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We roundup the best options for software to download with torrent files
What are torrents?
The BitTorrent protocol is a peer to peer file sharing protocol, designed to let users around the globe share files together without needing centralized hosting, a file is broken down into smaller bits, then when using a torrent file to download a particular file, these bits can be served by many different users, and then pieced back together again to deliver the original file.
What is it used for?
It can be used for sharing any kind of file. It’s often used for serving Linux distro install files to many users, there are countless public domain works that have been made available, and a lot of independent distributors of music and films use this method to serve reliable downloads across the globe without incurring huge server costs.
It is also commonly used for distributing files without the permission of the creators or copyright holders. Piracy makes up a big portion of BitTorrent use, but just like any other kind of tool, it’s how you use it that could get you in trouble, not simply the existence of the tool.
How do you use them?
In order to download files via BitTorrent, you first need to find a corresponding .torrent file for the download, a small file that essentially contains the instructions for where to download the file from. You can also use Magnet links, a type of link you can access via a web browser that contains the same instructions as a torrent file.
The software you need to then carry out the download is a torrent client. Once you’ve loaded a torrent file or a Magnet link into your torrent client, it will begin downloading your file. You can then manage your downloads from the torrent client, and depending on which client you use, access a host of other features.
What differences are there between clients?
For this roundup, we’ve decided to exclude any with adware. There are plenty of well-made torrent clients that don’t include any kind of adware, since software that pushes adverts on you are not only irritating but can be a bigger drain on system resources. Many clients do include different types of adware, and we have decided to exclude these.
There are also a wide range of well-made torrent clients that are open source, released under a GNU General Public License, meaning there’s far less chance of any undesirable elements hidden in the software, and bugs can be fixed very quickly, and they’re not designed to extract money from users like software released under commercial licenses are. These often have wider operating support too, many being available for Windows macOS and also Linux.
We’ve also taken a look at what kinds of system resource usage and torrent download speeds they are able to consistently maintain, focusing on which torrent clients will provide the most reliably fast speed and performance. Actual speeds will depend primarily on your internet connection, and actual performance will depend on your system configuration.
Here’s our roundup of the best torrent clients available today. They all perform roughly the same task in roughly the same way, but they do have individual focuses or specific features that may make you want to choose one over the other. Feel free to try several of them to see which best suits you – they’re all completely free anyway.
Easily one of the most reliable and powerful torrent clients out there. This is a robust and well-maintained torrent client that performs well, can offer an entire host of additional features, and is straightforward and simple to use.
Whatever kind of advanced feature you might be looking for, advanced scheduling, comprehensive bandwidth throttling settings, remote control API, qBittorrent is jammed full of these kinds of features, and it’s our go-to pick for torrent clients in general.
Some of the user interface can feel a little dated, it’s been around for 13 years and does in some parts have the look and feel of an older piece of software, but that’s certainly preferable to the extensive bloat that has ruined some otherwise excellent alternative clients.
It is fairly ram efficient and can process hundreds of torrents at once without breaking a sweat, but it does routinely use up around 100mb ram even when not very active. Not really a problem for any modern PC systems, but if you’re on an older machine with tight ram restrictions, you may want to look for a more stripped down and lightweight option.
If you are after a more lightweight torrent client, Deluge is an excellent option. This was originally a client specifically designed for Linux but has been opened up to offer Windows and Mac versions for users of those operating systems too.
Functionality is somewhat stripped down compared to qBittorrent, where it’s missing a few types of functionality, but the advantage is that it uses less system ram, sometimes as little as 15mb but routinely more like 50mb when in use, and it’s functionality can be expanded with comprehensive selection of plugins if there is something missing that you’d like to add.
It’s still a robust and powerful client, with reliable download speeds and a straightforward user interface.
Perhaps the ultimate in lightweight stripped down torrent clients, Transmission is designed from the group up to be minimalist, and they have absolutely achieved that goal. It has the lowest ram and CPU usage of any torrent client, within the 10-20mb range even when under load.
It’s not the prettiest client available, with a fairly basic user interface, and fewer advanced options or features compared to the competition, but it’s hard to argue with it’s extremely efficient performance or the lightweight footprint.
This is a slightly different approach to some other torrent clients, and Frostwire differentiates itself by focussing on integrating a powerful search tool into the client itself, and conveniently integrating download support from services like youtube and SoundCloud. This functionality is offered by a few other clients, but this is the most powerful ad-free and open source torrent client to expand functionality into these areas.
In addition to computer operating systems, Frostwire also conveniently offers an android version for downloads on the go.
Beyond that, it’s a well rounded and well-performing torrent client, that offers most of the standard BitTorrent and download management functions you’d expect from any modern torrent client, and has a reasonably pleasant and easy to navigate user interface.
Do you use any of these clients? What kinds of files do you download via the BitTorrent protocol? Do you have a favorite client we missed? Let us know in the comments.