Tribler: Bittorrent client with integrated Tor-like anonymity

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 19, 2014
Updated • Dec 21, 2014

Update: Tribler security not as good as claimed. Read this for a first basic analysis.

Bittorrent has not one but two Achilles' heels: torrent indexing services and a lack of anonymity. While it is possible to overcome the latter through the use of virtual private networks or proxies, there is no viable alternative available yet for indexing services.

Tribler, which I reviewed back in September 2014, attempts to change that. It is developed by researchers at Delft University of Technology who wanted to create a system that is anonymous and impossible to shut down at the same time.

Tribler integrates torrent indexing and anonymity in the client directly which means that it does not rely on third-party services or websites for that.

While it is still possible to use these services to download or stream torrent files using the client, the idea is to move slowly but steadily away from requiring torrent indexing websites at all.

The second big feature of Tribler, anonymity, landed in the most recent version. It uses a system similar to what the Tor network offers but uses its own network which is not compatible with Tor.

Detailed information about the implementation are available on Github. If you break it down to its core, it is routing requests through several user systems automatically. Instead of downloading files directly from the seeder, they are downloaded and redirected by other users first.

This means in turn that every user of the Tribler network is a node that is being used to transfer data to other users which in turn may impact the overall download speed and your ability to seed files.

The packets received this way are encrypted with the exception of the header which consists only of an identifier used to determine where to send the packet to.

Tribler ships with search options built in that you can use to find torrents directly in the client. It is also supporting channels, collections of torrents offered by other users, which users can vote for to improve their visibility in search.

When you download a torrent file using the service you get to select the number of hops for that download. These hops, from zero to five, determine the number of computers that the encrypted packets are sent through on their way from the seeder to your computer.

The more hops you select the better the anonymity but the lower the speed.

It is interesting to note that you can specify the hops for all files you download regardless of whether you found them using the service's own search or through other services. Since you can load torrent files into Tribler, it works for them equally well.

Closing Words

The idea behind Tribler makes sense but it is too early to tell if it will take off. The security and anonymity of the service needs to be vetted by third-parties first, and on top of that, it needs to be distributed to a wider user base as it is one limiting factor when it comes to downloads.

software image
Author Rating
5 based on 2 votes
Software Name
Operating System
Landing Page

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.