1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What You Need to Know About Torrents

Learn the basics of BitTorrents in five minutes or less


Houston and Broadway this morning
Trebor Scholz' Photos/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

Definition of a torrent file

Torrent files are files under the umbrella of an extremely popular peer to peer file distribution system called BitTorrent. BitTorrent is commonly used for transferring large files within a large network of people with extremely fast download speeds. BitTorrent technology was originally developed by Bram Cohen, who came up with the protocols needed to share very large files quickly with a large group of people no matter where they were located.

Do I need special software to download torrent files?

Yes, you do! In order to download torrents, you have to have a torrent client. A torrent client is a simple software program that manages your torrent downloads and uploads. You can find the best torrent clients on the Web by reading this article titled How to Find Torrent Clients.

Where can I find torrent files?

Here are a few places on the Web where you can find torrent files:

  • Torrent Sites: There are thousands of BitTorrent sites on the Web, but not all are safe, easy to use, or reputable. Find out where the good BitTorrent sites are.
  • Find a Torrent Search Engine: BitTorrent search engines are able to scour the Web for torrent files in a wide variety of places, making it simple for you to find what you're looking for.

Official Legal Disclaimer for Torrent Files

You need to know that while searching for torrents and P2P sharing technology is legal, that many of the files that you will come across on the Web are actually copyrighted. Copyright law in the United States and other countries (excluding Canada) puts these torrent files and downloading these torrent files at risk for legal action, including lawsuits. Make sure you are familiar with your local copyright laws before downloading any files.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.