Can You Check If Your Downloading Is Being Tracked?

Tips on How to Choose the Best Torrenting Sites

Torrent sites can be dangerous places: a lot of the sites aren’t regulated, so they can contain fake links with viruses, tracking software, or malware.

Therefore, choosing a trusted torrent site is crucial in minimizing the risks involved. But to be fully protected, I recommend that you use a trusted VPN (my favorite is ExpressVPN) while browsing any torrent site. It will keep your data safe and can protect you from malicious links.

When choosing a torrent website, I strongly suggest making sure the site you use has some (if not all) the following:

  • Security features — Choose a site that has been around for at least 5 years, doesn’t have many ads, and verifies its torrent files. But keep in mind that no torrent site is 100% safe because they can leave your data and activity exposed to third parties. To increase your safety when torrenting, I recommend using a VPN.
  • Lots of variety — Make sure your site’s library has a wide mix of different content types. If you’re after a particular type of content, such as movies, then consider specialist sites too.
  • Well established — The established year of the torrent site indicates its reliability. If the site has been around for 5-10 years or more and has never been shut down, then that’s a good sign.
  • High popularity — Choose a website that has a high number of engaged users. Specifically, look for a site with a lot of comments. Comments from past users on torrent files are very useful because they can help you find out whether a file is fake or not.
  • High seeder/leecher ratio — A high ratio of seeders to leechers indicates a high level of sharing and results in faster downloads.
  • As few ads as possible — Intrusive pop-up ads are an inevitable feature of many torrent sites. Avoid sites that bombard you with ads or use a VPN with an ad blocker instead.
  • High Alexa ranking — The Alexa ranking shows how popular the site is in relation to internet users worldwide. A high ranking indicates an active community.
  • Availability in your region — Some regions block torrent sites more than others, so make sure you can access the site in your area.

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What are Torrents Used For?

It’s a common misconception that torrenting is don

It’s a common misconception that torrenting is done to download copyrighted files, which include movies, games, software and music.

After all, the numerous litigations against torrent-related websites and their subsequent demise have given torrenting a very bad impression.

However, TROYPOINT does not condone torrenting copyrighted materials and only recommends files that are allowed to be shared such as those registered with the Library of Congress, those that do not have copyright notice and license, or are already in the public domain.

Some of the legitimate uses for torrenting include:

Saving on Bandwidth

Large data packs are distributed more efficiently via torrenting. Some government offices such as in the UK release their content via torrent. The same is true with some scientific agencies, photographers, civil rights activists, and educational institutions.

And take note, even Facebook and Twitter use BitTorrent to distribute their large internal files to many computers too.

Archiving Websites and Content

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library of community videos, texts, audio and cultural artifacts with the mission of archiving the internet. With more than 330 billion web pages, 20 million books, and 8 million audio and video recordings, these are available for download via torrent.

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File Syncing

There is no file size limit compared to cloud-based file sync tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox. In addition, your data isn’t stored on a centralized server.

Distributing Video and Music

Any entertainment content that has permission from the owner to be shared for free can be released via a torrent. It’s a good move for public relations by up-and-coming indie artists without having to pay for a lot of bandwidth.

Updating Software

Some developers provide software updates via torrent to make it easier for users to download at a faster rate. This is common among game developers such as Blizzard Entertainment as well.

Torrent Sites to Avoid

There are a few popular torrenting sites that still get a lot of traffic, and you’ll find some roundups recommending them.

While you don’t risk anything per se when using those sites, you should stray away from the following platforms.

TorrentGalaxy

TorrentGalaxy is like a downgraded version of 1337X. While it does have almost 8 million visitors each month, and the library it boasts is decent, the ad intrusion level is too much to warrant praise, especially when compared to all the alternatives you have.

KickAss Torrents

Yes, a version of this website is still available online. Unfortunately, this is the KickAss Torrents you’re used to only in name and appearance — the service has changed a lot since the original site was taken down.

If you want to download anything using the current version of the site, you’ll have to install an obscure browser extension first. We don’t know what it may contain, but we do not recommend installing it under any circumstance, as it may pose serious privacy and security risks. It’s better to use one of the many KickAss Torrents alternatives.

TorrentFunk

While TorrentFunk has the trappings of a decent torrent site, it’s riddled with all the possible types of ads you can imagine. Moreover, it’s got a smaller library than The Pirate Bay or RARBG, so there’s no real reason to choose it.

TorLock

While it’s pretty popular, Torlock takes ad intrusion to the extreme. There are a lot of ads popping in your face, and the “price” isn’t warranted. As you’ll notice when you visit TorLock, most of their torrents — even the popular ones — have no seeders.

Why People Say Torrenting is illegal?

Torrenting itself is legal, but any sort of downloading copyrighted material is always considered illegal. But, it is not immediately known to someone that ohh!! I downloaded pirated content, isn’t it? Some will fall under the laws and some are not.

But your ISP will always monitor you, what you are doing with the BitTorrent network. If they found anything suspicious, they can take action accordingly. Like Slowing down your internet speeds or even sometimes might file a case against you.

We need to maintain our privacy in this digital world. So to hide out activity, we need to use a VPN, if you don’t know what is VPN?

How Torrenting Works

Torrenting P2P Downloading Process Illustration. H
Torrenting P2P Downloading Process Illustration. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Torrenting is a bit more complex than simply using a direct download link. For a direct download link, you only have to worry about whether or not the data provider has kept the content available on their server, how fast your internet connection is, and your own computer’s ability to store the file.

Since a torrent is downloaded in a peer-to-peer format, multiple users with the same large file have to make the file available from their own computer systems.

These are called “seed”, and they essentially function similarly to how a server works. The data from each seed’s file is then broken into chunks and sent to whoever is currently trying to download the file for themselves.

Since multiple people are supplying the data required for the download, different bits will be picked from each seed’s file, and the data will create one complete copy of the group’s file once the download is completed.

This is how torrenting allows for large files to be downloaded by large groups of people at once. It divides the strain between multiple providers instead of a single server.

To keep track of what data is being pulled from where, how many people are currently seeding the data, and how many people are currently leeching the data, a torrenting client is used.

A torrenting client such as BitTorrent functions as a hub to connect everyone involved and facilitate the entire process. Without a client, a torrent can’t be used.

In detail

The BitTorrent protocol rose to become the most popular medium for peer-to-peer file sharing in the world after the demise of centralized services like Napster and Limewire. Unlike those services, torrenting is almost completely decentralized save for the trackers that allow users to search and download torrent files and magnet links. Torrent files and magnet links are used to find other users on the network who host the desired file or files but do not actually host those files for downloading.

Is BitTorrent safe and legal?

The BitTorrent protocol is not in itself illegal or unsafe. It is just the means to share any type of file, and plenty of legal torrenting services do exist. The most popular torrent trackers, such as ThePirateBay and KickassTorrents, however, operate in a legal grey area, offering users free access to copyrighted content. Sharing and downloading copyrighted content by BitTorrent, or other means, is illegal in many countries and can be unsafe since sites including KickassTorrents have been shown to host malware.

These trackers would argue that they simply find a

These trackers would argue that they simply find and organize information that is already out there, and they do not illegally host any copyrighted content on their own servers. Just like the BitTorrent protocol itself, they are the means to an end. Not everyone is convinced. Major trackers have come under heavy legal scrutiny from content creators and distributors who argue the trackers enable and encourage theft.

The blame ultimately shifts to the users, the millions of individuals who host files on their personal computers, downloading and uploading movies, games, software, music, ebooks, and more. Users connected to the same tracker are called peers, and they fall into two categories. A leech uses a torrent file or magnet link to download the file from other users on the network who already have the file. These users who already have the file are called seeds. When a leech is finished downloading a file (or even just part of a file), he or she becomes a seed, allowing other leeches to download the file from his or her computer. As a general rule, it’s considered proper pirate etiquette to seed as much as you leech.

Comparitech does not condone or encourage any violation of copyright law or restrictions. Please consider the law, victims, and risks of copyright piracy before downloading copyrighted material without permission.

Legally speaking, seeding and leeching copyrighted material fall into different criminal categories. Think of it like buying illegal drugs: purchasing the drugs for personal use is definitely a crime, but a relatively minor one. Turning around and selling those drugs to others is a much more serious offense. Finding the original source of the drugs, or in this case the HD rip of the new Avengers movie, would be the best case scenario for law enforcement, but that isn’t always possible. The trackers act as the shady back alley marketplaces where all of these transactions go down, but they don’t personally handle any of the drugs.

What Do People Download from Torrent Sites?

Are you curious to see what other people download from torrent sites? Below, you can see a top 10 list of the most downloaded movies and TV shows from last month. We use The Pirate Bay data to create this roundup, as it’s the most popular platform, and the popularity of files from this site is the most indicative of popularity in general.

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  2. The Book of Boba Fett
  3. The Matrix Resurrections
  4. Star Trek: Discovery
  5. Eternals
  6. Hawkeye
  7. The King’s Man
  8. Grey’s Anatomy
  9. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  10. The Wheel of Time

Public vs private trackers

A “tracker” is like a search engine that indexes files on the BitTorrent network. Trackers can be private or public, and the former usually requires an invitation from an existing member.

ThePirateBay, KickassTorrents, and Demonoid are all examples of public trackers. Anyone can just go to their respective websites and search without logging in or requiring any sort of authentication. Likewise, anyone can upload files for others to download. These uploads are not moderated, so users must judge whether a download is safe and accurate based on comments and the reputation of the uploader.

Private trackers are more exclusive both in terms of who can upload and who can download within a group. They vary wildly in terms of content and quality, but many members of private trackers attest that they have higher quality files, faster downloads, longer retention, and an overall more consistent and safe experience.

The law views private trackers the same as public trackers. Internet piracy is piracy whether you do it in public or within a private group.

Is Torrent Illegal?

There’s a common misconception that torrents are shady, dangerous parts of the internet that are only used by cyber criminals and content pirates. This is only partially true, and it’s completely up to the user to determine whether or not their activity falls into the stereotype that plagues torrenting.

On their own, torrents and clients are perfectly legal to use. There aren’t any laws that forbid the use of peer-to-peer file sharing. In fact, the United States government uses torrents to distribute larger public files to citizens when direct downloads simply aren’t practical, and companies like Facebook use them to share information internally.

Torrenting and Copyright Infringement

Torrenting becomes illegal when you’re using the concept to download copyrighted material without paying for it, or to transfer information that would be illegal to transfer in any other format.

For example, you can legally use a torrent client to download the latest open-source Linux distribution as much as you want.

However, if you use torrenting to download the latest and greatest block buster film instead of paying to see it like everyone else, you’re pirating, and that’s highly illegal.

Can you go to jail for torrenting?

Pirates utilize torrenting every day, but if a pirate is caught, they can face up to five years in prison, $150,000 in fines for each piece of content stolen.

Additionally, they can face an indefinite amount of fines if the copyright owner decides to press charges and sue for court and legal fees.

At the end of the day, that $12 movie ticket you could have legally purchased can easily turn into a fee worth a small fortune, and a large chunk of your freedom.

As for how safe torrenting is, that is dependent on whether or not the seed is distributing hidden malware, spyware, or viruses, and whether or not you have the protection necessary to catch those before they infect your device.

A premium client, proper virus and malware protection, and a little caution can make torrenting as safe as downloading in any other format.

What is Torrenting FAQ

Is Torrenting Legal?

Yes, torrenting is legal only if the files or content to be downloaded are within the public domain. Otherwise, if you are using it to download copyrighted or licensed content, then you are violating intellectual property law.

Why does it take Longer to Download a Torrent?

This can be because of your slow internet speed, or because there are only a few seeders who have a file that you want to download.

What Makes Torrenting more Efficient?

If you want to share a file with thousands of users through a traditional download process, you need a very expensive server so it can accommodate enough bandwidth and prevent network congestion. However, with torrenting, download speed becomes faster without relying on a centralized server because of P2P file-sharing.

How do I know if a Torrent File is Safe to Download?

There are plenty of ways to identify if a file is safe from viruses and malware. One method is to read user comments on the file and watch out for any caution regarding downloading such content. Another is to look for content with plenty of seeders and leechers.

Are Private Torrent Sites Better than Public Ones?

Most likely. These invitation-only sites maintain the quality of content, which is safe from viruses.

Do you need a VPN for Torrenting?

Yes. Having a VPN is a must if using torrents. This will hide your download activities and keep you anonymous from hackers, developers, and ISPs.

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