Without a doubt, torrents are the most widely loved file sharing method in the world. Lack of centralized server makes it very efficient in sharing large files in relatively quick times. Despite being an amazing file sharing method, it is infamous for being the root of all illegal activities.
Majority of torrent sites on the web host copyrighted games, movies, music and everything in between. Not only the content on these websites are copyright infringed, but they also contain a whole slew of code injected malware and viruses that are designed to compromise your sensitive information.
Torrenting can be a cumbersome and risky process that could get you in serious trouble if you are not careful. Many people around the world have faced the harsh punishments of government agencies and copyright holders that have swept the ground from underneath their feet.
Before we delve into the topic of how to torrent safely, we must urge our readers to use a VPN for torrenting and should know how to check torrent IP, not only will it protect your privacy but also make it a whole lot safer.
What does torrenting mean?
Torrent downloading works a bit different than your every downloads. When you download an ordinary file from any website, your file is pulled from a specific server on to your computer. This is how traditional file downloading works.
Now torrent files work differently in a sense that it uses the BitTorrent protocol to download files. BitTorrent protocol is made of peers; therefore, your files are not downloaded from a central server but instead pulled from the resources of other peers in the swarm.
Now you might be wondering what a swarm is? A swarm is a cluster of peers that are sharing the same torrent file as you. This type of downloading makes torrenting a decentralized way of sharing files on the internet.
BitTorrent file sharing protocol is very famous thanks to its ability to share large files relatively quicker than traditional server based file sharing.
How to torrent safely
Downloading torrents in itself is very easy as it literally takes a couple of clicks to do so. However, torrents themselves can be risky; most files are injected with malware to mess with your computer while others are protected copyright infringed. Now there are a few steps you can take to torrent safely which we are going to discuss below.
Use Antivirus to torrent safely
This is the most proven way to fight against torrent-injected malwares. Any decent antivirus program should protect your device from any unsuspected viruses. Most Windows computers nowadays come pre-installed with Windows Defender, which is decently powerful for everyday use.
However, if you want to use a third party antivirus program like McAfee then it is perfectly fine too, just make sure you are running only one antivirus program at a time on your computer since having two can compromise their performance.
Check for seeders
Whenever you are downloading torrents, it is always a good idea to check the amount of seeders of the particular file. If a torrent file has a decent amount of seeders, it means that it is safe to download since other peers have already downloaded it and started seeding it.
While this is, no definitive way of identifying bad torrents it is still better than nothing. Besides the more the seeders the faster, your download speeds are going to be.
Check for comments
Checking comments under torrent file is another sure fire way of identifying malicious torrents. If a file you are downloading has a decent amount of comments then make sure you go through them. Users often leave comments regarding the state of the file, which should be enough to determine whether a file is virus free or not.
Check for file extensions
Torrent files with extensions like EXE and BAT are some of the most harmful files you can download on your device. Since files with such extensions are infamous for containing viruses and malware that can harm the performance of your torrenting device.
Consider private trackers
Private trackers are a community of torrenters that only share trusted torrents to its peers. Being a part of a private torrent community means that you should get virus free files for the most part. However, being a part of a private tracker is not easy, as you need a trust worthy referral to get you in to the community.
When you download torrents through the BitTorrent protocol, your IP address is made public for all the peers sharing the same file as you. This is also necessary since your torrent clients need this information in order to connect you to other peers.
However, this is also a huge vulnerability that could get you in a lot of trouble, since government agencies and copyright enforcers are constantly scouring the web for torrent activity.
Torrent users can use PeerBlock to block out all unwanted or harmful IPs from communicating with your computer. Although PeerBlock is not a definitive way of protecting your privacy as not all harmful, IPs can be blocked on the web. It is still a quick and easy way to torrent safely.
Use VPN to torrent safely
VPNs services are sure fire way of achieving ultimate privacy and security on the web. VPNs work by encrypting your internet traffic and giving you unprecedented access to blocked contents. Although VPN services cost a few dollars a month, they do offer the most protection for your money.
Can I get caught for torrenting?
Definitely anyone torrenting copyrighted movies; music and software over unprotected internet connection can get caught and prosecuted by the law. Therefore, it is imperative that you use some sort of precautionary measure to safeguard yourself.
Government agencies and your internet service providers are constantly monitoring and cracking down on any internet activity related to torrenting. Even if you are not necessarily being fined or caught, you are still going to face some repercussions as ISPs can throttle your speed to create inconvenience.
How can People get caught torrenting?
Identifying people on torrent is not that difficult, in fact, anyone one using a torrent client can see the IP addresses of others peers in a swarm. In fact, even you can use an IP to identify anyone’s real home address by using a simple website like iplocation.net.
This level of information is also visible to your ISP and various other regulatory agencies working in your region therefore, internet service providers and copyright enforcers can join forces to impose swift justice on those suspected of downloading copyright infringed content through BitTorrent protocol.
What will happen if I get caught?
While there is no definitive answer to this question, it is safe to say that torrent users can face anything from a simple notice to far more serious punishments. Your internet service providers can even throttle your downloading speeds.
However, these punishments do not only end with simple warning notices and speed capping, but some torrenters can also face Hefty fines or in some cases lengthy jail times. For instance, India, which took torrenting lightly, has recently raised pressure against illegal torrenters. Indian torrent users can face up to three years in prison for downloading or visiting torrent sites.
Regulatory authorities can distinguish between occasional torrenters and avid torrent users who are profiting from copyrighted files. Therefore, punishments and penalties can be applied according to the extent of the offence committed.
Safety precautions to torrent safely
It is difficult to understand why people download illegal files in the first place since there are so many risks involved with it i.e we are celebrating Safer Internet Day of 2019. However, the existence of so many great privacy tools has made torrenting so much safer and easier. This is probably the number one reason why so many people nowadays are still opting to download torrents.
One thing worth mentioning is that torrenting can be illegal in many parts of the world; therefore, always check your local laws to ensure you are not breaking any of them so you can torrent safely.
Safety Measure for Torrenting
If you are going to download torrents regardless of all the risks involved, then at least consider taking some precautionary safety measures to torrent safely.
- The most secure way of torrenting is without a doubt through a VPN. Virtual Private Networks offer IP masking and network encryption. This makes your torrenting foot print on the web hidden, not even your ISP will have any clue about your torrenting habits. However, not all VPNs work great with torrents therefore always choose a provider that offers strong encryption protocols.
- While new movies and music is often enticing, you should realize that they are actively monitored throughout their promotional period. Therefore, it is a good idea to wait for a while before you go ahead and download them.
- As we discussed earlier many torrent files are purposely injected with malware to steal your data or mess with your device. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not skip this step and use either your device’s default antivirus program or any third party software of your choice.
Streaming vs. Downloading torrents
Nowadays, the trend of downloading entire files on to your device’s physical drive has changed. People now prefer streaming media torrent files through various torrent-streaming clients like Popcorn time or Kodi. Both streaming and downloading torrents have their safety and legal concerns.
Regardless of which method you use for viewing digital contents, if the source is pirated then you are breaking copyright laws. However, this totally depends on which region you reside in as different countries have their own rules and regulations.
For instance, it is illegal in the UK to either stream or download copyrighted media without consent. Whereas in the US streaming copyrighted content is somewhat acceptable as there have not been any know cases of people fined for streaming. However, hosting unauthorized digital media is universally illegal.
However, one this is for sure, the law does tend to be more lenient towards torrents streamers. Part of this reason is that it is often difficult for copyright enforcers to persecute streamers simply because they are sharing less information that can lead regulatory authorities to them.
Despite this, we are not saying torrent streamers are off the hook as there are risks involved. For instance, your ISP can be monitoring your streaming activities, which it could then hand over to regulatory authorities for legal concerns. However, all of these issues can be easily avoided by opting to a premium VPN service that guarantees uncompromised security and privacy.
Is streaming torrents illegal?
Streaming movies and TV shows, instead of downloading is quite trending nowadays. It is faster and more convenient. This is why many torrenters now prefer to stream contents on their devices through a variety of torrent streaming services like Popcorn Time.
However, as we have already discussed in the previous heading both streaming and downloading of copyright infringed torrents is illegal and there is no two ways about it. Despite torrent streaming being illegal many people who use streaming services like Popcorn Time, take necessary precautions to stay safe. Popcorn Time with a VPN allows you to watch your favorite HD content in complete privacy and anonymity.
How does BitTorrent VPN Work?
BitTorrent file sharing protocol consists of peers and swarms. In order to connect you to other peers for leeching or seeding the same file as you, a BitTorrent client requires the IP addresses of all the other peers involved.
This seems harmless but in reality, it is not. While BitTorrent requires IPs to link other peers together it can also be seen by anyone using the BitTorrent client. Since your IP address contains your home address and the device you are using, it makes the situation very alarming.
Not only BitTorrent peers could potentially snoop on you, but your ISP can also monitor your torrenting habits. This can end up very badly for careless torrenters, as there have been many known cases in the past where people have received outrages fines.
However, not all hope is lost, as there are plenty of reliable and premium BitTorrent VPN services that offer uncompromised privacy and protection. If you decide to use a safe torrenting software with your BitTorrent client, then rest assured all your torrenting activities would be hidden from the world, not to mention your government agencies and ISPs.
Although P2P file sharing is legal, not everyone is onboard the legal torrenting train. Many torrent users share illegal torrent files on a daily basis, which does bring a very negative stigma around torrenters. This negativity attracts government agencies and copyright enforcers.
However, there are ways of hiding your torrenting activity from regulatory authorities and make your torrenting safe. If you are wondering how to torrent safely then your first option should be to opt for a reliable VPN service.
As we have discussed earlier it is not all about privacy, many torrent files contain horrendous malwares that are designed to phish out your sensitive data and render your computer useless. Therefore, it is also a good idea to use an antivirus program to scan files beforehand.
We hope our blog was informative enough to help you torrent safely. If you like to share your safety tips then do let us know in the comments below.