A network server rack.
l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock.com

Seedboxes offer a high-performance solution when it comes to participating in peer-to-peer BitTorrent file-sharing services. If you spend a lot of time downloading and uploading files on BitTorrent, you should seriously consider setting up a dedicated seedbox.

Some Legal Notes

Whenever the topic of peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent comes up in conversation, there’s always some confusion about its legality. The simple answer is that the technology itself is not illegal, since it’s simply a file transfer technology. In most countries, however, it is illegal to use this technology to commit copyright infringement or to send or receive content that is intrinsically illegal.

Basically, it’s perfectly fine to use BitTorrent, but it’s not OK to break the law with it. How you use the technology and whatever consequences may arise from it are your personal responsibility.

BitTorrent Basics

Here’s a quick explanation of how BitTorrent works:

  • To download a file using BitTorrent, you open a torrent file (or magnet link) with a BitTorrent client.
  • The Torrent file doesn’t contain any part of the actual file or files, just information on what they look like and where to find the data.
  • BitTorrent users with complete copies (seeders) and incomplete copies (leechers) all contribute to the file-sharing process.
  • As you download the files from the torrent, data is coming to your computer from other users. At the same time, whatever you’ve downloaded will be sent to other users who are currently engaged with the torrent.
  • Once you have downloaded a complete copy of the date, you become a seeder and continue sharing the files until a preset point—or until you manually stop the process.

Most people who use torrents simply use their main computer and a home internet connection, but there are several problems with using torrents in this way. A seedbox solves them.

What Is a Seedbox?

A web-based seedbox interface

A seedbox is in essence a dedicated computer that’s always connected to a high-speed internet connection. The seedbox only has software installed on it that relates to torrenting. Seedboxes are always seeding and downloading torrents and free up your main computer from dealing with torrenting along with everything else you want it to do.

One of the main reasons to use a seedbox is for downloading from private trackers. These are servers that coordinate torrents and allocate (among other things) bandwidth to the peers within the swarm. Private torrent trackers often have rules about seeding to leeching ratios (how much you’ve shared versus how much you’ve taken) and will only allocate the best download speeds to those with the most generous seeding records.

However, even if you aren’t using private torrent trackers, there are other reasons to use a seedbox, which we’ll discuss below.

Local vs. Cloud Seedboxes

When you hear the name “seedbox” these days it generally refers to a cloud-based service. In other words, you pay to rent a physical or virtual server in a data center. Strictly speaking, you can make your own seedbox by simply building or buying a dedicated computer, loading it with the right software, and hooking it up to a fast internet connection. For example, you can make a Raspberry Pi seedbox and just let the little guy get on with the business of flinging those bits back and forth over the internet.

In practice, however, almost no one does this. Most people who want to use a seedbox find it more cost and time-effective to just pay a monthly subscription fee and reap all the benefits of a seedbox without all the hassle. As such, cloud-based seedboxes are what this article is largely about.

The Benefit of Cloud Seedboxes

When you rent a seedbox in the cloud, you’re getting a package deal. How much you pay depends on a few factors such as how much bandwidth and space you want.

There are quite a few benefits to such seedboxes. First of all, they don’t consume any bandwidth on your local connection at all. The only bandwidth you’ll expend is in uploading or downloading complete files to and from the seedbox.

You can also access a seedbox from anything with a browser, making it easy to add torrents and control what’s happening on your remote box.

Seedboxes also offer a good way to circumvent traffic-based throttling from your ISP. Some Internet service providers will throttle BitTorrent traffic on principle, without paying mind to what users are actually using it for. However, since you’re not using the BitTorrent protocol to download the files over your home connection, it won’t affect you.

Seedboxes let you download files that have been saved on them via HTTP, FTP, and SFTP. Few, if any ISPs, are going to throttle these common transfer protocols, so you can use the full speed of your home internet connection—assuming the seedbox you’ve rented can serve the files to you quickly enough, of course.

Commercial seedboxes are usually installed in large data centers with incredible amounts of bandwidth. Downloads that might have taken hours or even days on your home connection take seconds or minutes on a seedbox. Once the files are securely stored on your seedbox, you can retrieve them at your leisure as a direct download.

When to Use a Seedbox

Any torrent user who’d like to use the technology privately, conveniently, and at high speeds should consider a seedbox. Average users will likely be happy with entry-level seedbox packages, which are usually priced at a few dollars per month.

Seedboxes have an even more interesting use case. If you want to distribute your own content without paying massive hosting fees, a seedbox is a viable solution. Simply make your own torrent and then list the file on your website or social media. Then, use the seedbox to seed your file.

As more people download your content, the seedbox has to do less of the heavy lifting, but you know that as long as your seedbox is online, there’s always one full copy of the data to jumpstart a new group of seeders.

Whatever you decide to use a seedbox for, it’s good to know that there’s a better alternative to using torrents the old-fashioned way.

You may also consider using a VPN. This prevents your ISP from seeing you’re using BitTorrent by creating an encrypted tunnel you use BitTorrent through. You will still be downloading and uploading data using your own hardware and internet connection, however.

Interested in a VPN? Here’s a look at our favorite VPNs.

The Best VPN Services of 2023

Best Overall VPN
Private Internet Access
Best Budget VPN
Private Internet Access
Best Free VPN
Proton VPN
Best VPN for iPhone
Proton VPN
Best VPN for Android
Best VPN for Streaming
Best VPN for Gaming
Best VPN for Torrenting
Best VPN for Windows
Best VPN for China
Mullvad VPN
Best VPN for Privacy
Mullvad VPN
Profile Photo for Sydney Butler Sydney Butler
Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
Read Full Bio »