Torrenting is one of the most effective ways to obtain large files online. However, depending on the type of information and the laws of your country, downloading torrents isn’t always safe or legal.
Before you start taking full advantage of the world of information torrenting has to offer, you need to learn how to do it safely.
In this article, we’ll discuss what torrents are and how you can ensure safety and protect your identity while reaping the benefits.
What is a torrent?
Torrents are a way to distribute files over the internet. Even though files can be of any size, torrenting usually deals with high-volume pieces, which people can have a hard time mailing or uploading to the cloud.
Torrents facilitate peer-to-peer file sharing. They are popular because the method of sharing files is decentralized. You don’t need a powerful server to distribute files to peers. For example, if you want to share a file with thousands of users, you’d need a powerful server with sufficient bandwidth to do.
With torrents, you don’t need a server. Once the torrent is created, you can share it with any number of users. The trick is that all of the users, who download a torrent file, start sharing it with the rest of the users (or peers, in Torrent lingo). Thus, the volume of work is distributed among several servers.
Safe torrenting: What are the dangers?
Unlike other forms of file sharing, torrenting comes with several risks. You can unwittingly download malware and risk the safety of your data. Meanwhile, many torrent files are copyrighted so you could face legal issues.
When you browse torrents, it’s hard to find trusted sources. In most cases, you don’t know the person or company, you are getting files from. However, you are fully responsible for downloading these files. Additionally, you are fully responsible for sharing these files with other peers.
Many legitimate companies and internet users are sharing files through torrents. Torrents are legal to create. However, downloading and sharing these files may not always be. That’s why it’s important to check the source and be aware of the dangers downloading may pose. Otherwise, you may find yourself involved in illegal actions without even knowing it.
You should understand that movies, music, and books commonly shared on torrents are generally copyrighted. That’s why you should be especially careful when downloading these files or sharing them.
Is torrent safe? Only if you:
- Check if the file is copyrighted.
- Download torrents from trusted sources only.
- Install top-notch antivirus software and update it regularly.
Legal issues: Is torrent illegal?
The legality of torrenting is often questionable. You need to know the laws of your country or state in regard to copyrighted materials. It’s legal to share content you own with other people. For example, many companies use torrents to offer educational materials to their employees.
However, if you don’t know the source of the torrent, you could be in trouble. Study copyright laws in your country carefully. Most likely, sharing copyrighted content could lead to a big fine or a jail sentence.
Overall, torrenting is legal. But only if you share non-copyrighted information and malware-free files.
You may have heard about people using torrents for years and not getting caught. It’s possible to avoid responsibility for a while. However, you should know that in most countries, including the USA and Australia, Internet Service Providers work with the government to catch people, who share copyrighted materials. At some point, your activity may be noticed.
How to torrent anonymously
By protecting your identity while torrenting, you can avoid getting caught by the Internet Service Provider or copyright holders. While it’s still illegal to use torrents for downloading and sharing copyrighted content, you can do it anonymously.
1. Download a high-quality VPN
If you aren’t already using a VPN to protect yourself, it’s time to start. The problem with torrent websites is that they don’t usually have proper security. That’s why it’s very easy to get a virus, malware, and other cybersecurity problems.
Once you start downloading and sharing files, any torrent client user can see your IP address. So make sure to hide it by using a VPN.
As a bonus, VPN can help you access blocked torrent servers even if your country bans them.
2. Adjust VPN settings
Remember, you have to download a full version of a VPN for it to work on the torrent client. Browser extensions only work with the content you surf while using the browser. Once you install the VPN, adjust the settings:
- Select encryption level to AES 256-bit (recommended) and use OpenVPN protocol
- Turn on DNS and IP/IPv6 leak protection. This can keep your location a secret.
- Enable the Network Lock (or Kill Switch) to prevent revealing information in case the connection disappears.
For many VPNs, these settings are already working. However, some may need manual adjustment.
How to check if a torrent is safe?
To avoid downloading malware and other dangerous files, you can do the following:
- Check how many seeds are sharing a torrent. Torrents with many seeders (more than 10) are likely to be safe.
- Many torrent providers verify users and add a special verified icon next to their names. Opt for verified user content only.
- Read the comments below the torrent. You can learn about the torrent’s safety and quality from the information left by other users.
- Always use a high-quality antivirus. A torrent that looks absolutely safe may still cause damage.
The key takeaway
While torrenting is convenient, it’s not always safe. It’s important to protect yourself by using a VPN and checking for signs of malware before downloading.
You should also check the local copyright laws. Downloading and sharing copyrighted content is against the law in most countries.