Protecting yourself when downloading using BitTorrent

Even when you just mention the word “Torrent” these days, it’s automatically associated with piracy and downloading music or movies. While this may be true to a large degree, bittorrent can still be used for completely legitimate downloading including Linux ISO images and game patches to name only a few.

If we’re honest though, most people don’t consider watching something like an episode from a TV show which hasn’t been aired in your country yet, that bad. But unfortunately, there are anti P2P organizations that frown on downloads like this just as much as the latest movie or music album. And every torrent users favorite acronyms, the RIAA or MPAA will be doing what they can to try and stop you even for downloads most people would think are totally acceptable. One of the ways they are trying to disrupt torrent downloads is by polluting the torrent network with fake peers. All the data received from these fakes is not really part of the torrent file and is therefore classified as corrupt or invalid by your torrent client and is useless, or “wasted data”. The amount of wasted data could run into tens or even hundreds of Megabytes per torrent and taking your files much longer to complete the download.

There is another and more serious downside in being connected to one of these fake peers. And that is, unless you take precautions such as hiding your real IP address using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or using a third party service such as Boxopus to download it for you, once the connection has been established, your Internet address has been identified and logged. The anti P2P organization then has your IP address, and I’m sure you’ve all read about what can happen after that…

Luckily there are a few ways you can get round this and almost completely stop anti P2P organizations, Government organizations, or law enforcement agencies from connecting to your torrents!


If you are using the popular torrent client µTorrent, you can employ a still relatively little known and hidden away feature called IP filtering that’s built into the program. It’s a simple list that includes the IP address of just about all of the organizations you don’t want connecting to your torrents, which can then be blocked. But before you can use this filter, the list needs to be downloaded from the internet because uTorrent doesn’t include one.

Unfortunately, one of the best sources for these blacklists is Bluetack, the people behind the Azureus BT client, but they have made their lists available ONLY if you donate and subscribe to their forum. There is still an easy way to get a blacklist by downloading and installing IPFilter Updater. This little tool will download the required file and put it into the correct location (%AppData%\uTorrent) for use with uTorrent. Click Go and let it download from the default mirror (I-Blocklist).

ipfilter updater download

After the ipfilter.dat has been downloaded and installed, start uTorrent and go into preferences (Options -> Preferences or Ctrl+P), and click on Advanced. In the right hand pane, make sure that “ipfilter.enable” is set to true, and then close the dialog. On newer versions of uTorrent this is enabled by default, but you may need to check if you still run an older version. Toggling this option off and on again will reload the ipfilter.dat file.

utorrent ipfilter toggle

You can verify that the list has been loaded by looking under the Logger tab of uTorrent, where you should see the line “Loaded ipfilter.dat (xxx entries)”. If you don’t have a logger tab, right click on the tabs area and select “Logger”.

utorrent ipfilter checklog

Note: It’s advisable to run the IPFilter Updater tool at regular intervals (once a week or so) to keep your blacklist up to date, because new addresses will be included when found and this could mean the difference being safe and getting into trouble!

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