Not everything shared over P2P networks is piracy. In fact, much of the content delivery on the web is done with private torrents which allow companies to share large files between their different distribution nodes evenly. Spotify uses a peer-to-peer network along with streaming servers to stream music to its desktop music player. Peercasting networks such as FreeCast and Rawflow depend upon P2P networks to ensure the fastest possible delivery of their streaming media to listeners worldwide.
If you've ever used the free, legal, and open source Linux based OS Ubuntu, you know downloading the whole OS via direct download takes quite a while the torrent link allows you to download the entire file in as little as 10 minutes. So why would we write about torrents?
Much of Nerds Limited's repair work involves removing our client's precious data from computers crawling with viruses. Some of which infected our client's systems because the systems had been used to download torrents (legal or otherwise) without proper discretion. This article is intended to give users, both Windows and Mac a few tips about torrent selection and proper torrent protection.
Windows users who download all of their system updates and use a good free or premium Anti-Virus application (MS Security Essentials, and ESET's NOD32 respectively) aren't nearly as prone to infection as they were in the past. In order for a virus to infect your system, it needs to fool you in to installing it. This can be done in any number of ways, the most common of which with torrents is hiding in an archive file such as .Zip or .Rar. If you find yourself downloading a torrent whose files are compressed, stop immediately and delete the file. It may contain malware.
Torrents In Windows
There are literally hundreds of torrent clients out there, the best of which, in our humble opinion is μTorrent (pronounced U-Torrent). The μ means micro and refers to the small amount of memory required to run the client. It is available for both Mac and Windows and works extremely well without slowing down your system.
HERE'S THE KEY TO SAFETY: RUN WITH PROTECTION
Picking good .torrent files isn't good enough! The design of P2P framework allows your computer to connect to any system which is currently offering the files you need at the time you're asking for them. That's not good! A brilliant little application called Peer Block acts as an active operator between your torrent client and those you're both uploading to and downloading from, to ensure no data is transferred with known bad servers. From PeerBlock.com:
PeerBlock lets you control who your computer "talks to" on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of "known bad" computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been "hacked", even entire countries! They can't get in to your computer, and your computer won't try to send them anything either.
Peer Block must be running and with current block lists downloaded every second μTorrent is running. If used properly, it can really help keep you safe when using P2P technology to download legal and free media quickly and efficiently.
MAC TORRENT CLIENT(S)
The most popular Mac torrent client is Transmission. Transmission is fast and simple. It includes the same technology Peer Block uses to block bad hosts but recently stopped including the URL to automatically block the worst of the worst. There is a tedious workaround, but for the most part, transmission doesn't make it easy to keep a nice block list easily maintained. Remember, just because Macs are less prone to malware in the wild doesn't mean downloading copyrighted material illegally can't get you arrested and sued for all you're worth! We aren't condoning piracy. Rather, we're trying to educate the public about safe and unsafe methods of file transfer in this amazing communications revolution!
Disclaimer: If you use torrents to transfer copyrighted material, you're breaking the law. NerdsLimited.com does not condone any use of torrents to transfer material illegally.