At the beginning of the year we claimed that the best way for corporations to battle piracy would be to stop going over-the-top and claiming pirates were all thieving bastards who never purchased the stuff they like. For that, we were supposedly “conspiring to promote copyright infringement” – an allegation that the US Department of Justice threw at us. We didn’t really see what the problem was seeing as we hadn’t explicitly “conspired” to “promote” – but hell, we figured we might as well do what we were falsely accused of.
Here goes. At just over 1200 words and split into 3 consecutive parts – this is our ultimate guide to Torrents.
PART I: Getting Started.
When it comes to popular content – this guide will explain how quickly and easily you can gain your favourite things without worrying about paying capitalist arseholes for the products you just want to listen to/watch without commercials, before the release date and most importantly: test-driving something you intend to pay for.
First, let’s quote the golden rule that WordMean has for torrenting: Support good musicians and developers by purchasing the real thing, and make sure you don’t purchase from the assholes who insist on revoking the internet’s freedom. Simple.
If you’re against copyright infringement and you think this post is a shameless and disgusting promotion of law-breaking then please do fuck off and leave the website. Or comment? That way you can get a response to why you’re irritating the people who have the freedom to choose what they can and cannot do.
BitTorrent is not a program (even though there is a program called BitTorrent that is used to download torrents) so let’s not get confused.
Torrenting is the most-reliable (if used safely) method of downloading files using a circulated peer-to-peer file sharing system. The programs that you use to download files via the BitTorrent protocol are called BitTorrent clients. In most cases we simply shorten the word to Torrent as torrent files (the little links that allow you to add the download to your client) share the extension of “.torrent”.
BitTorrent is not like Limewire, Morpheus, Kazza, Napster or similar programs that have crazed the piracy community in the past – In fact, this is a very common misconception. If you ever used those types of programs then please go into your memory and erase all you know.
Torrenting is one of those grey areas in the piracy world. For example: The Pirate Bay – which is by heart the most irrepressible torrent site – does not host the movie file; it hosts the .torrent file therefore technically only providing you with someone who DOES have the movie rather than giving it to you itself. That’s a theory for another day.
In order to download a file (let’s just use the movie example for instance) you have to find and download a torrent file (which uses the .torrent file extension) and then open it with your BitTorrent client. The torrent file does not contain your movie. Instead, it contains information which tells your BitTorrent client where it can find peers who are also sharing and downloading the file.
This is where we have the seeder/leecher terminologies:
Seeder: Somebody who has finished downloading the file but continues to upload it to everyone else.
Leecher: The person who is downloading from the seeder. Once you reach 100% of the download then you are automatically a seeder – or you can get to 100% and then remove the link from your torrent software (frowned upon as a “hit-and-run”)
For software we’re going to use and recommend uTorrent (stylized as µTorrent – µ = micro. The software is very lightweight and small)
Note also that these websites provide “magnet” links too which are pretty-much the same as torrents but the links look different. Don’t worry, pretty much every torrent program will work with magnets (uTorrent for instance).
If you’re downloading something that hundreds of people are also downloading (leeching) and uploading (seeding) then your speeds will be fast but if you’re downloading something with thousands of leechers and only a few seeders then your speeds will be horrendously slow; torturous even. Also, if there’s only one seeder and they stop seeding when you’re 97% downloaded then there’s a good chance you’re not going to complete that download until someone starts seeding it again – and if there isn’t much demand then obviously this could take some time (most likely an eternity).
Let’s do a visual step-by-step:
(Using Kat.PH and uTorrent on Windows)
PART II: Best Settings for uTorrent
To better optimise your downloads, copy the following settings into your uTorrent preferences. You can tweak the settings yourself and things are fairly straight-forward but if you’re looking for a thrillingly fast download without hiccups then this is the way to go:
PART III: Keepin’ Safe – Anonymous Downloading and Protecting your PC
More often than not, your network will require a condom and depending on the political aspects and where you live – it’s always a good idea to invest in some anonymiser as well as the obvious anti-virus.
PART II: Protecting Yourself when Torrenting
Scammers and deceitful P2P individuals use false torrents to phish people’s identities, bilk them for money, or vandalize their computers through Trojan infections. Always have an up-to-date antivirus application installed. If you hate annoying antivirus programs (cough, Norton, cough) then go for Microsoft Security Essentials – it’s by far the least intrusive and lightweight freeware out.
If comments exist, read them. Many websites such as KAT.PH and The Pirate Bay have trusty users who are either verified or respected. If a comment says “fake and virus” then obviously you’re best not downloading the file. Like eBay’s feedback system; the comments can give you the brains to decide whether or not you want to download.
Just a side note though – sometimes there are hundreds of comments saying that the torrent is clean and flawless but the odd few comments say that it’s a virus – 8 times out of 10 these comments are posted by folks who are paid by corporations to discourage piracy.
Problematic and Untrusted Torrent Clients:
uTorrent tends to have the best reputation, but if you’re looking for an alternative then make damn sure you AVOID these clients:
8. Avoid archive files like the plague!!
There are plenty of genuine uploaders who use .RAR or .ZIP (and similar) archives to share files – but that comes down to the comments on the torrent. BitTorrent clients always allow you to see inside so that you know you are indeed downloading the file you want and not some other crap that’s been included; and archive files won’t let you see that information.