are in the middle of downloading a file or who have downloaded one partake in the BitTorrent method.

Files are shared across all of torrent users because it breaks up files into small chunks and distributes these chunks. So, as you download your file, you can begin sharing. This is why it is so fast. Users can share pieces of files with each other as soon as they have been downloaded.

This is much faster than waiting until an entire download has finished, and then sharing across a network.

The ultimate benefit of is that if one computer system in the group is slow. If you’re lucky, there will be other computers that can send you the pieces of the file you covet at much faster speeds.

If you were downloading a Linux distro from one slow server, you’d be out of luck. But since BitTorrent tries to put the file together from a lot of people at once, you can take advantage of faster systems. You too, will help contribute to the download requests of others.

What is a BitTorrent Client?

The first thing you will need to begin BitTorrenting as a torrent client. There are a few great ones to choose from. Here are just a couple:

  • Deluge – This client is available on Windows and Mac, is free, and
    has support for plugins you can use to customize its operations.
  • Transmission – This is mostly for Macs and Linux systems, but it
    is extremely easy to use.
  • This is for both Windows and Mac, and is free and open
    source. 
  • Tixati – This client is for Windows, it’s easy to use and it’s
    customizable.

To start downloading using this app, you’ll need to find a .torrent file, then open it with your client. The torrent file does not contain your files. Instead, it tells your BitTorrent client where it can find people who are also downloading and sharing the file.

What is a Torrent File?

It’s a set of information that will aid your BitTorrent client when it tries to find and download programs and files. It contains names, sizes and folder structure. It also has a list of trackers.

A “tracker” is like a computer that helps identify where specific data is located. When you put a request for a file or program out there, a tracker will connect you to locations where it can be found.

What is a Magnet Link?

A magnet link includes all of the info you will need to find a .torrent file from your peers – it can kick off a download. In other words, you aren’t downloading a .torrent file from a server. This saves you from having to download the file and helps websites who only need to publish magnet links.

If the original site that is hosting your torrent goes down or no longer provides your content, there are links that are also on the Internet that you can use to download on alternate sites.

How do I Start Torrenting?

Let’s get honest here for a second. Many people use BitTorrent to pirate copywriting material. We don’t recommend doing this. At best, you’ll receive a nasty letter from your ISP. At worst, you might get a letter demanding you settle the matter in court.

With that being said, if you’d like to download something available legally, here are some tips:

  • Find out how many seeders the file or program you would like to download via BitTorrent has. Seeders are other people who have copies of whatever it is you might want to download.
  • If there aren’t any seeders, let your torrent run for a while, and you might just luck out.
  • If clicking a magnet link doesn’t work, you can import it manually, setting your Torrent client as the default app that will handle these links moving forward.
  • Although this might be bad karma, limit your upload speed more than a download speed – your ISP probably supports faster download speeds and slower upload speeds. You don’t want file-sharing to impact your other online activities.
  • When you’ve fully downloaded a torrent file, delete it from your client program. If you don’t need whatever you downloaded, remember to delete it from your hard drive as well.

You can set preferences to where your downloads go to make this easier.