5 Best BitTorrent Clients

Invented back in 2001, BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol that allows users to share large amounts of data over the internet directly, without the need for that data to be stored on centralized servers.

In this article I look at the practicalities of how to download via BitTorrent, starting with choosing the right software. Please be aware that there are loads of BitTorrent clients out there, so this list can in no way be considered exhaustive (and will almost certainly omit some reader’s beloved personal favorites.) C’est la vie.



  • PROS
  • Open source
  • Lightweight
  • Efficient
  • Fully featured
  • Built-in video player
  • RSS subscription
  • Built in search with multiple engines.
  • CONS
  • Not much

This fast and resource-efficient BitTorrent client is an attempt to provide full uTorrent or Vuze functionality in a streamlined 100 percent open source package. It is not quite as fully featured (bloated?) as the aforementioned BitTorrent big boys, but qBittorrent features torrent prioritization, torrent querying, selective content download, torrent creation, remote access, and RSS subscription, and also includes a media player and built-in torrent search. Perhaps most importantly, this volunteer-developed software has no ads, and does not try to bundle crapware into the installation.

qBittorrent is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

Visit qBitTorrent »

2nd place


  • PROS
  • Open source
  • Lightweight
  • Tons of features
  • Pretty
  • Available natively on many obscure OSs
  • CONS
  • Not much

Also lightweight, completely free, and open source, Transmission has long been a firm favorite among Mac and Linux users thanks to its beautiful interface (complete with Growl notifications in OSX) and powerful features, including, webseed support, watch directories, tracker editing, global and per-torrent speed limits, and more.) It also supports BitTorrent protocol encryption (although this provides nowhere near as much protection as using a VPN,) and functionality can be further extended using Add-ons, such as RSS tools and an XMBC plugin. After some debate with readers, I will note that individual files within a torrent can be downloaded by double-clicking the torrent -> Files.

Transmission is available for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux (many distros), FreeBSD, Gentoo, and more .

» Visit Transmission

3rd place
Vuze (free)



  • PROS
  • Ridiculously fully featured
  • Can bind downloads to VPN
  • Lots of  plugins available to increase functionality
  • Built in video player
  • RSS subscriptions
  • Great Android apps
  • CONS
  • Somewhat bulky and resource heavy
  • Ads
  • Tries to install crapware
  • Only partially open source
  • Interface could be prettier and more intuitive

Once the world’s most popular BitTorrent client (under the name Azureus,) many now regard Vuze as a perfect example of bloatware – a situation made worse by the inclusion of ads that can only be removed by paying for “Vuze Plus” (which costs a whopping €28.90 EUR per year, but does add antivirus, a DVD burner, and play now support.)

Aside from being quite resource-heavy and featuring ads, Vuze looks and feels somewhat old and clumsy compared to much of its competition. It also wants to install crapware during installation, which is easily avoided if you are paying attention, but can be a pain for those who just click their way through.

On the other hand, all that “bloat” does mean a stack-load of features – basically everything including the kitchen sink, including a variety of statistics and visualisations, file conversion for different devices (with drag and drop functionality), content discovery through automated subscriptions, an integrated media player, remote management, and much more (in fact there are so many options available that most users are unlikely to explore them all).

Perhaps its best feature is the ability to bind Vuze to your VPN adapter, making kill switches and suchlike unnecessary for many, as Vuze will only download when your computer is connected to the internet using VPN (we have instructions for doing this available here).

We should also note that Vuze makes a great, ad-free Android app for torrenting direct to your phone or tablet, plus Vuze Remote allows you to manage your desktop downloads from your Android device.

Vuze is available for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, and Android.

» Visit Vuze

4th place


Popcorn Time

  • PROS
  • Instant streaming of high quality BitTorrent content!
  • Open source
  • Very smart interface
  • Built-in VPN (not free)
  • Chromecast support (maybe)
  • Available on just about every platform
  • CONS
  • Only for video content

Most BitTorrent clients basically do the same thing – they download files to your local disk. Popcorn Time first exploded on the scene over a year ago, and has since revolutionized the way in which many downloaders consume P2P content, allowing you to find movies and TV shows using a super-slick interface that gives commercial rivals such as Netflix a run for their money, and then stream this content in high (720p or 1080p) quality at even fairly modest connection speeds.

PopcornTime.se is the major PT fork still available, and sources content from different torrent sites, making it difficult to such down. Although ostensibly a streaming app, content is downloaded and stored on your local disk. In theory PT.se sports Chromecast support, but this appears to be very flaky (especially when using a VPN.)  For instant video pleasure, Popcorn Time is a revelation.

Popcorn Time.se is open source, and is available for Windows, Mac OSX (10.7+), Linux, and Android (4.0+).  iOS users should be particularly pleased to note that not only has Popcorn Time.se released an iOS app, but that it is now possible to install it without jailbreaking your device.

» Visit PopcornTime.se

5th place


  • PROS
  • Open source
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of features
  • Expandable via plugins (incl. RSS)
  • CONS
  • Less fully featured than some other clients

Deluge is another 100 percent open source BitTorrent client, and in addition to a full version, a portable version is offered which does not require installation. It is very lightweight, and while it sports less bells and whistles than something like Vuze, it provides all the things needed for BitTorrenting (including remote web management and support for magnet links), and which can be further extended using a range of plugins (e.g. RSS support.)

I did carefully consider placing the very popular and more fully featured μTorrent in this spot, but the fact that μTorrent is closed source, and now supports itself with ads (which can be tuned off in the deep settings, but still…), without offering the wealth of features that Vuze offers, has led me to pick the lean but mean Deluge instead.

Deluge has no ads or crapware, and is available for Windows, OSX, Linux (various distros), and FreeBSD.

» Visit Deluge


There are many legitimate uses of the BitTorrent protocol, thanks to the fact that it is a very efficient method of transporting data over the internet, but given its decentralized nature, it is hardly surprising that it has become the technology of choice for copyright piracy (to the point where it is often incorrectly and unfairly regarded as being synonymous with such activity.)

I make some observations about the legality and morality of piracy in this article, but it is important for downloaders who do engage in this practice to understand that thanks to its peer-to-peer nature, anyone file sharing (the clue is in the name!) using the BitTorrent protocol can see the IP address of anyone else who is sharing that file.

As laws get ever more restrictive, and copyright holders ever more litigious, it is therefore vital that downloaders protect themselves with a good VPN service. For some recommendations on good “P2P-friendly” services, check out 5 Best VPNs for torrents, P2P and filesharing.

How do I P2P download using BitTorrent?

  1. Download and install a BitTorrent client – see above for our pick of the best!
  2. Ensure that your VPN is running. This will allow you to access blocked torrent sites, will hide your real IP address from anyone watching, and will hide your download activity from your ISP.
  3. Visit a BitTorrent website – these provide searchable databases of available torrents, and often include user reviews etc. of the torrent files. When you find a file you want, click on the download via torrent link or magnet link (some sites offer both, and from an end-user perspective it doesn’t really matter which you chose). Decoding the jargon used on BitTorrent sites (especially the terminology to label files) can take while to pickup, but is handy for finding the right content.
  4. The torrent link or magnet link should open in your BitTorrent client, so just follow instructions (such as click OK to confirm).

I have an article dedicated to downloading on Android devices here, and an article dedicated to protecting yourself with a VPN when downloading here.


Despite being almost 15 years old, and despite being partially eclipsed by the rise in popularity of streaming s (both legal and illegal), BitTorrent remains probably the best way to download large, high quality files of every type (although Usenet is a close competitor.) So pair one of the clients mentioned above with a good VPN service, and off you go!

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

Related Coverage

35 responses to “5 Best BitTorrent Clients

  1. Hello sir, thank you for such a nice information. I am from India ,I want to use VPN but i have no idea what it is?& how to use? please guide me…

  2. I’ve been using qbittorrent on windows 10, before i switched fully to using Linux. The switch was flawless and still continued to use qbittorrent as my main client. The only feature that i don’t get on Linux, is, as someone mentioned in an earlier comment, the speed graph that allows you to see up and download speeds! Small issue, but was so used to this when using windows… Strange that Linux didn’t follow suit.. Do you know if there is some coding that i could enter that would allow me to get this? Bit of a noob to the whole open source system that Linux offers, so any info would be great! Thanks

    1. Anyone who knows anything about computers will never recommend uTorrent.

      Search for “uTorrent alternatives” and read WHY smart people are running away from that piece of crap.

  3. Inspired by this article I started using Deluge, but I found that it crashes EXTREMELY FREQUENTLY. It seems to close randomly every time I use it, making it useless because I can’t leave my computer and trust that it’s downloading my torrents. Googling the issue I found that plenty of other people had the same problem and switched to other clients.

    In short, just don’t bother with this one.

  4. I will never use VUZE again. I’d been a 12-year user (since the Azureus) days and preferred it because of its enormous control over performance. However, it’s a bit fragile and breaks easily, requiring reinstalls. On FIVE different occasions, reinstalls or updates have broken the settings on other programs, in particular system preferences, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

    The last several installations have attempted to load adware. The most recent (and last) time, my antivirus program wouldn’t allow the installation of adware, the install wouldn’t complete, and it killed the settings on my browsers. There’s no legitimate reason for one program to damage another like this, so, sorry Vuze, but never again.

    1. Hi Teh,

      I use Vuze too, mainly because I’m too lazy to change over to qBitTorrent, but also because I like being able to bind it to my VPN. I have not experienced the instability to talk about, but agree that the increase in adware will likely push me to change soon.

      1. I have been a Vuse (Windows) user for years. The most critical feature is being able to bind to a VPN adapter. Without that, one slip, and you might as well not be using a VPN at all. The next best feature is it’s built in scheduler as my ISP uses an off-peak quota system. However in the last few months, Vuse has been getting slower and crashes more frequently. Most crashes occur during a scheduled download causing me to restart it again for the next off-peak period 24 hours later.

        Really need an alternative downloader with VPN adapter binding and built in scheduler.

        1. Hi Graham,

          I too use Vuze precisely because of this feature. I have not noticed any increase in slowness or crashes, but the ever-more intrusive push to buy the premium version is becoming an issue for me. Unfortunately, no other BitTorrent client that I am aware of can bind to the VPN adapter. Many VPN providers, however, have a VPN kill switch built-in to their custom VPN clients, which should address your problem, or you can build your own using firewall rules. Edit: It looks like this Docker for Deluge should also do the trick.

    1. Hi Tony,

      As far as I can ascertain Deluge has been able to handle Magnet links since at least version 1.3.

  5. Thanks for the review. I already knew qBitTorrent from the few months that my main OS was Linux Mint. So after finally deciding to yet go along with Windows 10 I installed it instead of the formerly usual μTorrent. Then I recalled the one big disadvantage about it, apart from the minor one of not having a speed graph: It does not allow you to choose a download folder for each individual download, which forces you to download everything to the same location and keep it there until you’re done with seeding, before you can move things to their final destination. To me, that is a major disadvantage, which will probably cause me to move to a different torrent client within not too long time…

    1. Why not just copy the file to its final destination and leave the original where it is? Then when youj have finished seeding, just delete the original.

        1. Hi SortingHat, Doug, and Rob,

          In qBittorrent, right-click on a torrent -> Set location to choose a download folder for each individual download.

  6. Hi , am new to this , am using real debrid to download links , from sites like scepter.ws and soft archive , am i mistaken in thinking that these are not torrent. Sites and that using debrid does not need a vpn ?
    I want to delve into downloading from torrent sites but am really worried about infecting my mac with malware and like most newbies i dont know of any torrent sites that might be safe to log into ?
    I realise that i will need a vpn for torrenting but i had one previouslyvthat reduced my speed when enabled from 30mbps to 5 mbps.
    Would really appreciate advice thankyou.

    1. Hi Joe,

      You are correct that the websites you mention do not use P2P, but offer straight downloads. These cannot be tracked by copyright holders in the same way that torrent downloads can, but without a VPN your ISP can easily see what you download (whether this is problem depends on your ISP.) I would recommend using a VPN anyway. Downloading from torrent sites is no more risky than your current strategy (in fact, if you download from established sites such as thepiratebay or Kick Ass Torrents then as long as you protect yourself using a VPN you are probably safer.) Downloaded software in particular can be infected by viruses (you are unlikely to catch a virus from a movie or music track,) which is why sites such as TPB and KAT are great, as a thriving user community is often quick to spot and alert other users to problems. VPN does slow down your internet connection a bit, but with AirVPN running, my 50 mbps my connection usually runs at over 40 mbps (at least.) Check out our reviews for sped tests on different providers.

    1. Hi Nick,

      I have just tried this, and at least in the Windows version it is true. Thanks. I have updated the article accordingly.

  7. I’ve used piratebay for the last 2 years and have received about 8 letters from my isp regarding copyright but they never actually do anything about it. Ive read your article on the 5 best vpns as well. My friend suggested i use vuse. Are these any safer than piratebay in regards to your isp sending you letters or should i just get a vpn.

    1. Hi sean,

      I think you are getting 3 separate (but related) things confused.

      1. Your BitTorrent client (e.g. Vuze, or one of the clients mentioned above) – this is the software you use to download files using the BitTorrent protocol. These provide no protection from your ISP, etc. but are necessary for downloading files.
      2. A BitTorrent website (e.g. thepiratebay) – these are websites that index torrent files and point towards the links needed to download the indexed content. Downloading from private torrent sites is considered “safer” than from public ones such as thepiratebay, but this protection is fairly minimal.
      3. A VPN – this hides your internet activity, and if using a good provider, will protect you when downloading (on any website.) Just make sure to use a kill switch to prevent your IP being exposed due to VPN dropouts.

      So, yes, you should get a VPN! :).

      1. Thank you for you quick reply. I’m thinking about getting ipvanish i heard bad things about HideMyAss as a vpn.
        1. Does Ipvanish offer a kill switch or is that a separate program you download?

        2. Do you have a list of the best BitTorrent websites? I use Thepiratebay and use uTorrent – which wasnt on your list at all.

        3. Is Vuse/QBitTorrent that much better than uTorrent? Should i get one of these instead?

        Thank you in advance for answering my questions you’ve been very helpful.

        1. Hi sean,

          Some VPN services provide a kill switch with their software, but IPVanish does not. You can, however, use a third party kill switch, or create you own using firewall rules. See here for more details and links.

  8. Very good article
    This is the first article on the internet I’m reading where the author understands what open source is and the advantages it brings
    qBitTorrent is my choice too, I think it’s the best bittorrent client nowadays

  9. A downside of Transmission for OS X is: you can’t delete individual files from a gigantic torrent. And no plans to add this in the future.

    1. Hi Atari,

      Ah… it has been a while since my Mac died. I had forgotten this, but have added this (very good) point to the article. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *