For some, downloading torrents is a mysterious process, while for others it is frightening. In this article, we will understand the intricacies of this process and explain why you need to use a VPN service if you download and transfer torrent files.
Many Americans recall the days when there was a free Napster network on the Internet, with warm nostalgia.
In the period from June 1999 to July 2001, it was possible to download music from the extensive catalogue for free.
But, like all good things, this time quickly ended. The music industry companies and their lawyers instantly put an end to this tale through litigation with large and small services and file sharing.
The Napster peer-to-peer network has become an online music store, which was subsequently acquired by the Rhapsody music service. Meanwhile, users sharing data were trying to find a new platform.
A new torrent community has emerged from this chaos.
Yes, torrent exchangers are now banned in the United States, but the torrent community still exists. Thanks to the lightning-fast Internet and VPNs, torrents account for more than 6% of peak Internet traffic hours on a given day.
In this article, we will talk about the current state of affairs of torrents, focus on the crucial role of VPN networks in this matter, and describe in detail some of the risks for torrent users.
Table of Contents
What are torrent files
Torrent files are various multimedia content. Audio and video files, games and images that users want to receive, but do not want to pay for it.
These files are generally not infected with adware and spyware, are not damaged. They are available in high resolution (if this format applies to the file), and you do not have to pay for the opportunity to use them.
To download such content, you first need to find a community website. On these websites, as a rule, there is a “menu” of torrent files from which you can choose. As shown in the image above, for example, over 6 million torrent files are available on PirateBay.com.
As you probably guess, such resources often have trouble with the law. For example, in the list of the 10 most popular torrent sites in 2016, you will find at least three websites that have ceased to function since the publication of this article.
After downloading the torrent file, you need to open it in a special program for downloading. The two most popular torrent clients are BitTorrent and µTorrent (see image below). There are slight differences in the work of these programs. But both of them allow you to download small parts of a large file from several sources at the same time.
Programs work based on the basic principle of peer-to-peer networks. Small files are downloaded from the devices of community members who have already downloaded the full file that you want to receive.
This is the main difference from the old Napster application, where you would have to download the entire file from the device of one member of the community. Transferring torrent files is much more reliable since it does not depend entirely on a single user. Speed limits and transmission errors are much less common.
Also, this method of downloading large files is much more efficient. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you can download torrent files in a couple of minutes.
After successfully downloading the file, you can use the corresponding function in the application to play it.
When a file is already downloaded, often users leave the client open for hours. This is called “distribution”, and at this time you can distribute this file to other users. Most BitTorrent clients track your download/distribution ratio, and usually, you need to continue distributing until that ratio is 1: 1.
How VPN will help when downloading torrent files
Lawyers working in the entertainment industry are well aware of the existence of torrents. They have already joined such communities and are actively using torrent clients. But instead of distributing the files, they help in catching the file distributors. They send them an excerpt from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to stop the illegal distribution of content.
They have such an opportunity because they can track user activity in peer-to-peer networks. For example, the BitTorrent program displays the IP address of the participants. You can find out your IP address with this tool.
Subscribe to a VPN service. The VPN service hides your IP address, and thus the responsibility lies not with individual users, but with the VPN provider (and lawyers can determine this).
What features should a VPN have for you to work with torrents?
Not all VPN providers provide the ability to work with torrents. It depends on where the head office of the company is registered. If the office is located in a country where the spread of copyright is looked at through the fingers, then the provider usually allows exchanging torrent files. You can learn more information about this from our article on the best VPN services for working with torrents.
In addition to the fact that you will have the opportunity to work with torrents, a good VPN provider always implements the function of an emergency disconnect from the Internet. This feature protects you by interrupting your Internet connection if the VPN network fails. If you suddenly lose connection with the VPN network, your CPU may return to the default IP address. In this case, during the download of the torrent file, your identity will be disclosed.
Finally, file distributors need a VPN service that protects against DNS leaks. This feature monitors your DNS queries. So that they are routed through the VPN network and not routed directly through your Internet service provider. Without such protection, due to a DNS leak, your ISP may find out that you are involved in the exchange of torrent files.
Results: torrents are at a crossroads in the USA
The future of torrent file sharing is vague. In addition to the constant struggle of lawyers for copyrights, users themselves are accustomed to cheap streaming services, provide high-quality content, and more importantly, are legal.
As a result, Netflix is considered the king of streaming content, which accounts for 36.5% of all incoming traffic. In second place is Youtube (15.6%). At the same time, torrent exchangers are in third place (6.3%), and HBO Go is rapidly gaining ground. In 2015, this service was only slightly inferior to torrent exchangers with a result of 4.1%.
However, there is still an audience of around 30 million users who download at least one torrent file every day. All of them (we hope so) use high-quality VPN applications in order not to receive these unpleasant notices of violation of the law (DMCA). This approach guarantees you completely protected access to your favorite content.
Finally, it should be noted that copyright protection practices regarding file sharing and privacy protection vary significantly both within the United States and in each country.
In the U.S., some content providers are quickly resolving issues related to the removal of the illegally published content. On the contrary, the music industry companies have adopted a method in which the user is warned of possible problems long before he receives a notification requesting to stop downloading the torrent file.
If you look at other countries, Switzerland can be considered a safe country for sharing files, as the Swiss government has banned the monitoring of Internet users.