uTorrent Update Comes Bundled With Adware

Martin Brinkmann
May 4, 2012
Updated • Dec 2, 2012
File Sharing, Internet

An update to the popular torrent download client uTorrent has been released a few days ago, bringing the version of the stable client build to uTorrent 3.1.3. As you may know, it is possible to update the client with the built-in updater, or by downloading the latest version of the software from the official website to run the installer manually instead.

Up until very recently, uTorrent updates would simply install the latest version of the client in a fast and convenient process that required no user interaction whatsoever.  Reports that the situation has changed appeared a few days ago with the recent update to uTorrent 3.1.3. Users who upgrade to that version will see a prompt during the installation of the update that may look similar to the one seen on the screenshot below.

utorrent update adware

It reads: Your update will complete in a moment. Thanks for upgrading! We're glad you joined us. Help support uTorrent and get access to thousands of free apps with the uTorrent Browser Bar!.

Below that is an image of the browser toolbar, and three checkboxes:

  • Set my homepage to uTorrent Web Search
  • Make uTorrent Web Search my default search provider
  • I accept the uTorrent Browser Bar License Agreement and Privacy Policy and want to install it

Users who simply click Finish will install the uTorrent toolbar, and change the homepage and the default search provider for all installed web browsers on the system to uTorrent web search.

One could now say that it is the fault of the user if those changes are made to the system, as the dialog is giving users the option to disable those selections to avoid installing those, usually unwanted, features. Then again, it is a big change in the way uTorrent updates are processed on client machines. Users did not have to pay attention to updates up until now, because it was simply not required to do so.  With uTorrent 3.1.3 comes the requirement to pay attention to all dialogs presented on the screen during the upgrade, to avoid installing adware or unwanted software on the system.

The release log on the uTorrent website does not mention the bundling at all. If you think that is going to far, you should take a look at the uTorrent alternative qBittorrent.

Bundling updates, even automatic ones with third party software is not as common yet as bundling adware with software installers. It is however likely that we will see more programs utilize this possibility in the future.


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  1. Baron said on November 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the Forum/info, Martin.
    Unfortunately I “updated” my Utorrent already and now I have ads all over and half my downloads are in the red (I don’t know what that means)

    If I switch to qBittorrent or Tonido will all my downloads transfer safely?

    Any reply would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      You can import incomplete torrent downloads to qBittorrent. The program has an option under the File menu to import existing torrents.

  2. dyno said on August 12, 2012 at 4:32 am

    I am using Tonido Torrent Client (http://www.tonido.com/app_torrent_home.html). Kind of neat. It is web based and i can manage my torrents from anywhere through browser. Good alternative to utorrent.

  3. Pmousse said on May 30, 2012 at 1:42 am

    In addition to it adding the toolbar against my will, my share ratio is now seriously screwed up. It went from 1.20 to .95 overnight without me even downloading anything.

  4. Pmousse said on May 30, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I updated to 3.1.3 last week, and I made sure to unclick the add-ons and it still installed the toolbar… i was beyond pissed as i was absolutely certain I unchecked those damn boxes.

  5. Womble said on May 11, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I switched to Tixati a few months ago due to the direction Utorrent seems to be heading.

  6. Krishna said on May 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I have used qbit torrent. Wasted on qbit torrent is 8 to 12% while utorrent’s wasted is less than 1%. That means for a 500 mb file qbit torrent downloads 550 mb or more while utorrent downloads 505 mb making it more efficient.

    Always check the wasted on any torrent client.

  7. raton said on May 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Toolbars for iexplorer and chrome are installing whithout asking ,not a big deal ,disable ,but it is simply not nice.Time for another client.

  8. John said on May 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I have been using U-Torrent for awhile and just update manually. Problem solved. They have a great software.

  9. VvVvVvv said on May 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    The amount of disgruntled users and the money that is being raked in must tip the scale in favor of uTorrent. After all, the ones who dump uTorrent are the ones with no market value anyway.

  10. Katorce said on May 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Please could you make a review comparing microtorrent, qbittorrent, deluge (I hate gnome on windows but some people is ok with that) and transmission qt. I think it will be interesting.

  11. smaragdus said on May 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

    AdWare applications thrive because people accept AdWare. If people refused to install adware-infected programs they wouldn’t have existed.

  12. Bob said on May 5, 2012 at 6:43 am

    This was the very reason I now use Tixati. I have downloaded 2 GB files in 30 minutes flat on several occasion with it.

  13. RudyR said on May 5, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Users should ALWAYS pay attention to all steps of the install process to maintain control of their systemsx

  14. Jonathan said on May 5, 2012 at 3:47 am

    I recently started using uTorrent and noticed that when it updated it self it installed the toolbar without asking, however when I opened FF I was notified of this and promptly told it not to install.

  15. mage said on May 5, 2012 at 2:43 am

    I don’t see why this is an issue. Users are given a clear option on whether to install the addon or not. If this will ensure continued development of this free client while giving us the choice of opting out, I’m fine with it.

    1. Bart Degryse said on May 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

      I agree. This bundling thing has been going on for years now in all kinds of software. By now every user should know care has to be taken on installing anything.
      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like this kind of bundling, but I know it’s there, so you won’t see me just pushing buttons without reading every prompt that is presented to me.

  16. Bonsai said on May 5, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I recommend qBittorrent client.

    Is a free open source uTorrent clone and a really good one, maybe better that the former.


    1. lookmann said on May 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      In Qbittorrent, dont unblock windows firewall. otherwise huge data-transfer takes place. you have to click ‘ keep blocking’.

      In magnetic links it does not give details of torrents. so, no better than u torrent.
      for magnets i use bitcomet, which gives details. and i disabled its options to reach out[side] to its home.

      1. Ralph Kitchens said on December 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        what a torrent client using bandwidth that must be a bug

  17. Kane said on May 5, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Whoever said uTorrent was crash prone must have a crappy computer because I’ve never once in the past year or so. As for the ad-ware bundled with it… who cares? First you can say no and second, the developers busted their butts to put out a great product. Let them make a little cash where they can.

  18. Roman ShaRP said on May 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I think than bundling such toolbars with checked, op-out , not opt-in settings is mean behavior and disrespect to users.

  19. smaragdus said on May 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    µTorrent was once the best torrent client, now it is the worst together with Vuze and BitComet. Now it is unstable, crash-prone, bloated resource-hog bundled with ad-ware. There are better really clean clients that are frequently updated- qBittorrent, Tixati, Deluge, Tribler. I am using an ancient version of µTorrent (1.7.5) and with 820 torrents it uses less resources than the 3+ versions with a single torrent loaded.

  20. Allen said on May 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve opted out of this junk for many versions, now. Annoying as it is, it’s really not news… somebody apparently skipped a LOT of updates before writing this article.

    Annoying? Yes, but I haven’t found anything that can take on uTorrents features to footprint ratio (or even come close), so I’ll keep updating for the time being.

    1. Andrew said on May 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      That’s the first time I’ve seen this as well. It would just update automatically before, without asking me anything. But with version 3.1.3 uTorrent actually gave me an installation prompt and even asked for install location (even though I was only upgrading).

  21. ilev said on May 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    This is old news and not from version 3.1.3 .
    As usual, never use auto update on OS or software. Always update manually.

  22. Matt said on May 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Wow. That’s unfortunate. Was uTorrent’s premium/plus version thing not the financial success they were expecting?

    I may have a look a qBittorrent after all. Thanks for including a link to a post on it.

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