In its original meaning, a torrent is a strong stream of water, and while those interested in the weather have heard about a torrential downpour, most connect torrents with online streaming on data. More often than not, torrents are spoken about as negative and often illegal things by the legacy media as if the system itself is harming someone.
Torrenting is often connected with online piracy, and with extreme campaigns to combat this practice, most people were fed misinformation not only about the advantages and benefits of legal torrenting and file sharing but also about piracy and piracy influence in general. Those who were active internet users in the nineties remember the meme connected to those campaigns: ‘’You wouldn’t copy a car now, would you?’’
While there are real benefits to torrenting even when we disregard using them to download media, most countries now frown upon this practice and forbid the use of magnetic links and torrents, and may come after users directly for just using the service. This will happened by seeing the person’s IP address provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and sending someone over to that location to take their computer to check if there was piracy involved. As we are talking about government agents, and the fact that they have no clue how any of this works, they will also take your monitor because it could have incriminating information. I kid you not, this happened many times.
Now, not all countries have this relationship with torrents, and there are countries that see the internet as a free and open place that doesn’t need as much policing. Even in Canada the relationship with torrents is very relaxed and using this service wouldn’t set you for a not-so-romantic date with the police. Thankfully, you will not need to move to the Regina, Saskatchewan as to have access to your torrents, nor to a quite expensive Luxembourg, as you can use a VPN to virtually transfer your IP to these places and download whatever you want. Professional VPN providers such as Le VPN have servers around the world so you will always be able to pick the ones in countries where this practice is legal and download torrents for the content you want from there.
Just, for the love of everything that is holy, please seed.
What is Torrenting?
A torrent file is a small set of meta-data that helps distinguish individual user on the internet who have a certain record, to download the actual data from those users by connecting to their torrents, as well as to upload the data from your device to other users who need them.
As not to go too far into technical details, which would include several pages of introduction to hash tables, we will use an analogy of a puzzle. A torrent file is not the puzzle itself, but more like a picture of the finished puzzle, with all the pieces marked by a value. Some people around you have all of the parts, some have half, and some just have the picture, same as yourself. The torrent platform then sees which people have the pieces that you lack and copy those from them directly. Depending on how many people have the parts that you don’t have, this process might be faster or slower, but even if one person has the entire puzzle, you will have it too at some point.
This type of downloading is very different from traditional server-based downloads as after a short while there is not a single source of the file that is being downloaded from, but rather multiple sources all around the world. If one of the people who already have the information decides that they will turn off their device and stop sharing, there will still be many others who will remain online.
Peers: Seeders and Leechers
Two terms that are very important for torrenting are seeders and leechers. To stay on the puzzle analogy, seeders are the people providing the pieces, and leechers are those taking the parts. With most platforms that host torrent links, you will be able to see the number of each before you copy the torrent, and you will always see to how many peers you are connected as seeders, and how many people are leeching from you at the same time.
A single user can be both at the same time, as even if you have only a third of the pieces, this is still a third more than someone who just started downloading. This is a very genius system as it will prioritize the more common parts of the puzzle over those which are rare, giving people who are almost done access to those with complete files while they are sharing theirs with those who have less.
The Pirate Code of Conduit
‘’First of all, you need to be a pirate for the code to apply, and second of all, the pirate code is more what you would call a guideline than a set of actual rules.’’ – Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean
While this line is something you will hear very often on forums discussing this topic, the pirate’s code is more of a joke created to determine the beneficial behavior of people using torrents. But, some of these rules were incorporated into the software used to connect torrent users, and it is usually helpful to follow them as much as you can.
The main rule is not to lie about the content of the torrent you are putting up. This will rarely penalize your IP directly but will make your username on the file sharing forums to be flagged and not reliable in the future.
The second rule is that you should seed twice as much as you leech, at least. Most platforms like uTorrent will provide you with a ratio of how much you have sowed and will prioritize your IP in the future if you upload more than you download, as you benefit the service and make the community happy.
The Legality of Torrenting
By themselves, torrents are not illegal, as many people use torrents as perfectly legal means to distribute their own original content which they have every right to distribute this way. What is illegal is unlawfully copying and distributing copyrighted material, or pirating. But, even this is debatable as torrenting is usually free and doesn’t make any commercial gains to the person, which is more akin to watching a movie you bought with your friends who didn’t, than to making hard copies on DVDs you plan to sell in some dark alley.
This being said, many countries don’t have an open mind towards the consumers as much as they listen to large production companies that see every torrent download as someone who would buy their product and as such lost revenue, and thus lobby the government to make any torrent platforms illegal and supervised. Using free VPN torrenting to download your content is perfectly legal if you are connected to a server in a country where the corporate lobbyists haven’t yet reached the level of power as they did in a country like the US. Companies like Le VPN that focus on providing safe VPN connections have servers in countries around the world, and nations, where torrenting is legal, and which are cited in the app.
What is μTorrent?
This is a platform used to share magnetic links and use torrents to find seeds with the content that you want quickly. Quite an interesting bit of trivia is that most users pronounce the name of the platform as ‘’U-Torrent”, or ‘’you-torrent” even though the letter μ is actually the Greek ‘’Mu’’, which is pronounced as ‘’Me”. Thus, you-torrent is me-torrent. The Greek letter is also used to cite the amount of traction a surface has, which is also a play on words as this is a platform for torrent tracking.
The platform works with multiple operating systems but is not compatible with all VPN providers on all platforms. Making your uTorrent VPN accessible is very important, as all other users will see your IP address if they are connected to you without a VPN, meaning that you would be directly exposed to attacks, as well as legal action if you are in a country where this practice is frowned upon. To prevent your IP from being sown, you can always use a P2P VPN connection to mask your own IP with that of your VPN provider.
The biggest advantage of uTorrent is that it is very light and not connected to any central source, meaning that you cannot be denied service if the ownership of the program changes. The program shows you all the people who have the same torrent as you do and employs an algorithm to determine prioritization of meta-data that will be used to download files that you want.
Use of a VPN for Torrenting
Although the more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to people, when it comes to technology, everything changes, and fairly quickly. Before the advent of premium VPN providers, proxy servers and VPNs usually meant a slower connection and an unstable download rate that can break at any time. Some BitTorrent clients used encrypted peer-to-peer (P2P) connections to shield users from the outside, but this still meant that connected seeders and lechers could see each other’s IP addresses.
With premium VPN providers you can have as fast a connection as you would with your local ISP, with only a slightly higher ping, which is unimportant for torrent downloads. This way, all of the downsides that are applicable to regular proxy connections and amateur VPN servers are removed, with all of the benefits remaining, and even larger than before, making this the place where you will find the best VPN for torrenting. The security advances that were made by premium VPN providers are not just for the sake of marketing, as there are multiple reasons why security is a greater concern now than it ever way. Using a torrent proxy without any additional protection might expose your devices to a range of malicious applications and persons, where a secure VPN service provider will enforce multiple protocols to protect both your privacy and your devices.
What to Look in a Best VPN for Torrenting?
Most features that you would like to see with your Virtual Private Network for any other task are the same ones that you are looking for in the best VPN for torrenting. This means a fast connection, improved security, multiple servers, and solid customer support.
A premium VPN service such as the one provided by Le VPN comes with fully developed VPN software, which includes an application that will work over multiple platforms such as Android, Windows, Linux, or iOS; if you want to keep your iPhone VPN connected.
As some torrent downloads can take quite a bit of time to finish, it is important to have a kill switch included into the application that will not allow for your device to connect unprotected if, for any reason, the VPN connection fails. While a kill switch is a fairly simple procedure, it is not included in free VPN connections and regular proxy connections.
Finally, for servers, you will want to have those in countries where torrenting is not frowned upon and is not regulated, meaning that your data can’t be requested from the VPN provider. Amongst the 100+ locations where Le VPN has servers, there is Canada, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Czechia (or the Czech Republic), which all allow torrenting and P2P file sharing of media.
Free VPN Torrenting & Piracy
It is very important to emphasize how dangerous is to pirate media such as movies, TV shows, or music when you are in a country obsessed with protecting the rights of corporations such as the US. Even if you are not going to burn the movie you download to a DVD, just having the meta-data on your computer or any other device can place you in heaps of trouble.
Even if, for some outrageous reason, you don’t care about your privacy and personal information at all, you will want to even access torrent clients using a VPN, as it is very often that your ISP will report your activity to the authorities and you will be facing legal repercussions.
Basis for Piracy
While most government paint piracy as something done by organized crime, selling crated of bootlegged DVDs in abandoned warehouses, this is a fantasy and not near to reality. Most swashbuckling pirates that traverse the open seas of the internet are usually college students who don’t have hundreds of dollars to give for premium applications and media, some of which they need for their education. The other major groups are people living in developing countries and rural areas who don’t have access to purchase these services legally.
Misconceptions about Piracy
The biggest misconception about piracy is that it damages producers in a significant way. The truth is, piracy usually benefits the content creator, as it creates a large number of people who will talk about the content, be that a game, a movie, or a TV show, which wouldn’t even try it otherwise. People who can pay for the product will still pay, and even some of the ‘’pirates’’ who like the product will purchase it, but no revenue will be lost that would otherwise go to the companies.
In the effort to keep this lack of damage a fact, if you were ever to download any content using a torrent, and find out later that you like the product, go and purchase the original as to support the creators. As a matter of fact, this is a part of the ‘’Pirate Code”.
Global Efforts against Piracy
There are multiple different campaigns to reduce any online piracy, and while some of these efforts produce viable and beneficial results, others ended as utter failures, mostly due to the regulators not understanding the nature of the internet.
Worst campaigns against piracy are those focused on criminalization. As it is nearly impossible to target people sharing the media, as they are usually hidden and operate from all over the world, governments focused on policing Internet Service Providers (ISP) as well as producers of media storage devices. Some companies that lack focus even made media that required an online connection to work. Digital Rights Management, or DRM, was a common feature in video games, but it was found out that they do nothing against piracy, while only irritating consumers who don’t have a good internet connection.
Best campaigns are usually made by the content producers themselves, where they make the service more accessible and cheaper to those groups that are unable to pay the full price. One of the best examples of this is Netflix, who lowered the rate of piracy drastically in every country where it was introduced, without any additional legislation.
Torrenting is not a bad thing, and sometimes it is necessary to get the files you need and which are not hosted on any other platform.
If you want to torrent anything, make sure to use a professional VPN provider such as Le VPN, and to connect to a server in a country where torrenting is regarded as normal and perfectly legal, such are Canada, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, or the Czech Republic.
Be careful when downloading torrent files and be sure that all of your safety features, such as your anti-virus, anti-spyware, and operating system are upgraded to the latest version. Additionally, don’t install software from untrusted and insecure sources.
Last but not least, if you have completed downloading a popular torrent, please be kind and seed, so that the rest of us could do the same.
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