Torrents; what are they and what are the rules? I’m going to give you the low down on what they are and how to use them.
First of all, what are torrents? Torrents are files shared in a peer-to-peer network. Just to be clear, downloading files in this manner IS NOT ILLEGAL. The only thing that could make this illegal is to download copyrighted material. Now, torrents come in all shapes and sizes. They can be pictures, videos, music, movies, programs, pretty much anything and everything.
How do they work? First, you need a program to download torrent files which are in a “.torrent” file format. I personally use Vuze which allows me to stream my downloaded files from my computer to my Xbox 360 or PS3. This is great if you are downloading movies or music (legally of course). Other popular clients are uTorrent, Bitlord, and Bittorrent just to name a few.
So we have our client now. Woohoo! Step one is complete. Before we start talking about websites to find these “.torrent” files, there a few terms you should be familiar with. Seeds or seeders refers to the number of people that you can download from. You don’t actually download the file as one big lump like you would a traditional download. It gets chopped up into segments which you download from different people all at the same time in random order. This would explain why you can’t watch a movie or listen to a song until after you have finished downloading it. Leechers or peers are the amount of people who are also downloading said file. Keep in mind that the higher the ratio of seeds : leechers, the faster your download will go.
A couple of good websites to search for and download torrents from are The Pirate Bay and btjunkie. Feel free to do your own research to find sites that work for you. Once again, keep in mind that downloading copyrighted material is illegal. When finding a torrent to download, a rule of thumb is to always read the comments! There are a lot of shady people out there that will hide viruses in torrent files. Don’t let this scare you away though. Read the comments to see what other people have said and this will let you know if it’s a file you can trust. If you are downloading music or movies, people will always rate the sound and/or picture quality. Torrent websites will almost always list the contents of the torrent before you download it. Just be on the lookout for “.exe” files or other executables which could very well be a virus.
Once you start downloading a torrent file, you are also seeding. You seed any part of the file that you’ve downloaded. Depending on your internet speed, you’ll want to limit your upload speed to keep your internet from slowing way down. Some torrent sites require a certain upload ratio. Keep this in mind if you find a really good site that you want to continue to use. Some sites require a 0.5 ratio which means, for every 1GB you download, you must upload 500MB. Even if not required, I will seed a file for a day or two, not because I have to, but just out of courtesy. Do unto others…
After all is said and done, why should you download torrents? Well, it’s a quick and easy way to download large files from other people. You can download whole CDs, book series, whole seasons of your favorite TV shows… anything and everything. It’s quick and it’s easy. Now, go out there and enjoy!