How to Safely Download Torrents

Using a VPN will help mitigate this risk by ensuring your anonymity while sharing files online. This way, if you do accidentally download copyrighted material, you won’t have to face charges for your mistake.

Are torrents actually dangerous?

Torrents are widely thought to be risky – but how dangerous are they really?

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Torrenting is a highly popular type of file sharing based on P2P, or peer-to-peer, meaning that files are shared directly between users rather than passing through a centralized server. However, although they may be rapid, there are a few dangers associated with downloading torrents. This has led more and more users to turn to a torrenting VPN to stay safe while sharing files.

Just like any other online activity, torrenting isn’t 100% safe, but by using one of the best VPN services available today and taking some sensible precautions, you can safely share files and download torrents online.

Tom’s Guide in no way endorses the use of torrenting for illegal purposes.

What is torrenting used for?

Torrents are used for a variety of reasons, but are especially useful when it comes to sharing large files or sharing files with a large number of people. Microsoft and other large companies, for example, use torrents to push out large updates or provide users with new software. Gaming companies like Blizzard also use torrents to rapidly distribute large game files.

Because torrenting is a decentralized type of file sharing, it’s great for syncing and backing up, not just for speed but also for security. Torrent-based file synchronization is lightning-fast and highly secure.

Sharing public-domain videos and music is another great way to make use of torrenting. While sharing copyrighted content is illegal, plenty of music and videos belong to the public domain, meaning they can be freely shared.

However, there are a few dangers to be aware of.

Malware and viruses

One of the greatest dangers associated with torrenting relates to the integrity of the files being shared. As one of the most popular and widespread P2P sharing protocols, torrents are a big target for hackers, unscrupulous advertisers, and other parties looking to infect systems.

This is compounded by the fact that many people consider content downloaded on P2P networks like BitTorrent to be safer than files found on the Internet, which isn’t true.

You should take the same precautions when torrenting as you would opening an attachment from an email address you don’t recognize. Always scan downloaded files with the best antivirus.

Accidentally or unknowingly downloading copyrighted material

Copyright holders are always eager to crack down on piracy. Heavy fines are not uncommon, and in some countries you can even face jail time.

Unfortunately, files aren’t always named properly, or you may misunderstand what you’re downloading, leading you to accidentally or unknowingly download copyrighted material. ISPs share this information with copyright holders, and media creators won’t care whether you did so intentionally or not.

Using a VPN will help mitigate this risk by ensuring your anonymity while sharing files online. This way, if you do accidentally download copyrighted material, you won’t have to face charges for your mistake.

ISP throttling

ISPs regularly “throttle” users who are found to be sharing torrents, meaning they slow down your connection.

This is because sharing large files takes up bandwidth. By reducing the amount of bandwidth being used, ISPs can save money. A VPN will help you avoid this by hiding your activity from your ISP. They won’t see that you’re torrenting, so your download speeds won’t be reduced.

Which VPN should you use?

ExpressVPN is the best torrenting VPN on the market.
Our recommendation is ExpressVPN, for a number of reasons. First, it has a large network of P2P-ready servers which helps avoid bottlenecks. It’s known for its high-speed connections, and its infrastructure is highly stable. It also takes privacy very seriously and keeps no identifiable logs. Finally, user support is available 24/7 – the ExpressVPN team can help you decide which servers are best for torrenting and troubleshoot any problems with your connection.

And now, Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months free with a 12-month plan. Plus, if you’re not sure about committing, you’re covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can effectively try before you buy.

How to Safely Download Torrents

This article was co-authored by Luigi Oppido. Luigi Oppido is the Owner and Operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in general computer repair, data recovery, virus removal, and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! broadcasted on KSQD covering central California for over two years.

The wikiHow Tech Team also followed the article’s instructions and verified that they work.

This article has been viewed 936,643 times.

Downloading torrents is one of the easiest ways to get any file you want. Unfortunately, the nature of torrent transfers means it’s very easy to get viruses or to get caught transferring illegal content. If you take some precautions, you can significantly decrease your risk of virus infection and mitigate the risk of getting caught

Part 1 of 2:

Avoiding Viruses

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  • See How to Install an Antivirus for instructions on picking and installing an antivirus program.

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Look for torrents with lots of seeders. Lots of seeders generally mean that the torrent is free from viruses. This is because others have checked and found no viruses, and then start sharing it. While this certainly is not a guarantee, it can help you whittle down the list. A lot of seeders will also result in a faster transfer. Obviously, only download torrents from trusted and reliable websites.

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Check the comments before downloading. This isn’t a bulletproof solution, but the comments section of the torrent can help you determine if it contains any viruses. If there are a lot of comments but nothing about a potential virus, then chances are better that it doesn’t have one. If lots of comments talk about viruses, you probably want to avoid that torrent.

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Avoid file types that are prone to viruses. Try not to download torrents for programs, as executable files (EXE, BAT) are the most common way of transmitting viruses. Cracked programs are the most dangerous files you can download through torrents.

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Join a private torrent community. If you can get an invite to a private torrent community, you’re much less likely to get a torrent with a virus. This is because the torrents are all created and shared by members of that community, so they should be much more trustworthy. It can be difficult to get into a private community, as you usually need to know someone who can give you an invite. The best way to do this is to be active in various online communities and befriend someone that has access to a torrent community.

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Part 2 of 2:

Avoiding Detection

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Understand how torrents connect. When you download a torrent file, your IP address is public to anyone else sharing that torrent. This is essential in order for the torrent client to connect to other users, but makes you vulnerable to organizations that track torrent traffic. These include your internet service provider (ISP) and copyright enforcement agencies. There are several steps you can take to minimize your risk or prevent your ISP from throttling your speed. [1] X Research source

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  • You can download PeerBlock for free from peerblock.com . Follow the prompts to install PeerBlock and launch it. It will automatically work in the background and prevent connections to known bad IP addresses. Use the “P2P” list from Bluetack for basic torrent protection when prompted during initial setup.

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  • There are a few drawbacks to VPN services. Obviously, they aren’t free, so you’ll need to balance the cost versus the benefits. Your speed will decrease, as traffic will be sent to the VPN server first and then to you. Since you’ll likely be connecting to a VPN in another country, you could see significant decreases in speed. Finally, VPN services may still keep records that they can give to enforcement agencies, but you can find services that don’t keep logs.

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  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • CyberGhost
  • Surf Shark
  • Private Internet Access
  • TorGuard
  • IPVanish
  • IVPN
  • Ready to make a purchase? Before you check out, take a peek at wikiHow’s coupon pages for NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost VPN to see if you can save some money.

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Find your VPN connection information. When you sign up for a VPN service, you’ll be given the information you need in order to connect. This includes the VPN server address, as well as your username and password. You may need to log into the VPN website in order to find this information.

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Open your torrent client. Once you’ve signed up for a VPN service, you’ll need to configure your torrent client to connect to it.

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Open the Options or Preferences menu. You’ll usually find this in the Tools or Options menu at the top of the torrent client.

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Click the “Connection” tab. This will allow you to adjust your connection settings, including adding your VPN connection information.

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Select the VPN type in the “Type” menu, in the “Proxy Server” section. Most VPNs will use SOCKS5. Double-check your VPN connection information if you aren’t sure.

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  • Make sure “Use proxy for peer connections” is checked.

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Start downloading torrents. Once your VPN service is configured, you’ll be able to start downloading torrents more anonymously. No VPN can be 100% anonymous, but you’ll significantly decrease the risks you face by using one. [4] X Research source

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Community Q&A

I’m downloading a .torrent file for a hackintosh. Is this legal or safe? I don’t know the number of seeders or peers.

Blake Foster
Community Answer

Most torrenting clients should show you the number of seeders that are in that torrent. Before you download the torrent, check the files that you are downloading. If any of them have a .exe or .bat file extension, then it’s probably not safe. But that is up to you to decide.

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Can you recommend any other clients if my antivirus software removes Utorrent as malware?
Community Answer

I’ve never had that problem, but I’ve never used anything other than version 2.2.1. A tracker site I use has blacklisted anything newer than 3.3.1. If you have anything released after that, you might want to switch. Google “older versions of uTorrent” and you should be able to pull something up. If you still have that problem, you’ll probably have it for all torrent clients. Either add the client to your exceptions list, or switch to Avira (which is an excellent antivirus software).

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful.
Thank you for your feedback.
As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow

How do I search for a torrent file?
Blake Foster
Community Answer

If you are trying to search for a torrent on a torrent website, there will most likely be a search bar in which you can type what you would like to download. If you can’t find your torrent that you download in your file explorer, just type the title of the torrent in the search bar in your file explorer. If you are still haveing a problem, I suggest you use Utorrent. With Utorrent you can choose where you would like the file to be placed once it’s downloaded. First, right click on the torrent and then hover over Advanced. There should be a option where you can choose the location of where you would like your torrent to be downloaded.

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Thank you for your feedback.
As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow