Remember when uTorrent was great? The upstart BitTorrent client was super-lightweight and trounced other popular BitTorrent clients. But that was long ago, before BitTorrent, Inc. bought uTorrent and crammed it full of junkware and scammy advertisements.
Screw that. Whether you need to download a Linux ISO or do whatever else you do with BitTorrent, you don’t have to put up with what uTorrent’s become. Use another BitTorrent client instead.
Note: this article was originally written a while ago, but due to uTorrent bundling some really shady stuff with their upgrades, we’ve republished this article.
Deluge is an open-source, cross-platform BitTorrent client for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It uses libtorrent as its backend. It has a plug-in system and supports all the features you’d expect: BitTorrent encryption, DHT, peer exchange, magnet URLs, UPnP, RSS, bandwidth scheduling, per-torrent speed limits, a web interface, and more.
This program is built with a client-server architecture — the Deluge client can run as a daemon or service in the background, while the Deluge user interface can connect to the daemon. This means you could run Deluge on a remote system — perhaps a headless server — and control it via Deluge on your desktop. But Deluge will function like a normal desktop application by default.
Deluge’s interface looks awfully familiar — it looks like uTorrent before the BitTorrent company started shoving advertisements into it. The installer doesn’t try to sneak garbage onto your system, either.
Transmission is a popular BitTorrent client on Mac OS X and Linux. In fact, it’s installed by default on Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distributions. Unfortunately, Transmission doesn’t officially support Windows.
The Transmission-Qt Win project is an “unofficial Windows build of Transmission-Qt” with various tweaks, additions, and modifications to work better on Windows. Transmission uses its own libTransmission backend. Like Deluge, Transmission can run as a daemon on another system. You could then use the Transmission interface on your desktop to manage the Transmission daemon running on another computer.
Transmission has a different interface that won’t be immediately familiar to uTorrent users. Instead, it’s designed to be as simple and minimal as possible. It dispenses with a lot of the knobs and toggles in the typical BitTorrent client interface for something more basic. It’s still more powerful than it first appears — you can double-click a torrent to view more information, choose the files you want to download, and adjust other options.
Like Deluge, qBittorrent is an open-source BitTorrent client based on libtorrent. This project is up-front about its goal: “The qBittorrent project aims to provide a Free Software alternative to µtorrent.” We definitely need one of those!
Because it’s based on libtorrent, it provides all the features you’d expect — the same ones found in Deluge. Its interface is designed to be similar to uTorrent. It’s available for Windows as well as Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD — and even OS/2!
Some people prefer sticking with uTorrent, but using an older version. uTorrent 2.2.1 and 2.0.4 both seem to be popular versions that don’t contain any known security exploits.
We’re not crazy about this idea. Sure, you get to keep using uTorrent and you won’t have to worry about updates trying to install garbage software onto your system or activating obnoxious ads. On the other hand, new security exploits could be discovered and will never be fixed in these old versions. They’ll also never be updated to contain new BitTorrent features that could speed up your downloads.
Miro deserves an honorable mention — it’s a media player that includes a BitTorrent client with RSS support. It uses libtorrent as its backend, too. However, it’s a pretty heavy application otherwise, and it’s really only ideal for downloading videos or audio files you want to play in Miro.
Sure, there are many more BitTorrent clients for Windows, but these are our favorite ones that won’t try to install junkware on your system. With the exception of the old versions of uTorrent, they’re all — including Miro — open-source applications. Thanks to community-driven development, they’ve resisted the temptation to overload their BitTorrent clients with junkware to make a quick buck.