Most uTorrent users are unprotected and unaware of the huge risks that come with every torrent. It’s always a good idea to ensure your online privacy with some solid tools and safe torrenting practices.
Here’s what you can do to stay safe and anonymous:
- Use a good VPN for privacy and safety.
- Install solid antivirus to block malware.
- Download torrents only from trusted uploaders.
- Avoid torrents with copyrighted material.
Looking for a torrent-friendly VPN? We recommend NordVPN. It offers top-notch security, airtight privacy, and servers optimized for torrenting around the globe.
Over 150 million people around the globe use uTorrent regularly. And for a good reason: it’s fast, reliable, and extremely convenient.
To avoid this, we need to understand the basics of secure torrenting. Using solid security practices will help you bypass the most common torrenting pitfalls.
So, if you can’t imagine a day without uTorrent, keep reading to learn how to use it safely and anonymously.
How Secure is uTorrent?
When using uTorrent, potential dangers can come from different sources:
- The client itself
- The owner of the client (Rainberry, Inc.)
- The torrents you download
With that in mind, we’ll properly dissect all these factors to see whether uTorrent can keep you safe — and, if not, what extra protection can you use.
Is the uTorrent client safe?
uTorrent has had its share of blunders in the past, most of them stemming from so-called “bloatware.” This is software bundled with uTorrent and installed without your knowledge. This bloatware ranged from lesser-known toolbars and browsers to crypto-mining riskware.
These days, the uTorrent client is pretty safe. It won’t infect you with any malware or other malicious software. However, this is true only if you download it from the official website.
Veteran torrenters still recommend uTorrent version 2.2.1. It’s widely considered to be the last version without bundled adware. Occasionally, some antivirus programs or even Google Chrome can flag uTorrent as malware, but this has always proven to be a false positive.
Does Rainberry Inc. collect your private data?
Here’s what they collect:
- Account creation: Your name, email address, password, and display name
- Purchases: Your payment info
- Automatic data collection: IP address, port number, user settings, MAC address, cookie identifiers, mobile carrier, mobile advertising, and other unique identifiers, browser, software or device information, and ISP (internet service provider)
- Location: Your precise physical location
- Cookies, Pixel Tags/Web Beacons: Information on how you use the service
“We may also automatically collect information regarding your use of our Services, such as pages that you visit before, during, and after using our Services, information about the links you click, the types of content you interact with, the frequency and duration of your activities, and other information about how you use our Services.”
In the world of cybersecurity, we call this “activity logging” (the worst kind), and we always advise our readers to steer clear of software with activity logs.
Since Rainberry, Inc. is a U.S. company, the NSA, the 5 Eyes Alliance, and many other entities will be looking at your private data. Rainberry will also hand over your information to the authorities when ordered to do so.
Can uTorrent protect you from bad torrents?
Torrents are the most dangerous part of the whole P2P file-sharing equation. The Internet is packed with malicious files waiting for unsuspecting downloaders, and uTorrent offers zero protection against them.
We can divide all dangers associated with shady torrents into four categories:
- Malware: Infected torrents can hide viruses, ransomware, spyware, and other malware. Hackers might take over your computer, steal your private information, or blackmail you.
- IP exploits: Your real IP is visible to thousands of peers in your network. Hackers can use it to geo-locate you, spy on you, attack your devices, or even steal your identity.
- Copyright infringements: You can download copyrighted content even when you don’t mean to. Malicious uploaders can mislabel their torrents to appear legal. Downloading these files (no matter how unintentional) could result in fines or worse.
- ISP throttling: Your ISP can see when you’re downloading torrents. In such cases, they might throttle your speed and bandwidth.
How to Stay Safe with uTorrent
Using uTorrent can be very dangerous, but there are ways around the threats. If you know how to protect yourself, you can enjoy your favorite content almost risk-free.
Here’s what you can do to make your downloads anonymous and secure:
1. Use a good Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs encrypt your traffic, keeping it away from prying eyes. They also hide your real IP address to prevent ISP throttling and IP-related attacks. Furthermore, Rainberry, Inc. will never be able to connect its logs to you as a person. Lastly, if you live in a country that blocks torrents, a good VPN can help you bypass any geo-restrictions.
There are many VPN providers in the world, each with its own pros and cons. You can find reviews of numerous VPNs on this page. We personally advise using NordVPN when downloading with uTorrent. This provider will guard your online privacy and make sure your speeds won’t get throttled. We’ll delve into more detail about the best VPNs for downloading with uTorrent later on.
2. Install an antivirus
Real-time protection will keep your uTorrent sessions malware-free. Kaspersky, for example, will deal with all possible threats without slowing down your downloads. You can find more top-quality options on our list of the best antivirus software.
If you’d rather have a free option, we recommend Avast Free Antivirus. This free antivirus program earned the first spot in our top 5 of free antivirus software. Do keep in mind that these free options often don’t have as many features and as high levels of protection as premium providers.
Aside from using antivirus, steering clear of executable files is always a good idea as well. This includes files with suffixes like .exe, .vbs, and so on.
3. Pick your torrents carefully
Torrent sites usually distinguish trusted uploaders. The Pirate Bay, for example, uses a green skull next to a torrent if it comes from a trusted uploader. Additionally, you could read user comments and check the number of seeders. As a rule, torrents with thousands of seeders are less likely to contain a virus. If you see torrents of movies, TV shows, or games that haven’t been released yet, there’s something fishy going on. Even if they contain real content (big “if”), they are illegal more often than not.
4. Avoid piracy
We are aware of the scope of internet piracy. However, we strongly recommend against it, no matter how tempting it may be. Only download files that are in the public domain, open-source software, or independent entertainment content. This is the easiest way to avoid piracy-related legal issues and associated ramifications. You can replace illegal torrents of movies and series with Netflix or free services like BBC iPlayer (even outside the UK) and Peacock.
How to Choose the Best VPN for Safe Torrenting
A solid VPN is your best weapon against P2P-related threats. There are many VPN providers out there, so choosing the perfect one for your needs can pose a bit of a challenge. Luckily, we can take the guesswork out of your decision and show you what a good VPN for torrenting looks like.
All you have to do is follow our P.L.U.G.I.N.S. method:
- P2P-friendliness: Your VPN should allow P2P file-sharing. Ideally, it should also offer servers optimized for torrenting.
- Leak protection: Your VPN should protect you from IP and DNS leaks. If third parties can see your real IP and the sites you visit, this defeats the purpose of using a VPN. You can use our anonymity test with and without a VPN to see the difference.
- Unlimited bandwidth: Torrenting is a bandwidth-intensive activity. So, your VPN provider shouldn’t limit your data. This is why most free VPNs won’t be a great pick for downloading: they tend to come with data limits.
- Good speed: Encryption will slow down your connection speed to an extent. However, with fast VPNs, these speed drops are kept to a minimum.
- IP sharing: Shared IPs are safer for torrenters since you can “hide” among hundreds of users with the same address. If you buy a dedicated IP, you’re its sole user, and identifying you becomes easier.
- No-logging policy: VPNs shouldn’t monitor or record user data. This ensures the complete anonymity of your downloads with uTorrent.
- Solid security: Your VPN should support the OpenVPN protocol with AES-256 encryption. This is the best combination of speed and security. An automatic kill switch is also essential to prevent accidental data leaks.
uTorrent is a piece of software used to download torrents. It is a “torrent client” based on BitTorrent protocol, the best method for P2P file sharing. uTorrent is owned by Rainberry, Inc. (formerly BitTorrent, Inc.) but was originally created back in 2005 by Swedish programmer Ludvig Strigeus. He’s also known as the main developer of Spotify.
According to TorrentFreak, uTorrent held 68.6% of the torrent market in March 2020. BitTorrent came in second with 6.6%.
The benefits of using uTorrent
uTorrent is an impressive P2P tool that has dominated the market for years now. Let’s see what makes it so popular:
- User-friendly interface: uTorrent is very easy to use. Casual users can set it up without any technical tinkering. Tech-savvy torrenters will find a lot of advanced features, as well.
- Small size: uTorrent is small and light on your memory and CPU. The free version is a bit more demanding due to ads and other background processes.
- Remote management: Users can manage uTorrent on the go. You can even start and stop downloads through your web browser.
- Speed limits: You can limit download and upload speeds to your convenience. Want to free up some bandwidth without stopping your downloads? No problem!
- Scheduled downloads: You can schedule uTorrent to start or stop your downloads automatically.
uTorrent subscriptions and in-app ads
uTorrent uses in-app ads to support its free version, but even free users can turn them off. We recommend you do this, since ads put extra strain on your memory and CPU. Learn more about the effects of in-app ads on your system in this comprehensive study.
uTorrent’s paid subscriptions start at $4.95 per year and come with some extra features. These include no ads, premium support, and malware protection.
You can even buy uTorrent Pro bundled with CyberGhost VPN for $69.95 per year. We don’t recommend that special offer, however. Individually, you can get CyberGhost for $1.99 per month and uTorrent Pro for $19.95 per year. This amounts to $43.83 per year, which is much cheaper than the bundled offer.
How Does uTorrent Work?
With “regular” downloads, you choose a file that’s hosted on a server. Upon your request, the server creates a copy of the file and sends it to your device. That’s how you download mobile apps from online stores, for example.
Torrents work a bit differently. They’re based on so-called peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing. Instead of downloading files from one server, you’re getting them from other users (peers).
You can access P2P networks through torrent downloaders or clients. This is where uTorrent comes into play. It taps into P2P networks through torrents for quick and efficient downloads.
You can view it all as one big crowdfunding party to download media files — and uTorrent is your ticket in.
When a person creates a torrent, they become the first seeder (uploader). All other members of the P2P network are downloading the files from them. Your uTorrent client will start seeding file chunks the moment you’ve downloaded them. Your computer becomes the server for those chunks. Other peers can now download them from you as well. A group of computers downloading and uploading the same torrent is called “the swarm.”
The advantages of torrenting
With so many dangers lurking, why would anybody download torrents? Here are some of the main reasons:
- Speed: In P2P, files are broken into tiny chunks. You can download any chunk from any peer in your network. This makes everything much faster and easier. Downloads are also relatively painless on slower networks.
- Reliability: With client-server downloads, one failed data packet ruins the entire process. You have to start from scratch. In P2P networks, this can never happen. If a file chunk fails, you can simply download it from another peer.
- Cost-effectiveness: Traditional large-scale file distribution costs a lot of money. P2P does the same thing almost free of charge. Even Blizzard uses a custom BitTorrent client to distribute updates for their games.
- Availability: When a hosting server is down, you cannot download data from it, period. P2P networks operate 24/7 and you can always find and download the files you need.
If you want to learn more about torrenting, you can read our “What is Torrenting” article. We delve much deeper into the topic there and explain everything related to P2P file sharing.
Torrenting is an extremely popular albeit risky endeavor. Diving into P2P networks unprotected can result in all sorts of problems. Your private data or identity could be stolen; you could get extorted for money or face legal fines; you could even get a prison sentence… The list goes on.
The good news is, you can avoid all this with a bit of preparation and the right set of tools. A good VPN will be your most trusted sidekick in your P2P adventures. Pair that with a solid antivirus and some caution when picking your downloads, and torrenting becomes almost risk-free.
We hope our guide on how to use uTorrent safely has shed some extra light on the topic and helped you arm yourself against lurking online threats. If you have any additional questions or remarks, feel free to leave a comment.
Do you have more questions about the safety and privacy of uTorrent? Below, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions. Simply click on a question to expand the answer.
If you download it from the official website, the uTorrent client is completely safe. It had some privacy and security issues in the past, but all of them were fixed and popular demand rose significantly. The company does collect a lot of personally identifiable data, though, which could cause serious problems in the wrong hands.
Not if you download it from the official site. However, the torrents you download through uTorrent could be infected with all types of malware. Using a good VPN and antivirus is always recommended to maximize your security.
No, using a BitTorrent client like uTorrent is not illegal per se. However, if you download copyrighted content illegally, you could face legal consequences and even jail time, depending on your local laws.