Torrenting is ideal for downloading exceptionally large files – such as a video or a large piece of software – quickly and managing them efficiently.
With such large files, downloading directly from a host server will likely lead to a slow experience, particularly if other people are trying to grab the same file. But with a free torrent client, you can download pieces of the files you want from different people who already have them, leading to faster download times. It will do all the hard work for you as well, piecing together those files like a jigsaw.
Every torrent client has its own features and quirks, however, with varying features to help manage these large files. With this in mind, we've collated all the biggest names and put them to the test.
From our list, you can select the best free torrent client for your needs while avoiding the ones that are simply no good. Whether you need something that just gets the job done, or something more advanced that can be extended through the use of add-ons, you’ll definitely find something here.
Are torrents legal?
Torrents have a bad reputation due to piracy, but they aren't illegal in themselves and have lots of legitimate uses, including downloading open source software and material that's in the public domain.
It all depends on the content you're downloading. Provided the copyright holder has given permission for the file to be shared this way it's fine, but using torrents to download content you'd otherwise have to pay for is not legal.
The best free torrent clients at a glance
We strongly advise you get a great VPN for torrenting
The only way to keep yourself safe and anonymous when torrenting is to use a VPN. A VPN encrypts all your internet activity and passes it through a secure tunnel so that no one can see what you're reading or downloading - not even your ISP or the VPN service itself. One click and you're protected. This also allows you to unblock sites like The Pirate Bay, or access foreign versions of Netflix. The best VPN service according to our tests is ExpressVPN which effectively costs just $6.67 per month and has a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Some torrent clients offer every function imaginable. Others keep things as simple as possible. qBittorrent sits right in the middle, aiming to "meet the needs of most users while using as little CPU and memory as possible".
It boasts an integrated torrent search engine, media player, encryption, prioritisation of torrents and the files within those torrents, IP filtering and torrent creation, and it's the closest open source, junk-free equivalent to uTorrent.
If you're looking for a cross-platform torrent client that covers the essentials without getting overly complicated, qBittorrent is great.
Read our full qBittorrent review
Vuze (formerly Azureus) claims to be the most powerful BitTorrent client on Earth. We're not sure how it ranks on other planets, but it's certainly a serious contender for that title.
There are two flavours: the stripped-back Vuze Leap, and the fully fledged Vuze Plus. Both offer torrent download, media playback and support for magnet file links, but Vuze Plus adds integrated virus protection and the ability to preview media files.
One of Vuze's key selling points is its interface, which slices through jargon and makes even the more advanced features accessible to new users.
Vuze also offers bandwidth limiting, IP filtering, and all the other features you'd expect from a robust torrent client. Definitely one of the first options to consider.
Read our full Vuze review
Deluge has been around forever, and it can be as simple or as powerful as you want it to be, making it one of the most versatile free torrent clients out there. That's because it's extendable via plug-ins, which effectively enable you to build your own personalised version of Deluge.
Fancy something that resembles uTorrent without the unwanted software? No problem. Want to add alphabetical downloading, move downloaded files to specific directories according to the file type, adjust speed according to network conditions, create pretty graphs, schedule everything, integrate with Chrome or Firefox, or batch-rename downloads? That's not a problem either.
Read our full Deluge review
uTorrent, also known as µTorrent, has been around since 2005 and it's the most widely used free torrent client outside China. It's attracted some criticism over the years, however: it's ad-supported and many users argue that the most recent versions are a little too heavy on the advertising and bundled software front. Make sure you read each step of the installer carefully and uncheck any software you don't want to install.
That aside, uTorrent is useful, effective and doesn't gobble up too much of your system's resources: the entire app mainly runs in your web browser. Although it isn't the official BitTorrent app, it's been maintained by BitTorrent for the last decade.
It's worth noting that uTorrent has a record of security problems, the most recent of which had the potential to let hackers control key functions of the client and spy on users' downloads. BitTorrent has since released a patch for the vulnerability.
Read our full uTorrent review
You might be wondering why BitTorrent has its own torrent client when it also maintains uTorrent – especially when the BitTorrent app is a rebranded version of uTorrent. Are you still following us?
However, while the apps are functionally identical there are a few key differences: BitTorrent offers web-based seeding, commenting and reviewing, and you may find that the BitTorrent client is welcomed by private trackers that don't like uTorrent.
It's very simple to use as well, and could be a good choice if you're new to torrenting and want a client that will give you an easy introduction.
Read our full BitTorrent review
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