One of our favorite BitTorrent clients, uTorrent, recently came under fire over complaints that an updated build silently installed a cryptocurrencly miner called EpicScale. Several uTorrent users took to the Internet to voice their displeasure over the situation, though it turns out there was plenty of blame to go around. On the user side, those affected by the mining software failed to read the fine print and gave EpicScale the green light to install. As for uTorrent, it could have done a better job letting users know what they were getting into, as the bundled software looked a lot like a Tos/EULA box.
EpicScale isn't a nerfarious software application. In fact, the program taps into unused CPU cycles to solve "math problems, for weather prediction, physics simulations, cryptography (including cryptocurrency mining), and more" and donates about 75 percent of the proceeds it generates to various charities.
In the end, we're still fans of uTorrent, though it's not the only BitTorrent client on the block. Far from it. To be clear, we don't condone using BitTorrent software to illegally download and share copyrighted files, but we do recognize it as a wonderful platform for legal content, especially large files like Linux ISOs, game updates and demos, non-copyrighted videos, and so forth. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to gather up five worthy BitTorrent client alternatives to uTorrent , all of which are capable of getting the job done. Let's have a look.
Straight to the point, qBittorrent describes its main purpose as being an alternative to uTorrent, so it's a strong contender on hype alone. In practice, qBittorrent offers up a similar user interface to uTorrent, so if you're making the switch, you'll find that it's easy to use and navigate. And if you're worried about situations like cryptocurrency miners slipping underneath your nose and putting your CPU to work without your knowledge, you can rest easy knowing that qBittorrent doesn't bundle any other software in its installation, nor does it serve up ads.
As mentioned, we're fans of uTorrent, and likewise there's a lot to appreciate about qBittorrent as well. It's loaded with features, like integrated and customizable search (requires Python 2.x) on most of the popular BitTorrent search sites, it supports BitTorrent extensions, and it offers advanced controls for trackers, peers, and torrents.
All the basics are covered, like support for UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding, upload and download speed management, and support for proxy servers. You can also fine tune various functions like disk write cache size and other bits that most users will likely leave alone. In our experience with qBittorrent, tweaking wasn't necessary. The client had no trouble taking advantage of our broadband connection, both to search for torrents and when downloading large files.
Finally, qBittorrent earns brownie points for being open-source software that's available not only for Windows, but also Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2, FreeBSD, and even Haiku.
Deluge is another open-source, cross-platform BitTorrent client that somewhat resembles uTorrent, though it's not as fleshed out. It's a lightweight program free of hidden software and ads. There are a handful of first-party plugins that come pre-installed, like WebUI (start the web interface from within Deluge), Scheduler (limit Deluge bandwidth depending on schedule), Blocklist (download and import IP blocklists), and several others. It also supports a few dozen third-party browser and application plugins, which you can find here .
One of the neat things about Deluge is that it can run as a daemon or service, allowing you to install Deluge as a headless service that handles all BitTorrent activity and control it from a remote machine. You can then control the daemon using the Deluge client or through your browser.
Though it's lightweight, Deluge isn't short on features, like Local Peer Discovery, UPnP / NAT-PMP, proxy support, and support for private torrents, to name a few.
Quick warning—be careful when installing BitComet, because like uTorrent, it tries to slip in other software during the install process. It also attempts to change your browser's default homepage, so don't click through the installation process haphazardly. In our experience with BitComet, a single screen presented both options (another software program and a new homepage). Uncheck them and proceed.
Once you get past the installation shenanigans, you're left with a popular and versatile BitTorrent client that lets you preview partial downloads before they're finished collecting bits from cyberspace. It also has a Torrent Share feature that lets you get torrent files directly from other BitComet users.
Advanced users will like having control over the read and write frequency of their storage drive, options you'll find by navigating to Tools > Option > Preferences > Advanced > Disk Cache. The advanced section also contains settings for scheduling bandwidth so that more is available at night when you're sleeping and less during the day when you're working on your PC (or vice versa), and the ability to set up remote downloads.
You should always scan downloaded files with an antivirus program before running them, and in BitComet, you can automate the task. That's nifty.
Unfortunately, the built-in search isn't all that great. It kicks searches out to your browser and is fairly limited in what it can find. We had much better luck searching on our own and then letting BitComet handle the torrent file. Otherwise, there's not a lot to complain about here.
One of the more interesting BitTorrent clients is Tribler, a program that was developed by researchers at Delft University of Technology over a decade ago. They've since offered up its client with support for a subset of the TOR onion routing protocol, which allows everyone to function as a relay. Note that it's not using the TOR network, but its own custom version.
In other words, it has built-in anonymity. When you download a file, you're not grabbing bits of code directly from a seeder. Instead, all downloads go through other computers via three layers of proxies. This is supposed to make it more difficult to trace what you're doing, details of which you can read here .
At the same time, this isn't a free pass to steal copyrighted software. There's even an omnious warning during installation that the anonymity feature is experimental, and that by becoming an exit node for other users' downloads, you "could get in trouble in various countries." If you're freaked out by this, you can opt-out and still use Tribler.
Tribler is a continual work in progress and has the potential to be a privacy advocate's dream come true in the BitTorrent space. Regardless, if you're wanting a straightforward BitTorrent client that's easy to use, has built-in search that works well, and takes a minimalistic approach to downloading files, Tribler is a strong contender.
Vuze Leap or Vuze
Vuze Leap and Vuze are two separate BitTorrent clients by the same developers, both of which are free. The difference between the two is that Vuze Leap is a basic client for users who just want to download files with a lightweight program and don't have a need for plug-ins, remote access, and other advanced features, while Vuze offers several additional amenities for power users.
It's also worth mentioning that Vuze Leap doesn't have ads, but Vuze does (there's a paid version of Vuze that removes ads, but we're focusing on free clients here). However, Vuze Leap is only compatible with Windows, whereas Vuze also works on Mac and Linux. Got all that?
Whichever you choose depends on what you're looking for from a BitTorrent client. Either way, be careful during the installation process. During one of the steps, Vuze will attempt to install Yahoo Search, though at a glance, it appears to be a normal ToS screen. Hit Cancel to opt-out of the additional software and settings, and installation will proceed.
Both versions offer built-in search and media playback. They're also both fast.