When you think of BitTorrent, you probably think about piracy. And yeah, it’s used that way a lot—but that’s not all it’s good for. BitTorrent is just a decentralized peer-to-peer transfer protocol, and how you use it is up to you. Here are our favorite free BitTorrent clients.
Are BitTorrents Legal?
BitTorrent, the company that created the BitTorrent protocol, designed it with the aim of making it easy to distribute large amounts of data effectively. The peer-to-peer (P2P) technology enables each person downloading the data also to serve that data to others (a process called “seeding”). This drastically reduces the load on a single server and has many uses aside from downloading pirated material.
So really, BitTorrent is merely a protocol—a tool that, in and of itself, is not at all illegal. It’s what you do with it that matters, just like owning a hammer isn’t illegal, but hitting someone over the head with it is. If you’re considering downloading copyrighted content, that’s illegal.
But there are also great legal uses for BitTorrent, too. A lot of software distributors—particular those that distribute the various versions of Linux—use BitTorrent to do so. You can even use BitTorrent yourself to more easily share large files with friends and family around the world.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the few of the best free BitTorrent clients around.
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Qbittorrent: The Best Overall BitTorrent Client
Back in the day, we had a wonderful BitTorrent client named uTorrent that was super lightweight and packed with features. Somewhere along the way, BitTorrent, Inc. bought uTorrent and loaded it up with crapware and advertisements.
In the wake of that, qBittorrent came on the scene. It was designed to be a free, open-source alternative to uTorrent and it pretty much fits that bill. qBittorrent isn’t the most powerful BitTorrent client out there, but it’s still one of our favorites.
That’s because it’s a simple product that does its job well. It doesn’t have loads of extra features or available plugins like some other clients, but it does have essential features like a web-based remote control, prioritization of torrents, IP filtering, selective file download, and even creating torrents.
qBittorrent is lightweight, fast, ad-free, and open source. It’s also cross-platform, and you’ll find versions available for Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, and more.
If you’re looking for a simple torrent client with essential features, qBitTorrent is an excellent choice.
Vuze: A Great BitTorrent Client for Beginners
Vuze is a simple and feature-packed BitTorrent client. Its main advantage is its interface. Unlike other BitTorrent clients that cram all their settings together, the Vuze interface is surprisingly simple to understand, even the text in the application seems written for beginners. It also includes a built-in search feature and supports numerous plug-ins for additional functionality.
Vuze comes in a free or paid version. The free version (simply named Vuze) is ad-supported, but the ads are not intrusive.
The paid version (Vuze Plus, $29.99 per year) removes those ads and offers a few additional features. The is DVD burning. If you still use DVDs, that might be important to you.
The second additional feature in Vuze Plus is built-in antivirus protection powered by Bitdefender. If you download content from unknown sources, this might be useful. You can also decline to install this antivirus during setup if you’d rather not use it.
The third additional feature and the most important one in our opinion is built-in video streaming. You can start playing or streaming videos right from Vuze, even while they’re still downloading in some cases.
Vuze is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Deluge: A Customizable BitTorrent Client for Power Users
Deluge looks like most other BitTorrent clients when you first install it but don’t let its simple looks fool you. It’s a powerful BitTorrent client with some fantastic features.
Deluge is designed to be a minimal BitTorrent client out of the gate, but hugely extensible through the use of plugins. The company behind it offers some official plugins, and there is also a broad ecosystem of third-party plugins available as well. The idea here is that instead of a feature-packed BitTorrent client, you get a client that you can pack with the features you want.
Deluge is free and ad-free, and it’s the perfect client if you like to tinker around and experiment with new features.
Deluge is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD Unix.
So, those are our favorite free BitTorrent clients. Have any you want to recommend?
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