How to Download Torrents Safely and Protect Yourself

Ali Qamar  - Cybersecurity Analyst
Last updated: July 6, 2023
Read time: 25 minutes Disclosure

You’ve probably heard that copyright infringement and privacy go hand-in-hand in torrenting. But as you are on this article, you most likely want to know how you can download torrents safely? Do not worry you’ll learn that the easy way in a while; continue reading.

Torrenting is a type of file sharing which enables downloading licensed content. However, torrenting can land you in some significant problems if you are not protected. Many countries have strict laws against accessing and downloading copyrighted material, declaring such acts illegal. Moreover, your IP address becomes visible to hundreds of users downloading the same file simultaneously, thereby making you potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Nonetheless, you can apply some tips and tricks to download torrents safely.

People keep asking about torrenting and its safety. And the fact is, all their concerns are for good reasons. Downloading torrents can be a risky affair.

Not only can it get you in trouble because of copyright restrictions, but it can lead to severe trouble, such as stumbling across applications, films, or even TV shows that may expose your device to malware, virus, or hackers.

Luckily, covering your tracks using torrents is not as complicated as you think.

You can hide your IP address from all third parties online using services like a VPN, cloud downloaders, free proxies, etc.

You can get most of these for free, while others might require you to pay a small amount.

But, as always, free services may be slow and couldn’t provide you with the robust protection you need for your torrent activities.

It’s a no-brainer that if you wish to download torrents anonymously, you must take some serious steps and protect your identity while you torrent.

Otherwise, you’ll be caught and face the consequences of the ISPs or even the copyright holders.

I’ll tell you all the steps you can take to keep yourself safe while torrenting, but let’s cover some useful basics first.

A quick guide on how to download torrents safely

Here is a quick summary of how to torrent safely:

  1. Use a VPN: Using a VPN should be standard practice for torrenting. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and prevents your ISP from tracking your online activities.
  2. Install quality antivirus: Antivirus helps you discover malware hidden in torrent files that can allow hackers to access personal information and control your device.
  3. Using the right seed: You should download popular torrents with several seeders because seeders allow others to download data from their devices.
  4. User comments are vital: Checking user comments on torrent sites can help determine whether a given seed is genuine and worth downloading.
  5. Join private torrent communities: They are selective, well-funded trackers that provide high-quality torrents offering a safe and reliable alternative to public torrent sites.
  6. The sandbox route: Use a sandbox environment, like Sandboxie, to check downloaded files before installing them to prevent malware or viruses from affecting your device.
  7. Avoid executable files: Avoid downloading or scanning them with antivirus software. Be aware of the potential for hackers to manipulate the file to appear legitimate.

What is torrenting (and how peer-to-peer file sharing works)

So, what’s torrenting exactly?

Torrenting is merely some sort of file sharing that’s inherently not illegal.

However, most of the content on torrent sites is usually copyrighted material, meaning you might not be allowed to download it, and doing so can be equivalent to breaking the law (depending on the country you live in).

How does P2P file sharing work?

BitTorrent file sharing, for instance, is different from conventional file sharing.

While the websites store their files in a central server, BitTorrent uses the computers of all the individuals in the file-sharing network to store the files, hence peer-to-peer computing.

The swarm then breaks the files into small units, making it easy for an individual looking to download a given file to assemble them.