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What Is A Torrent? Are Torrents Legal?

Numerous people have been writing in asking the following questions: What is a torrent? Are torrents legal? How do I download using torrent files? What programs are best to use for torrents? Are you confused about torrents? I can see how it may be confusing to some people.

What is a torrent? A torrent is an information file that holds data on where the program lives on the Internet so that you can download it. Think of it as a link pointing to the information you want. For example; if I wanted the latest version of Linux Open BSD to setup on my web server I would simply go to a web site that gives you the ability to download torrents such as Demonoid. Once at Demoniod you would do a search for Linux Open BSD, once you found the correct version to download you would download a file called a torrent that holds all the information as to where that file lives. The file could live on literally thousands of computers, and you would be downloading from all of them. Ok, but how do I download the file?

In order to download torrent files you need a software program called Bit Tornado. I find Bit Tornado to be very simple to use and it has very little overhead. As you can see from the screenshot below it doesn’t use a lot of system resources.

bit tornado

If Bit Tornado doesn’t work for you or you dislike it there are other options available. Most people use either Bit Tornado or uTorrent. uTorrent can be downloaded at I find uTorrent chews up more bandwidth, but the choice is yours. Once you have downloaded and installed Bit Tornado the next step is to find what you are looking for and download it. Using the example above again let’s try and find Linux BSD and download it.

Go to Demonoid and do a search for Linux BSD. Once you find the program select the link titled “download this torrent” as illustrated below.


I like to save the torrent file to my hard drive in case I would like to stop the download and start it again at another time. Create a folder on your hard drive in the documents folder called “Torrent Downloads”. This way all of your torrent downloads will be in the same place. Once you have the file downloaded, navigate to the folder you created and just double click the file and Bit Tornado will launch. The program will ask you what location would you like to save Linux BSD to. Choose the folder you created earlier called Torrent Downloads. You should now see the program starting to save to your computer.

You may have noticed a couple of things called “seeders” and “leechers”. What is a seeder? A seeder is someone who is either still downloading the file which is making the file available to everyone, or it is a person who has finished the download but is still leaving Bit Tornado running so everyone one else can download the file. What is a leecher? A leecher is someone who downloaded the file and shut the program down as soon as he was finished, therefore not sharing the file for other people to download. Not very nice of them.

Are torrents legal? It all depends on what you are downloading. Downloading free programs such as Linux BSD is not illegal. Downloading Microsoft Office however is illegal, as you need a license to use Microsoft Office and the product has to be legally activated. Downloading copyrighted material is illegal such as music etc unless you have permission from the rights holder.

Now that you have enough information to start using torrents I wish you happy downloading. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any, I will do my best to answer them. Peace!