Ever since torrents were introduced to the Internet, online content discovery has been significantly simplified. Even though getting from searching to downloading torrents is very simple, there’s still a learning curve that you need to overcome.
In this guide, we will cover every little detail about torrents, focusing on topics like how to torrent, getting the perfect software for your torrenting needs, choosing a VPN that will protect your torrenting activities, and finally getting that torrent downloaded so that you can enjoy your new content, software, or app.
How to torrent: The basics
The introduction of torrents has revolutionized the process of online content discovery. Torrents allow users to browse and download content for free, but I bet you already knew that. How knowledgeable are you about torrents though, really? If you aren’t very familiar with the concept of torrenting, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
i don't even know how torrenting and seeding works pic.twitter.com/WHtCY7Knkf
— chaska ☀️ (@POPxSTEP) June 7, 2016
For starters, let’s look at the basics of torrents:
- What are torrents: Simply defined, torrents are files that store information about other files. When you’re torrenting a file, it means that you are transferring a file over a Peer-To-Peer network. A P2P network can be explained as a network created when two or more computers are connected to share without having to go through a separate server computer.
- Torrent genesis: Torrenting started in 2001, and was created by Bram Cohen. His intent was to allow everyone free access to online content.
- Understanding torrents: Torrents and magnet links are pointer files that hold specific information related to the files to be distributed. Torrents help the software locate the computers of those users who are sharing the specific file that you want to download. By using torrents, you can command your software to connect you with the private computers and copy the files they share.
- Special software: Torrent downloading requires special software that is able to read the torrent file or the magnet link. You can read more about the best apps for torrenting in our review of them.
The main purpose of all torrent software is to allow users to download large media files.
Whichever software you choose to go with, make sure it’s compatible with your device and allows you to quickly download any torrent file. That’s the whole point of P2P file-sharing.
How to torrent: The torrent download process
Downloading torrents is far from complicated, but there is a thing or two (or three) you need to learn about the whole torrent-downloading process. Once you learn to follow the instructed steps in an orderly fashion, it’ll be a piece of cake. Below, you’ll see the entire step-by-step instruction/guide that will allow you to go from Google to downloading torrents:
- Use a special torrent search engine to find .torrent files on the Internet. There are many popular options which we look at in this review of those which are still up. Given the turbulent history of these websites, you for sure need a VPN to properly download torrents from any site.
- Type the name of the file you want to download.
- Download the desired .torrent file to your drive using the magnet link.
- Open the .torrent file in your torrent software.
- The torrent client software will then communicate with a tracker server for 2 to 10 minutes while it searches the Internet for people to form a swarm with.
- The tracker will then locate the torrent users to create a swarm, and each user will be labeled as either a leech/peer or a seed.
- The software begins the .torrent file download.
- After the download is finished, you can choose to become a leecher or a seeder. If you leave the torrent software running for an hour or two after the transfer is done, you become a seeder, if you immediately erase the torrent from the torrent software, you become a leecher.
You might be confused by terms such as seeds, peers, or swarm. Don’t worry, because below you’ll find a glossary of these terms and how they fit in the torrenting puzzle. If you follow what was said above you will have learned how to torrent anything you find! Need to know more? Keep reading!
How to torrent: Facts about torrenting
To better understand how torrenting works, and how to torrent in a proper way, here are several useful facts:
- Torrents represent a true P2P network where the users themselves do the actual file serving.
- Download speed is controlled by the torrent tracking servers, who are responsible for monitoring all swarm users. If you share, tracker servers will reward you by increasing your swarm bandwidth.
- The users who share the files don’t profit from torrent downloads.
- In order to erase all potential abuse of the system, Torrents enforce a 99% quality control by filtering corrupted or dummy files.
The goal is to make sure that the user receives only what was claimed to be in the file. Many of the best website for locating files have teams devoted to removing poor torrents.
Now that you have your file, you’ll need a media player to watch it. For TV and movies, VLC is the standard…and it’s free! In order to watch whatever file you downloaded on your VLC, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Download the VLC media player for your device
- Install it on your computer, it’s guided
- Go to your torrenting software
- Double-click on the downloaded torrent to open the containing folder
- Right-click on the downloaded file
- Click on “Open With”
- Choose VLC as the media player
There you have it. These simple steps will help you go from torrent downloading to watching whatever file you downloaded on VLC.
VLC is a free and open source multimedia player that allows users to play most multimedia files, including DVDs, Audio CDS, VCDs, and other streaming protocols. If you have any doubts about the quality of this media player, keep in mind that just recently, VideoLAN announced that VLC crossed 3 billion downloads on their website.
How to torrent: Always use protection (VPN)
In order to enjoy private and secure torrent sharing, you must use a VPN service. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Given that torrenting files is a bit of a gray area when it comes to legal issues in some countries, using a VPN service will automatically erase any doubts about the security of your torrenting activity. Here’s what you need to know about VPNs:
- What does a VPN do? A VPN is software that protects your online activity by routing your connections through a separate server and hiding your IP address.
- How does it work? When you start your VPN software from the VPN service, the software encrypts your data and sends it to the online destination in an encrypted form so that the online destination interprets your data as coming from the VPN server and its location.
This means that when you use a VPN, the software encrypts your online activity while hiding your IP address thus allowing you to freely and anonymously download any torrent you want.
You can choose the best VPN for your torrenting needs by reading our thorough reviews of some of the best VPNs specifically crafted for torrenting purposes, here are our top 3:
[affilioProvider max=”3″ top=”n” cat=’torrenting’]
How to torrent: Torrent Glossary
You may have confused above with terms such as swarm, seed, peer and other torrent-related jargon. To help you understand all of these terms better, here are some basic explanations:
- Seed: A seed is a user who has downloaded the complete file. A user is seeding when the software client opens after the user finished downloading their file to help distribute it. Most of the data you’re downloading was from seeds, so by seeding you give back to the community.
- Peer: Depending on the context, “peer” can refer either to any client in the swarm or more specifically to a downloader, a client that has only parts of the file. In other words, a peer is someone who is both downloading and uploading the file in the swarm. A peer becomes a seed when the user has completed 100% of the file and decides to proceed uploading.
- Leech: A leecher is a user who only downloads the files but doesn’t upload or limits the upload, thus producing a negative effect on the swarm.
- Swarm: All the peers and seeds together form a swarm. A swarm is a group of people downloading and uploading the same file.
- Trackers: A tracker is a server who keeps track of which peers and seeds are in the swarm.
Basically, when you start downloading a torrent you’re considered as a peer. When the torrent is downloaded you become a seed, and afterward, depending on whether you want to continue seeding or not, you either become a leech or a seed. Easy to understand, right?