uTorrent to get in-client advertisement

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 12, 2012
Updated • Dec 2, 2012
File Sharing, Internet

I have been using uTorrent ever since I discovered that tiny lightweight client years ago. I stuck with the program even after it had been bought by Bittorrent Inc, or when the company decided to offer uTorrent Plus, a paid version of uTorrent with extra features, to its user base. Even the uTorrent update that came bundled with adware did not make me switch clients.

An announcement over at the official uTorrent forum however will push me towards another client. According to the information posted there, one of the next versions of uTorrent will include in-client advertisements.

This new build will display a featured torrent at the top of your torrent list.  This featured torrent space will be used to offer a variety of different types of content.  We are working towards bringing you offers that are relevant to you.  This means films, games, music, software...basically anything that you will find interesting.  We may not get it right on the first try but we will continue to improve our efforts based on your feedback.

The new ad spot may show three different types of offers with no option to turn those offers off in the client.

  • Information about new Bittorrent Inc products, features and services
  • Partner offers like games, security products and privacy services
  • Independent artist offers

This makes it look like there are different options what the company uses the ad spot at the top of the torrent listing for. It appears as if the company can not only fill the space with a selected torrent offer for download, but also textual ads that inform about partner products right in the client. The announcement is a bit vague at this point, but I really can't see how they would add information about new Bittorrent products or privacy services as torrents in the client.

While it is too early to tell how this will turn out, it is likely that a percentage of existing users will not be happy with the change. What options do they have?

  • They can disable automatic updates in the client by clicking on Options > Preferences > General > Check for updates automatically, and update to beta versions to avoid being updated automatically to that new version
  • Downgrade to version 2.2.1, the last version of the client before it was purchased by Bittorrent Inc.
  • They can switch to another client, one without in-client advertisement. Check out qBittorrent for instance in this regard.

If you select the first option, you may make your system vulnerable to exploits that target security vulnerabilities in older versions of the Bittorrent client.


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  1. Samuel Becks said on September 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    So its a good reason not to upgrade. So long as they leave the option of being able to turn off the adverts, then it won’t be so bad i guess.

  2. Marc said on August 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    @ Martin
    Can I ask if it’s not cross the line: Why there hasn’t been any review about Tixati? I’m asking beacuse there must be some kind of Con against it and as such I would like to know what it is in the light /vision / opinion of Ghacks Autor ;)
    Bottom line: I’m not asking for an article, and as with any other thing you could reply: I reserve my opinion, so no problem whatsoever, just that as I’m considering switching and such Tixati looks like an interesting option I would like another critical throught out opinion or analysis to weight and better assessTixati alternative.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Marc, no specific reason. I take a look at it in the coming days.

      1. Marc said on August 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

        Thanks Martin for the prompt reply, looking forward to it then, while exploring Tixati… so far I’m having some quirks with the interface, for example I’m missing status icons on the transfer panel (such as it was the default in older version of uTorrent – now with an advanced toggle setting), but overall I’m impressed. There are many options that I had been waiting ages for uTorrent to implement such as text filters for finding a torrent in the torrent list or to stop seeding after a certain ratio has been reached. I do however don’t know if Tixati does support custom icons… for the toolbar buttons for example or making toolbar icons even smaller as they even in Compact mode consume too much space. And there are some other interface quirks such as the tab view with the torrent files, trackers, bandwich, etc info not sticking to smaller sizes and using scroll bars instead.

      2. Bob said on August 14, 2012 at 6:04 am

        Right on. I’m sure you will be impressed and I look eagerly to reading the article.

  3. Tom said on August 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    … and yeah, currently the main problem is that most of the private trackers don’t allow either qBittorent or Tixati. After this advertisement move in uTorrent, this will hopefully change in the near future.

    1. Marc said on August 14, 2012 at 1:16 am

      Why isn’t it allowed on private trackers? Is it due to the incremental downloading mode that screws swarms? I’m just getting to know Tixati… but I bet that option may be against good BitTorrent practices…?
      Isn’t incremental downloading somehow similar to previewing videos in uTorrent or to the option “prioritize by File Order”?
      Last or is it simply because Tixati is just too unknown?

      So far this is what I’ve found about Tixati
      ( http://filesharefreak.org/2009/12/04/tixati-an-advanced-new-bittorrent-client/index.html )
      and it is quite and old review.

  4. Tom said on August 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    “version 2.2.1, the last version of the client before it was purchased by Bittorrent Inc.”

    Wrong. The aquisition was back in the end of 2006 when the newest stable uTorrent version was 1.5.0
    Though it’s true that 2.2.1 is the last well working version worth to stay on / downgrade to and use until a serious security vulnerability will be found. Then to switch to qBittorrent or Tixati…

  5. Genious said on August 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Bloat, everywhere. Abandon the uTorrent ship everyone.

  6. Richard Steven Hack said on August 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I have uTorrent on my USB key, but never use it – how often does one do a torrent in portable mode? Virtually never…

    On my main machine, the wonder of Linux – I use KTorrent! No worries about ad support there! :-)

  7. Wayfarer said on August 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    This eternal bloating and despoiling of applications (even commercial ones) seems these days to be an immutable law of the software world. Unfortunately we’re often left with little choice but to comply either because of security considerations and/or compatibility issues with new Windows versions.

    Not helped by the fact that so many software publishers don’t bother with changelogs, so we can at least appreciate that “.1” on the end of the new version might mean nothing more than a foreign language update or spelling amendment to the help files.

    As far as I’m concerned, if my bandwidth is being used to import adverts (and to export god knows what) then the software simply isn’t free. I’d sooner pay for software – though even that doesn’t always help.

    For instance I’ve used Total Commander for years for free, just accepting the nag screen – I’d count that as free. But few ‘free software’ lists include TC, while they often include ‘free’ software that is far more intrusive.

    Another common device is too-frequent updates – otherwise good ad-free software that seems to have a new version every single week. Often just a way of getting frequent hits revenue on the download site with few if any added benefits from the updates.

    I don’t use torrents much, and I’ve been happy with uTorrent for a long time. Clearly time to start looking around. Thanks for those alternative suggestions.

    But I’ll give uTorrent a couple of brownie points on one score – at least they’re being honest. Not every software publisher is.

  8. ComicHippo said on August 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

    qBittorrent ? . You should have mentioned Tixati ( http://www.tixati.com ) or Deluge ( http://deluge-torrent.org ) .

    1. Roman ShaRP said on August 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Does Tixati have some color-minimalistic interface options, not that black background on official screenshot?

      1. ComicHippo said on August 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        You can change background colour to white if you want to . Settings – User Interface – Color Scheme – Light Background ( click load )

      2. Bob said on August 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        The first thing I do is change the default black background to white in the options setting. With Tixati I can setup a private IRC chat channel with friends. I do believe that with uTorrent we can chat with friends using Facebook but it isn’t a private chat and Facebook keeps the history.

  9. jay said on August 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    They’re destroying the software we all once loved made the move to qbittorent

    1. Bob said on August 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      They could care less if they are making millions off of the end users who continue to support them.

  10. Damirora said on August 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I stuck with the 2.2.1 version of microtorrent. I didn’t upgrade to the other version because ….I have totally forgotten what peeved me about the update.
    Must have been a similar reason to why I don’t use the Skype update that gets adverts.

  11. Roman ShaRP said on August 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    When doing re-setup on my system, I downgraded from 3.X to 2.2 . On my opinion 3.X versions didn’t add much useful but made uTorrent resource hog (it used like 6x more memory). Of course, in-client ads won’t give me any wish to upgrade. I don’t like ads, you know.

    I tried qBittorrent, but got a silent crash trying to set up my first torrent download… This was a bad sign, so I’ll wait with qBittorrent until it get more stability.

  12. katorce said on August 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Try tixati it is only in English but it’s awesome.

  13. Marc D said on August 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I can stand ads in the setup, but into the application = a security risk. It’s not the first time ads servers had been targeted, and this would be a likely way to target bittorrent users, not nice in that regard. And at the very list if Ads are not minimalist as Google’ones it would become a constant annoying distraction. If ads get finally implemented into the application itself, I will just stick to the current version waiting for a workaround or I might just switch. The right way to implement this would be an opt:out in some advanced dark setting, such that most users will still receive ads by default, but those that can’t stand it and are willing to digg for an obscure setting can disable it (which are the same users that otherwise are willing to look for an alternative instead).
    So far Tixati looks like the candidate, already grabbed the portable windows version, and might just see if I can tweak it to my liking and to fit my torrent workflow.

  14. alan said on August 12, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I still use 2.0.4(22967)..Very happy with it..the only 3 private trackers i use still allow it…I don’t take these vulnerabilties of older versions too seriously anyway
    I wouldn’t have a problem switching to something else but so far only utorrent meets the 2 important requirments for me ..Works well on windows PC(unlike vuze,deluge) and is accepted by private trackers..

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