BitTorrent peer to peer file sharing is still going strong after all these years. This is even after attempts by several countries to ban tracker sites like The Pirate Bay and others at the ISP level. Even though torrents are mostly associated with downloading pirated and copyright infringing files, there are still many legitimate uses that rely on the same peer to peer (P2P) distribution method.
Lots of free software is offered for download over torrent P2P, such as Linux ISOs. In the past, game developers have also used it to distribute game patches and updates. You can even download drivers for utilities like Snappy Driver Installer using P2P. Sadly a number of organizations can block the use of torrent software as it is a huge drain on the network because it connects to many other computers at the same time.
Even your ISP could throttle torrents and slow them to a crawl of only a few KB/s for the same reason. To get around the restriction on using dedicated torrent clients or ISP imposed speed throttling, there are a few things you can try to still be able to use torrents.
Here we have 9 options for you to look at.
Download Torrents With a Torrent Client Browser Extension
The Java Bitlet tool used to be a great way to download torrents within your browser but sadly it’s no longer available after Java was phased out in all major browsers. An alternative is using a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. There are very few of these around despite the hundreds of thousands of extensions available.
1. JSTorrent Lite For Chrome
The Lite version of JSTorrent is cut down from the paid Chrome app so it’s more feature limited than it would otherwise be. The biggest restriction is a limitation to 20 downloads before the app stops you downloading. An easy way around this is simply uninstalling and reinstalling JSTorrent to reset the counter.
JSTorrent Lite accepts both magnet links and local/remote .torrent files. There’s also the option to stream video files while downloading. Select the video file, click the Files tab and press Stream to open the player window. Adjusting the number of peers or active torrents can be controlled via the Settings window but setting speed limits is not available in this free version.
2. Bitford For Chrome
If your torrenting needs are quite basic but you want upload and download speed controls which JSTorrent Lite doesn’t offer, Bitford is worth a try.
Bitford doesn’t accept magnet links, only local .torrent files, so it’s more tricky after visiting sites like The Pirate Bay. However, magnet links can easily be converted to torrent files with a service like Magnet2Torrent. Control the upload and download speed via the two boxes at the bottom. Press the Save button to save individual files to your drive or Remove to cancel the download.
3. Torrent Client Extension for Firefox Based Browsers
Firefox has a torrent client extension called Torrent Tornado but since the extensions API changed in Firefox 57, that extension and many others don’t work anymore. An older version of Firefox would obviously be outdated in terms of security updates, so isn’t recommended. If you prefer using Firefox, a partial solution is to run something similar that still uses the old extensions system.
There are a few forked versions of Firefox around that still retain the old extension API. This means you can use Torrent Tornado and most other legacy extensions that no longer work. We have tested Torrent Tornado with Waterfox, Pale Moon and Seamonkey and they all seem to work fine.
Torrent Tornado has enough functions for most average users and it accepts .torrent files, magnet links, HTTP/FTP URLs or torrent hashes. Press the Add new torrent button to start and after adding the source for the torrent, it will show the details for the download and then offer the choice of which files to download from within the torrent. The small Settings button controls options such as save folder, file associations, memory cache, maximum peers and download speeds.
Note: Torrent Tornado will install directly from the add-on page if you are using Waterfox. If you use Pale Moon or Seamonkey, download the extension file first and then drop it onto the browser extensions window.
Download Torrents With an Online Torrent Client
This method has a few advantages. It bypasses P2P traffic shaping from an ISP and also keeps you safe from anti-P2P organizations monitoring copyright infringing torrents. You are not torrenting, the service is. You merely download the finished file just like any other file. A drawback is most free services are quite limited unless you pay for a subscription.
We are looking at Seedr because it’s one of the more generous free services. Seedr doesn’t restrict the download speed of completed files from its servers. The file limit is 2GB which is both the overall storage capacity and the maximum size of a single torrent download. This can be increased to 6GB by accomplishing tasks such as inviting friends, tweeting a review or pinning a Seedr image on your Pinterest.
Seedr accepts local torrent files, magnet links or a URL of a remote torrent file. You can only transfer one torrent at a time to the Seedr servers but can download multiple completed torrents at once. We found the download speed satisfactory and our files downloaded at a good rate. There’s also a Seedr Chrome extension for directly adding links.
Another service currently with a 2GB file limit and unlimited bandwidth is Transfercloud. There are other services available like Filestream, Bitport, and ZBigZ but they have low file size limits or slow download speeds. They work but we believe they are too limited to be of any great use.
Use a Browser With Built in Torrent Client
Opera used to have an integrated torrent client but it removed this ability when switching to the Chromium browsing engine in 2012. You can still download Opera 12.18 and use the torrent client, but it’s better to use a more up to date solution. Another browser with a torrent client is Citrio but it’s very outdated.
5. Torch Browser
Something more recent that includes a built in torrent client is Torch Browser. Torch also includes a download accelerator, social sharing button, games portal, music portal, media player, and a media grabber that downloads on page audio and video.
After install simply press the slider then the green button in the Torch toolbar to turn on torrenting and open the torrent client window. It’s possible to just drop a torrent file onto the window or you can open the Add Torrent dialog to search for a file or paste a magnet link into the box. Choose the save to location and which files inside the torrent to download, then press OK to start.
The torrent Settings window allows for adjustment of a number of options commonly found in torrent clients. These include randomize or change the listening port, use DHT/PEX/LPD, adjust the number of connections and active torrents, speed limits, seeding limits and video streaming playback options. You’ll want to right click and remove the Torch Offers advertising extension.
Using a File Download Manager
While you might not be able to install or run a dedicated torrent client, it may be possible to run a standard file download manager. There are many around that handle normal file downloads but a few free managers are also able to download torrents. Flashget and Free Download manager are two that can handle torrents.
6. Free Download Manager
We’ll look at Free Download Manager (FDM) because it’s still actively supported. During install, FDM will offer to associate itself with .torrent files and magnet links. It’s best to leave the setting as is to make things easier. When the program launches drop a .torrent file onto the window, press the menu button top right to manually search for a torrent file or press the paste button to paste in a remote torrent or magnet URL.
To control speeds, Free Download Manager has Low, Medium or High speed limit modes and a Snail Mode which will concede bandwidth to other traffic. Traffic limit speeds, connections and a few torrent specific options like DHT, used ports and port forwarding can be controlled via the Settings window. Right click on the torrent download to set its priority, whether to seed, setup scheduling or to force a recheck/reannounce.
Multi Host Torrent Converter
It’s worth noting first that a multi host file download service is not free and costs from around €4 Euros for a month depending on who you go with. These services are mainly for heavy downloaders using cyberlocker sites like Rapidgator or Uploaded. Some also include other download services like Usenet or BitTorrent. If you want to get large torrents that free services like Seedr can’t handle, this is a cheap paid option.
The service we have used for several years is AllDebrid although there are similar services like RealDebrid that can also handle torrents. Alternatively, you can go for a bandwidth based service such as Premium.to. AllDebrid works similar to the free online clients but files are uploaded to another cyberlocker site called UptoBox. Then you paste the UptoBox links into the AllDebrid downloader to download as normal.
Visit the Torrent Converter page and either paste a Magnet link or click the Upload box to add a .torrent from your computer. Then do something else while waiting for the torrent to finish. When the process is complete, click on Show Links and then Download All to send the links directly to the Downloader box. The limits are 250GB torrent size, 30 simultaneous downloads and a 72 hour time limit for the torrent to finish.
Download Torrents With WebTorrent
WebTorrent is potentially useful because it can be used in most major browsers. It’s slightly different from traditional torrents because WebTorrent uses WebRTC as the transfer protocol instead of TCP/uTP. A number of services are using this method with many of them being video streaming sites, one of the most notable is the video hosting site BitChute.
A drawback with WebTorrent is you can only connect to other WebRTC enabled torrent clients. This rules out connecting to seeds or peers from popular clients like uTorrent or qBitTorrent. The list of supported clients is small with the WebTorrent desktop client and Vuze being the two most well known. Therefore downloads are more likely to be unavailable or slower than a standard torrent due to fewer available connections.
This website is very easy to use and it allows you to share a torrent with others or download a torrent from your favorite repository. Simply paste a magnet link or info hash for the torrent into the lower box and press Download or browse for a local torrent file with the Choose Files button.
If the file being downloaded is video or audio it can be streamed while downloading and played directly from the page using a player that appears. Any accompanying files like images, subtitles or text can also be viewed and downloaded separately. If the torrent contains several separate files there will be a download all as zip link to download the files as a single archive.
Note that Instant.io doesn’t always work, sometimes it will just sit there showing zero peers or do nothing at all, even after several minutes. The next option seems to be more reliable.
9. Brave Browser
The Chromium based Brave browser includes an integrated WebTorrent extension that works pretty well. Brave also has some other interesting features like Brave Rewards and the Brave Shields privacy and ad blocker panel. All you have to do is paste a magnet link into the address bar or attempt to download a .torrent file and the browser will intercept it as a WebTorrent.
The only real drawback here is there is no option to download a multi-file torrent in one package and you will have to click to download each file individually. WebTorrent can be turned on/off from the settings window. Click on a video file to open another tab with a video player so you can stream while downloading.