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 crapware and scammy advertisements.
Screw that. Whether you need to download a Linux ISO or…well, do whatever else you do with BitTorrent, you don’t have to put up with what uTorrent’s become. Use a better BitTorrent client instead.
qBittorrent: an Open-Source, Junk-Free uTorrent
We recommend qBittorrent. It aims to be a “free software alternative to uTorrent”, so it’s the closest thing to a junkware-free version of uTorrent you’ll find.
qBitTorrent strives to offer the features most users will want while using as little CPU and memory as possible. The developers are taking a middle path–not cramming every possible feature in, but also avoiding the minimal design of applications like Transmission.
The application includes an integrated torrent search engine, BitTorrent extensions like DHT and peer exchange, a web interface for remote control, priority and scheduling features, RSS downloading support, IP filtering, and many more features.
It’s available for Windows as well as Linux, macOS, FreeBSD–even Haiku and OS/2!
Deluge: a Plug-In Based Client You Can Customize
Deluge is another open-source, cross-platform BitTorrent client. Overall, Deluge and qBittorrent are fairly similar and have many of the same features. But, while qBittorrent generally follows uTorrent, Deluge has a few of its own ideas.
Instead of being a feature-filled client, like qBittorrent, Deluge relies on a plug-in system to get you the advanced features you want. It starts off as a more minimal client, and you have to add the features you want through the plug-ins–like RSS support, for example.
Deluge 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 that background service. 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.
Transmission: a Minimal Client Overcome by Security Issues
Transmission isn’t as popular on Windows, mostly known as a client for macOS and Linux. In fact, it’s installed by default on Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distributions. The official version doesn’t support Windows, but the Transmission-Qt Win project is an “unofficial Windows build of Transmission-Qt” with various tweaks, additions, and modifications to work better on Windows.
Warning: Since the original writing of this article, Transmission has had some serious security problems. In March 2016, Transmission’s servers were compromised and the official Mac version of Transmission contained ransomware. The project cleaned things up. In August 2016, Transmission’s servers were again compromised and the official Mac version of Transmission contained a different type of malware. That’s two major compromises in five months, which is practically unheard of. It suggests there’s something seriously wrong with the Transmisison project’s security. We recommend staying away from Transmission entirely until the project cleans up its act.
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 servicerunning 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.
uTorrent 2.2.1: a Junk-Free Version of uTorrent That’s Old and Out of Date
Some people prefer sticking with an older, pre-junk version of uTorrent. uTorrent 2.2.1 seems to be the old version of choice. But 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, activating obnoxious ads, and pushing BitCoin miners on your PC. But uTorrent 2.2.1 was released in 2011. This software is over five years old and may contain security exploits that will never be fixed. It will also never be updated to contain new BitTorrent features that could speed up your downloads. So why waste your time when you could use the similar and much more up to date qBittorrent?
It may have made sense to stick with uTorrent 2.2.1 years ago, but modern alternatives have improved dramatically.
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 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.