BitTorrent is commonly known as a piracy tool

Instead of downloading a file from a single server, with BitTorrent you download pieces of that file from other users across the globe who have the same file on their PC (hence peer-to-peer). The file or group of files you download is called a torrent, sharing those files is called seeding, and the group of people you download from is called a swarm. The more people connected to a given swarm, seeding a file, the faster you’ll be able to download that file.

BitTorrent is commonly known as a piracy tool, thanks to its efficiency in sharing large movie files, music albums, software, and porn. Using BitTorrent isn’t inherently illegal, and the protocol has seen many legitimate uses as well, including the sharing of open-source software like Linux, delivering updates for programs like World of Warcraft, syncing files between computers Dropbox-style, and sharing media released over BitTorrent by the artists themselves. Microsoft even uses similar tech to optimize Windows updates.

All that said, BitTorrent is often used for piracy, since its efficiency, decentralized nature, and popularity have produced a bustling community around sharing those files.

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If there’s something you want to download, there’s a good chance someone’s sharing it with BitTorrent, legally or not. To be clear, we at PCMag do not condone piracy. If you use our instructions for that purpose, you do so at your own risk.How to Download a Torrent 1. Get a BitTorrent Client

Downloading files with BitTorrent is a bit more complicated than just clicking a link in your web browser. Most browsers don’t have built-in support for BitTorrent, so you need a specific program, called a BitTorrent client, that knows how to download and assemble the pieces of a file in a torrent.

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