The Internet is a fabulous and dangerous place. It’s fabulous because there is so much free stuff out there. And, there’s a wonderful way to access it: torrents. It’s dangerous because some of these torrents also happen “point” to copyright-protected material where the rights holders have not authorized free sharing. That’s bad. Very bad. That’s the kind of bad that will land you in jail and have you eating wet cheese sandwiches served by prison guards. Here’s how to avoid all that noise and get all the free, legal, content your hard drive can handle.
Look For Private Torrent Sites
A private search site is one where you need a membership to join. It’s not that you necessarily need to pay membership dues, but you will almost definitely need to register and you’ll be monitored for a while.
Private sites benefit from a strong-knit community of users that protect the integrity of the site. The downside is that, sometimes, you’ll encounter overzealous administrators who are very demanding about how you share files. This can also be a benefit too though, because many of these private sites are strict about not sharing illegal content. So, while it’s no guarantee that you’ll be safe from a legal standpoint, your risk of receiving copyright-protected material may be relatively low, especially if you do your research about the legality of the file.
You also benefit from having higher than average download speeds, you can get into niche torrent sites that cater to special interests, and content is almost always clean and real (i.e. no viruses, corrupted files, etc.).
Use The Right Clients
The right torrent client can make all the difference. Go over to www.Vuze.com and check out their bittorrent client, it is probably one of the best-known clients on the web. It’s safe, reliable, and the company actively educates users about copyright laws and discourages the downloading of illegal content.
A good client will be flexible in terms of how you use the software, but will also take every reasonable precaution to keep you out of harm’s way.
Beware of Scam Links
If you surf around the web long enough, you’re going to run into a torrent site that’s not laid out very well. In other words, it’s going to have legit download links next to advertisements or “scam links.” Scam links aren’t always an according-to-hoyle scam. No, in some cases they’re actually ads for legit services like high-speed Internet. But, in this context, they’re scammy. Why? Because it’s not what you’re looking for.
Those links are placed dangerously close to the real live link – once you spot them, it’s obvious that it’s trying to trick you into clicking on it. Sometimes, though, the links are scams.
You might be asked to click the link for a super-fast download, or a “direct download” it will be a “sponsored link.” These links should be avoided at all costs. In fact, if you see a lot of these links, consider using another site altogether.
Stay Away From Sites Dealing In Copyright-Protected Torrents
If you happen upon a torrent site that allows users to share copyright-protected files that infringe, then this is not a site you want to be involved in. It doesn’t matter how popular or “official” the site looks. Stay away from it. If a site has one infringing copyright-protected torrent, odds are it has more. These sites are sometimes monitored by copyright holders, law enforcement or other government officials. They’re looking for people to take down. Intellectual property theft is a real crime and it’s being actively prosecuted. You can also be sued by the copyright holder. Plus, it’s a scummy thing to do to another human being.
Use Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware Software
This is something everyone should do, and yet there are people out there that are still without basic protection systems in place. Keep your anti-virus software updated. Keep your firewall on, and routinely check for malware. You should have your software set up so that it automatically scans for malware and viruses when you download something. Stay safe and be proactive.
Anna Jude is a technical whiz with a heart for teaching basic computing skills to the masses. Whether discussing new software, file management, or web search tricks, she enjoys blogging about the ins and outs of making the most of computers in today’s world.