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.
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'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.