Running a bittorrent client, and downloading and sharing files isn’t without risk. Even if you’re staying away from known bad sites, and pirates and files that might infringe on copyright (which you should stay away from), there’s still a multitude of other issues you face. Here’s how to protect yourself and your computer.
Use Good Antivirus Software
You just want to have fun, but there are many people out there who think “fun” means infecting your computer with viruses and malware. That’s where a good antivirus program comes in handy. Antivirus and anti-malware programs are cheap insurance against losing all of your valuable data in a ransomware infection or a worm that eats everything or a virus that corrupts critical system files.
But, it’s not enough to just download an antivirus program. You must update the definitions regularly, cross-check one virus program with another, and keep your finger on the pulse of the bittorrent community to learn about new threats making the rounds. Prevention is a lot easier than cleaning up a mess after you’ve been infected.
Watch Your Share Ratio
When you download and share content via P2P file sharing, one thing you have to pay attention to is your share ratio. Your share ratio refers to the ratio of your downloads to shares (seed activity). Data transfer is monitored per user on a lot of private trackers, and you’ll have to maintain a sensible ratio to avoid losing downloading privileges. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for a ratio of 1 or better. That means you’re downloads are at least equal to your shares. Ideally, you’ll share more than you download.
Use A Reputable Client
Some torrent clients are better than others. Take BitTyrant, for example. Its known bugs and exploits make it one of the least favorite clients in private communities. On the other hand, the bittorrent client from www.Vuze.com, is a stable client that is well-built, includes antivirus protection, and is highly-regarded in most communities.
Using a stable and reputable client will keep you in good standing in some private trackers, and will prevent you from being kicked out.
Stay Away From Bad Torrent Sites
You know the bad sites – the sites that are openly hostile to copyright laws and intellectual property. These pirate sites are not to be trusted. Don’t download anything from them for your own good. Not only is it a federal crime to download copyright-protected material without the authorization of the rights holder, it’s immoral. It can land you in jail, and you could end up paying thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. That’s not a nice way to spend the rest of your life – paying off a judgment.
When you download something, it’s expected that you will upload it for others. This upload process is called “seeding.” It’s considered good karma to do this for others – leave your client open for several hours.
What you want to see is at least two other users seeding the file you downloaded. That means that at least two other users have downloaded from you and have started seeding the file themselves. It’s a way to give back more than you’ve taken from the community.
Audrey Brown has a knack for data management. After years working with a variety of file types and systems, she often blogs about modern file organization, sharing, and security to meet the needs of today’s digital users.