(If you don’t want to read about my personal take on torrents you can skip to below the first line break on this post.)
People tend to receive new technical terms from the internet with as much enthusiasm as a cat does a cold bath. Torrents are no different.
I was the same, but once a friend sat me down and showed me the ropes that changed. At the very least, it changed my relationship with music, t.v. shows and movies for the better.
On a simple level, torrents are files which are shared over the internet. Anybody with an internet connection and a computer can take advantage of this internet underground culture.
I say ‘underground’ because downloading torrents is not strictly legal. They are pirated copies and breach copyright laws.
However, if you are not in a financial position to pay for the content, believe that copyright laws are too restrictive and you can live with the guilt of depriving record companies, film studios etc. of a few quid, then torrents may just be for you.
You should also know, torrents users (both the uploaders of material and the downloaders) have escaped incrimination, prosecution or enforcement of these copyright laws in this country, so far.
Small personal users are not top of governments lists when it comes to piracy. So as things stand, there is no reason to fret about imprisonment or fines. I have been downloading torrents for four years now with no hiccups along the way.
Nonetheless, it is an important point and a personal choice.
A couple of personal caveats, before I start.
Firstly, I believe in supporting creative industry, especially at a grassroots and local level, where ever possible.
If you find a band or film you like, promote it by word of mouth. If you can afford it, pay for a legit and legal copy, go to the next gig the band play etc. In short, I believe you should support creativity and good material in whatever way you can.
Secondly, if you do start using torrents, download only what you need and really want. Excessive downloading will only heighten your exposure and torrents as a whole.
What seems to be the worst case scenario, anecdotally anyway, is that you will be provided with three warnings by your internet provider, via the post, before they cut off your internet.
Common sense and keeping your ear to the ground for any rumbling from the powers that be are your best defense.
All that being said, here is how you do it.
Don’t try read through the whole post at once, otherwise it will be too daunting, whereas its simple if you take it step by step. Once you download the programs you need and download a couple of torrents, everything will become second nature!
There are two things you need to download to your computer before I get on to downloading the actual torrents.
Programs you need:____________________________________
Step 1– Torrent facilitator.
The torrent facilitator is a program that enables the downloading of the films, tv shows and music files, aka as torrents. It is crucial in downloading torrents.
Essentially, it acts as a middle ground between the internet and your computer. I will explain how to use the program and what it does exactly properly later on.
My personal choice of facilitator is ‘Bitcomet’ as it seems faster than the rest. I have also used Utorrent and Bittorrent in the past without any trouble.
P.C. users need to go to: http://download.cnet.com/BitComet/3000-2196_4-10296306.html and simply click on download now.
If you have a Mac, this website should do the same thing. It is for Bittorrent, as I know for sure that it is compatible with macs. http://www.bittorrent.com/downloads/mac
If you would like to try out bitcomet yourself this page looks good. http://www.brothersoft.com/bitcomet-download-43138.html
Step 2– Second program for download, A Versatile media player
Then you need to download a media player called VLC media player. This will play all the movies/tv shows you download, as opposed to other players which are picky about files having the right ‘codecs’ and other technical stuff, that you don’t really need to know about.
This is the website. http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
P.C. users can simply click on download.
If you have a Mac, under download click on other systems and download the mac version.
Do that and I’ll bring you on to the next step.
Downloading the actual Torrents ____________________________________
Like the facilitator programs, there are numerous websites where you can find and search for torrents. They all have similar layouts and terminologies. They include: kickasstorrents.com, isohunt.com, piratebay.com* amongst others.
*Eircom users are restricted from using Piratebay.
I use ‘www.kickasstorrents.com’ most regularly so I will use that as my example. As stated already, other torrent websites work more or less in the same way.
Go to http://www.kickasstorrents.com, then simply search for whatever film, t.v. or album you want. The search bar is right up at the top of the page on the right handside.
Once you’ve searched, you should be given a list of different torrents.
Click on the the one that best suits. You will be able to decide this by a few things which are listed below.
The criteria you should be looking for before download are:
Other users ratings–
First of all make sure the torrent has good comments on it, some are fake. Most popular torrents will have people rating it, its audio and video quality (where applicable), read through them.
You do that by hovering over the speech bubble beside the main title or by clicking on the main title, after you’ve searched for whatever you want and scrolling down to the comments.
Important technical stuff:________________________________________
There are a couple of other things you need to keep in mind, once again this might sound complicated but you will see what I mean once you get used to it.
Torrent size can be tailored to personal needs. Some files are unnecessarily big, others are too small and of poor quality.
For example, if you are trying to download a movie, want it relatively quickly and don’t have loads of memory to spare, a dvd rip or an equivalent should suffice. Not blu-ray which are commonly the first torrent listed (they are too large and take too long to download) or any crap quality torrents like those recorded in a cinema on a camcorder etc.
The comments also should steer you away from bad quality or slow downloads.
Seeds & Leeches______________
One other thing to look for on the torrent sight is seeds and leeches. These are listed directly to the right of the title of the torrent. They are pretty important.
The higher the seeds (people you download off) should be as high as possible, this will speed up the download. Leeches are people who are downloading it as well, as long as this is lower than seeds it should be fine.
A torrent with higher leeches than seeds also work but they will take longer.
Be wary of torrents with loads of seeds and no comments, this usually means its fake.
For kickasstorrents.com: click on ‘download torrent‘, the brown box nearest the top of the page. Not the larger ‘download’ option a little further down.
The downloading process varies slightly depending on the browser (Google chrome, Internet explorer, Safari etc.) you are using. Anyway make sure you open the torrent in the way do with other downloads.
This should bring you to bitcomet (or other facilitator) program and a box with details of what you are downloading.
Again, you can tailor your download to your own needs, by ticking or unticking songs, albums, episodes, files etc. that you actually want.
Always leave the specifically titled ‘torrent’ files alone in this box and any other files you think may be crucial for the file to work, such as a ‘readme’ file etc.
Once you have finished selecting what you want in the box, you simply click okay and it should start downloading.
You can easily see and check its progress in the facilitator program.
Progress is given in a percentage bar; download rate given in kilobytes per second (kb/s), the higher this is the better, it can be over 1000kb/s but can vary depending on seeds online, internet connection and other variables; time remaining gives an estimated time before its finished downloading.
When the file is finished downloading, right click on the file in Bitcomet then select ‘open directory’ then right click on the relevant file there and ‘open with’ and select VLC media player or whatever you use to play your music.
You should also be able to find the relevant files in your downloads.
That’s all. There are a handful of things you need to know and this may seem like an overly long post for something that is so ‘simple’.
Just try it and keep following this thread and it should work. After you do it a couple of times it will become second nature!
If you have any questions or problems leave them in the comments section or p.m. on Facebook.