Safe BitTorrent & P2P File Sharing: The 2021 Guide
Almost every internet user has heard of torrenting and P2P file sharing, but not everyone knows what it is. Most people have only heard about the bad sides and negative uses of torrenting. Even though large files are easily available to you on a torrent website, there is a lot of monitoring going on on the internet today. The structure and working of torrenting don’t even protect users and as such the government and other third parties can monitor you. That is why we have this guide to safe BitTorrent and P2P file sharing ready for you.
While on torrenting sites, your IP address is visible to other users on the same network. Their intentions may not be good and exposing your IP address leaves you at risk of being attacked.
Your ISP could also be monitoring you, and you may pay the price for an accidental download of a copyrighted torrent that you knew nothing about. Your ISP may also throttle your bandwidth if they discover you are on a torrent website. These are some of the reasons why there is a great need to torrent safely and under the cover of a VPN.
Table of Content
- What Are BitTorrent and P2P?
- A Peer and A Seed
- Benefits of P2P File Sharing
- Disadvantages of P2P File Sharing
- Why Is Torrenting Monitored?
- Need for Safe P2P File Sharing and Torrenting
- Guide to Safe BitTorrent and P2P File Sharing
- Is Torrenting Legal?
- Top BitTorrent Applications
What Are BitTorrent and P2P?
P2P stands for peer to peer. It’s a service that allows the distribution of files around the world. You start by installing an application on your computer, and then you can download files from other users on the same network. Since files are in tiny bits, it’s easier to download them.
BitTorrent is a form of P2P and replaces the need for files to be stored on a central server. With BitTorrent however, only trackers are stored in a server and this allows users to see the number of peers and seeds that are available.
A Peer and A Seed
In P2P file sharing, you are a peer when you start downloading a file. After the download is complete, you will then become a seed. In the network, other users can download files from you whether you are a peer or a seed, and the greater the number, the faster the download.
Benefits of P2P File Sharing
1. Easy to Set Up
Peer to peer file sharing is easy to use and doesn’t require you to be tech-savvy before you benefit from it. All you need to do is set up your BitTorrent client, share the file you have on your network, and then wait for peers to download it.
2. Faster Download
Since files are available in bits, they are faster to download than when available on a central server. The system only needs a good number of seeds and peers on the network.
3. No Need for Servers
In peer to peer file sharing, there is no need for a central server. The seeds serve as the servers and they host the files.
4. Free from Bandwidth Costs
Since P2P file sharing doesn’t require servers, then there is no need to pay for bandwidth. This makes file hosting very cheap and affordable for all.
5. No Maintenance Needed
The absence of servers takes away the need for maintenance, making it more cost-efficient. With enough seeds, you don’t need to keep sharing your files.
6. Free from Government Censorship
Some governments control the information that circulates among their population. It hardly applies to a P2P network as you can’t just stop a file that is circulating on a P2P network.
Disadvantages of P2P File Sharing
- Once you upload a file and someone becomes a seed, you no longer have rights to the file. You can’t even update it if it’s software except you share a new file to release updates. So if you are particular about your ownership of a file, stay away from torrent sites.
- Small files download slowly over torrent sites compared to a regular server.
- You have no control over those who download your files
- Torrenting can take up a lot of bandwidth and slow down your connection speed.
- Torrenting software is not too complicated but is also not the easiest to use. So some users especially the inexperienced ones may not get the hang of it at first.
Is Torrenting Monitored?
To understand why torrent activity monitoring takes place, we first need to recap on the processes involved in torrenting. Unlike the traditional method of file sharing where a user accesses the server and downloads the file they need, BitTorrent has the users acting as the servers.
This was to solve the problems of server overload and failed downloads.
Torrent downloads involve bits of the file and seeds. These seeds are spread across the world and you have to connect to them for complete file download. As you try to download a torrent file, you connect to every user in the network and all their locations.
While you are downloading, you are simultaneously uploading so that other users too can download from you. By this, you can download large files faster, and the system is more reliable.
As good as this sounds, many copyright holders monitor torrenting sites and point fingers at them for sharing copyrighted materials for free. It’s a case of digital piracy; the illegal download and distribution of copyrighted files. Since torrenting involves the simultaneous download and sharing of the file with other users, you are automatically a culprit in digital piracy.
There are a lot of copyrighted files on torrent websites and that’s why the authorities try to prevent this crime from happening by monitoring torrent websites and activities.
With this in mind, you now see how important it is for you to follow the guide to safe BitTorrent and P2P file sharing, as legal action can be taken against you for something you are not aware of.
Who Monitors It and How?
1. Research Institutions
Some companies and research institutions may monitor torrent activities for different purposes. Even though their intentions are not harmless, it’s important to know that they are keeping tabs on your activity.
2. Your ISP
Your ISP monitors your torrenting activity so that they can throttle your internet speed. When you begin torrenting, your ISP sees what you are doing. They then slow down your download speed just like they do when you are streaming a video or playing games online.
3. Third-Party Organizations
Many third-party organizations keep track of all your torrenting activities for record-keeping. They keep this data and then sell it to anyone who wishes to buy it for whatever purpose they deem fit.
The distributed filesharing for speed and reliability in P2P is responsible for its great efficiency, but it’s also its undoing. You can monitor torrent downloads because every IP address on a network is public to other users. Your torrent downloads are tracked in two ways:
- Every user on the same network as you can monitor your IP address. This is a topic for concern as your IP address provides details about you like your location and identity. That’s why this guide to safe torrenting and P2P file sharing is beneficial to you.
- Your ISP can monitor your data stream and can see what you are doing online. A VPN can shield you from their watch.
Need for Safe P2P File Sharing and Torrenting
BitTorrent websites have made file-sharing very efficient, but the mechanism is being frowned upon by copyright holders. When files are downloaded, they are also shared and it’s considered an act of digital piracy. Legal action could be taken against you as your IP address isn’t even hidden. And so to stay protected and anonymous, you need to use this guide to safe BitTorrent and P2P file sharing.
Torrent websites are rife with ads and a ton of them are just covered by malicious files and websites. A simple click could begin the download of viruses or malware to your device. Torrent websites offer you no protection, and so you need to make moves to protect yourself while on such websites. A good and up to date version of antivirus is good enough to keep you protected.
Bypass ISP Throttling
ISPs throttle your bandwidth when you are using up too much internet connection so that every user can have equal speed. This happens when you are torrenting and it can be frustrating. By hiding your torrenting activity, your ISP would not be able to slow you down, and you will enjoy the full benefit of P2P file sharing.
Guide to Safe BitTorrent and P2P File Sharing
1. Use A VPN
VPNs have a reputation for their provision of anonymity and security on the internet. They are also a great way to safely torrent and hide your torrenting activity from monitoring eyes. It hides your activity from even your ISP as all they will see is that you are connected to a VPN.
Since VPNs hide your IP address, no one will know who you are, not even those on the same network as you when torrenting. And so spies and those with malicious intent won’t know who you are.
Not all VPNs are suited for P2P file sharing, but LimeVPN has everything you need for torrenting. It doesn’t save your activities, thanks to its strict no-logs policy. You also get high-speed internet connections and AES 256-bit encryption. This way you are safe, anonymous, and also have fast internet with no throttling from your ISP.
Reasons to Use a VPN for torrenting include:
- Since everyone is keen on encryption, the other parties likely have encryption enabled. If you don’t enable your encryption as well, then the file would not be encrypted, or won’t be downloaded at all.
- VPNs provide way stronger encryption compared to that of the built-in encryption
- The built-in encryption of torrent clients only protects your torrent activity, but a VPN encrypts your entire connection and keeps your identity and activity very private.
2. Use A Proxy
The use of proxies is like the use of a VPN. A proxy also hides your IP address, so that no one can see your real IP address even if they are on the same network as you. Note that proxies are not as secure as VPNs.
3. Use an Antivirus
Antivirus is a layer of defense on your device against malware and viruses you may get from torrent websites. As torrent websites offer you no protection, you may likely visit a malicious website by accidentally clicking on an ad, or even download malware. Use a good antivirus and update it regularly so that it can better recognize and fight threats. Scan your system regularly to maintain its safe state.
4. Use Seedbox
Using a seedbox helps you meet your seeding needs. They are a torrent client that runs constantly and are installed on a remote VPS. You can control your seedbox from the web and it acts as seeds and downloads the needed files from the server.
Seedboxes are beneficial to use as they are fast, provide you with upstream bandwidth, and allow you to seed files without taking up much space.
They have their downsides as well and they include:
- Less security when compared to some other guides to safe BitTorrent and P2P file sharing
- Are expensive
- You need to transfer files twice; one to the seedbox and the other to your computer
5. Use The Encryption of a Torrent Client
Torrent clients also provide you with encryption. By enabling this encryption, your torrenting activities would not be public and your traffic made private. Putting on the forced encryption is highly recommended as it ensures that your traffic is always encrypted.
6. Use Legal Torrents
Torrenting on its own isn’t illegal, but if you download and share copyrighted material, it’s illegal. Not everything on torrenting websites is illegal, but they are some copyrighted materials there as well.
You can stay out of trouble by only downloading and sharing legal torrents. These are torrents that are available in public domains and whose copyrights have expired. Some torrent websites have mostly legal torrents and no one would bother you if you download such materials.
Is Torrenting Legal?
Torrenting on its own is not illegal, as all you are doing is downloading and sharing files among internet users. However, the type of file you are sharing and downloading is what makes it illegal. If the file isn’t to be made publicly available, it’s considered illegal when you distribute it. The way torrenting is doesn’t give you a choice, and you may not know that the file is copyrighted.
And so to avoid being punished for a crime you know nothing of, follow this guide to safe BitTorrent and P2P file sharing.
Also Read : Metadata: What It Is and Why It’s Important
Top BitTorrent Applications
Torrenting has a lot of pros such as fast file download, and the elimination of server overloads and failed downloads. It also has its financial upsides as it’s a very cheap way to host and download data on the internet. It’s not a safe platform however as your activity is monitored, and you are exposed to a lot of malware and viruses.
This guide to safe BitTorrent and P2P file-sharing provides you with various ways to ensure you stay safe and anonymous on torrent websites. The use of a VPN is one such method.
Only a few VPNs like LimeVPN are made to support torrenting. LimeVPN protects you from bandwidth throttling so that your internet speed remains intact. Your real IP address is also hidden, and your connection is encrypted heavily. This way no one knows what you are up to.