What is a torrent tracker? Are private trackers better, more safe or anonymous for torrents compared with public trackers?
All torrent file-sharing is facilitated by ‘torrent trackers’. These are servers acting silently in the background matching torrenters and regulating and coordinating the transmission and reassembly of shared torrent files.
Use our mega torrent tracker list below to speed up your torrenting.
We also look at the pros and cons of public trackers (the torrent sites you often hear about in the news) and private trackers.
Best Torrent Tracker List (300 Trackers!)
If you copy and paste the mega-list below of torrent trackers into your torrent software, this will often speed up your torrent downloading, sometimes by a lot.
Why? Well, the more public torrent trackers your torrent software is checking, the better the coordination we talked about above and the faster your torrents will download.
To copy all 300 torrent trackers in the window below, click anywhere inside the window and then click on the ‘Select tracker list' button and copy it (right-click or use your browser's menu). Then open your torrent client software and add all these torrent trackers by pasting the list. An example with screenshots follows the list.
Click on the list to select.
How to Add the Torrent Tracker List
For example, if you use the qBitTorrent client, select ‘Trackers', then right-click and choose add new trackers (select the screenshot to enlarge).
A window will appear asking you to enter a list of new torrent trackers 1 per line (select the screenshot to enlarge).
Select paste and voila that's it, the list of 300 torrent trackers will be added!
What are Public Torrent Trackers?
Public trackers (sometimes called open trackers) provide a possibility to download torrent files without registration. You may be familiar with the names of some public trackers as they are in the news (sometimes for all the wrong reasons).
- see a listing of the most popular public trackers
Malware Risks of Public Torrent Trackers
This is the most important disadvantage of open torrent trackers compared to private trackers.
Not to overstate the risk, but several studies on BitTorrent have pointed out that a portion of torrent payloads contain malware. In addition to spreading malware such as Trojans, public torrent trackers and sites can contain other nuisances such as dodgy pop-ups and persistent ads.
You can always start your foray into torrenting with an easy-to-use public tracker site. If you start having trouble related to the content available, security concerns or slow download speeds, then you can look into private trackers.
What are Private Torrent Trackers?
Unlike the popular public torrent trackers which anyone can use, private torrent trackers operate on a closed membership basis. Access to private trackers is restricted to members only. And most private trackers carefully screen their members, sometimes by conducting an online chat with prospective members before accepting them. Screening is done to keep out unwanted or undesirable persons and elements from the private tracker.
Membership to some private trackers is cost-free but others charge a small fee. A private tracker will sometimes open itself up to new members for a limited time, while others will only accept members that have been referred by existing members.
The usual defining factor of private trackers is that they operate on an invite-only basis. The trackers grant current members the opportunity to invite users to register.
Private trackers offer their members a number of benefits. But they also come with strict regulations which vary from site to site. For example, most private trackers will impose an upload to download ratio. This means you can’t just leech (download) files, but are expected to share (seed/upload) as well. If you fall behind the ratio, you will receive a warning or, after repeated breaches, be kicked out.
Broad and Specialized Content
There is a private tracker catering to almost every file-sharing need imaginable.
Private trackers offer a fantastic range of files to download and some also offer very rare content. For example, some private trackers offer millions of torrents, many or even most of which you simply cannot get from the public trackers. In fact, it’s difficult to find a category of downloads for which a private tracker doesn’t exist.
Fast Download Speeds
Because the private tracker community encourages and in fact enforces file-seeding (sharing) among its members, and further because a large proportion of these communities have fast internet connections, the download speeds offered by private trackers can be incredibly fast.
Most private trackers carry only high quality content. The files are moderated and deleted when they do not meet the site’s strict quality control standards. Typically, you will not find dead, poor-quality or malware-infected torrents.
Typically, members of private trackers are glad to answer your questions. Chat channels and message boards exist where you can communicate to other members, get guidance or ask for help.
But Private Trackers are NOT Anonymous
Often people assume that private trackers are anonymous and shield them from the risks of torrent monitoring. However, private trackers are just that: private. While they are certainly more private than public trackers, they are not anonymous.
Private trackers are no guarantee that your activities will remain private. Like public trackers, private trackers can also be infiltrated by unfriendly elements to monitor torrent activities. In both cases, the infiltrator simply joins in sharing torrents and then monitors the IP addresses of fellow torrenters he or she is connecting with.
While the barriers for such elements to join a private tracker are certainly higher than for public trackers, the barriers are not all that difficult to overcome.
Therefore, whether you are using popular, public torrent sites or private trackers, it is wise to use a torrent VPN to mask your IP address and encrypt your connection. This puts an effective layer of protection between you and any would-be snoops.
Using a private torrent tracker together with a reliable torrent-friendly VPN such as Private Internet Access is a great way to protect your privacy and keep your activities anonymous.