Key Takeaways: Torrent Files Safely
- You need a torrent client and a torrent site to download content for free. Alternatively, you can use an all-in-one torrent-streaming solution, such as Stremio.
- qBittorrent and uTorrent are both excellent BitTorrent clients that are easy to use for beginners.
- If you’re looking for torrents in all categories, sites like The Pirate Bay or KickassTorrents are your best bet.
- If you’re looking to download movies or TV shows specifically, check out showRSS, EZTV and YTS.
If you’re tired of subscribing to multiple streaming services and have found your way here, chances are you know there’s an alternative. Torrent downloads have long been the main way that people download copyrighted content, but torrents also work for content in the public domain. This guide will teach you how to download torrents, so you can access the content you want no matter where you are in the world.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that downloading copyrighted content that you don’t have a license for is illegal in most jurisdictions. Although enforcement varies, remember that by torrenting, you’re also participating in distributing the files you’re downloading, which means you can be held liable in certain extreme situations.
Luckily, you can avoid all that — as well as measures taken by internet service providers (ISPs) to curb BitTorrent traffic — by using a VPN. In this guide, we’ll go through the basics of how to access torrent sites and use a BitTorrent client, as well as how to torrent safely by hiding your activity from your ISP. If you want to learn more about how BitTorrent works, check out our BitTorrent protocol guide.
How to Download Torrents Safely
Before you start torrenting, it’s important to prepare your device. Besides installing the software needed to torrent, you should make sure you’re protected against traffic snooping by installing a good VPN for torrenting. Furthermore, if you’re using torrent sites and uploaders you don’t trust, you should consider installing some kind of antivirus software.
Step 1: Download & Install a Torrent Client
The first thing you need to start torrenting is a torrent client. You can choose from two categories. You can go with a traditional torrent client, such as uTorrent or qBittorrent, which stores the files you’re downloading on your device. Additionally, if you want a torrenting experience more akin to Netflix, then you can use a torrent-streaming client like Stremio.
For this guide, we’ll cover how to use a traditional torrent client. If streaming your torrents sounds better, check out our guide to the best Stremio add-ons instead.
- Go to a Torrent Client Website
Use a web browser to visit a torrent client’s website, for example qBittorrent.org, and click on “download.”
- Download the Installation File for Your Operating System
Find the correct installation file for your operating system and download the installation file.
- Run the Installation File
Once downloaded, run the file and follow the on-screen instructions to install qBittorrent.
Step 2: Download and Install a VPN
Installing a VPN before you download torrent files is crucial, especially if you live in a jurisdiction more likely to enforce copyright law, such as the U.S. For this example, we’ll show you how to install ExpressVPN, which tops our list of the best VPNs, but the instructions will be almost identical no matter which provider you choose.
- Go to a VPN Provider’s Website
Go to a reputable VPN provider’s website, for example ExpressVPN, and click on “get ExpressVPN” or the equivalent button on the provider website you’ve chosen.
- Subscribe to a Plan
Choose the plan length that best suits you and enter your contact details and payment information. Once subscribed, you’ll be redirected to a download page.
- Download & Install the VPN
Download the installation file for your operating system, run the file and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
- Connect to a Server
Launch the VPN and log in, then find a server that’s relatively close to you and click on the big power button to connect.
Step 3: Download & Install an Antivirus (Optional)
Finally, if you plan to download torrents from sites where anyone can upload (such as The Pirate Bay) or sites of questionable trustworthiness, then you should also install some antivirus software. Any of the picks on our list of the best free antivirus will do, but for this example, we’ll use Bitdefender (check out our Bitdefender Review).
If you’re only going to download torrents from curated torrent sites like showRSS or YTS, then you can safely ignore this step.
- Download Free Antivirus
Go to a free antivirus provider’s website, for example BitDefender, and download the free version for your operating system.
- Install Antivirus Software
Run the installation file you just downloaded and follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.
- Run Antivirus Software in the Background When Torrenting
Once the antivirus is installed, make sure it’s running whenever you start a torrent download. On Windows, you can check this by opening the hidden icons menu in the bottom right of your taskbar.
Getting Torrent Files Online
Now that your device is set up for torrenting, you need to find an actual source of torrents, which is where torrent sites come in. Which torrent site you choose depends on what type of content you’re looking to torrent. There are thousands of sites out there, ranging from tiny niche websites to enormous content libraries.
Here are some examples of trustworthy torrent sites for various types of content:
- The Pirate Bay — All types of torrents
- KickassTorrents — All types of torrents
- 1337x — All types of torrents
- showRSS — Best for current and recent TV show torrents
- EZTV — Best for older TV show torrents
- YTS — Best for movies
Besides these sites, there are numerous private trackers that operate private peer-to-peer networks requiring a password and a commitment to uploading files. Whatever torrent site you end up on, look for things like user comments and reviews to ensure the files are legitimate.
How to Find Torrent Files and Magnet Links
Once you’ve decided on a torrent site, either from the list above or another reputable site, simply go there and search for the content you want. If it’s there, you’ll usually have the option of downloading the file as a magnet link or a torrent file. Using a magnet link saves you the effort of deleting the .torrent file afterwards, but either option will work.
If you’re using an application like Stremio with torrenting enabled, then all you need to do is search within Stremio and choose the torrent you want.
How to Download Torrents on PC and Mac
Armed with all the information above, you should be ready to download torrents to your heart’s content. If you’re still confused, here are step-by-step instructions for how to download a torrent on PC or Mac using qBittorrent.
- Launch Your Torrent Client
Open your previously installed torrent client to make sure it’s ready to receive links.
- Configure Settings and Download Location
In the torrent client dialog that just opened, decide what folder you want to download the file to and tweak any settings you want. If you don’t want to change anything, just click “OK” and the torrent will start downloading.
Now you just need to wait until the torrent finishes downloading, at which point you can access whatever content it is that you were downloading.
How to Download Torrents on Android
Downloading torrents on mobile is essentially the same process as doing it on desktop. There are many different torrent clients, such as uTorrent, available on the Google Play store, but there’s no way to torrent on iOS without jailbreaking the device.
To download torrents on Android, download a torrent client, then go to your torrent site of choice and click on the magnet link for the torrent you’d like to download. It should open the torrent client automatically and begin the download.
Final Thoughts: Download Files via Torrent
That’s it for our guide on how to download torrents. Although we used qBittorrent for our instructions, other torrent clients have very similar functionality. If all of this seems too complicated even after reading the guide, we recommend going with a simpler solution like Stremio instead.
What did you think of our guide? Do you now feel like you have a clear idea of how to download torrents for whatever type of content you want to access? Do you think there are better torrent clients or torrent sites that we should recommend? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.
FAQ: Downloading Torrents
Torrenting refers to sharing files over a peer-to-peer communication protocol known as BitTorrent. Sometimes it’s also used to refer specifically to downloading copyrighted material with the same protocol, but torrents are frequently used for non-copyrighted material.
Torrenting in and of itself is rarely illegal, but using it to distribute or download copyrighted material often is. Enforcement varies by jurisdiction and industry, but generally speaking punishment ranges from nothing to having your connection speed throttled by your internet service provider and being threatened with lawsuits by the copyright holder.
Yes, unless you use a VPN. If you live in a particularly strict jurisdiction (such as the U.S.) or you’re downloading copyrighted materials from certain industries known to be litigious (such as porn), then it’s very possible that you’ll receive a stern letter from your ISP or in extreme cases the copyright-holder themselves.