Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

How to torrent.

Background information
What is it
Why do it
What you'll need.
Finding good torrents.
How not to get caught and other general rules.

What is pirating?
Essentially pirating is stealing forms of intellectual property through means of peer to peer (p2p) file transfer. "Woah you already lost me" That'll happen, I'll explain things directly related to the topic, like p2p sharing, but if you don't know something, Google is your friend (as long as your smart). P2P file sharing makes is exactly what it's name suggests. One person has something, and instead of going through a middle man to download that particular something, they create more or less direct connections with the person who wants said something. This often avoids many problems with police and people trying to protect there work through copyright.

Why do it?
By now you've obviously heard of many businesses saying pirating is just stealing and since you wouldn't steal from your local supermarket, why steal from these guys? Well there's a bunch of reasons to torrent that aren't pirating. USING TORRENTS DOES NOT EQUATE TO BEING A PIRATE. This is important to note because the p2p system can be used to distribute open source software, or things that are just free by default. Pirating is only true when you download something that 1) you have never bought before and 2) is not normally free. Though this may not be true anymore, at a time, if questioned and you could provide a receipt or proof of purchase, you were able to legally download something what would otherwise have been considered pirating. However, due to pirates illegitimately obtaining forms of intellectual property, things like the DRM popped into existence, and for more information on that see http://xkcd.com/488/

What you'll need
A computer with access to the internet and a torrent client for your specific OS (Note most Linux distros have a built in torrent client). One of the most commonly used clients is uTorrent, found here: http://www.utorrent.com/ THESE ARE FREE, don't download one that asks for money. The install is standard, if you're really not sure what to do, just keep pressing next (or better yet, do a Google search!).

Access to torrents, a Google search will work fine.

Patience

Finding good torrents.
It's really not that hard to find good torrent sites. Monova and thepiratebay are very common and usually trustworthy. If you have a friend who has an account at demonoid, ask for a referral, it is the best site for torrents.

Things to look for when selecting a torrent: the number of seeders and leechers, these are other people connected to each other through that particular torrent, the higher the number the better, especially seeders, the more seeders there are, the quicker the download will be. Seeders are people who have already completely downloaded that torrent to their computer and are providing other people access to the information so as to be able to finish downloading. Leechers are the people still downloading.

The comments/reviews on said torrent. ALWAYS read what people say about that torrent in the comments, if the entire first page of comments is filled with "it's a virus" don't download it. There are viruses in torrents, just like any other download, reading what other people have to say about the torrent is a good way to get a product review.

The source of the torrent: not all torrent sites are trustworthy as some have more viruses than others. If you've never been to that site before and they don't have positive reviews, don't download from there. Another key sign is NSFW ads even on a SFW torrent (like a program that you're legally downloading).

How not to get caught and other general rules:
don't torrent porn or from sites that have NSFW ads (thepiratebay being an exception),
ThePirateBay, Monova and Demonoid are very often good sites to download torrents from,
For the love of god, seed.

If you want to make sure you won't get caught, don't do anything illegal. There is never a sure fire way to not get caught. AND WHILE I DO NOT ADVOCATE PIRATING: There are things you can do to avoid being caught if you do:
don't torrent a lot of things at once, and wait awhile in between downloading torrents.
Don't seed for an extremely long time, a week or two is perfectly fine in most cases (very subjective) however a month or two could cause problems.
Use a proxy, proxies are software that intervene in internet connections to make it seem like your IP address isn't actually yours. The tor project has a P2P torrent program out that throws your IP address all around the world. It will slow things down considerably, but that's the cost of safety sometimes.

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