Using torrenting sites can often be seen as a shady act, but in truth they are an excellent way to quickly download legal content. We show you how to do this by using one of the most popular torrent apps around: uTorrent.
Is uTorrent illegal?
Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that uTorrent itself is perfectly legal and above board. It is merely software that allows you to download torrent files.
There is, of course, a huge amount of illegal content available on the various torrent sites you’ll encounter. These usually take the form of movies, TV shows, albums, video games, and software. Almost always this content has been stolen.
See our Are Torrents legal? feature for a fuller explanation.
Therefore we advise strongly against downloading anything of this type; firstly because the creators are being ripped off by the thieves, and secondly due to the fact that in many cases the files are a known carrier of viruses which then infect your PC.
If you want to watch, play, or listen to something, do the right thing and pay for it. If money is tight, then also take a look at our Best Free Software for Windows guide.
What is a Torrent file?
The idea of torrent sites has been around for a very long time. Essentially they allow users to download large files quickly, as the content is broken down into smaller parts that are hosted by lots of other users rather than stored on one central server.
The benefit of this is that is spreads the burden of hosting the files, meaning you’re not limited to one potentially slow connection. It’s been used to share free content almost since the internet began.
To access the content you’ll need dedicated torrent software, such as uTorrent, which you’ll then use to acquire files from Torrent sites.
Downloading and installing uTorrent
Visit the uTorrent site and click on the Free Download option.
There are also paid tiers available which include ad-free and Pro versions, that latter of which includes features such as being able to stream content as soon as you begin downloading, and automatic conversion into other formats, but for now we’ll stick with the free one.
When the utorrent.exe file has downloaded, double-click on it and follow the instructions in the wizard to finish the installation.
An option to download the WebDiscover browser pops up at some point, but if you don’t want this then be sure to click on the Decline button when prompted.
When the installation is completed, click Finish and UTorrent will launch.
Finding and downloading a torrent
You’ll notice that there is no content in uTorrent itself, and the sections will be mainly blank (except for the ads that will appear periodically). To find downloadable files you’ll need to visit an actual torrent site.
If you’re worried about your ISP watching what you’re downloading, or simply want to increase your security while using uTorrent, then we’d recommend employing a VPN to encrypt your connection.
Due to the fact that torrent sites do often host illegal material, many can be delisted or shut down from time to time. So you might need to hunt for new portals if this is the case.
Visit the torrent site of choice and search for the content you’re after. In this demonstration we’re using the Pirate Bay and looking for the free, open-source photo editor GIMP.
On most result you’ll see a column or note that says how many people are ‘seeding’ the content. This might also appear, as it does on Pirate Bay, under the column marked ‘SE’. This number is a clue to how quickly the file will download, as the higher it is, the more people are currently sharing the content.
Clicking on the link will open up another page where you’ll see the option to Get This Torrent or something along those lines. Select this and you should see a prompt asking to use uTorrent to open the file. Click Open uTorrent.
Now you’ll be presented with a window asking where you want to save the file, how much space it will take up on your disk, and a few other options.
Make sure the Start Torrent box is ticked in the Torrent Options section, then click OK.
Your file will now download, with the progress displayed back alongside how many people are currently sharing the content.
When it finishes you will find the complete file in the destination folder you specified. This can now be treated like any other file, but to be a good internet citizen leave uTorrent running as you’ll now begin seeding the content for other users.
For more tips see our guide on how to speed up downloads in uTorrent.