What are torrents, how do they work and are torrent downloads actually illegal? We answer these and other questions in this article to finally clean up one of the biggest internet mysteries. Additionally, you will find some of the best torrent sites for legal free downloads.
Torrents are illegal? Bullshit!
We want to dispel some of the myths surrounding the file-sharing system.
Whether movies, series, music or even computer games – nowadays almost everything can be streamed cheaply and one would assume that illegal downloads and grey zone file sharing networks would gradually be doomed to extinction. In fact, however, in 2018 “Palmen aus Plastik 2” by Bonez MC & RAF Camora was given the ungrateful status of “the most illegally downloaded album by a German rapper”.
Illegal downloads are therefore still a big issue and one of the terms that comes up again and again in this context is that of “torrents”. In this article we want to bring some order into the terminology chaos around BitTorrent, file sharing, P2P networks, Leecher and Tracker and also explain why a torrent download does not have to have anything to do with illegal activities.
What are torrents?
The opacity of the torrent issue starts with the definition of the term. What was originally just the name for a certain file format is now also synonymous with the transfer or download method used and the respective programs for it.
Basically, the term “torrent” stands for a small file in .torrent format. This file is used as a control file or route description to explain to a torrent program (also referred to as a “torrent client” in the following) where a certain file is located in a network. The program can thus read all the information needed for a download.
This way it can find out how many computers in a network have this file, which of these computers are currently connected and how many parts of the download can be split into. The exact procedure of a torrent download will be explained in the next step.
A .torrent file contains only basic information about another file. The first important insight: Torrent files are not illegal in themselves.
How do torrents work?
Torrent networks are based on the principle of simultaneous distribution. While a file is being downloaded from the network, the user is also the provider of the file.
So if you originally only wanted to download a certain file – and thus act as a so-called “leecher” – you become a “seeder” of that file from the moment the download starts. The file does not have to be completely stored on a computer, but even the smallest parts of it are enough to function as part of the network.
The .torrent file communicates with the parent “tracker” of the torrent network and finds out on which computers the requested file is stored. It then examines how many of these machines are currently available in order to split the file download into as many partial downloads as possible. This is why a torrent download is particularly suitable for large files, as these are not loaded in one piece, but in many small partial steps.
When all the individual partial downloads from the network are complete, the torrent client merges them into the requested final file.
A 5-piece band records their first album together. After one of the participating musicians has mixed the songs, they have a total size of 2 gigabytes. To distribute the songs to the remaining band members, he uses the torrent network. After creating a .torrent file from the album with his torrent client, he sends it to the other band members.
The other band members can now import this .torrent file into their client. The first download receives the file only from the provider’s PC. The second downloader, however, already finds two computers in the network that have the file and can thus already put it together from two parts and thus download much faster.
Are torrents illegal?
The key message to take away from this article is simply that torrents are not illegal. But like any other kind of file sharing, they can become illegal very quickly. This is because the files offered in the torrent network are often material that is subject to copyright. With many types of file sharing, it has been shown over the years that especially the providers or uploaders of copyrighted files are subject to criminal prosecution.
As already indicated, this strict separation into uploader and downloader does not work with the torrent method. Anyone who downloads an album illegally via torrent becomes the provider at the moment of download – and thus makes himself doubly liable to prosecution.
Because the torrent method is very popular in illegal areas, it is almost invariably associated with grey area activities and file piracy. However, as everywhere else, the credo “think first, then download” applies here as well. If a file is obviously copyrighted, the torrent network will not protect you from the consequences, as it always has traceable IPs communicating with each other.
Where can I find legal torrents?
Meanwhile, several software vendors – including the popular Linux partition “Ubuntu” – are using torrents as an alternative download method. And in addition to the numerous dodgy torrent search engines on the net, a whole range of alternatives have now emerged that specialize in collecting legal torrents.
Meanwhile, there are a whole range of free torrent clients on the market. Each one offers different settings, extensions and a more or less complicated user interface. For beginners, the in-house client of BitTorrent might be especially recommended.
“BitTorrent” is – as the name suggests – the in-house client of the brains behind the BitTorrent network. The program is beginner-friendly, but does without many advanced options and also has some integrated advertising in its luggage. The optimal tool to take a first look at the torrent world.
uTorrent is also distributed by the BitTorrent makers. Why? Apparently, they don’t know for sure themselves. Both of these programs offer almost the same features, but uTorrent is a little lighter and more resource efficient. This is the perfect client for anyone who has no use for the original BitTorrent for some reason.
Integrated torrent search engine, media player, encryption, IP filtering and torrent creation – qBittorrent is aimed at all more experienced torrent users and has become a bit of an “everybody’s darling” there in recent years. Fast, resource-saving and secure – everything you would expect from a torrent client.
Contrary to popular perception, torrent downloads are by no means illegal, but are a useful tool for large file volumes. As everywhere on the Internet, it is important to keep your eyes open and to inform yourself sufficiently. Because anyone who downloads copyrighted or illegal material here is doubly liable to prosecution.
If you still can’t get used to the topic of torrent, you will find everything you could wish for in our “Free Download” section – without any additional software. Music that is provided by artists and labels for fans free of charge. 100% legal and fair.