The popular Bittorrent indexer The Piratebay announced yesterday that the decision was made to switch the position of torrent and magnet link download links on the website in order to save bandwidth.
Many media sites reported that The Piratebay would be dropping torrents altogether, but that is not true. While it is still possible to download torrent files directly from the site, most users will probably click on the first download link they see that is not advertisement, and that will load the magnet link instead now.
If you have never heard of magnet links before I suggest you check out What Is A Magnet Link And How Does It Differ From Torrents?. For those in a hurry: A magnet link is a hypertext link that contains information that the torrent client can use to find the data to download.
Downloaders should not experience issues when they switch from torrents to magnet links. It may take longer before the client begins the download, but that is about it.
Another issue is that without access to the torrent file, you cannot use it in a program like Torrific which turns torrents into direct http downloads.
What most users do not know is that their torrent client will actually save a torrent file once the magnet link has been added to the client and the download has been started.
Users of the popular uTorrent client can for instance open the %appdata%\Roaming\uTorrent\ directory to find all torrent files listed in that directory. Torrents only appear here once the client has started downloading the file, and not before.
Having to start to download the files to get the torrent link is not an optimal solution, but it seems to be the only option at this point in time. Maybe someone will create a program in the future that downloads only the torrent file, for now, that's not possible.
Update: So called torrent file caching services have come to some prominence in recent time. They cache magnet link and torrent file relations so that users can download torrents directly without having to use magnet links at all.
As mentioned earlier, the main benefit here is that downloads start faster as all information required to do so are already available.
Here is a short list of these caching services that you can use.
A program supporting these services is Magrent for Firefox. It supports all four services and provides you with options to download torrent files directly when you right-click on magnet links in the browser.
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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.