One of the worst things that can happen to your computer is an infection. Downloading strange files from who knows where is one way to guarantee that that eventually happens. That’s why torrenting scares a lot of people. You’re directly connecting to other peers and downloading a file from someone you don’t really know. But, believe it or not, you’re probably safer doing this than downloading a file from a central server. Here’s why.
The Client Matters
In the world of bittorrent, the client you use can make all the difference. A client is a software program that allows you to download torrent files from a tracker (a server). The torrent file contains metadata that tells your client about the target file you want to download. It also contains information that helps the client communicate with the tracker to coordinate the download.
Let’s say you want to use a stable client – you go to Vuze.com and download its client. The client itself is pretty intuitive, contains an antivirus program, and allows you to search for torrents using a meta search function right inside the program.
In a sense, the client is designed to provide multiple layers of protection for the user. By providing some content by way of authorized-for-sharing bundles, and including meta search sites it believes deal primarily in non-infringing content, the client encourages users to not engage in copyright infringement. Secondly, by employing an antivirus option, it protects the user from known viruses.
What Is Malware?
One of the most common threats you’re likely to encounter on the web is malware. Malware is malicious programming designed to corrupt your computer. Malware can take the form of a virus, worm, trojan horse, ransomware, spyware, adware, and scareware. Regardless of the form, it hijacks your computer and makes it behave differently.
For example, ransomware – a particularly evil form of malware – takes over your computer and encrypts all of your important files. The attacker then contacts you and demands money in exchange for an encryption key which will unlock the encrypted files. Your computer is held “at ransom.”
A good torrent client can reduce or eliminate the risk of being infected with this type of malware.
The Benefit Of Private Trackers
If you use a public tracker, there’s always a risk of downloading a corrupted file. And, even though many clients have built-in antivirus programs, there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks. Private trackers are essentially private communities that require membership before you can search for, and download, torrents.
Because of the private nature of the community, all members tend to be pretty close-knit. It’s typical for the tracker and community to require all torrents be clean and legitimate. That means that the torrent should not be corrupted or infected with any malware or virus, and should not infringe on copyright (but do your research on whether copyright holders have authorized free sharing).
These trackers also impose special rules on members that include minimum seed requirements, activity, and even certain behavior while using the tracker. All of this is intended to add up to clean non-infringing files, quick downloads, and usually a friendly atmosphere.
Audrey Brown has a great passion for technology. After years as a data manager and programmer, she enjoys blogging about the basics of useful apps and software and how the everyday user can benefit.