Torrent vs Streaming: Which is Better?

With the rise of streaming platforms, is there any point to downloading torrents anymore? Absolutely! 

Photo of man and woman watching TV

Which is better for content: torrenting or streaming? Which is safer?

What better way to unwind than with an episode of your favorite TV series or the latest blockbuster movie? Whether with friends or alone, we love curling up with a good flick.

And fortunately for the movie buffs and TV addicts out there, accessing media is easier than ever these days, whether from your laptop, your phone, or your smart TV.

But with so many options to choose from, you’re left with some tough decisions. For instance, should you turn to torrents or streaming for your next movie night?

We’ll help you make the right choice by highlighting the pros and cons of torrent vs streaming options. Keep reading for the details.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Torrenting

Torrenting has been many a media lover’s go-to source for content for years. However, streaming has become so prevalent and popular these days that it’s ​managed to steal a lot of torrenting’s thunder.

And of course, there’s Usenet to consider too – but that’s a whole other subject.

So, is it time to ditch torrenting? Or is this “old”, reliable method still as good as it always was? 
 

Here are the biggest advantages of torrenting:

Better quality: The movies on streaming sites are often compressed to save bandwidth, making the video quality lower. They’re also more likely to use “cam” (recorded by a video camera in a theater) and other low-quality copies than torrent sites. Typically, torrent downloads are much better quality.

Keeping files: Even though torrenting and streaming use about the same amount of bandwidth, you get to keep the file when you’re done torrenting, to watch again and again, online or offline.

Stronger sense of community: Many streaming sites actually get their content from torrents. But whether they do or they don’t, their users aren’t sharing or “seeding” the content they consume, which is important for keeping the community’s spirit of sharing alive.  
 

Top Tip: Learn how to Download Torrents Anonymously

And here are the disadvantages of torrenting:

Takes longer: Unless you have a lightning fast connection, you’ll need to download your torrents a little in advance, since the media can’t be watched immediately. This can be a deal breaker if you’re already gathered around a screen with friends.

Slightly less convenient: Torrenting requires a free torrent client (a downloader app), as well as a basic knowledge of torrent sites and torrent files. They’re still easy to use, but streaming sites have a slight advantage in convenience as many of them have web interfaces that are as intuitive and easy to use as Netflix.


Advantages & Disadvantage of Streaming

With torrents covered, we turn our attention to the relatively “new” kid on the block, streaming.

With the rise of services like Netflix and Hulu, have also come the growth of free alternatives, like YesMovies, Vumoo and others. They’re easy and convenient to use, and they give you more control of what you watch than a cable subscription.

But is streaming worth it? Or is it better to stick with torrents? 
 

Here are the advantages of streaming:

Faster access: Click on a movie icon and start streaming. No wait time or pre-downloading required, provided you have a decent enough Internet connection and speeds.

Easy to use: Again, streaming is as simple as clicking on the movie icon you want to watch. It’s just so darn easy.

No software: You don’t need to download and learn a torrent client or anything else to stream.
 

Top Tip: Check out our updated list of Best Streaming Sites.

 
And the disadvantages of streaming are:

Lower quality: Streaming sites use more compressed video, which means lower quality. Plus, cam and other low-quality rips are prevalent on streaming sites.

Wasted bandwidth: Streaming a movie uses the same amount of bandwidth as downloading it by torrents, yet you don’t get to keep the file in the end. If you want to re-watch it, you’ll have to re-stream it all over again.

No offline access: Not only do you need Internet to stream, you’ll need a somewhat stable connection. This means you’ll get no media love if you’re in an area with no or shaky Internet. And we’ve all experienced the pain of having a movie stall or stutter right at a crucial moment.

Less community: Streaming sites often use torrents for their content, but they and their users don’t upload or share content in return, making them a net drain on the file-sharing community.


Comparison of Torrenting vs Streaming

Now, if lists of pros and cons just make your head spin, don’t worry, we’ll make it easy for you.

Torrenting is ideal for people who…

  • Value higher quality video
  • Want to watch the same movies again or when offline
  • Want to support the sharing community vibe

Streaming is ideal for people who…

  • Have a rock-solid Internet connection
  • Value convenience over quality
  • Don’t care so much about the community

Of course, there’s no reason why you have to limit yourself to one or the other. Both torrenting and streaming have their place in a media lover’s arsenal. 🙂 


Which is Safer: Torrent vs Streaming?

There’s one more question we’d like to address, and that’s whether it’s safer to stream or to torrent media.

Unauthorized streaming is categorized as a ‘public performance’ while unauthorized torrenting is categorized as ‘distribution’. In the US, this means that streaming is generally looked upon as a lesser evil than torrent downloading. But this may change soon as there is currently a push to make the penalties the same for unauthorized streaming and torrenting alike.

In short, streaming on an unprotected connection is likely going to be slightly safer than torrenting on an unprotected connection. The main reason is that, again, streamers aren’t actually uploading nor seeding the content they consume, which is the riskiest part.

However, given the shifting landscape described above, we’d always highly recommend using a good VPN whether streaming or torrenting, just to be safe.


Wrap-Up

Despite the recent surge from streaming sites, we think torrenting has a safe future.

Torrents and streaming are both good ways to watch the video content you are interested in. The choice you make is a personal one and nothing stops you from using both to full advantage.

Make good use of both methods and stay safe with a trusted VPN service while doing so!

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