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5 free BitTorrent clients to get you downloading in no time

If you’re in the hunt for a BitTorrent client but don’t feel like forking over your hard-earned cash, you’re in luck. All of the best ones are free. Seriously, unless you need a specific, obscure feature, there’s practically no reason to pay for a BitTorrent client. There are hundreds of powerful and free options out there, so to help you quickly find one that works for you, we’ve rounded up five of our favorites and listed them below. The big differences between these clients come down to things like user interface, ease of use, and how taxing the program is on your hardware.

In the market for a client, but still aren’t quite sure how to use BitTorrent? Check out our no-nonsense tutorial to learn the ropes and start downloading practically anything you want.

utorrent iconμTorrent (Windows/Mac)

μTorrent is arguably the most popular bittorrent client in the biz, and for good reason. Weighing in at just barely over 1MB, the program takes up less space than your average Facebook photo, but somehow manages to pack in a boatload of advanced features. It packs a clean, visually-appealing interface that’s incredibly simple to navigate and cuts down on clutter by allowing you to hide elements you don’t use. We like it for its tiny size (you can store/run it off of a flash drive!) and the fact that it doesn’t hog a lot of system resources.

magnet
URI
prioritization super
seeding
DHT selective
downloading
encryption remote
control
RSS UPnP
yes yes  yes yes  yes yes yes yes yes
NAT Port
Mapping
embedded
tracker
UDP
tracker
LPD sequential
downloading
proxy
server
web
seeding
cache Auto
updates 
yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

vuze icon_clipped_rev_1Vuze (Windows/Mac)

Vuze (formerly Azureus) is a beast of a torrent client. It’s not nearly as lightweight as uTorrent, but it’s open source (yay open source!) and boasts a variety of different plugins you can download to give it additional functionality. The UI is excellent and a bit more flashy than most other bittorrent clients. We like also like the sidebar navigation panel, which provides quick access to just about every major function Vuze has to offer.

magnet
URI
prioritization super
seeding
DHT selective
downloading
encryption remote
control
RSS UPnP
yes yes  yes yes  yes yes yes yes yes
NAT Port
Mapping
embedded
tracker
UDP
tracker
LPD sequential
downloading
proxy
server
web
seeding
cache Auto
updates 
yes yes yes no yes yes yes yes yes

qbittorrent iconqBittorrent (Windows/Mac)

Looking for a solid bittorrent client that’s heavy on features but still dead simple to use? Look no further than qBittorrent. qBittorrent is one of the best-equipped clients you can get, and its no-nonsense UI makes it a breeze to use. Even if you’re a bittorrent noob, qBittorrent will make you feel like a seasoned veteran. qBittorrent also benefits from regular updates, which keeps it on the cutting edge of the world of bittorrent clients.

magnet
URI
prioritization super
seeding
DHT selective
downloading
encryption remote
control
RSS UPnP
yes yes  yes yes  yes yes yes yes yes
NAT Port
Mapping
embedded
tracker
UDP
tracker
LDP sequential
downloading
proxy
server
web
seeding
cache Auto
updates 
yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

transmission iconTransmission (Mac)

Transmission is an open source bittorrent client for OS X and Linux. The user interface is wicked simple, and it only takes a few clicks to configure advanced features. To top it off, Transmission takes up far fewer CPU resources during use than any other client around. 

magnet
URI
prioritization super
seeding
DHT selective
downloading
encryption remote
control
RSS UPnP
yes yes  no yes  yes yes yes yes yes
NAT Port
Mapping
embedded
tracker
UDP
tracker
LPD sequential
downloading
proxy
server
web
seeding
cache Auto
updates 
yes no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

tixatiTixati (Windows)

We didn’t think it’d be fair to mention a Mac-only client without also showing love for a Windows-only client, so Tixati made the list as well. That’s not to say we just added it arbitrarily though – pound for pound and feature for feature, Tixati is one of the best clients in the bittorrent game. In comparison to some of the others on this list, it’s got a pretty similar featureset, but where it really shines is it’s user interface, which is packed to the gills with information. Sporting a wide array of different metrics, graphs, and performance data, this program is more visually appealing and informative than any other we know of.

magnet
URI
prioritization super
seeding
DHT selective
downloading
encryption remote
control
RSS UPnP
yes yes  yes yes  yes yes no yes yes
NAT Port
Mapping
embedded
tracker
UDP
tracker
LPD sequential
downloading
proxy
server
web
seeding
cache Auto
updates 
yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

List of terms:

  • Magnet URI – For legal reasons, many torrent sites no longer host torrent files, but instead post magnet links. Your torrent client should be able to open magnet links.
  • Prioritization – This feature lets you assign more bandwidth to a particular torrent or torrents.
  • Super Seeding – This is basically a more efficient way of distributing a file. It sends out pieces of the file that haven’t been sent yet, thus distributing them among a higher number of peers and improving community download speeds as a whole.
  • DHT – DHT keeps the torrent alive if the tracker goes offline.
  • Selective Downloading – Allows you to selectively choose which files you want to download from a torrent instead of forcing you to download the entire torrent.
  • Sequential Downloading – Rather than receiving bits in random order, this feature pieces together files in a sequential order, which enables you to stream music and video files before the download is actually complete.
  • Encryption – Lets you encrypt your connection to protect yourself against traffic throttling ISPs.
  • Remote Control – Access and manage your torrents from anywhere in the world via a web interface.
  • RSS – Also referred to as broadcatching, this feature lets you automatically download torrents from RSS streams.
  • UPnP – A networking protocol that allows your torrent client to connect to other devices.
  • NAT Port Mapping – Allows a computer in a private network (behind a NAT router) to automatically configure a router to allow machines outside of the private network to contact it.
  • Embedded Tracker – This feature basically helps your client act as a server and communicate with peers. This is helpful if you’re publishing torrents.
  • UDP tracker – A high-performance, low-overhead BitTorrent tracker protocol. While not essential, this helps reduce strain on the tracking server.
  • LPD – Local Peer Discovery, or LPD, helps to minimize traffic through your ISP’s channel and favor file transferring through your local area network if it’s available.
  • Proxy Support – Lets you access P2P networks through a proxy server and keep your IP address hidden.
  • Web Seeding – Allows you to download torrent pieces from an HTTP source in addition to peer swarms.
  • Cache – Basically helps reduce disk usage, file fragmentation and latency by using larger written blocks and cached data for hash checking finished pieces.
  • Auto Updates – Self-explanatory. Doing it manually is a minor inconvenience that you just shouldn’t have to deal with.