Bittorrents, or torrents, are the most popular peer-to-peer method of file sharing. This guide will show you the basic process of locating and downloading a torrent.
Step 1 – Download and Install a Bittorrent Client
Start by downloading software known as a bittorrent client. This just allows your computer to speak the same language as the computers you will be downloading from.
Bittorrent clients are free to download online. There are all sorts of them available, but don't worry they all have the same basic functions.
Here are some clients that are free online and available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
Transmission – www.transmissionbt.com
Qbittorrent – www.qbittorrent.com
Utorrent – www.utorrent.com
In this guide we will use the Vuze bittorent client, which also supports Linux, Mac, and Windows. Download it for free at www.vuze.com.
Download and install the client the same way you would install anything on your particular system.
Step 2 – Locate a Torrent or Torrent Tracker Site
Now lets locate a site where you can find torrents. Do a simple Google search for "popular torrent sites"
The search results will include a number of pages that list the Top 10 torrent sites. Navigate to one of these sites and pick one from the top of their list. Click the link and head over to the torrent site.
Step 3 – Search for and Select a Torrent
The torrent site will have a basic search function just like Google. Go ahead and search for whatever file you might be interested in.
We'll search for an ISO of the Ubuntu operating system as an example.
Your search will likely have a lot of results, now it's time to sort through them. All torrent sites will have a column of numbers on the right side. In the example below they appear in green and blue. Green indicates the number of Seeds, while blue indicates the number of Leeches. A seed is somebody uploading the file and a leecher is somebody downloading.
The guideline here is simple; more seeds are good and more leeches are bad.
Go ahead and click on the torrent your interested in. There are bound to be a few pop-up advertisements throughout this process so be careful in navigating pages.
This will bring you to a download page where you will want to scroll down and look for a comments section. Browse through the comments and make sure nobody has had any issues with the torrent you wish to download.
HINT: Look for "Download Torrent" and avoid buttons or links that offer a "Direct Download," as these are usually advertisements in disguise.
Step 4 – Open the Torrent File
Torrent client software, such as Vuze, will usually detect that your downloading a torrent file and offer to automatically open it for you. If this dialog pops up, select Open with, and select your bittorrent client.
This will look something like this. You can accept by clicking OK.
If you don't see this option and the .torrent file just begins downloading, then simply navigate to your download directory and open the .torrent file manually. You can open files manually through your bittorrent client by clicking File, then Open, and navigating to your download directory.
Once you open the .torrent file, your bittorrent client will open with a dialog giving you information about the torrent and allowing you to set some options.
For the purposes of this basic guide you don't need to worry about these options. Simply click OK.
Step 5 – Download!
Your download is now in progress! It might take your client a few moments to gather the information it needs to begin downloading, but soon you will see your download speed increase.
All torrent clients have the ability to pause and resume downloads should you need to do so. You should also keep in mind that once your download is complete you will automatically become a seeder, meaning you will continue to upload data. You should be aware of this if your concerned about privacy, security, or bandwidth limitations.
Congrats! You now know all the basics to begin downloading torrents.