The world wide web is built on a decentralized architecture without a central point of control, but instead, several systems work together to keep it running. That’s why most of the times, it works incredibly efficiently. However, content censorship, systematic attacks by cybercriminals, government surveillance, failures of important cables, and sudden surges in demand can bring the net as we know it, to its knees. And as more of the world’s population shifts to the internet for information, the risk of an internet gridlock and censorship increases tremendously, further limiting the content available on the public domain. But what’s the solution to this? Well, the answer is leveraging the internet’s decentralized architecture by using an ingenious way of sharing and downloading files known as the Torrent protocol. With no doubt, being aware of how to use Torrents will give you an upper hand whenever the internet is down, or the content you are looking for is censored.
Understanding the basics of Torrents
First and foremost, what is a Torrent? Well, it is a decentralized and efficient way of sharing big files over the internet to several people at the same time. Unlike downloading entire pieces of content from a centralized database or server, Torrent clients allow files to be split into smaller bits. These bits can then be downloaded from users who already have them in their computers. After the bits are downloaded, the file is reconstructed and becomes available in your computer. When downloading torrents, you are the “Leacher” and when sharing, you become the “seeder.”
The efficacy and reliability of torrenting has made it the most popular way of sharing files over the internet. As a matter of fact, it accounts for over 50 percent of the entire internet’s traffic. And though it is incredibly popular and famous among several internet users, it can be harrowing for newcomers. Fortunately, delving into the world of torrents is pretty easy. With the right guidance and information, you can start sharing and downloading files in a matter of minutes. But how?
Part 1: Installing a Torrent client
Download a Torrent client
The role of a Torrent client is to manage your seeding and downloads. I mean, you cannot share or download a torrent file if you don’t have a client. And when downloading it, ensure that you get it from a trusted and reliable source. Some of the most popular torrent clients include µTorrent, BitTorrent, and Vuze.
2. Install the client
After downloading the setup, run it so that it can be installed on your computer. When doing so, be very careful because the package could be riddled with browser hijackers and adware which have to be deselected manually, during the installation process.
Part 2: How to Download Torrent files
Find a tracker site
Torrent trackers are locations where torrent files are listed. The trackers do not host the content within their servers or databases, but only play the role of a repository for the files. Trackers are available in two forms:
Public trackers are open to the general public and can be easily found with a Google search. When using these, you will not be required to register, and there are also no limitations on the content you have access to. The problem is, they are riddled with adverts, and the content could be subject to copyrights. The most famous public tracker is Pirates Bay. Under private trackers, you can only join via an invitation and the content you have access to is carefully monitored to ensure that you “leech” as much as you “seed.”
2. Search for the file you want
The search function on the tracker’s platform will help you find the file you are looking for. The search is going to return several results, close to what you typed on the search bar. If the file is popular, you are going to have several options to choose from.
3. Determine the best file to download
If there are several options to choose from, you will have to determine the best file to download. To ensure that you make an informed decision, consider the following factors.
For media files, the encoding process determines the quality of the content. I mean, bigger media files will be of higher quality when compared to smaller ones. Checking the reviews of the torrent will also help you determine whether it is worth downloading.
The number of seeders
The more seeders a torrent file has, the faster you will be able to download it. This is because there will be several computers to connect to when downloading the bits of the file. If the number of leechers is higher than that of seeders, you might have to wait for a long time before the file is fully downloaded. Trackers indicate the number of leechers and trackers side by side, so it should be easy for you to determine the best file.
4. Make sure that the content is compatible with your computer
This is very important for media files because they could be encoded in a format that is not compatible with windows media player. To make sure that you can watch or listen to audios and videos you download, install dedicated players such as Media Player Classic and VLC player.
Tip: Be careful when selecting a file to download because torrents can be used to transmit viruses. If the torrent file you want to download has many seeders, there is a high probability that it is safe. Looking at the comment box will also help you keep off torrents with a bad reputation.
Part 3: How to use Torrent Downloader/client
Downloading the torrent magnet file
After identifying the torrent file you are interested in, click on the magnet link on the tracker so that the file can be downloaded on your computer. This file usually is very small and takes a concise time to download. However, this file does not contain the content. It is only a bridge to link you to the people sharing the torrent.
2. Open the torrent file
Torrent files are configured to launch the torrent client automatically after downloading. If this is not the case for your file, start your torrent client and use it to open the torrent file. The torrent client will then ask you the location you want the content to be saved if you never did so when installing. If your computer does not have enough space, you won’t be in a position to initiate the download process.
3. Wait for the download to begin
After initiating the download process, the torrent client will start connecting to seeders. The progress and download speed will be indicated on the status bar so that you can be in a position to monitor the process. It is also possible to download several torrents concurrently. However, the download speed will be divided among the active transfers. Therefore, if you are looking for a quick download, stick to one torrent at a time.
How to use a VPN to torrent for µTorrent and BitTorrent
- Select options and go to preferences under the menu
- Look for “Enable NAT-PMP port mapping,” “Add windows firewall exception” and “Enable UPnP port mapping.”
- Select a “Random Port” and ensure you get a port above 13000
- Under the proxy server, click on “none.”
- Finally, select the “OK” button. Your client will now be configured to use a P2P VPN server.
Part 4: Seeding Torrents
Keep your torrent client running in the background.
If there are no seeders with entire files in their computers, torrents will die. For this reason, every user has to play their part and share the files after they are done with downloading. You only need to keep your torrent client running in the background and remember that if you delete or move the files, you lose the ability to keep seeding.
2. Set an upload limit
Most torrent clients, allow you to set a limit on how much you want to seed. The option is usually found under the preferences menu, in the queuing section of your torrent client. Here, you will be asked to set a minimum ratio. If you set it at 100 percent, it implies that if you had downloaded a 200MB file, you would seed until you reach 200 MB sent. After the ratio has been realized, you can set the limit to zero to stop seeding.
3. Seeding for private trackers
If you are using a private tracker, you have to adhere to their strict rules of seeding. Most of the times, you are required to seed at least 100 percent of what you leach. Otherwise, your account will be banned from accessing the tracker.
Part 5: Creating a Torrent file
Apart from just downloading files, all torrent clients allow users to create their torrent files. This gives you the freedom to share files, but take care when sharing material that is subject to copyrights. The creator of such content is more likely to be prosecuted that the people who download it.
Create the torrent file
This process slightly varies, depending on the torrent client you are using. However, there is a common ground. Click on File, then select Create New Torrent. This option is going to open a tool that will help you create a torrent file.
2. How to use torrent files
Torrents can accommodate several types of files at the same time. To upload files to your torrent, click on “Add Directory” or “Add file.” You can then browse your computer to select the files you want to add.
3. Add a tracker
Under the torrent properties section, there is a trackers field. This is the place where you enter the address of the tracker you want to share torrent files. Most clients will have a directory of the most popular trackers. However, if you are using a private tracker, you have to add it manually.
4. Start seeding
Select the “Create” button, and the file will start seeding. Don’t stop it from seeding until several other seeders have downloaded the torrent. If you end seeding before seeders have finished downloading the file, your torrent is going to die.