Although BitTorrent is much more infamous for distributing illegal content than anything else, it does have a number of quite legitimate uses. There are a quite a few large files such as Linux ISO’s that have been available on BitTorrent for years as well as some game developers also using torrents for distributing their game patches and updates. BitTorrent has been around for more than a decade and is merely a technology used to distribute files on the Internet and it’s a shame when you mention the word, it’s automatically linked to piracy.
A number of college or university networks, corporate networks and these days even ISP’s are completely blocking or throttling users from downloading using BitTorrent because it is capable of sucking up huge amounts of bandwidth, leaving very little or no bandwidth for other users. Or what if you can download torrents fine but simply don’t want to install a client such as uTorrent or Vuze on your system because you might not want to use it that often?
One way to download a torrent file without using a torrent client is by doing so using nothing more than your web browser. This has 2 advantages, one of which is there’s no need to run or install any programs on your computer. And secondly, it can also bypass any restrictions imposed on you by your company, college or service provider. Here’s a selection of ways to download files from BitTorrent without installing a torrent client on your computer.
BitLet behaves much like a traditional torrent client program but is completely web based meaning you don’t need to download or install any BitTorrent client. This does have an advantage over some other online torrent downloading services because instead of waiting for the files to be downloaded to their servers, it’s coming directly to you as a normal torrent would using a program such as uTorrent. One potential issue is BitLet requires Oracle Java to be installed which isn’t a problem in itself unless you are trying to use it on a workstation where Java has been blocked.
Usage is very easy and you simply enter the torrent meta file URL directly into the box (the link to the .torrent file) or click the “Select local .torrent” button and choose the file from your computer, then click Download torrent. A popup window will ask you where to download the torrent files, and then a small download progress window will appear with information such as seeds, download speed and progress. Testing with a Fedora ISO torrent file, BitLet gave us just about the maximum 900K+ download speed the connection can handle.
A small traffic light icon system will tell you if there are possible connection issues or the torrent is running smoothly. If you need to change the connection port or upload speed, click the Settings button in the top right of the window. BitLet also supports resume, has audio and video streaming options on its website and also a useful bookmarklet which can give you a quick access “Download by BitLet” option when you visit your favorite torrent website.
Boxopus was originally designed with the smart idea of letting you send uploading torrents directly to your Dropbox account so they can be downloaded from there at your leisure. Sadly Dropbox withdrew any support for it before the project really got off the ground and the idea was scrapped. The good news is that you can still currently use the service but instead of files going to Dropbox, they are now downloaded directly to the Boxopus servers and then can be downloaded from there.
Unfortunately there are still references to Dropbox on the site such as banners and buttons, but the direct service still worked when tested. If you haven’t already signed up when the service was originally launched, the site requires an invite code which you can request by entering an email address, or you can sign in by linking a Facebook or Twitter account to it which you can easily setup if you don’t want to use your main account.
The service accepts Magnet links, URL’s or browsing for a torrent file on your computer, and then you press the rather outdated “Put in my Dropbox” button. If it’s found and accepted, click on the Start Download button and wait for the files to be downloaded. The Fedora torrent files being used to test were complete and ready for us to download in under an hour, obviously times will depend on how well the torrent is seeded. There is a file size limit of 2GB and the file has to be downloaded within 24 hours of its completion. You will receive an email when the file is ready.
3. AllDebrid Torrent Converter
This isn’t a free service and requires a subscription of around 4 Euros a month. AllDebrid is one of several Debrid named services that offer multiple host file downloads from sites such as Netload, Mediafire, Rapidshare, Rapidgator etc, and are quite popular if you’re a reasonably heavy downloader. With that in mind, many of you will have AllDebrid for downloading files from other services.
AllDebrid has a Torrent converter service for subscribers which works a bit like ZbigZ and Boxopus in that the torrent content is downloaded to their servers, and you then download it. In this instance, the finished files are sent straight to Uptobox.com and you then paste that link into the AllDebrid downloader window for immediate download.
Simply go to the Torrent Converter page where you can either paste in a Magnet link or click the “By a torrent file” box to get a file requester to upload a torrent file from your computer. Then simply click the button and wait for the file to finish. If the torrent is well seeded the speed will be good. A couple of test Fedora ISO’s were downloaded to their servers, compressed to RAR and uploaded to Uptobox, then made available for us to download in about a minute for each one. When the process finishes, click on Display Links which will show a link or links above which you simply copy and paste into the Downloader box. If you have the AllDebrid service, this is a very useful additional feature.
Other services similar to this may also offer a similar type of feature, Real Debrid is another one that does.
ZbigZ is another service that helps you to download your torrent files to their server and then offers them to you as a direct download once ready. Although there is a free service, there is also a premium option that offers more if you want to pay a fee of around $10 a month. The free version has a few limitations such as a maximum download speed of 150KB/s, a maximum torrent size of 8GB, files are stored for 7 days and no more than 2 simultaneous torrent downloads at once. You also have to keep the webpage open while the transfer is taking place.
To download a torrent using ZbigZ, you will either need to upload the torrent file from your computer using the blue button, or paste in the torrent or magnet link direct from the tracker website, then click the Go button. Press the free cloud shaped button to continue as a free user and depending on server load, the file will sooner or later start caching. When caching has completed, you will be offered the file for direct download.
When testing with some well seeded Fedora ISO torrent files, the caching speed at which ZbigZ downloaded the files to its own server was terribly slow, and mostly hovered under 1 KB/s, creeping up to 100 KB/s or so for very brief periods. And that’s before you get to download the file at a max speed of 150 KB/s. Considering the other services here took well under an hour to offer the files for direct download, or let you download them completely, it’s hard to recommend ZbigZ for anything other than very small files on very well seeded torrents.
Torrent2exe is slightly different to the other services because it isn’t web based and does actually run a program on you computer. But the good thing about this is it’s a self contained executable file and holds both the torrent file and the torrent client to download the files from. This is ideal if you can’t or don’t want to permanently install or have a torrent client on your computer, and also being almost a one click downloader, is easy to operate for the less experienced user.
To create a torrent visit the website and enter the URL of a torrent file or click the button to browse your computer for one to upload. There is an option to create a normal size or a small executable, but seeing as the small version will need to download extra files on running, it makes sense to use the normal version. You do have added options to create messages and splash screens before and after downloading, but it’s not necessary. Then simply click the button to download the executable file.
When you or someone runs the file it will automatically open its own torrent client window where you simply select where and what to download, and then let the download continue. The speed when tested was good and similar to BitLet achieving around 900-1000 KB/s on the Fedora Linux ISO file. There are some options available such as port mapping and port selection / randomizing which is accessed via the tools menu. One thing we didn’t like too much was Torrent2exe installs a startup entry without asking and will start itself and try to continue running after a reboot. The option to disable this can only be turned off if you install the full application, cleaning your Temp folder will remove the startup files.