Are you downloading torrents frequently? Then, you must read the tips listed below on how to torrent safely!
As you probably know, the torrent p2p protocol (BitTorrent) is a file-sharing technology that provides users with access to virtually unlimited content. This protocol is one of the most popular for peer-to-peer file sharing in the world. Torrenting is almost completely decentralized, except for trackers that enable users to search and download magnet links and p2p files. Magnet links and torrent files are used to find users on the network who host the needed files, although they don’t actually host those files.
Torrent users do however face many security threats each time they download or share a file, and before you start torrenting, you should take the time to learn how to safely torrent.
Are torrents legal?
Yes, BitTorrent file-sharing technology is legal. Although the technology is legal, how you use it might not be. Whether p2p downloads are illegal or legal depends on which files are being downloaded, who holds the rights to these files and where you are located. Different laws apply to different countries regarding file sharing and copyright issues.
If a user chooses to download files that are copyright protected, whether or not it is illegal will depend on the country’s laws.
Tips on how to torrent safely
The tips below will show you how to torrent safely.
Tip #1 – Take care when choosing your torrent client
Torrent clients range from the simple, straightforward to the extremely powerful. Many clients, e.g. Vuze, have extra features including addons, plugins and extra functionality. These features do however often mean that performance and/or security are sacrificed.
The more popular p2p/torrent clients such as Vuze, Bittorrent and uTorrent are monetizing the software through embedded software, advertisements and ‘pro’, paid for versions. This can have detrimental effects as was the case when uTorrent installed bitcoin mining software without its users being aware, or having given their consent.
Before deciding on which client to use, make sure that you really want all the extra features, or whether a secure, lightweight, and open-source solution will work just as well for you. This was the first tip on how to torrent safely.
Tip #2 – Ensure maximum privacy by configuring your torrent software properly
When you’re learning how to safely torrent, one of the steps you need to take is use a VPN or a proxy, or both. If you use a VPN-only option, you don’t need to do any configuring. Connect to the VPN server, open the torrent client, and start torrenting.
You might want to check the IP address of the torrent when the VPN is used for the first time to ensure that everything is working as it should.
If you are using a Proxy service, it takes 5 minutes to configure when you use it for the first time, but the p2p client will save these settings and apply them whenever you use the p2p/torrent software. If you use a VPN plus a Proxy, it will give you the best possible protection, and this is a good option for those who are very conscious of privacy.
Tip #3 – Use a VPN and/or Proxy that does not log your activities
To hide their internet activity from an ISP, p2p users often use virtual private networks (VPNs), or proxy services. Using VPN while torrenting is legal!
As VPNs can be used for a wide range of applications, some are more suitable for torrenting than others. Always select a VPN that:
- Does not log your activity.
- Is fast enough to not slow down streaming content.
- Is not based in a country where customer records can be demanded legally.
Tip #4 – Avoid IP Leaks
Vulnerabilities are exposed in VPN software all the time. Some affect entire VPN protocols, while others affect specific providers. To minimize your risk, do the following:
- Update your VPN software as soon as a new update is released.
- Install a VPN Kill Switch – this will kill your internet connection as soon as the VPN drops.
- Use a site such as IPLeak.net to check for leaks.
Tip #5 – Use a good antivirus program that includes live monitoring
The 5th tip on how to torrent safely: Installing a good antivirus will help you detect malicious scripts when you browse dangerous sites. Many of these, including Mcafee, Avast, Bitdefender and AVG, have live monitoring that warns you before accessing a website that’s known or suspected to be dangerous.
Tip #6 – Use a search engine that does not track your details
Google tracks every search you make and tracks you through browser cookies. For private searches, use an anonymous search engine such as DuckDuckGo.
Tip #7 – Make sure your web history stays private
Your web history is NOT private when you switch on Incognito Mode in Chrome, or Private Browsing mode in Firefox.
Google is still able to track your search history, even if you use a VPN. ISPs also track your web history if your connection uses their DNS servers (it is always a good idea to use no logs DNS servers) . These leaks can be prevented by using the Tor Browser for browsing the internet anonymously.
Tip #8 – Choose torrents carefully and avoid “hot” items
When figuring out how to safely download torrent, don’t use the most popular torrents on KickassTorrents and ThePirateBay, as these are closely monitored by copyright trolls. Don’t use totally unpopular torrents as there is probably a reason why they are not used often. Avoid hot items, such as movies or anything else that has been released recently.
Tip #9 – Read all the comments on a torrent before downloading it
If copyright holders are monitoring a torrent, you will often find comments on it mentioning that a user received a letter when downloading a specific torrent. One of the first rules on how to safely download torrent is not to download that torrent! Look for comments that say things like “Great quality” or “I will seed.” That is some indication that there are no problems with that torrent.
Tip #10 – Never download installable or executable files
Torrent files that install software on your PC by using a .bat or.exe file are the most dangerous. Your infection risk is likely to drop by as much as 90% if you don’t install these files from a p2p site.
Although scripts can be embedded in other file types such as PDF and some video formats, this happens less often and these file types are normally less dangerous. Also be careful of .FLV files (flash video).
Tip #11 – Never click on ad banners and use an ad-blocker
Although this is obvious, many people still fall for interactive and gamified banners.
The free Adblock will completely remove ads from the websites you visit. It does not replace the ads with blank space, but rather reformats the space so you don’t even notice that there were ads there.
Tip #12 – Get invited to a private torrent community
One way to decrease the likelihood of getting a torrent with a virus is to get an invite to a private torrent community. These torrents are much more trustworthy because the members of that community create and share all the torrents. It is however tricky to find and get into a private community, because you need to know someone who can invite you. The best way to achieve this is by being active in online communities and make friends with a person that has access to a private torrent community.
How to torrent safely – Conclusion
Although the BitTorrent protocol is fully legal, they can be used illegally by downloading content that is copyright protected. Whether or not this is the case will depend on the ownership of the content, how it is licensed and the laws of the country in which you reside. There are many reputable torrent sites that will only share legal content.
Torrenting has many security threats when files are shared or downloaded. We hope that the tips shared in this article have shown you how to torrent safely. Apply them diligently and you should not experience any problems with either legal or security issues.