What is Torrenting?

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Torrenting is the most efficient way to share and download content. P2P file transfer or torrenting accounts for 43% to 70% of all internet traffic.

The word “torrent” refers to files uploaded or downloaded using the torrent network. Torrenting takes small components of the file from different sources instead of downloading a complete file from a hosting server.

While torrent sites store invaluable archives, debates arise over whether it opens the way to piracy. Torrenting is often associated with piracy because it involves illegally reproducing copyrighted content like games, movies, music, and software.

In this article, learn what torrenting is used for and how it works. 

What Is Torrenting And How Does It Work?

Torrenting is downloading or uploading individual torrent file parts from various peers or computers. It is quicker than uploading or downloading a sizable file to a centralized server because of its shared nature.

Computers can find information by using torrent files as a table of contents. Smaller versions of the original file are downloaded from computers that have already downloaded it. 

The term that connects two or more computers to share files and access a device is called Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, which requires torrent management software to connect to the torrent networks like BitTorrent or uTorrent. 

Torrenting is a fast way of sharing files because of peers to which other clients can join and send files. A peer can simultaneously get a file from many users and upload a file to numerous users due to how torrenting operates.

When a torrent user finishes downloading a file and does not delete it, they are “seeding.” This means that the user who keeps the torrent on their computer shares the parts of the file with other people who are still downloading. 

On the contrary, if a person does not share the file through torrent after downloading is called “leeching.” This means that they are only taking but not giving back.

Torrenting allows users to acquire digital content by getting pieces of the file from people who are seeding. However, when it comes to safety in downloading files from unknown sources, there are risks involved.

Is Torrenting Safe?

Torrenting is generally safe. However, just like any other downloading platform, there can be risks if you are not careful. 

Getting the file from trustworthy sources like RARBG, YTS.mx, and The Pirate Bay, can help you avoid malicious files. 

Here are some of the risks you should be aware of when torrenting:

  • Malware is a virus downloaded with your file to your computer and puts your data at risk.
  • Adware is a type of spyware that can infect your computer by downloading from a less reliable torrent client that will cause constant popups in the program’s user interface.
  • Lack of Privacy – When you’re torrenting without hiding your IP address, you are exposing your data to the like of copyright trolls and cybercriminals. The downloaded files may also have scripts enabling hackers to access your information.
  • Risk of Piracy – A lot of torrent sites may host illegal content. Unless you are certain that the content you are downloading is in the public domain, a simple error could result in getting a warning from your ISP.

You should secure your privacy in online transactions to protect yourself from malicious actors, especially when downloading digital content through torrenting. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Choose a reliable client like BitTorrent or uTorrent, or a paid client that will add security to your downloads by scanning the document for possible malware injection.
  • Use a VPN to hide your IP address and torrent anonymously by encrypting your traffic. Choose one that offers security, speed, privacy, and additional torrent support to hide from your ISP.
  • Run an Antivirus to scan a program before opening it because a virus may include in the downloaded file.
  • Know the source of your downloads to see what other people think of the file.

Be careful when you are downloading things on the internet. Torrenting is not illegal, but in some cases and countries, doing one could lead you to trouble.

Is Torrenting Illegal?

In the eyes of the law, torrenting itself is not illegal because it works the same as regular file sharing and downloading. However, sharing copyrighted digital content through torrent platforms is not allowed. This is considered copyright infringement and is punishable under the law.

In the UK, copyright infringement is a criminal offense that can be penalized with up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. 

Spain has enacted a law prohibiting unauthorized reproduction, distribution, and other forms of exploitation of one’s intellectual property rights and serving a punishment of up to six years in prison.

Copyright laws differ depending on which country you’re from. 

  • In Canada, downloading music and audio recordings is allowed for private use; 
  • In Australia, while it is not illegal, torrenting sites are banned; 
  • In Japan, downloading illegal content is only fines; and
  • In the US, sharing copyrighted content is prohibited.

The US has two relevant laws regarding torrenting copyrighted material: the No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act) and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Implemented in 1997, NET Act is against online piracy. This law applies to downloaded copyrighted materials through illegal means.

DMCA states that re-creating or distributing copyrighted material electronically is illegal. Internet service providers (ISP) are required under the law to take action once they discover illegal activity.

If you’re in the US and are caught downloading copyrighted material, you might experience a warning through ISP throttling or being banned temporarily. You might also receive a fine as punishment of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to five years.

A court battle isn’t very likely, but if a torrent user is given multiple warnings, it may start a criminal proceeding. In 2021, six people from DanishBytes and ShareUniversity were arrested for illegally sharing over 3000 copyrighted works.

It is best to avoid illegally downloading files and try to purchase from legal sources.

Bottom Line

Technology and the internet have allowed people to find information and files anywhere. Staying safe and choosing options that will not make you fall victim to the increasing number of cyber-attacks is always better.

Use tools that will enable you to safely surf the internet and be wary of the links you click and the files you download in your system. As they always say, awareness is the key to safe internet activity. 


How to stay safe while torrenting?

There are many ways, but one of the best is using a VPN to boost online privacy. This tool helps in hiding your location and encrypting your traffic.

Will I go to jail for torrenting?

Depending on the law of the country where you reside or do the torrenting, sharing unauthorized content is illegal, but torrenting itself isn’t.

Are torrent files safe to download?

Yes, provided it comes from a reliable source because they might have scanned the file before uploading it. But otherwise, not all torrent files are safe to download because there may be hidden malware in those files.

What is considered illegal torrenting?

The act of uploading copyrighted digital content through seeding is considered illegal.

Does torrenting expose your IP?

Yes. With torrenting and P2P networks or a torrent swarm, the people seeding and downloading the file can see your IP address. The people in the swarm can find your location and internet service provider, making you vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

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