You’ve probably already heard about torrents; maybe you’ve even been using them for some time now. But even if you’re using this method to download files on your computer, it’s likely that you don’t really know what you’re doing – just like many other people.
What are torrents?
A torrent is a computer file that can be distributed freely thanks to the peer to peer technology (P2P). A user can download torrents of music, movies, tv-series, games, and many different files, in smaller parts that hold information, through a BitTorrent software. Many users access copyrighted files without paying for them or getting permission, that’s why it’s at least frowned upon and even legally punished in some countries to use torrents.
Why are they dangerous?
There are many threats connected to using torrents, but, according to Security Gladiators, they all amount to the same thing – anyone can see your IP address, therefore discover who you are. A lot of legal rights owners and protectors (like production and record companies, artists, etc.) hire people whose responsibility is to find and report IP addresses that download torrents, then they pass them to the ISPs which connects them with law enforcement agencies. Sometimes it leads to fines and incarcerations.
Another threat is ubiquitous malware, as it can be difficult, especially for a newcomer, to find a trusted source. To keep yourself safe, you should try to stick to legal torrents, get a good antivirus and choose a reliable VPN service.
Why are they so popular?
Despite risks, there are still tons of people who decide that it’s worth taking. Thousands or even millions of users are using torrents every day even if they know it’s not safe. Why is that? What makes torrents so popular?
- Its networking doesn’t depend on any kind of server. There are small parts of data scattered across the web and computer which you take piece by piece from others when you want to download anything;
- Files aren’t being stored or any kind of centralized server. Cloud-based services are reliable and definitely worth using, but if there’s privacy in question or you need a lot of storage space, they are not the best solution. The files are shared directly between computer and there’s nothing in-between;
- They are open-source and free from advertising. No one ever profits from torrents themselves. It’s only different for torrent clients which are powered by ads (mostly);
- Torrents are considered to be extremely reliable. Of course, you can encounter trash or malware if you’re not careful, but torrents enforce 99% quality control. Corrupted, dangerous or pranked files are being filtered out;
- There are various official files and updates available through torrents. For example, Blizzard Entertainment uses BitTorrent clients to communicate with their customers. If you buy a game, you will be given a link to a torrent. If there’s an update, BitTorrent will download it for you. Therefore, torrents make transactions significantly quicker;
- There are no limits when it comes to size. It will save you money that you would normally spend on other services. Torrents don’t ask questions – you can load there whatever you want and download it back without any problems;
- The Internet Archive recommends it. It’s a non-profit organization that takes care of preserving internet content. They make copies of websites so that nothing gets lost with time and you can always access it, even if it’s not working anymore. Their archive of domain media is public and you may easily find it. If you want to download anything, you can do it thanks to torrents. The Internet Archive recommend it because it’s safe and fast, and there’s no need to pay, on neither side of the chain;
- You can share whatever you want there. Not everything is about profit. Sometimes you may simply want to promote something and torrents are the easiest way to access a broader audience and make it easy for them to download your file. Hosting files can get expensive and torrents may help you to save money on bandwidth fees;
- There’s no speed limit. Or any kind of limit. You are only limited by your internet connection.
Torrents aren’t as popular as they used to be due to the rising popularity of Netflix and other streaming services. However, even though many people have already issued a death sentence, torrents seem to be alive and kicking. And they will probably stay for a while, as they are a great way to share and download files, as long as you know how to protect yourself.
Interesting related article: