Torrents and BitTorrent have a bad image in the press as they are usually associated with piracy and crime. What many fail to notice is that the technology itself is neutral, meaning that it can be used for good or bad, just like knifes for example.
Legitimate services use BitTorrent to distribute files and while those do not include the latest blockbusters, you will find a solid selection of media files hosted by the services that are mentioned here in this guide.
All websites that follow offer free downloads on their sites. Some may offer paid downloads in addition, but the majority of media that you can download from these sites is free of charge and legal to download.
The guide provides you with a brief description of each service so that you know what to expect from them.
The music website has been around for a long time. All music that you find on the site is free to listen to online and to download, provided it is for personal use. You find almost 400,000 songs on the site and lots of albums from artists.
What I really like are the radio stations that the site offers. Not only can you use them to discover new music, you can also download any song that is playing that you like directly to your local system.
A community that shares live concert recordings of artists that do not mind that this is happening. You can use the search to find a particular band. The vast archive lists relatively unknown but also popular bands. You find the Counting Crows, Dave Mathews Band or Neil Young here for instance.
All releases are downloadable with a single click from the interface. The site lists seeders and the size of the file in its listings.
Each year, artists play hundreds of songs on the South by Southwest festival. All music that is made available is then bundled into one or two big torrent downloads for you to downloads.
As you can see from the screenshot above, torrents are really large and included lots of audio files. The website lists torrents for all festivals back to 2005. Make sure you have a big enough hard drive if you plan to download them all to your system.
Vodo offers independent movie downloads and adds a bit of the crowd funding platform Kickstarter to it. While you can watch movies right away, you may donate to the publisher or artists right from the website. This is not required to watch the movies online or download them via torrents though.
The selection is not that extensive as you only get access to 196 films currently at the time of writing. Still, all free so nothing to complain about here.
The Clear Bits website offers video, music, game or ebook downloads. You can use the search to find files of interested or browse the content by media type using the menu displayed in the sidebar.
Only a couple of files get released per month which is without doubt one of the things that is holding this community back.
If you like classic movies then this site is for you. You find movies listed here from the very early days of film making including some starring popular actors such as Charlie Chaplin or Basil Rathbone.
All movies can be downloaded as torrent files for various devices, PC, iPod or PSP for example, and also bought on DVD or special mobile player versions.
The website offers more than 2 million torrent movies, books and music & audio files for free download. You can use the search to find particular files, or browse collections divided into book, movie and audio torrents. To download, locate the torrent link on the site. It features direct http downloads as well which may be faster.
The website offers games, music, videos, software and other media as free legal downloads. Most download links save the torrent right to your system while others may link to another page where it can be downloaded instead.
Depending on type, you may be able to listen to or watch right on the website as well so that you do not necessarily need to download the media to your system at all. It is also great as a preview.
Offers free legal game downloads, PC game patches, mods and all that good stuff as torrents. If you are looking for a patch or mod for a game, you may find it here on the website.
A private torrent site that you need to register to before download links become available. It offers concert recordings, more than 4000 at the time of writing.
Popular bands such as Bon Jovi, Megadeath or Jethro Tull are for instance listed here on the site.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.