I don't care what you use BitTorrent for. I don't even want to know. What you download is your own business. That said, don't even think about coming in the comments with a "omg check out this awesome freeware Pirate Bay scanning app it helped me download all the copies of My Little Pony in like no time whatsoever." Not cool.
Now that the semi-useful disclaimer is out of the way, let's get down to business. There's no denying that BitTorrent is a powerful tool for downloading (legal) files of all kinds. It can run faster than a straight one-to-one transfer from a Web site and, more importantly, it allows you to preserve files online when you would otherwise have no direct way to host them.
That sounds a little weird, so hear me out: Suppose you have an awesome recording of you playing piano in eight grade and you want everyone to hear it, only you don't really have access to a direct host for these files. Nor do you want your files to be dependent on a Web host that could theoretically go down at any time. No worries--just find a place to stash a .torrent link to your information and let everyone connect (and subsequently share) your information with the world. Your files will live in perpetuity provided others are as willing to share your data as you.
Got it? Good. I'm taking the BitTorrent concept to the next level this week by showing you five different ways to take your downloading to the next level... with a particular emphasis on one of the best BitTorrent clients around, uTorrent!
uTorrent 2.0 just officially hit the Web a little bit ago. There are a few new features worth noting, including the ability to set permanent bandwidth caps (as to not hack off your greedy ISP) and a new uTP communication method which functions as a kind of Quality-of-Service protocol for your network. Download files all you want--in theory, uTP should allow others on your network to continue their habits sans slowdowns or interruptions.
PortableApps has done it again! If you want to carry a powerful BitTorrent tool wherever you go, then this modification of the core uTorrent program is an excellent way to satisfy your downloading urges on the go. The only issue with this portable app is that it's not as frequently updated as the main uTorrent application. At the time of this article's writing, uTorrent Portable uses the 1.8.5 version of the program. That's not a huge deal, as it's just one revision behind the current 2.0 version. This portable application, while useful, is always going to be just a little bit behind. If that's OK with you--and I don't see why it wouldn't be--it's OK with me.
Download it here !
Looking for a way to find torrent files from your desktop? The search is over: Torrent Magnifier is an awesome, no-frills utility that allows you to scour the net for your next big download without ever having to fire up a Web browser. Sort-of. Torrent Magnifier pulls down a list of relevant torrent files from a wide range of sources. You can see seed counts, leech counts, the tracker and the torrent's name in the program. Double-clicking on any entry pulls up the associated Web page in your browser of choice. From there, I would assume you're only a click or two away from grabbing the file yourself!
Download it here !
Older torrent fans might remember the Azureus client. You're still looking at it, but the Vuze application isn't just a direct rip-off of the lineage you might have grown accustom to. I include Vuze on the list--even though it's not a true addon or helpful accessory to uTorrent--because its social features and emphasis on media downloading simply can't be found in the more popular uTorrent app. How's that? For starters, a built-in transcoding tool allows you to convert videos you've downloaded into formats playable on your iPod (or like devices), PS3, and Xbox 360, amongst others. Beyond that, an integrated video content distribution network will give you a host of new sources for compelling content. You can add Vuze friends, grab files your pals recommend, and create your own online identity for your (legal) bandwidth-killing.
Download it here !
I normally don't opt for Web apps in these freeware updates--Web apps aren't freeware, after all. However, the thought occurred to me: What good is a BitTorrent file (or client) if you can't download it at work? I'm not actually suggesting that you should use the considerable resources of your T1 connection to grab every episode of Scrubs under the sun. However, work-based limitations on what you're actually allowed to download are lame. Solve that by hitting up the site Download at Work, which converts URLs you enter into downloads with conventional (or weird) file extensions. If you can't grab .exe or .torrent files from the 'net, surely your job won't limit a PDF or DOC file, right?
Check it out here !
David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!