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What Is Torrenting? How Does It Work? Learn All About It

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what is torrenting

Torrenting is a popular file-sharing activity that is perfectly legal until you download pirated content. Since most of the content downloaded via torrent is copyrighted, it raises skepticism around its reliability and is considered bad to talk about.

Torrenting also comes with a plethora of legal issues, that are all centered around access to pirated content. However, since torrent is also often used in a productive manner due to their easy sharing capability, no one can not yet fully rule out torrents as bad. In essence, it all comes down to its use and if you are a new torrent user, it is best that you read along this guide to explore how torrenting can land you in trouble or often help you out!  

What Is Torrenting and How Does It Work?

Torrenting is a file-sharing process that includes various peers and allows the users to download the large files of their favorite movie, TV shows, music, software, ebook instantly. Torrenting starts with a peer downloading a tracker in the P2P network. The tracker (torrent file) is broken down into small packets, and the torrent file is downloaded not as a complete large file but in small bits from different seeders. After downloading the file, the seeders upload (seeds) it and enable other users to download it. In this way, people who want to download the same file get the complete torrent file by downloading small packets. 

Downloading and uploading happen simultaneously. The torrent client uploads the file as soon as you finish downloading it. However, this does impact internet speed. The software continues to upload the file until you manually stop it from doing it. 

What Are Common Terms Used for Torrenting?

Before you start downloading torrents, it’s crucial that you have enough knowledge and better understand some common terms used during torrenting. So, here are some terms that are commonly associated with torrenting and what does each of them means:

  • Torrent Clients: They are software that allows users to initiate the P2P file sharing process using the BitTorrent protocol. 
  • Peer: A person within the P2P network who simultaneously uploads and downloads a torrent file. 
  • Indexers: They work as search engines and allow users to search and download the desired torrent file on their device. 
  • Swarm: A group of peers uploading or downloading the same torrent file. 
  • Seeder: A peer who has finished downloading a specific torrent file and at the same time allows other peers to download the file by uploading it. 
  • Leechers: A peer who’s downloading the torrent file is a leecher. After downloading, it becomes a seeder. 
  • Magnet Link: These torrent files come with hash code and ensure fast downloading. 
  • Trackers: They are servers that help find peers and manage data exchanges from the torrent client on your device. 

If you’re a newbie, then these terms and their meaning will help you understand the process of torrenting. Ensure that you know the core purpose of each word because if not, then it’s possible that you make a mistake while downloading torrents.

How Can Torrents Be Dangerous?

Torrents can be more dangerous than you can ever imagine. The rising trend for copyright infringement makes torrenting much riskier than ever before. The results of copyright violations are negative most of the time, and various countries like Australia, the US, and the UK are taking strict actions against torrenting. Thus, before you download torrents, you should know the extent of the risks surrounding you. Here are some of the main dangers and threats imposed by torrenting:

Settlement Letter

The copyright trolls can request your ISP to warn you for downloading and sharing pirated content. You might receive emails and DMCA notices that warn you of your activities, and if you don’t stop it, legal action will be taken against you. For example, internet users were threatened via email in the UK for illegally downloading and sharing a movie.

Penalties Imposed By ISPs

Even if you didn’t end your activities after several warnings, the copyright owner asks for your other personal details and drags you to court. As a result, you might get fined thousands of dollars, and if the violation is pretty severe, you can get jailed as well. For example, in the US, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, penalties for copyright violation include up to $10,000 fines and ten years of jail. 

ISP Surveillance

ISPs work to regulate bandwidths and when they witness any user consuming an unusually large amount of bandwidth, the ISP starts monitoring their activities. Large bandwidth consumption is linked with torrenting or streaming, and when your ISP learns about your P2P activities, they start throttling your connection. Consequently, you start experiencing slow internet speed, making torrenting difficult or even impossible. Even if torrenting is against the terms and services of your ISP, they can permanently cancel your account and won’t provide you any further service. 

Name the Countries Where Torrenting Is Illegal

Torrenting laws vary from country to country. In privacy-friendly countries like Switzerland and Poland, you might be allowed to download torrents for some personal use, and you won’t face any adverse impact. However, torrenting is illegal in some countries and can put you in trouble. Here is the name of countries where torrenting is illegal:

  • Finland
  • France 
  • Germany
  • Japan 
  • UAE
  • UK

All the countries mentioned above follow strict anti-torrenting laws. If the ISP or the copyright trolls caught you for torrenting in any of the above-jurisdiction, you’d have to face legal consequences. For example, under the Digital Economy of the UK, anyone found guilty of downloading copyright content was imprisoned for ten years.   

Even though torrenting is not illegal in Australia, lawmakers still fine people up to $2000 on each copyright violation. Australia is among those countries where the ISP has blocked the torrenting sites upon the government’s request. If the users access the blocked torrenting site by any means, they’re heavily fined. Here are the names of countries that prevent torrenting by blocking sites:

  • Australia
  • China
  • Italy
  • Malaysia
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • US

If you live in any of the countries listed above, make sure that you use a VPN in the first place and then download torrents. 

How to Download Torrents Safely?

Considering how risky torrenting is in various parts of the world, it has become essential to look for reliable and secure ways to download torrents. You can use multiple methods for safely downloading torrents. Some of these methods are:

  • Use a VPN
  • Use Sandbox
  • Run reliable antivirus software
  • Choose a trustworthy torrent client

To know more in detail how each method helps in downloading torrents. Follow this link and expand your knowledge. 

How Do I Download Torrents Without the ISP Knowing About It?

When you download torrents, your ISP gets to know about them. Your ISP knows that you’re involved in P2P activities by tracking your IP address in the torrent swarm. Hence, you need to hide your IP address and become anonymous to prevent ISP from knowing about torrenting. Although there are various tools to hide your IP address and protect your online identity, none of them is as secure and suitable as a VPN. 

By subscribing to a reliable VPN provider, you can protect your online downloads from ISP surveillance. A VPN changes your IP address and connects you with the torrent swarm from a remote VPN server. In this way, you become anonymous over the web. Your IP address is further protected by a VPN’s kill switch and split tunneling feature during torrenting. Both are the advanced privacy features that a VPN offers for enhanced security while downloading torrents.

Moreover, a VPN encrypts your data traffic using AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN or WireGuard protocol. With such strong encryption, your torrent traffic remains hidden from the ISP. Hence, do use a VPN provider that is compatible with torrenting. 

Is It Reliable to Use Public Trackers For Downloading Torrents?

For a secure and enhanced torrent downloading experience, it’s better that you use private torrent trackers instead of public ones. They are more reliable to use and provide authentic and quality torrent files. Unlike the public torrent trackers, you’ve to request to join the private torrent tracker communities. Once you’re accepted, you can start downloading. The best thing about private torrent trackers is that you can report any bogus and fake torrent file and get it soon removed from the list. Also, it does hide your IP address and ensures that no snooping eye can monitor or track your torrent downloading activities. 

Torrenting is the practice of downloading and sharing large files of anime, movies, music, software, TV shows, and ebooks. It is debatable whether torrenting is legal or illegal, but a simple answer can be that it depends on what you’re downloading. There is no wrong with downloading and sharing torrent files with your peers, which is public, or you have the license for distribution and sharing. 

Downloading copyrighted and unsanctioned content for free is considered illegal. Also, most torrent files contain pirated content, making torrenting illegal. Hence, make sure that while torrenting, don’t download any unsanctioned as it’s a sheer copyright violation, and you can face a lawsuit in this regard.

Security Tips for Torrenting?

Torrenting poses great security and privacy risks on your digital security because the content you download contains pirated content. Moreover, there are high chances that you end up downloading a bogus file and infecting your device with malware, trojan, spyware, or virus. 

To mitigate some of the dangers and secure yourself and your device from the potential risks, it’s crucial that you follow some security tips. Below are some of the security tips everyone should follow while torrenting:

  • Run antivirus software onto your device and prevent malware and other threats from harming your device. 
  • Install a reputable VPN provider onto your device and to avoid ISP tracking. 
  • Avoid downloading EXE files because such files usually have malware embedded within them. 
  • Do not download any copyrighted content. 
  • Make sure that you download torrents using private trackers. 
  • Be careful while choosing a torrent client and website. Do not download torrents from any unreliable source. 
  • Make sure that the file you select fits best for downloading. Check out the total number of seeders and other related details. 

Hopefully, by following these tips, you can enjoy a secure and hassle-free torrent downloading experience. So, don’t skip or neglect any of it. 

Final Thoughts

Torrenting is a great way to download torrents, but the dangers and legality issues around it make it pretty risky. There are significant risks of downloading torrents, but you can reduce them by practicing specific security tips. Always use reliable methods for downloading torrents like a VPN. Even though torrenting is banned in different countries, you can quickly download your desired torrent file without risking your online security and privacy with a VPN. So, use a legitimate VPN provider and enjoy unlimited torrenting. 


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