BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, sits just behind YouTube in global internet bandwidth usage. Until recently, this astounding amount of data has been unavailable to users on the go. With the evolution of Android from simple phone OS to a full-featured mobile computing platform, users can now access hundreds of terabytes of content available via torrents.
For mobile users looking to download torrents, Android makes it easy. Here we’re going to cover all the essentials, including:
- Choosing and downloading a torrent client
- Torrent client installation and setup
- Finding torrents with search engines and trackers
- How to download torrents on Android devices using torrent files and magnet links
Practicing torrent safety
Besides making sure you’re not downloading viruses or other malware, it’s important that you also keep yourself safe while torrenting in other ways.
We’re talking about making sure your online P2P activities are as anonymous as possible, and that means using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to cover yourself. Don’t worry: we’ve already covered the best VPNs for torrenting, so after reading this article, we highly recommend you head over there so you can truly torrent in peace.
Choosing and downloading an Android torrent client
There is an overwhelming number of torrent clients available on Google’s Play Store. Many offer a similar set of supported protocols and features which can make choosing a client difficult. Below, we’ll go through some essential features that a quality torrent client should have.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer application which means its users share data directly from client to client. Each peer needs a way to discover other peers sharing the same torrent. BitTorrent accomplishes this using three main methods:
- .torrent files with a tracker
- DHT (Distributed Hash Tables)
- magnet links.
A tracker is a central site that operates somewhat like a phonebook that serves up each users IP, and the torrent file contains the data necessary to communicate with the tracker. In contrast, DHT encodes the IP address of each user sharing data into the torrent file itself, eliminating the need for a central tracker. Magnet links go a step further, encoding all the data required to download a torrent into a specially formatted URL.
Support for all three download methods is important as torrent trackers frequently go offline. The majority of BitTorrent clients on the play store support all three major protocols, though some struggle with magnet links and DHT.
Interface and features
Like many of the apps on Google’s Play store, the majority of Android torrent clients are ad supported with a premium option to remove them. Ads may be displayed full screen or as a non-invasive banner at the bottom of the interface, such as Flud. Choose a client that opts for a minimum of aggressive advertising.
Since torrents are an excellent distribution method for large files, those that are on limited bandwidth plans should opt for a client that supports Wi-Fi only downloading. Most modern torrent clients on the Play Store are now offering this option. However, some bury it deep in their configuration settings.
Finally, a quality torrent client will have easily accessible options to adjust bandwidth usage and number of connections. Some Wi-Fi routers may struggle with the hundreds of connections many clients use as a default configuration, and torrents can consume all a network’s available bandwidth if traffic isn’t restricted.
Finding a torrent client
Unlike iOS which requires the use of cumbersome third-party sites to download torrents Android makes it easy. Finding a torrent client is as simple as opening Google’s Play Store and entering “torrent client” into the search box.
The play store has dozens of free, often ad-supported and paid, ad-free options. Armed with the criteria established above, we’re going to look at the Play Store’s top suggestion Flud Torrent Downloader.
Flud torrent client installation and first run setup
Installation of Flud is as simple as installing any other Play Store app. Navigate to Flud Torrent Downloader from the Play Store search, and hit the green button labeled “Install.”
After a quick download and brief installation, a green “Open” button will appear in the Store window, and an icon will appear in the Android navigator. That’s all there is to installing Flud Torrent Downloader.
First run setup
When first opening Flud the user will be greeted with a familiar Android permissions window asking if the app can access photos, media, and files on the device. Tap “Accept” to allow Flud to access your file system.
Next, the user Flud asks if torrents should download over wifi only. Since torrents can consume a lot of bandwidth, users with limited data plans should leave this box checked.
With the installation and initial setup complete, we’re ready to find our first torrents to download.
Flud, like many clients, offers an in-app search for torrents. Unfortunately, like many torrent clients, it is little more than a Google search and isn’t likely to find what you need. To find torrents to download, we can either search directly at a torrent tracker or use a torrent search engine.
Major torrent trackers
Sites such as general purpose Pirate Bay, video-centric Rarbg, and anime filled Nyaa are popular trackers containing a wealth of copywritten material. As a mobile user looking to download torrents Android’s support for ad blocking browsers will come in handy as many sites hosting copywritten content have popups.
Copyright-free torrent trackers
Although commonly associated with piracy, there are numerous trackers focused exclusively on copyright-free content. The Internet Archive hosts a massive volume of audio and video where copyright has lapsed, and Legit Torrents is home to open source and creative commons licensed software, music, and video.
Torrent search engines
Torrent search engines that crawl torrent trackers are handy for those new to the world of BitTorrent. However, many ISPs have started blocking them, and they frequently go offline due to copyright infringement claims. Torrents.me and Torrentz2 are two widely used meta-search engine which crawl a handful of major torrent trackers and have remained resilient in the face of copyright claims.
Depending on the chosen tracker, the download will be available as a .torrent file, magnet link, or both. Below, we’ll walk through using Flud to download both magnet links and .torrent files.
How to download torrents on Android
Downloading torrents on Android is nearly as easy as installing the client. Both magnet links and .torrent files are simple to import into Flud. Which method to use comes down to what is offered by the tracker and user preference.
Torrent files contain metadata about the contents of the torrent and allow the user to select which files to download and their download priority. Magnet links don’t contain metadata, which downloads after adding the torrent to the client. Users will need to wait several minutes for the torrent metadata to download before configuring file download preferences.
Importing torrent files and magnet links
.Torrent files are imported to Flud using the red “+” icon in the lower right corner. Importing is as easy as browsing to the desired .torrent file and tapping its filename.
Downloading torrents using magnet links is similar to downloading torrents using .torrent files. To download using a magnet link, first copy the URL to the clipboard then click the magnet icon on the top of the interface to import the link into Flud. After importing a torrent file, the user is asked to configure download specific options which we will discuss below.
Flud will automatically paste magnet links into the dialogue box. Tap OK to move on to download-specific configuration options.
Configuring download-specific options
Once a torrent is imported, Flud will ask the user to set download-specific options such as name, storage location, and an option for sequential downloading. Select the pencil icon in the interface to edit desired options.
In our case, we want to download this torrent to a new directory named “Music” on an external SD card. Select the pencil icon beside the storage path and browse to the desired download location. New folders can be made using the “New Folder” button on the navigator window.
Now we’ve set the download-specific options, tap the “+ Add Torrent” button in the upper right to begin the download.
Once complete, the torrent file will begin “seeding,” which is essentially uploading to other users. Seeding is optional for public trackers, but it helps distribute the file to other users and strengthens the peer-to-peer network.
For mobile users looking to download torrents Android is the only real choice due to Apple’s iTunes store restrictions. The open nature of the Play store has allowed developers to create full-featured applications that greatly improve the user experience.
Armed with a simple to use client like Flud and a little know-how, a world of freely-available content is now available in the palm of our hand.
Do you think you now know how to download torrents on Android? Is there something we missed, or do you have any questions?
Let us know in the comments below!