Everything You Need to Know About Torrents

The interwebz iz a crazy place, and over 20 years of widespread consumer use hasn’t done much to calm it down. Staying safe online requires a suite of automated tools, along with the knowledge of routine technical procedures. The basics are listed here. One of these tools is a torrent, which is both a file type and a method of transferring files. It may sound confusing, but once you have everything setup, it’s just another way of searching the Internet or browsing through your App and Play stores.

How Torrents Work

A torrent file has an extension of .torrent and has a small file size. Contained within it are instructions for a BitTorrent client to locate and connect, peer-to-peer, to network users with files or file fragments referenced in the torrent file. If that’s too much technobabble, it means it’s instructions for how to download the file.

This differs from normal web downloading in that users, rather than site servers, are actually hosting the files being downloaded. From both a technical and legal standpoint, this means a more secure download, as no single computer gives you the complete file – only a fragment. By taking out the middleman, websites and domain hosts are no longer holding the files, so they’re protected from .gov laws, and both downloaders and uploaders are provided a level of legal anonymity.

Are Torrents Anonymous?

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The short answer is – no. They are a step in the right direction though. Using a BitTorrent client provides a stable avenue to share files, but, with trackers being the basis of the technology, anonymity is traded for encryption. This is why BitCoin was adapted as a relevant currency based off the same P2P concept. So, while torrents themselves aren’t anonymous, TOR and P2P mobile, which are based on the same concept, are much closer.

People have come up with protection methods, though, and they’re programs you should be using, regardless of whether or not you’re using torrents. The first is PeerBlock, which is a user-updated database of known IP addresses from a variety of categories, including law enforcement/government, university, advertiser, data trackers, etc. You can also set which ports to keep open for purposes of gaming, uninhibited web browsing, etc. Just know any open port immediately compromises anonymity.

Beyond that, a secure VPN, coupled with a proxy server will protect your network as much as possible without digging into advanced settings.

What Can Torrents Be Used For?

Do you remember Napster and MegaUpload? Each was notorious for allowing users to transfer and view any digital file they wanted, which turned out, more often than not, to be copyrighted material, such as Hollywood movies and TV shows, applications and video games for all devices and major consoles, music, and information. Torrents have also been used along with Pastebin (a plaintext posting service) for important data leaks in the post-Wikileaks era.

Anything digital can be transferred from one user (or multiple users, simultaneously) to another using a torrent client. The only limitations are those you place on yourself. Also software giants like Adobe, EA, and Microsoft now offer cloud-based subscription services to thwart unauthorized (free, i.e. pirated) usage of their software. Getting involved in torrents now will allow you to build up an offline database of software as we move further into a connected world, fueled by the Internet of Things.

Are Torrents Legal?

Yes – a file type can’t necessarily be made illegal. It would be like making the .mp3 format illegal. While the gesture would make a statement, we’d simply continue using them for the same reasons they were invented in the first place. This doesn’t mean you’re safe using torrents and mp3’s however you want – usage of files has been determined illegal in various courts around the world.

While a .torrent isn’t illegal, using it to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones without paying for HBO is. A BitTorrent client won’t get you in trouble, but it’ll give people a reason to look deeper, and it’s also a gateway for intruders to hit your IP. If you’re not tech-savvy, it’s best to ask for assistance before installing and using torrents.

How Do I Get Started With Torrents?

To get started, download a BitTorrent client from download.com or your favorite download depot. Many people prefer BitTorrent itself, but I’m more a fan of uTorrent, as it reminds me of my Limewire and Gnutella days of trading warez. Then download Peerblock for security.

Once both programs are installed, simply Google “____ torrent” with the blank representing whatever file you’re looking for (i.e. Always Sunny in Philadelphia torrent). You can also go to any popular torrent site, such as ThePirateBay or KickAssTorrents to search for what you need. Upon locating and downloading the torrent, your BitTorrent client will automatically start and begin downloading the usable file you need.

From there, it’s simply a matter of staying within your ISP’s data limits to avoid data charges. After a few months of using torrents to supplement your software library, you should be able to reduce data usage significantly, raising your overall data security.

Brian Penny Anonymous GonzoBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance writer, and troll. Penny has been featured on Huffington Post, Lifehack, The Street, Cannabis Now, and Hardcore Games.

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Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

14 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Torrents

  • April 7 at 6:23 am
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    Reblogged this on julian correa and commented:
    #torrent #torrents #seed #peer #leech #p2p #peertopeer #seeding #leeching #money #create #love #data #file #computing #network #web #internet

    Reply
  • April 6 at 11:07 pm
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    Perhaps you should stick to talking about banking, because you’re way off on bittorrent here a bunch of times. Starting with Peerblock, which is the biggest scam out there.
    oh, and tracker’s haven’t been the “basis” of it all for almost 10 years.

    You’ve rehashed a lot of myths, and reworded some of wikipedia, but this is a long way from ‘everything you need to know’, and contains a lot of ‘things you shouldn’t tell people because they’re wrong’.

    And I should know, I am a professional bittorrent researcher.

    Reply
    • April 7 at 12:04 am
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      well I’m happy to hear what correct information you have. Please enlighten me…or…when phrased like the pompous asshole you are in your comment, “you should enlighten me on your information”

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      • April 7 at 8:28 pm
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        “Then download Peerblock for security.” and “People have come up with protection methods, though, and they’re programs you should be using, regardless of whether or not you’re using torrents. The first is PeerBlock”

        There is perhaps the biggest laugh of all.

        Peerblock has never done anything, except made a bunch of people a bunch of money, and con a whole lot of others. Every single paper that’s looked at it had found it to be utter crap, mainly because the basic idea behind it is utterly utterly flawed. Shouldn’t be any surprise then that there’s been strong circumstantial evidence out for years that it’s actually run by the very people you think it’s protecting you from.

        It’s no wonder that for about a decade, not only every expert, but everyone who knows half a thing about bittorrent warns people to avoid it like the plague.

        “and both downloaders and uploaders are provided a level of anonymity.”
        From early on, and this is perhaps the funniest thing I’ve EVER read. Even funnier than the attorney for one copyright troll claiming I was a terrorist in court because i work with the ‘known terrorist group, EFF’.

        It’s actually far EASIER to track bittorrent users than website users, and you don’t have to be the provider to do it, or have access to their logs, AND you can do it in near real time.

        Overall, I don’t think there’s a single credible thing in your whole entire spiel.

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        • April 7 at 9:37 pm
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          do you have links i can see? or just desperate egotism and trolling insults?
          i never had issue with peerblock

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          • April 7 at 9:47 pm
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            links to what specifically? how bad peerblock is?
            Could start here, with a good friend of mine (the CTO at Torrentfreak) http://neuron2neuron.blogspot.com/search/label/bluetack
            or http://www.slyck.com/story1593_MediaDefender_Leak_Offers_BlueTack_Users_a_Reality_Check

            or head over to the freenode IRC network, and jump into ##bittorrent, you’ll find a whole bunch of us there, including client writers (reps from utorrent, vuze, bittornado etc) and other people intimately familiar with the stuff, They’ll basically tell you the same stuff.

            But funny how it’s “trolling” when it’s something you don’t want to hear. If anything’s “trolling” its your article.

            Reply
            • April 7 at 10:28 pm
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              🙂 it’s not the content of your words, but the condescending spirit by which you speak them…but thanks for the info, dickhead

              Reply
            • April 7 at 10:29 pm
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              Nobody likes being talked down to…perhaps you could find a way to share your information without being such a prick, and more people would be willing to listen instead of instantly judging your attitude and purposefully ignoring any info you have, regardless of how relevant…just a tip for life…hope you mature soon… 🙂

              You’re actually on the right side…

              Reply
              • April 8 at 12:27 am
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                It really rubs me up the wrong way when people who have no clue what they’re talking about write things saying “everything you need to know” when they’re probably in need of reading one, rather than writing.

                I’ve spent years fixing the screwups caused by people who’ve followed ‘advice’ like yours.

                Think about it this way though, you claim to be a whistleblower (not saying you’re not, but that is a claim you’re making above), and here I am ‘blowing the whistle’ on you and your claims, and look how you responded.

                Reply
                • April 8 at 12:39 am
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                  by further probing for correct information and correcting your behavior? I wish more people would respond that way

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                • April 8 at 12:40 am
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                  what rubs me the wrong way is people like you who claim all the security I mentioned is garbage, yet provide no viable alternative…

                  Reply
                • April 8 at 12:42 am
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                  Aside from a few links I’ll be looking into later, most of your complaints seem to be that you’re the only competent person in the world, yet incapable of providing an workable solution to a problem that’s existed for decades…decades…and you have nothing…don’t be mad at me…I didn’t create the game, son…so slow your role and direct your attitude toward something productive, you hobbit

                  Reply
              • April 8 at 12:24 am
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                A proxy and a VPN do the same thing, so if you have one, you don’t need the other.

                And an ip filter has NEVER been ‘security’, for one simple rason – how do you know an IP is ‘safe’ or not? You don’t. The only way you’d know is if you worked for that tracking company, and then you’re more likely to certify it as ‘safe’ than not.
                It’s why they also delete every post saying ‘I got a letter’ from the bluetack forums (bluetack is responsible for most of the lists) – gotta keep the scam going.
                The reason you haven’t had an issue so far is the same most people haven’t; you’ve not been on a torrent that had a logging bot. It’s the same reason I can claim my T-shirt protects against Tiger attacks, because I’ve not been attacked by a tiger since I got it. Same logic. The obvious question people would normally ask then is ‘were you around a tiger’, to which the answer is NO. Just as you weren’t around a logging bot, so you’d never have a notice, no matter if you ran peerblock or not.

                Like most protection scams, it works by the fact the activity being “protected” aganst is rare, so it doesn’t need to do anything to give you the impression it works.

                Reply

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