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What is Torrenting?
Wikipedia defines torrenting as “a communication protocol for peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) used to distribute data and electronic files over the Internet” with BitTorrent being “one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, such as digital video files containing TV shows or video clips or digital audio files containing songs.” [source].
So, torrenting is a peer-to-peer (P2P for short) method of downloading files from the Internet, but what’s P2P?
Peer-to-peer means that multiple, simultaneous connections can be made to download the same file.
In other words, you take bits and pieces from many different users (peers) which are then assembled together to give you the whole file. Keep scrolling down for more Torrenting FAQs.
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Why Should I Use Torrenting?
Given the above, it will be no surprise to learn that torrenting is fast.
That's its biggest advantage for downloading content.
But another of its greatest strengths is that it is decentralized. Because the file you are downloading is hosted by multiple sources, you are not dependent on any single host.
Contrast this with the web, where if the web server you want to download a file from goes down or is taken down, bye-bye file.
Plus, the web is much slower because you download piece #1, followed by piece #2, etc. until you get to the last piece.
With torrenting, you download the pieces in whatever order and from whichever sources get them to you the fastest.
How Do I Torrent?
To download files by torrenting, all you need is an Internet connection and some free software called a torrent client.
The most popular torrent client is qBittorrent.
Once you find a torrent you want, you simply download and open it in your torrent client. The software will then start downloading your files, usually right away.
How Do I Find Torrents to Download?
There are many ways to find torrents.
You can simply search Google if you want (adding the term “torrent” to the content you are looking for).
But the best and easiest way is to use a torrent search engine. These websites are also sometimes called torrent indexers.
There are dozens upon dozens of such websites, so finding torrents is usually not hard.
Is Torrenting Easy?
Torrenting is very easy.
In fact, it's so easy that anyone can learn how to use it well in just a couple of hours.
But this is why it's also controversial.
Is Torrenting Legal?
Torrenting technology and torrent client software is perfectly legal to use. However, the same technology can be easily used to download copyright material which isn’t legal in many places.
For example, the infamous Pirate Bay website is a search engine for finding torrents. It has been in a constant cat and mouse with law enforcement authorities.
People who download torrents like those are taking a risk.
And because of the way peer-to-peer technology works, anyone who is downloading the same file as part of its "swarm" can spy on the IP addresses of those sharing the file.
This means torrenting is not private and certainly not anonymous.
Copyright holders and those on their behalf regularly monitor torrent downloading and go after illegal downloaders.
- Read more: Is Torrenting Safe? Is It Illegal?
Sounds Risky, How Can I Stay Safe Using Torrenting?
So, what happens if you don’t really know what you are doing, are tricked into downloading something you shouldn’t or accidentally download copyright material?
Well, those are just a few reasons why there is a big emphasis in the torrent community on safety & privacy.
And the best way to stay safe & private while downloading torrents is to use a VPN service for torrenting.
What is a VPN for Torrenting?
A large portion of the Cogipas.com website is dedicated to VPN services, but what you need to know specific to torrenting is this:
- a VPN will route your torrent download and sharing activities through its own servers and encrypt the connection between you and those servers.
Combined, these two features are important and keep your torrenting safe.
Hides your IP Address
Connecting to a VPN service will change your IP address before it reaches the swarm of torrent downloaders.
This means that anyone spying on those downloading a file will see the IP address of the VPN service you are connected to and not yours.
In other words, the VPN shields your real IP address from detection & monitoring.
Encrypts Your Connection
Moreover, the VPN also encrypts the connection between you and its server.
This means the connection cannot be spied on.
Even your own ISP - the company you buy your Internet access from - won’t be able to see the specifics of what you are doing online while connected to a VPN.
Your ISP or anyone snooping your connection will only see you connecting to a VPN server and cannot see what you are doing while connected to it.
Therefore, from your ISP’s or a snoop’s point of view:
- whoosh, the data you send (for example, download video XYZ) is outside of their sight because the VPN takes care of these requests from you hidden inside an encrypted connection.
- equally, the data travelling back from the VPN server to you (for example, actually downloading the file) is also encrypted. So, although your ISP will see data being sent back to you from the VPN server, your ISP has no clue what that data is because it is hidden inside strong encryption.
By now it should be a no-brainer: use a VPN when torrenting!
Which Torrent VPN Should I Use?
But the story doesn’t end there.
Some VPNs are better than others when it comes to protecting your torrenting.
Because torrenting is so sensitive, you should only rely on trusted VPN services that have a track record of protecting their customers by not logging activities routed through their servers.
Why is a No-Log VPN So Important for Torrenting?
When a VPN is truly no-logs, your online activities while connected to it cannot be traced back to you.
If logs are kept by a VPN service, it is too easy for snoops to trace activities back to you.
The tracing works like this:
- the snoops can see that IP address 123.456.789 downloaded something they shouldn’t have
- the snoops trace that IP address back to LousyVPN
- the snoops complain to LousyVPN and compel it to disclose its server logs
- those server logs reveal that LousyVPN’s customer Jane Blow was using that IP address at the time of the download
- Jane Blow’s identity has now been blown!
Am I 100% Anonymous with a Torrent VPN?
Using a VPN doesn’t mean you are 100% invisibly anonymous and can do all kinds of crazy illegal things when connected to it with impunity. Not at all.
But using a no-log VPN while torrenting provides full peace of mind that your torrenting will remain private and won't come back to haunt you.
What Else Should I Look for in a Torrent VPN?
In addition to the VPN having a verified no-logging policy, you also want a VPN that doesn’t leak your IP address.
Sometimes, VPN connections drop. It’s a fact of life with all VPN services. No technology ever works 100% of the time.
When a drop happens, you need to be confident that your VPN will stop your connection cold, otherwise your real IP address could be leaked while downloading torrents and be traced back to you as explained above.
This is why all of our recommended VPNs for torrenting also have a kill switch.
And your IP address can leak in other, technical ways too such as DNS leaks and IPv6 leaks.
But not to worry, the best VPN services for torrenting have plugged these potential holes too.
What About Free VPNs for Torrenting?
We recommend you stay away from free VPN services for torrenting.
First, few if any free VPNs will have all the features outlined above that make a VPN safe for torrenting.
Furthermore, because they’re free, these VPNs have no reason or incentive to protect their customers.
Too many free VPNs have been found to log customer activities and share that data with third parties, so why take that chance?
Now go get the content you want in complete privacy!
Our torrent file-sharing guides give you all the in’s and out’s of P2P file-sharing and how to stay safe while torrenting.
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