What is torrenting?
You are probably familiar with the terms “torrenting” or “torrent downloading”. You also probably know that torrenting is about downloading files to your computer. But it’s quite different from simply downloading a file via a “Download” button.
To understand how torrenting works we need to look at the BitTorrent protocol.
In a simple way, when you download a torrent file, you don’t download from a single server but from any server that has previously downloaded or currently is downloading that file. While you’re downloading, your computer also becomes one of those servers and at the same time you also upload that file.
In the following we’re going through some expressions related to torrenting, and hopefully, that will help to get a more complete picture of it.
What is a torrent?
It is good to make clear what a torrent is, first of all.
A torrent or a torrent file is a file that is constituted of metadata with information regarding the actual file – a movie or a software, or whatever you want to download – but does not contain the whole file. It rather works as a key, or even better, as a piece of a puzzle.
Torrent files usually have the .torrent extension that can be handled by torrent clients which we’re gonna discuss later in this article.
How to download a torrent?
First need to find the file you would like to download. You can find torrent files on websites that are specialized for torrents. They work as a directory or catalogue of torrent files, users can upload and download torrent files to the site.
These torrenting sites sometimes also have their own client, sometimes not. Once you acquired the torrent, you need a client to start the downloading process.
What is a client?
A torrent client is a software on your computer through which you can manage your downloads and uploads. Most torrent download occurs according to the BitTorrent protocol therefore, we talk about BitTorrent clients.
BitTorrent clients are designed according to the BitTorrent protocol. Such applications include uTorrent, YIFY, Kickass Torrents, or The Pirate Bay, and many others. See our article about the best BitTorrent clients here.
In the peer-to-peer protocol it is essential to have peers whose role is basically to share files among each other. Everyone is a peer who owns parts of a file that is being shared among torrenters.
Peer can refer to an individual who is using a client to upload or download torrent files, but it can also refer to client itself, or the computer on which the client runs.
The whole network of peers is called a swarm referring to the generally enormous number of individual peers who participate in the file sharing activity.
What is seeding?
Once a peer successfully downloaded a file it is just good manners in torrent world to seed it. You can do it by leaving your client open after you finished downloading, so you can further distribute the data.
The BitTorrent protocol’s essence is that the users or peers download and with that same action upload the files.
Everybody is a seeder and a downloader at the same time. However, it is even more helpful, hence the good manners, to seed the complete file.
What is a leech?
This rather negative expression is used to peers who don’t seed or upload enough or at all. A leech or a leecher only downloads the files but doesn’t give back to the community in terms of upload.
It is not only considered bad manners, but also affects the swarm negatively. It is understandable considering the method of the BitTorrent protocol.
Is torrenting legal?
Torrenting or downloading torrent files from the internet is legal. However, your action’s legality depends on the file you’re downloading.
To download copyrighted materials is absolutely illegal without the consent of the copyright holder or without paying for the material in question. You can get into legal troubles easily so it’s not really worth it to download copyrighted files.
We do encourage you, however, to visit legal torrent websites. You can find many fantastic things, including music, movies, study materials, books, games, and software on these sites without having to worry about copyright issues, because these sites collect copyright-free, original files only.
See our selection of the best legal torrent sites here.
Is torrenting safe?
Besides getting into trouble over copyright issues, torrenting can have other dangers in store for you if you’re not careful. In the following we collected the most notorious risks of torrenting.
Torrent files can carry dangerous malware and you won’t even know it until it’s too late. Malware or viruses can infect your computer system when you download an unchecked torrent file.
The most obvious way to tackle this problem is if you always use an anti-virus scan on your computer. Upon downloading the file it will warn you about the presence of a malicious component of the file.
Once you detected a malicious torrent file, you can do a favor to the torrenting community and report the file to the website where you found it, so they can remove it from their directory.
Once you go online you’re already a prey of hackers. It is especially true when you download torrent files.
Hackers tend to collect data about a person’s online activity, that includes downloading, uploading, and sharing a file, so they can later use the information to attack their computer and collect even more sensitive data about them.
To avoid this scenario you can use a VPN that hides your real identity (and your computer’s). You can also scan your device for viruses or malware occasionally, and set passwords for your sensitive files and folders.
What is torrenting: Conclusion
Above we’ve gone through the basics of torrenting and expressions that occur frequently in the torrenting community. It is a fast and simple means to download files from the internet without pushing your bandwidth to its limits.
However, as most great things, it is not without danger. You need to be careful about what you download, and how you download it. If you’re cautious enough, torrenting can really be useful and efficient.