Take Command of Your Torrents
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 can make 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 15 BitTorrent clients for your consideration. (Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)
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.
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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 to configure torrenting performance and settings, and a crapware-free installation. It's also in constant development, with new features being worked in and bugs quashed. 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. Vuze has also added new features to the client, including support for the new WebTorrent protocol.
WebTorrent Desktop Beta
WebTorrent's web-based torrenting technology allows web pages to function like torrent clients, effectively crowdsourcing the distribution of assets like videos and images. The open source, ad-free WebTorrent Desktop app, currently in beta, is a torrent client that functions as a bridge between BitTorrent and WebTorrent peers, while also providing a slick, media-centric UI, with torrents presented in image-rich swaths which you can play in a built-in media player, even while a torrented file is still being downloaded, with seeking effectively reprioritizing which pieces are being downloaded. WebTorrent's desktop version also supports video streaming to AirPlay, Chromecast, and DLNA.
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.
Bitport.io is another service that takes the web-based approach to torrenting. You sign up for a cloud storage account and send torrent files or magnet links to Bitport, which then downloads the given torrent to your account's cloud storage. You're then able to download or stream the file at your leisure. The free tier of Bitport.io offers 1GB of storage, one download slot, and a limit of one torrent per day, while premium tiers upgrade the amount of storage available, download slots, torrents per day, and add features like antivirus scanning and Google Drive sync.
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. While well-regarded, serious security incidents, including ransomware being piggybacked into the installer in 2016 and a remote access vulnerability in 2018, have damaged the program's reputation.
Deluge is another lightweight, open-source client that 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. A premium subscription removes ads and includes features like HD streaming, virus scanning, and more.
The BitTorrent company pioneered the P2P sharing protocol that bears its name, and the free official BitTorrent client incorporates any new features worked into the protocol. If its interface and feature set seem reminiscent of µtorrent, that's because they're near near-identical twins, BitTorrent having purchased µTorrent and used it as the basis of its official client. The free client is feature-packed, and a premium subscription version removes ads, supports streaming playback of files being torrented and offers additional features such as virus scanning and file format conversion.
Tribler is a torrent client that takes anonymity as its watchword, attempting to add a layer of security to the fast but otherwise public BitTorrent cloud by routing traffic (both seeding and downloading) through a series of proxies, much like the Tor network. (Note also the attendant slowdown in speed.) Tribler's developerss are the first to admit that the anonymity their system provides isn't mature yet, but they are continually revising the system. In addition to the privacy features, Tribler includes torrent search and a media player that supports streaming of files being downloaded in the torrents.
Halite BitTorrent Client
Halite BitTorrent Client is another lightweight and open source app that's gotten our attention for its compact, utilitarian features. It might not pack every single advanced feature out there, but it does have a serviceable package of tools, ranging from selective downloads, priority queues, magnet links and trackerless torrent support, port forwarding & randomization, 64-bit support and interface translations to a variety of languages.
Tixati is super lightweight and easy on resources. It focuses on one of the newer tricks in torrents: trackerless torrent swarming. It has anti-throttling features and variety of priority adjustments to help tweak performance. Despite its lightness, Tixati has advanced bandwidth management features. All of this combined with an ad-free interface and worry-free installation makes it a popular torrent client.
BitLord provides users with a simple torrent client that strives to cover most of what you need in a single application. BitLord covers your basics, from bandwidth management to selective file downloads and scheduling (with a nice, color-coded chart to quickly show which days and times you've scheduled for unlimited or throttled bandwidth). In addition, BitLord includies a torrent search engine, a built-in video player, subtitle downloading and the ability to stream or cast your media to an Apple TV or Chromecast.
BitComet's interface is a bit on the archaic side, but it's been a stable, reliable torrent client for a while now. Interface clutter aside, BitComet does just about anything you'd need on the torrent management side, with support for magnet links, peer-to-peer torrent file sharing, bandwidth management settings and more. Users looking for a more fire-and-forget torrent client might want to look for something lighter, but BitComet's reliability and features have left it a favorite among its devoted users.
Chrome and Firefox both feature plugins for handling torrents, but Torch browser is a feature-packed Chromium-based browser that does so natively. In addition to torrenting features, Torch has numerous media features built-in, with a media grabber and player. And, of course, if you're not torrenting files or ripping media, it's also a perfectly serviceable Web browser.