What is a Torrent Client?
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A BitTorrent client is an app used for peer-to-peer file sharing using the BitTorrent protocol. Such a program can prepare, request, and transmit any type of computer files over a network with the help of BitTorrent protocol. Computer with a running instance of a client app is considered a peer, hence peer-to-peer connection. To share an initial file, a small file with a 'torrent' extension is created on a peer machine. The torrent file contains metadata about the shared files and about the tracker, the computer coordinating distribution. In order to download shared files, peers need to obtain a torrent file first and then connect to a tracker, which coordinates them with other peers they can download pieces of file from.
Advantages of Torrents:
- With torrents, one can download movies, music, games, software programs without breaking a bank.
- With the torrents one can share any file with the whole world.
- Torrents can be used for personal and private needs.
A lightweight BitTorrent client for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X platforms Deluge is an open source and cross-platform torrent downloader application, a full featured BitTorrent client for GNU/Linux, BSD, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. The Official BitTorrent client (Free) is lightweight and simple. We prefer Transmission when you're focusing on those criteria, but if you want to try something else it's another decent option.
Torrent downloaders should consider a VPN as an essential app for safety torrenting. Using torrents doesn’t exclude a possibility to get empty files from insecure resources. In such case the risk to infect your computer with malware or to clutter it up with spam significantly increases. You need to choose a reliable and reputable tool to not only download content from the web but also to protect your operating system from viruses and adware.
BitTorrent is still a great way to transfer large files, but it’s only as convenient and efficient as the application you use to seed and download them. This week, we’re looking at five of the best BitTorrent clients, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you for the best BitTorrent clients—the ones you used yourselves, and the ones you thought offered the best mix of features and performance. You responded with tons of nominees, but here are your top five, in no particular order:
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µTorrent (or uTorrent) is one of the most popular BitTorrent clients, and has enjoyed broad use partially because it’s fast, feature-rich, and supported and developed by BitTorrent, Inc, which in a way makes it the “official” BitTorrent client. Even so, one company can’t own a protocol, so BitTorrent is just one option in a vast sea of clients. To its credit though, µTorrent does retain the ease of use, speedy downloads, and fine controls over your download and upload speeds and bandwidth that made it popular in the first place. It has all of the features you would expect from a good BitTorrent client, including the ability to resume stopped downloads, download things in sequential order, support for encrypted files, support for remote control via mobile apps, download scheduling, port forwarding, and more. It’ll even throttle itself back as soon as you start to use bandwidth heavy applications on your computer. µTorrent also makes it easy to find and download the official BitTorrent Bundles, which are packed with music, movies, and other great free, freely-licensed entertainment to enjoy. It’s also completely free.
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µTorrent doesn’t come without more than its share of controversy. Many of you nominated it and supported its nomination based on its features, speed, and ease-of-use. For many of you, it’s been your first and only real BitTorrent client. However, many of you chimed in and pointed out that while µTorrent was definitely on top years ago, recent controversies—like so-called “premium” versions for a fee, µTorrent versions that also used your computer for Bitcoin mining, tons of sleazy banner ads, and an overall shift away from supporting a community of users and directly toward using that community to make money have soured you on the application, even if it’s still good. Many of you cast your vote for it anyway, saying you preferred to run older versions that don’t have all of the cruft added in later iterations, while others expressed your frustration at a great app, now gone downhill. You can read it all in its nomination thread here.
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Built as a free-software, open source alternative and feature equivalent to µTorrent, qBittorrent is cross-platform, lightweight, well polished, and free of many of the issues that made its inspiration controversial. That doesn’t make it a plain clone though—its somewhat spartan UI hides a wealth of features that make the client popular. qBittorrent can be configured to send email when your downloads are complete, you can search for files (even by category) inside of the app instead of digging around for reliable downloads, supports web-based remote control, port forwarding, IP filtering, and more. It’s remarkably powerful for those folks who need those features. Others just like it because they’re disaffected by other tools, and they’re looking for something that’s light and just does what you need it to do. True to its open source, community-driven nature, it’s completely free (although the project does accept donations.)
Many of you who nominated and supported qBittorrent did so specifically because you moved from µTorrent and wanted something with the same features but didn’t want to put up with the ads or questionable updates and practices behind your former favorite. Many of you specifically said that instead of complaining about µTorrent, the best option is to just use this open source alternative, and put your opinions where your downloads are. To that point, you also praised qBittorrent for being very similar to the app that inspired it, feature-rich and lightweight, while still giving you all the tools you need and then some (many of you called out the ability to search for files right inside the app as a huge perk.) More than a few of you praised its Linux support specifically, and others said you enjoyed setting it up to email you when your downloads were finished, and that you liked that it supports proxies. Some of you noted you missed the bandwidth throttling and speed scheduling features of other clients, but all in all, it’s a good option. Read more testimonials in its nomination thread here.
Transmission is a simple, lightweight BitTorrent client that many of you who use OS X machines, Linux boxes, or even Raspberry Pis preferred. It’s super-lightweight, runs quietly in the background with or without a UI (it’s up to you) which makes it perfect for servers, NAS boxes, HTPCs, and other systems where you may want to do some downloading or automate your downloads. Transmission can be remote controlled by a web client or through the terminal (via SSH), and those old schoolers among you may remember when Transmission was the only good BitTorrent client available for OS X. As it’s always been, it’s free, open-source, and there are distro-specific versions available for Linux users who want something customized to their system. Transmission gives you robust system notifications for your active and completed downloads, download scheduling, port forwarding, remote management, encryption, and just about everything else you might expect from a well-built client.
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Many of you echoed some of the biggest perks that Trnamission’s own developers tout on their features page, namely that in OS X, it runs natively, it’s lean but feature-rich, and can be remotely managed. Many of you praised it for being free and open source, and not holding its features back for a premium version or including ads, sponsored links, or banner ads to help keep the project afloat. Some of your said it’s great in Linux and OS X, but a little meh in Windows, and wished it had proxy support, but others of you praised it for working flawlessly (even on your Raspberry Pi, NAS, and other headless systems), and for being so good you’ve never wanted to replace it. You can read more testimonials in its nomination thread here.
Deluge earns points for being one of the oldest BitTorrent clients available, but also one of the most lightweight. It’s completely free, cross-platform, and supports things like encrypted downloads, private torrents, password protection, bandwidth scheduling and throttling, remote management via a web-based of console-based interface, proxy support, and third-party plugins. Those plugins are where Deluge’s power really shines through—and there are tons, developed by the community around the app to extend its features. The ability to customize the client to your needs and then set it and forget it, as well as manage it remotely, makes Deluge another great option for lightweight needs or for headless setups like home servers, NAS devices, or other remote systems. Plus, it’s completely free and open source.
Many of you said you rediscovered Deluge after leaving other, more bloated clients looking for something a bit more streamlined and easier to use. Almost all of the comments in its nomination thread praised how lightweight and easy to use Deluge is, how speedy it is on just about anything you need to install it on, and how it keeps bloat to a minimum so you can load it up with plugins if you need to, or keep it lean and trim if you don’t. If other clients used to be great and have declined over the years, many of you who may have skipped over Deluge in the past have rediscovered it—or at least love it more now than you ever have. You can read more in the nomination thread itself.
Tixati is a relatively new BitTorrent client compared to many of the others here, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful, or light on system resources. The client is a little basic, but it boasts a wealth of features you may like in a client, including easy view of all of your downloads, a simple and easy to use UI, support for magnet links, port forwarding, IP filtering, event scheduling, and a simple native installation that doesn’t require you install a bunch of frameworks just to get it running, and one that doesn’t hide ads or anything else under the hood. It may be missing some of the more advanced features of some of the others, but it’s certainly one of the fastest and easiest on your machine, which may make it worth a look if you’re displeased with other options. Similarly, Tixati installs and uninstalls cleanly on your system, and the Tixati web site is like a guide to torrenting for beginners—which makes sense, since the client is no-nonsense and focused on the basics too. It’s completely free.
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Those of you who nominated Tixati praised it for being fast, reliable, simple to use, and completely free of the nonsense and BS that often plagues other BitTorrent clients. Some of you praised it for hiding some strong configuration options behind that simple interface, and others praised it for being one of the most streamlined clients you’ve had the opportunity to use, especially nice in a time when many other clients are busy adding features—and potentially, bloat. Some of you bemoaned support for remote management by mobile app, and the lack of an Mac client, but for those folks using Windows and Linux, you suggested it’s worth a look. You can read more in its nomination thread here.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite:
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This week’s honorable mention goes out to rTorrent (OS X/Linux), a text-based BitTorrent client that actually made the top five the last time we looked at this category. If you’re looking to manage your downloads without all of the overhead of a heavier client, or just at the command line or via SSH, this is the client for you. Many of you noted that rTorrent runs on seedboxes (for good reason), and others noted that you’ve seen it running on routers and other headless systems just to keep things nicely streamlined. Its learning curve is a little higher than a tool with a GUI, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful or less valuable to learn. You can read all about it in its nomination thread here.
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Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
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Photo by John Trainor.