The BitTorrent protocol is a peer-to-peer sharing system that allows users all over the world to download and share data by essentially farming out file distribution and hosting to users instead of relying on a host or content mirrors. BitTorrent has made it easier to download everything from books, data and documents to software and other media, but it's only as easy as the program you use. The right client software can make downloading a painless experience, while a poorly built one can be a hassle and security risk. Here are 10 BitTorrent clients for your consideration.
Note: Using P2P and file-sharing technologies like BitTorrent to distribute copyrighted material without authorization is illegal in the United States and many other countries. We do not condone or encourage illegal duplication or distribution of copyrighted material.
qBittorrent is a lightweight, feature packed and open source bittorrent client that has become a popular alternative to more famous torrent apps such as µTorrent. qBittorrent features a clean, ad-free interface, numerous settings that you can tweak for configuring torrenting performance, and a crapware-free installation. The combination of powerful features, ease of use, and a worry free install make for a great package.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vuze is an all-in-one torrent downloading and media management program that eschews leanness for power features. Vuze includes torrent searching, torrent subscriptions so you can stay on top of the latest releases, as well as built-in HD playback and media transcoding for a variety of consoles and devices. The tradeoff is that Vuze is a bit more of a resource hog then lighter torrent apps.
Users turned off by Vuze's all-in-one media and torrent management approach can opt for a leaner version, Vuze Leap. Featuring a simple, three tab interface, Vuze Leap focuses on torrent search, download management and limited media playback. Its extreme simplicity is also its glaring weakness, as Vuze Leap has extremely limited configurability, primarily upload and download speed controls. Still, if you're not a power user and you're just looking for a lightweight torrent client to download with, Vuze Leap is worth considering.
Rather than serve as your standard bittorrent client, FileStream.me does things differently. Users upload a torrent file or magnet link, and then FileStream will download the contents and then host them on their servers, allowing registered users to then directly download content through their browser, allowing them to bypass bandwidth limitations that some ISPs may apply to torrented content. Free users are limited to 1/3TB of hosted files for 3 days each file, with a maximum filesize of 1GB, while a variety of premium tiers remove these restrictions.
Transmission is the most popular BT client for the Mac and is also available on Linux. It's an open-source project with freely distributable code. The Mac version makes heavy use of technologies specific to the Mac, like the GTK+ UI widgets and Mac Daemon services, which are used to handle complex background tasks. There is no official Windows version, but there has been a Windows port of the program. However, the documentation for this version is almost nonexistent.
Deluge is another lightweight, open-source client because it focuses only on torrent throughput. Deluge achieved a little fame because it managed to avoid the bandwidth throttling Comcast was doing to BT clients. uTorrent and a few others would eventually copy some of Deluge's tricks. The interface is focused on performance and monitoring, so if things get slowed down, you can tweak the app settings to potentially speed things up.
µTorrent, or uTorrent, is an extremely popular bittorrent client that's easy to set up and get running quickly, while also offering a fair amount of configuration and performance options. It's a solid bittorrent client, but it's also taken a hit to its once sterling reputation. The introduction of banner ads, crapware bundled in the installation and a particularly notorious episode where bitcoin mining software was bundled with the installation (now removed) have tarnished the client's once stellar reputation. That's not to say that it doesn't do the job well, what with its wealth of features and highly configurable downloading controls.