What is torrenting? Is it legal? What happens if you re caught

Contents

However, the website you’re using to stream content might be logging your IP address, and it could hand over any relevant information to law enforcement or a copyright troll. ISPs may also monitor user activity, and will be able to see that you’re pirating content. As such, it makes sense to use a VPN to mask your IP address, and hide your browsing history from any interested parties.

Torrent

A torrent is a file that contains metadata for files distributed using the BitTorrent protocol. Torrents can share files of all types over a decentralized P2P network without a dedicated file server. A torrent does not include the files themselves; instead, it provides instructions for a BitTorrent client application, telling it what files to download and how to connect to other computers to download them.

A torrent file contains several pieces of metadata. Each torrent includes the address for the tracker, which is the server that facilitates connections between computers. A tracker connects your BitTorrent client with peers (who are currently downloading the torrent’s files) and seeds (who have finished downloading but are still sharing). A torrent’s peers and seeds are collectively known as a swarm. Each torrent also includes the names, locations, and sizes of the files included in the torrent, as well as cryptographic hashes that ensure the integrity of each file. Once a BitTorrent client connects to at least one peer or seed in the swarm, it downloads the torrent’s contents piece by piece.

An active torrent containing a single disk image file

Sharing a file by torrent does not require a dedicated file server as long as at least one seed is available. If there is a dedicated file server, distributing files using torrents allows it to use less bandwidth while hosting files. Instead of sending a full copy of a file to every computer that requests it, any client currently downloading can also help upload the pieces it already has. This is particularly helpful if a popular file is being downloaded by many users simultaneously, reducing the burden on the file server by crowd-sourcing upload bandwidth across the entire swarm.

File Extension: .TORRENT

What is torrenting? Is it legal? What happens if you’re caught?

What is torrenting, and is it safe? Is it legal to torrent, and if not, what happens if you get caught? Here’s everything you need to know to before you start downloading torrents.

Torrenting is a tempting prospect, even if there is a possibility that the user could be breaking the law in the process. If you’re interested to learn more about torrenting, the legality of P2P file sharing, and the consequences of being caught, here’s everything you need to know.

What is torrenting?

Torrenting is a term used to describe downloading and uploading files via the BitTorrent network. Rather than downloading files from a centralized server, torrents involve downloading files from other users on the network. As such, you’ll also be able to share and upload torrent files that other users can download on their own devices.

Torrenting has proven to be a popular form of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing, using a client app to connect to the BitTorrent network. Typically, torrent clients are free to use, and there are apps for most devices. A torrent can contain anything, including movies, games, music, and software.

Anyone who downloads or uploads the same file is known as a peer. You’ll be able to download a file from several peers at the same time, while the peer collective is known as a swarm. You’ll also be able to upload a file to multiple users simultaneously. If you’ve started downloading a file, you’ll start to seed it to other users. This means you’re sharing the file with others. A leech is a user who downloads a file from seeds.

There’s no doubt that torrenting is a useful method of sharing large files quickly. However, torrents are often associated with piracy, given the prevalence of illegal file sharing using P2P methods. In and of itself, torrenting is entirely legal. More importantly, is the file you’re trying to download or upload copyrighted? That tends to be the best indicator as to whether it’s a legal torrent.

What are the benefits of using torrents?

There are numerous positives to consider with torrents. Here are some of the main benefits of torrenting:

  • Quick download speeds: Arguably most important, torrents allow the user to download files quickly and easily, depending on the number of peers.
  • Large files: Whether you plan to download or share large files via P2P, torrenting is an effective method to transfer them painlessly.
  • Resumable downloads: For example, if your download fails, you’ll be able to resume torrenting without losing any progress. This is especially helpful when downloading large files, or if you don’t have the most stable internet connection to begin with.
  • Decentralized method: As you’re not downloading files from a central server, you’ll be able to complete the download via other sources if it’s incomplete.
  • Affordable: Torrents tend to be a cheap and performant method of file sharing.
  • Ease of use: Files are typically easy to find and download.

Is torrenting illegal?

In short, no. In and of itself, torrenting isn’t illegal, as it’s just a way to share files quickly and easily. Downloading copyrighted material is where it starts to get more murky. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be tough to identify whether or not a file is copyrighted, and may cause the user to inadvertently break the law.

You’re most likely to face issues if your internet service provider (ISP) or any copyright trolls take an interest in your torrenting habits. They can find out by monitoring the BitTorrent network, with punishments ranging from throttled internet speeds to legal action. However, it varies drastically depending on your current location, as well as the content in question.

If you plan to torrent safely, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows the user to hide online activities from their ISP. Ensure that the VPN keeps no logs and that it has a sturdy kill switch. Ideally, it will have speedy servers that are optimized for torrenting.

How to torrent safely

Depending on your current location, it makes sense to use a VPN for torrenting. A VPN is one of the easiest ways to torrent safely, masking your IP address while keeping your online activities private and safe. Even with a VPN, you’ll still be susceptible to malware, so be careful if you plan to download files from the internet. Here’s a step-by-step guide to torrenting privately with a VPN.

Here’s how to torrent safely with a VPN:

  1. Pick a VPN, and download the app to your device. Here are some of the best VPNs for torrenting, with NordVPN heading the list.
  2. A kill switch will cut the connection if your VPN drops unexpectedly. Ensure that it’s turned on.
  3. Select a P2P-friendly server location. Some providers have servers that are optimized for torrenting.
  4. Once connected, you’ll be free to open your torrent client and start uploading/downloading files.

Torrenting without a VPN

Torrenting without a VPN can often be a risky endeavor. It depends on the laws in your country, but it can lead to problems as your ISP is able to see the sites and services that you visit, as well as your downloads, at any time. In some countries, ISPs will share your online activities with third parties, leading to issues if copyright trolls are interested in going after anyone downloading illegal torrents.

Is uTorrent safe?

Yes, uTorrent is perfectly safe, as it’s an official torrent client released by the creators of the BitTorrent protocol. In other words, it’s fine to download uTorrent as long as you get it from a legitimate source. However, it won’t keep you safe if you download malware or other files that are designed to infect your device. It’s down to the user to pick out safe torrents.

Note that the free version of uTorrent has a lot of invasive ads.

Is BitTorrent safe?

BitTorrent is safe. It’s just a method to share files quickly and easily. You’ll be able to do so legally, as long as you stay away from any copyrighted material. As for popular torrenting sites where you’ll find magnet links, they tend to be more of a legal gray area. Tracker sites like KickassTorrents have been known to host malware, while PirateBay was found to be using visitor’s computers to mine Bitcoin back in 2017.

Tracker sites don’t host any copyrighted content on their own servers, which is why many have been able to get away with offering links to popular files. However, some tracker sites have been blocked or banned entirely, making them hard to access in the first place.

Users tend to bear some portion of the blame, given the propensity for illegal file sharing. A large number of users are willing to upload and download movies, games, software, music, ebooks, and many more files. We would strongly advise to avoid any violation of copyright law or restrictions, with or without the use of a VPN.

Seeding is more frowned upon than leeching in the eyes of the law. Consider; rather than downloading an illegal copy of the file, you’ve also distributed it to others.

What happens if you’re caught torrenting?

It’s been a while since torrent users have been targeted seriously by the law. As of 2023, torrenting is unlikely to land you in court, even if some users have been sued for large sums of money in the past. In the modern day, it’s more likely for copyright holders to go after VPN services, or tracker sites rather than individual users. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be free to download any files you like without consequences.

Copyright trolls

Copyright trolls are infamous for locating torrenters who illegally download copyrighted content via their real IP addresses. These trolls are companies that do the work for the real copyright owners, aiming to take legal action against anyone found to have downloaded a specific file. Some copyright trolls work freelance, while others are directly employed by production companies in an attempt to mitigate any loss of income.

If given the go-ahead by the copyright owner, trolls then attempt to seek a settlement, usually by mail or email, but there is a chance that they will knock at your door. In most countries, settlement letters aren’t legally binding, and the trolls aim to intimidate or shame torrenters in an effort to get them to pay up.

For example, they might threaten to sue for a figure in the six-figure range during initial exchanges, while offering a settlement in the low thousands. It seems like a great deal in comparison to being sued, but it’s best to ignore any threats, especially if the threat doesn’t contain your name or other identifying information aside from your IP address.

Most copyright trolls won’t take a torrenter to court, given the costs and risks involved.

If you receive a settlement letter

Your ISP is likely to be the source if you receive a settlement letter. Copyright trolls have the ability to go through the courts, forcing your ISP to hand over your personal details, while issuing legal threats. If you’ve been contacted by your ISP, your best bet is to ignore any correspondence, as the troll may not know your real identity. There’s no benefit to responding, as you could be giving the trolls more information about you. Copyright trolls are looking for low-hanging fruit and are unlikely to follow up on threats against people who don’t respond.

Targeting isn’t especially specific, in that hundreds (or thousands) of torrenters might have been contacted by a copyright troll at any given time. Trolls are hoping for a fraction of the users they contact to pay up, making it a worthwhile endeavor without ever having to set foot in a courtroom. If the situation does escalate, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has compiled a list of attorneys that specialize in these sorts of cases.

ISP issues while torrenting

It’s not unheard of for your ISP to take action if they find out that you’re torrenting. For example, there’s a possibility that your ISP will begin to throttle your connection speeds, or it may hand over your data to a copyright troll. Some ISPs block access to torrenting websites, making it tough to get access to files in the first place. This has been the case for over a decade.

As for why, torrenting is bandwidth-heavy, so it’s expensive if lots of users are sharing large files at the same time. Some ISPs will go so far as to suspend your account if you’re found to be breaking the law consistently.

How to protect yourself

There are no two ways about it. The best way to protect yourself is to refrain from torrenting illegal files in the first place. It’s tempting, but there is a chance that you could run into issues with copyright trolls, and it is against the law in many countries. If you do plan to torrent, a VPN is one of the best methods to ensure online privacy.

Using a VPN when torrenting

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a simple way to torrent safely. It works to route all of your data through a server of your choice, masking your IP address in the process. Your new IP address will match the location of the VPN server, and you’re likely to be sharing the VPN IP with hundreds of different people. This makes it tough to identify what a specific user is up to, helping to improve anonymity no matter what you’re doing. All traffic is encrypted by the VPN, so your ISP won’t be able to tell that you’re torrenting. In fact, all it can see is that you’ve connected to a VPN.

A free VPN is tempting, but it’s not a good idea if you plan to use the service for torrenting. Free VPNs tend to be far slower than premium equivalents, leading to long wait times. Free providers are also known to cap bandwidth, while some make up for the loss of income by selling user data. As you might have guessed, this is bad news for anyone using a free VPN for torrenting.

Other alternatives

A VPN isn’t the only way to protect yourself while torrenting files. The Tor network also encrypts your traffic, sending it through randomized volunteer nodes in the process. In this instance, we would recommend using a VPN instead of Tor for a number of reasons. Tor is far slower than normal browsing, and it’s not designed for high-bandwidth tasks like torrenting. Tor usage could also attract the attention of your ISP, given it’s sometimes used to access the dark web.

Usenet

Another alternative is Usenet. It’s a premium service that requires the user to sign up to a Usenet service provider. Downloads are speedy, and you’ll be getting your files from centralized servers instead of using a network of peers. This ensures that it’s a better option for privacy than torrenting. You won’t be seeding files, so you’ll also avoid any issues relating to supplying others with content that is copyrighted.

Usenet files tend to stay up indefinitely, although torrents will be available for as long as someone is seeding the file. In theory, torrents should be available forever, but that’s often not the case.

Public & private trackers

Trackers are used to index files on the BitTorrent network. Trackers are either public or private, in that the latter may require an invitation for access.

Examples of popular public trackers include ThePirateBay and KickassTorrents, which allow anyone to access the site without logging in. Anyone can upload files, so it’s down to the user to decide whether a download is safe. Check the comments, as well as the reputation of the uploader. Make sure to use antivirus software on any files you do download.

In comparison, a private tracker is more likely to be moderated, with faster downloads, clean files, and a safer experience overall. However, they can be tougher to find and join.

Legally, there’s no difference between using a private tracker or a public tracker. If you’re using a tracker to download copyrighted material, you’re breaking the law.

Streaming vs torrenting

Rather than downloading a file via a client like BitTorrent, many users now prefer to stream video content directly on their web browser. Various apps like Kodi and Popcorn Time can be used to illegally stream content. Is there any difference in terms of user safety, or the laws surrounding copyright?

In a legal sense, you could be breaking the law when streaming illegal content from a pirated source, but it is dependent on your current location. For example, streaming copyrighted content is illegal in the UK, while it’s a gray area within the United States. Indian courts have ruled that it’s not illegal, so it’s a good idea to take the time to learn more about the rules in your jurisdiction.

Anyone uploading copyrighted files to illegal video streaming sites is going to be viewed dimly by the law, no matter their current location.

Laws relating to illegal streaming tend to be less aggressive than those concerning torrenting, and it’s tougher for copyright trolls and any other interested parties to catch a user in the act. This is because trolls won’t be able to monitor the IP addresses of everyone else you’re uploading to or downloading from, which is the case while torrenting.

However, the website you’re using to stream content might be logging your IP address, and it could hand over any relevant information to law enforcement or a copyright troll. ISPs may also monitor user activity, and will be able to see that you’re pirating content. As such, it makes sense to use a VPN to mask your IP address, and hide your browsing history from any interested parties.

Illegal streaming can be as risky as torrenting, and that’s without accounting for the various malicious ads, threats, malware, and more that tend to plague the average service.

Further torrenting tips

There’s little chance that you’re going to be able to find HD copies of recently released movies. It’s a good idea to avoid some of the bigger blockbusters in the weeks after they are released on DVD and Blu-Ray. This tends to be a period in which movies and shows make most of their money, so copyright holders are keen to go after torrenters to recoup any loss of earnings. It’s a similar situation for any form of popular media in the weeks following its initial release.

The same is true for popular streaming apps like Popcorn Time. These apps actually stream movies and shows directly from torrents, and you could even be seeding files that are downloaded by other users. As such, the risks associated with torrenting are shared by various streaming apps.

It’s a good idea to avoid torrents uploaded by random users, especially if there are no reviews of the file to be found. Some torrenters will take the plunge, and report back in the comments section after scanning the file for viruses. You can also stick with more popular torrent uploaders, but these are likely to be monitored by copyright trolls.

Comments do tend to be helpful, but we’d advise you to run your own virus scans just to be sure. It’s best to use a variety of antivirus programs, to account for different virus libraries. This is especially important when downloading games and software that have been cracked by the uploader. Cracks bypass DRM, but they can also make it easier to hide malware, spyware, and viruses.

What is a torrent FAQs

Why did BitTorrent install adware on my computer?

It’s not BitTorrent that has installed adware or malware on your device. A more likely culprit is your torrent client, which is the program used to connect to the BitTorrent network and download files. Torrent clients are prone to be packed with programs you don’t need, so be wary when downloading anything to your device.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stick to reputable torrent managers. Avoid the extra software packaged alongside what you actually need. If prompted, only download the torrent client. The torrent itself is another potential source of malware, so be sure to only download files from trusted sources.

Can a user go to jail for torrenting?

It’s unlikely that you’ll be sent to jail for torrenting copyrighted material. It is dependent on the file itself, as well as if it was seeded and what legal jurisdiction you’re in. There is a chance that you’ll be fined and pursued via civil courts, rather than criminal courts. Be aware of the rules in your region, and double-check before you decide to download or upload anything to BitTorrent.

What are seeders and leechers?

A seeder shares and uploads files to the BitTorrent network. As the name implies, a leecher downloads files from the BitTorrent network from other users. If you’re starting to download a torrent, you’ll be a leech. You’ll have the opportunity to seed the file before it has finished downloading. Etiquette dictates that a user should try to seed as much as they leech. In other words, you upload as much data as you download.

Why does a file or torrent not start downloading?

There are various reasons why a torrent might not start downloading. You’ll need to be connected to the internet, without being blocked by your firewall. The tracker might be offline, or the torrent file could be broken. Your ISP might be throttling BitTorrent traffic, or there might be an issue with your client. Most of the issues discussed above are easily solved. Even large search engines like Google and Bing have agreed to demote or delist links in search results that point to copyright infringing sites.

Are there risks when torrenting music?

Yes, most likely in the form of copyright trolls that target any users found to be pirating licensed content. To do so, trolls monitor torrents, and get your IP address before contacting your ISP. That’s how torrent users can end up with settlement letters in the mail. A VPN allows the user to mask their IP address, minimizing the risk of being identified.

What are legal reasons for using torrents?

Lots of attention is paid to copyrighted material, but there’s still a large collection of free content that is available to be downloaded legally via BitTorrent. For example, open source software and media that have fallen into the public domain. Some artists choose to release content for free via BitTorrent, and it’s helpful for sharing large files quickly and easily.

Can my ISP see what torrents I am downloading?

No, your ISP won’t be able to see specific torrents you’re downloading. However, your ISP can see any websites that you’re downloading a file from, the size of the file, and whether you’re using ports associated with torrenting. This makes it easier for an ISP to discern that a user is torrenting, especially if they look at your bandwidth usage.

The easiest way to avoid your ISP (or anyone else) keeping tabs on your online movements is to use a VPN to mask your IP address. Your data will be encrypted in the process.

Do torrents contain viruses?

Some torrent files might be infected with malicious software. After all, it’s a file that people plan to download and execute on their devices, so it makes sense for hackers and scammers to use torrents as a method to trick unsuspecting users. Make sure to scan any files for viruses before being downloaded with antivirus software, and check out the comment section for more information about the torrent.

If a file seems too good to be true, it’s likely to be teeming with malware. It’s also inadvisable to download files from unknown sources, especially if it’s a file that can’t be found elsewhere.

Question mark icon

Did you know

The following information is available to any site you visit:

What Is Torrenting and How Does it Work? A Comprehensive Guide

Girl sitting in a lazy bag with her laptop, desktop computer illustration with download button next to it

Torrenting refers to downloading and uploading files between individual computers. This is opposed to downloading files from a single server, which is how you usually get your digital content. Torrenting also has a few components:

  • A tracker, which is a small file that holds information about the file you want to download, information like who else has the file?
  • Torrenting websites, which are basically collections of trackers.
  • Torrenting clients, which are software that opens your tracker and ties your computer to other people who have the file you want.

While it may sound appealing, torrenting is illegal if you download copyrighted products with it, like movies, music and videogames. We highly advise against the torrenting of illegal files. But if you want to find out more about how this system works make sure you read the full article.

Torrenting is a tool for free online data sharing, but a symbol of piracy and copyright law violations nonetheless. The term ‘torrenting’ is mainly used to describe the act of downloading and uploading a file (usually a movie, piece of music or book) using a Peer-to-Peer network.

But how does it work more specifically? Is it safe to torrent? Can you get in legal trouble? Let’s answer all of those questions in our article on what is torrenting.

What is a Torrent?

The best torrent alternatives icon

A torrent, also known as ‘torrent file’ or ‘tracker’ is a small file that keeps track of where the actual file you want to download is on a wide network of different computers. It may sound complicated, but it’s actually simpler than you think.

Basically, a torrent is a small file that is used by something called a torrent client to let others know; “Hey, I’m looking to download and upload this specific piece of content to and from you”.

The torrent file can be used to share media such as movies, music, books, etc. with others using something called a Peer-to-Peer network or ‘P2P’.

What is a Torrent Client?

A torrent client or torrenting client is software that uses a torrent file to see who else has the actual file you want to download. The client gets data from all of those computers, slowly adding small packets of the file you’re downloading to your own computer. The torrenting client also uploads small packets of that file to those other computers. This is what forms the P2P network.

Basically, the torrenting client is the piece of software that connects downloaders and uploaders of a certain file to one another, using the torrent file to determine which file should be shared.

What are the Best Torrent Clients?

It depends a lot on what you need. If you want a simple interface, BitTorrent is a good choice. If you want no ad interruptions and a decent array of features, qBittorrent might be better.

But in general, we recommend using uTorrent. It’s fast, reliable, easy to navigate, and it has enough advanced features packed to keep everyone happy. This is a quick overview of three of the most popular torrent clients:

On top, it’s got a lot of helpful features like a search bar to look for trackers in-app.

If you know a thing or two about networks and the internet, you’ll like uTorrent even more. It features advanced options, such as manually setting the bandwidth allocation for a file you’re downloading, or force starting the download of a torrent if an error occurs.

On top, it has interesting features, including a media player, torrent search engine, and a ton more, so it’s a decent choice if you don’t need the advanced features of BitTorrent or uTorrent.

What is Peer-to-Peer?

Peer-to-Peer networking or P2P is a way in which computers or servers can share the workload in completing a certain task, or in this case download. This is different from the regular client-server model where a user simply downloads a file from a server. With regards to torrenting, using P2P, every computer connects to one another to download (leech) and upload (seed) a certain file.

With the ‘normal’ way of downloading, using the client-server model, files are downloaded from the server, like so:

Person downloading file from server

This is how downloading usually works.

With a P2P network, however, pieces of the file are constantly shared between others in the P2P network, until the file has been completely downloaded, like so:

People sharing file through torrenting network

In that sense, people sharing the file are acting as small servers for downloading a file, with the help of the torrenting client.

What are Seeders and Leechers?

Seeders and leechers are words used for the different parts of the P2P network. When downloading, a client is called a leecher, because it leeches the file from others. When uploading, a client is called a seeder, because it provides the seeds for others to download.

Usually, you are both a seeder and a leecher when you’re using a torrenting client, because you’re simultaneously downloading and uploading parts of a certain file. When you’ve completely downloaded a file, you just become a seeder, because you’re no longer downloading the file, you’re just uploading parts of it through the P2P network.

How Does Torrenting Work?

Torrenting and P2P icon

Torrenting works using the P2P system we’ve described above. First, it starts by downloading a torrent file or ‘tracker’.

A torrenting client uses that small tracker to see who else has the actual file you want to download, for example, a movie, and it gets data from all of those computers, slowly adding small packets of the file you’re downloading to your own computer.

While you’re downloading several packets of the file, you’re also uploading packets that you’ve already downloaded to other people like you, making your computer a small server as well. In that sense, people sharing the file (also called “seeders” in the torrenting world) are acting as small servers for downloading a file, with the help of the client.

This process of downloading continues until you’ve either downloaded the file completely or stop the torrenting client from sharing the file. In order to stop uploading a file, you usually have to manually stop the torrent from seeding.

Where do People get Torrents From?

In order to torrent, you have to get a hold of a torrent file first. There are various websites that host these files and they’re called torrent sites. A well-known example of such a site is the Pirate Bay.

Be aware though, that a lot of torrent sites contain copyrighted content. This content usually is illegal to download and share, so always make sure you stay away from these kinds of files. Some torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents, have even been taken down by local law enforcers in order to stop the illegal sharing of copyrighted content. Even if the act of torrenting itself is perfectly legal and not all of the files on these sites are copyrighted.

If you’re looking for a place to get torrents from, check out our other article on the best torrent sites.

Is Torrenting Legal?

Justice lady with legal scale and sword and blob background icon

Yes, the act of torrenting is legal. That means that being part of a P2P network and downloading and uploading packets of a certain file, is legal. However, the downloading of copyrighted content is illegal in most countries.

The downloading of copyrighted content is considered to be copyright infringement. This is more commonly known as piracy, with the people partaking in copyright infringement sometimes being called pirates.

Whether or not you get punished depends a lot on where you live, though. In most countries, especially in Eastern Europe or Latin America, torrenting is illegal but torrenting laws are hardly ever enforced. It’s therefore a common practice to torrent in these regions without any safety measures.

In the cases that it is tracked and acted against, you might receive a hefty fine. However, only a small amount of people that download copyrighted content actually get a fine or get sued. This doesn’t change the fact that when you get caught torrenting illegal files in countries such as Germany, you are pretty likely to get a hefty fine in the mail.

If you want to read more on the legalities of downloading, take a look at our article on download fines and legislation.

What are the Risks of Torrenting?

Icon representing alert sign, red triangle with exclamation mark

There are a couple of risks that you have to take into account when you consider torrenting. The most common problem you can have with a torrent is to download a virus alongside (or instead of) the file you actually need. It was much more common in the early 2010s, but it can still be a problem if you’re not careful. These are the biggest risks you can stumble onto when downloading torrents:

  • You might download a file containing copyrighted content. This is considered to be illegal in most countries, and you might get into serious legal trouble when torrenting copyrighted content.
  • You might download a virus instead of, or alongside, the file you’re trying to download.
  • Hackers might target torrent downloaders in all sorts of ways. Though this isn’t as common anymore as it used to be.

Read on to find out more about these risks.

Risk 1: Accidentally Torrenting Copyrighted Content.

Torrenting is illegal if you’re using torrent clients to download copyrighted content from your peers, like movies, songs, books, or video games. You’re getting copyrighted content without paying for it, so it’s outside the scope of the law. Even if you’re in an area that doesn’t enforce copyright laws on torrenting right now, there’s no saying what will happen in the future.

That being said, the act of torrenting itself is not illegal, and it’s the reason torrenting is still around after so many years. When you boil it down, torrenting is just the sharing of files, so the entire infrastructure (clients, trackers, and even some private sites) isn’t intrinsically illegal.

Risk 2: Downloading a Virus

One of the greatest risks when downloading using torrents is bringing in a virus. Because the downloading and sharing of torrents is considered to be a gray area, the files themselves aren’t regulated by companies themselves. This means that you are quite likely to download malware instead of, or with, a torrent.

Therefore, it’s always important to use proper Antivirus Software when doing anything online. Software like Kaspersky can protect your device from all kinds of unwanted malware such as spyware and ransomware.

Risk 3: Hackers Causing Problems

Torrenting has a bit of a bad rep across the world, so it’s normal that people started associating the act of torrenting with everything bad on the internet, including hackers.

While you do expose yourself to risks when downloading torrents mindlessly, we scoured the forums and news sites to look for hackers leveraging torrents, and we didn’t really find any.

For some perspective: virtually all software, especially software that’s connected to the internet, can have flaws that expose your computer.

Hackers have a lot more success with phishing campaigns – that’s when they pretend to be someone else, either by sending fraudulent emails or by outright copying a site and preying on personal information.

So hackers shouldn’t necessarily be your main worry when you torrent. But viruses, malware, adware, and legal trouble are a possibility, and they might even be used by hackers.

How to Stay Safe When Torrenting

Use a VPN connection icon

There are a few steps you can undertake to ensure your safety when torrenting. Keep in mind that torrenting copyrighted content is usually illegal, and you, therefore, shouldn’t do it. However, there are also a lot of perfectly legal torrents out there, and we want to make sure you know what people do to stay safe when attempting to download and share these files.

In order to stay safe when torrenting, people usually do the following things:

  • They only use torrent sites that are deemed safe and don’t contain a lot of ads or malware.
  • They use proper antivirus software like Kaspersky to protect them from any unwanted malware they might encounter when downloading a torrent file.
  • They don’t download copyrighted content as to not break the law and prevent themselves from getting sued or fined.
  • They use a VPN to protect their identity when using torrent sites and P2P networks. A popular VPN amongst torrenters is ExpressVPN*: