Let's be honest – torrents are great for downloading movies, tv shows, books, games, software for free.
That's what we use them for.
When the big media companies lock up titles on their platforms or don't even release content in some areas, it is torrents that allow you to get access to them.
So we all know why torrenting is useful, but how do you actually find torrents these days?
Last year saw the fall of a few of the biggest torrent websites as authorities and companies tried their best to stem the piracy tide.
KickassTorrents was the biggest fatality last year. This was a blow, as KAT was there to pick up the slack when The Pirate Bay was having its issues and it quickly became the favourite alternative to The Pirate Bay.
Torrentz, a torrent search engine, also met its maker and was taken offline. This year was off to a bad start, as ExtraTorrent was also shut down.
It might look like no torrent website is safe anymore, however, many still stand the test of time.
It is important to not put all your eggs in one basket and have a healthy list to choose from, so here is a list of the best torrent sites in 2018.
Best Torrent Sites Table Of Contents
- The Best Public Torrent Sites (for all-round torrenting)
- Best Torrent Sites for Books
- Best Torrent Sites for Movies
- Best Torrent Sites for Music
- Best Torrent Sites for Games & Software
- The Torrent Sites to Avoid
- How Does Torrenting Work
- Is Torrenting Legal or Illegal?
- Is Torrenting Safe?
- Can I use a free VPN to download torrents?
- What does a healthy torrent look like?
- What is the difference between public and private tracker?
- What torrent client should I use?
To get the most out of your torrenting experience (aka to save your bacon from overzealous copyright holders) we recommend using a VPN when using any of the below torrenting services.
Although ExpressVPN is the best all round VPN (for torrenting, speed, security, no logs, Netflix compatibility etc) we can and do recommend either of these three options when torrenting:
The Best Public Torrent Sites
First, we'll start with a list of what we consider to be the top all round torrenting websites still working in 2018.
The Pirate Bay
This torrent website doesn’t have the tagline of “The galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site” for no reason.
The Pirate Bay has survived take down after take down, its founding members being arrested and being blocked in multiple countries with very little disruption to its service.
It has an up time I think many big websites out there would be jealous of despite the numerous attempts on its life.
The Pirate Bay is the most well-known torrent website out there and for good reason.
It’s selection is completely unrivalled, The Pirate Bay has been around for such a long time you will find it has torrents that just aren’t available elsewhere.
The user interface is simple and to the point, it tells what you need to know and it allows you to filter and sort to your own preferences.
Adverts are non-intrusive (providing you aren’t having to use a dodgy proxy) which is a blessing in this day and age.
RARBG has a really accessible interface that anyone can easily get to grips with.
Whilst it is lacking in the software side of things, for movies and TV shows it truly excels (especially for newer stuff).
RARBG is blocked in numerous countries but the blocks can easily by bypassed with a VPN or proxies. Though proxies are continuously being blocked as well, there are plenty available that it never really becomes a problem.
The biggest problem is trying to find one that doesn’t inundate you with horribly intrusive adverts.
If you are someone that is interested in the newest movies and TV shows, RARBG is the best torrent site for you, the “Recommended torrents” header at the top of the page with posters is really invaluable for quick and easy searching.
Despite the relatively dodgy name, 1337X is a really competent torrent website.
Ever since it had a redesign the jump in traffic has been huge (there’s an important titbit for any budding torrent websites).
They have a wide range on offer, but like RARBG, they have more to offer in the movie and TV show side of things.
Their redesign made it easier for users to easily find what they were looking for, with the newest and most popular stuff being brought front and center.
This made it easy for a casual user to easily find what they are looking for.
It will be interesting to see what kind of legs 1337X has when they start to gain more attention from the authorities and various studios.
If they can stand firm in the face of such threats they may go a long way.
Zooqle is a new player in the torrent game but it isn’t so much of a torrent website as it is an aggregator.
It does have a lot to offer though and it easily compiles the best torrents in one place for any given piece of media.
Adverts aren’t too bad on Zooqle, there are some popups but it isn’t as bad as some other torrent sites.
Zooqle has a really nice interface, it plainly lays out all the most popular and new movies and TV shows next to a poster.
Limetorrents can’t help but bring on some nostalgia of the Limewire days.
The lime green colour that is used across the website is a very pleasant touch.
Limetorrents is definitely an up and comer. The interface is more like The Pirate Bay in design so it isn’t quite as user friendly as RARBG, for example, but for those that are used to torrent websites, you will feel right at home.
With a little refinement Limetorrents could easily become one of the big boys.
The Best Torrent Sites For Books
It's not just media like movies, tv shows and music that torrents are good for.
For those that like to read, you can also grab all sorts of awesome new release books on these torrent sites.
Browse a huge selection of books from a range of categories at Manybooks.
Last count there was over 33,000 titles available on the site, ready for the avid reader to get their digital mitts on.
You have your free ebooks as well as popular titles, as well as the ability to look through recent reviews and recommendations from other Manybooks users.
For those that don't want to carry around physical, hardcover books, Books-Share is the way to go.
This site allows you to download eBooks until the cows come home – all sorts of titles across topics like business, art, drama, family, children – the list really is massive.
The Best Torrent Sites For Movies
All of our recommended public torrent sites at the start of this post are fantastic for torrenting movies.
However, outside of those big dogs of the industry, there are a range of specialist movie torrent sites we also recommend.
EZTV is another of the older names in the torrenting world.
The site has been around for quite some time, and some of their torrents are amongst the most trustworthy and popular on other popular torrent sites like The Pirate Bay.
All of the latest Hollywood movies are easily found on EZTV along with a range of older movies and many classics too.
This is one of our favourite movie torrent sites.
The official home of YIFY torrents. yify was a notorious torrent provider, responsible for uploading a swathe of high-quality movies and tv shows.
YTS.io keeps this alive with a beautifully presented site full of movies that you can download.
The beautiful thing about it is you can browse by movie covers and read synopsis of the movies before downloading. It's just generally well presented, especially compared to most other movie torrenting sites out there.
If you want the best torrenting experience you will want to look into gaining access to private trackers.
Many are invite only, and many newer ones are open for a short period of time. The most popular ones will require an invite, many you can find in giveaways or you may be able to donate to get into a tracker.
If you want to get involved with a private tracker you can’t just hit and run, that is you can’t just download and stop seeding.
Private trackers keep track of your upload and download, if your account falls below a certain ratio, the account will be banned.
If you can’t/won’t upload or your upload speed is poor, a private tracker isn’t for you.
The torrent sites to avoid?
There are some torrent sites out there that you should be giving a wide berth.
The main reason for this is the fact that they require you to have a username and password, or require that you use their software to access the torrents.
We advise staying clear of this.
There's no point being safe and using a VPN with your torrenting if you then go and sign up for an account with the torrent site!
The sites to stay away from are:
How exactly does torrenting work?
Torrenting uses a Peer-to-Peer (often written down as P2P) method of communicating.
This means that when downloading or uploading a torrent you are doing that from other computers with that data, these computers are your peers. As you can see the use of peer in this context isn’t too dissimilar to the conventional sense of the word.
The P2P protocol is the opposite to what you would use to access a conventional website. Websites are hosted from a single location and don’t require others in order to access them.
What’s great about P2P is that there isn’t a single point of failure, but that requires that there is someone out there that is uploading the data you want.
The protocol that you use for torrenting is called BitTorrent. Each torrent file holds the information needed in order to download files or folders from other peers on the network.
A group of people uploading and downloading torrents is called a swarm, in this swarm you have seeders and leechers.
Seeders are people that are uploading the data they have already downloaded. Leechers are people that are currently downloading and uploading from seeders.
There is a kind of central point for many torrents out there and that is called a tracker.
What a tracker does is help organise how the swarm uploads and downloads to torrent clients. This used to be the only way torrents would work but with the introduction of DHT (distributed hash table) torrents are now freely downloaded with no need for a tracker to oversee the whole process.
DHT allows clients to act as nodes, searching through nodes in order to find the data that the torrent needs. This process uses a magnet link rather than a downloaded torrent file. A magnet link is essentially a URL that you just input into your torrent client. This means that now downloading and storage of torrent files needs to be done.
In order to first download a torrent, you need a torrent client. A torrent client is what communicates with different peers so that needed files are downloaded. Peers will be using a torrent client just as you would be yourself, in many torrent clients you can even see the IP addresses and locations of your peers.
Is torrenting legal?
This is an often-asked question by many that are new to torrenting. Torrenting is mainly known for its use for piracy, this makes it understandable to think that torrenting itself is illegal but that isn’t the case.
Torrenting is completely legal, it is what you are downloading by torrenting that determines whether it is illegal. For example, downloading the latest Ubuntu Linux distro via torrent is completely legal but downloading the latest Hollywood blockbuster through a torrent is not.
In a number of countries, downloading copyrighted material isn’t illegal, but in the vast majority it is, so make sure you are up to date with your country’s copyright laws.
You may notice that in your country access to the biggest torrent websites such as The Pirate Bay has been blocked by your ISP due to a court order.
These blocks can easily be bypassed with the use of proxies but it is worth noting that many of these proxies introduce intrusive adverts that can easily infect your PC if you aren’t careful, so make sure to look for ones that don’t add a bunch of virus riddled adverts.
Is torrenting safe?
This is a tricky one, in general torrenting is safe. If you want to download something like a Linux distro then you don’t have to worry about viruses or anything, that is if you get your torrent from the correct place (the official website is always the best place to get the torrent files needed).
If you are downloading something like a movie or software then it gets a little dicier. When doing this your best friend is the comments section on the torrent website you are using. Read and see what people have to say about it, often times plenty of people are giving their experiences with the torrent at hand so you can make your own informed decision.
Similarly, many torrent websites have some sort of torrent uploader verification method. This means that the person uploading the torrent can be trusted and isn’t some sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A combination of these two methods are the best chance you have at keeping your torrenting safe.
In a similar tack, as people can see your IP address when torrenting, many choose to use a VPN when torrenting and this is a good idea for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it hides your IP address from others in the swarm. Secondly, it means that your ISP doesn’t have a clue what you are downloading, this is vital if you live in a country where downloading copyrighted material is illegal. This means if a copyright holder was wanting to stamp down on downloading of their material, they wouldn’t have a clue that you had downloaded it.
A possible downside to using a VPN when torrenting is that you may see your download and upload speeds adversely affected. This is due to your distance from the VPN server and the encryption overhead, though this varies depending on which protocol you use.
It is important to note when choosing a VPN provider for torrenting that many only allow P2P communications on certain servers, normally in countries that aren’t that hard about torrenting, places such as The Netherlands or Germany. It may also be the case that the VPN provider doesn’t allow torrenting at all.
Can I use a free VPN to download torrents?
Many free VPN services won’t even allow you to download torrents, this is due to a number of legal complications.
If you find one that does, you will find that your internet speed will take a huge nose dive, it may be okay for smaller files but for larger files you will want to find yourself a paid alternative.
Not only that many free VPN services cannot be trusted, there have been many stories lately of various popular VPN services doing dodgy things. One was even selling users spare bandwidth, this is the kind of thing you have to deal with when you use a free VPN service.
What does a healthy torrent look like?
It is important to look for healthy torrents so that you don’t waste your time with a torrent that just won’t download. Most torrent websites show how many seeders and leechers there are.
What you are looking for is a torrent that has a high number of seeders and a low amount of leechers. This means that there is plenty of bandwidth to go around all of the leechers, providing you with the best download speeds.
Most public torrent trackers have issues with what is called “hit and run”, this means that many people just download and don’t bother seeding. This is why you will often see on the most popular torrents huge amounts of leechers. Most casual users don’t bother with seeding, as they say though, sharing is caring so make sure to seed!
What is the difference between a public and private tracker?
Public trackers, as the name may suggest, are free to anyone to use. There is no obligation to seed anything and you can download as much as you want and give back nothing (if you so choose).
This often means that older torrents can fall by the wayside, that is why it can be difficult to find older content with decent download speeds, there is no incentive to waste bandwidth on seeding a torrent that barely anyone will download.
With a private tracker, you will need to either sign up when they are open or get an invite from a current member. Getting into the best private trackers can be akin to applying for a job, they will want to know your internet speeds, your seeding history on other trackers, and other similar information.
When you use a private tracker, you will have to keep a good ratio. What a good ratio is varies from tracker to tracker, the majority operate on a 0.5 ratio, meaning you have to have at least uploaded half of what you have downloaded. If you fall below that ratio, often you will have your account and IP address banned from the tracker.
This may seem harsh but this is why private trackers have a wide selection that can almost always be downloaded as someone is always there seeding. Even if there are just a couple of seeders, your download speed should always be maxed out.
Getting an invite can be pretty tricky if you don’t have evidence of your performance on other private trackers, if you are lucky you can maybe get one that someone is giving away or maybe you know someone that is in one. Otherwise your best bet is to trawl the internet for open trackers and hope that you come across one that is active and has a wide range of content.
Some of the better private trackers often have open days where anyone can join but these are few and far between, so make sure to keep an eye on one that takes your fancy just in case this happens.
Others have interviews that test your knowledge of the trackers rules, this may seem a little over the top but private trackers take pride in their community so weeding out those that are there just to leech off the useful users is very important to the integrity of the tracker and its status amongst its peers.
What torrent client should I use?
As to which torrent client you should use, this depends on a number of factors. Things like your operating system, for example, play a huge role in the number of torrent clients you will have access to.
My personal favourite is Deluge, it has a number of great quality of life features that other clients don’t have. Things like a comprehensive auto labelling system are a godsend for being able to filter by public and private trackers. It even allows you to filter by tracker, so you can keep an eye on how your torrents are doing on any particular tracker.
It also has a fantastic web UI, so if you plan on accessing your torrent client over the internet from a central location, Deluge is the best choice. The web UI is essentially exactly the same as the native client, other clients web UIs are diluted and don’t really allow you to access all of the features like Deluge does.
Deluge is available on all major operating systems too, though there isn’t a mobile app.
Good desktop alternatives to Deluge include, Transmission, qBittorrent, Vuze, and Bittorrent.
A few torrent clients, like uTorrent and Bittorrent offer “premium” versions of their software for a yearly fee, rarely is this value for money when other purely free clients offer all they have to offer and more.
That isn’t to say that if you want to support the developer of your favourite client you shouldn’t, a donation can go a long way to improving your client of choice. I don’t feel walling off features is the way to go about it though.
On mobile, there isn’t as much choice, uTorrent and Bittorrent have the market cornered, they both offer very similar experiences, so try both and see which one suits you. Though there are mobile apps that allow you to connect to your client’s web server and let you view and add torrents to your client from your phone.
One such application is Transdrone, it works with a wide variety of clients and has a very slick interface for viewing your current downloads and uploads. Adding torrents is a little dodgy as you can’t choose the precise location of the download, so it will just go to your default download location that you set in your client’s settings. It is a handy tool to have available though.