One of the biggest questions that people have when getting involved in torrenting is usually about BitTorrent vs uTorrent: which torrent client is the best in 2020?
Finding the answer can seem difficult seeing as most torrenting clients offer such similar experiences. However, in our full BitTorrent vs uTorrent analysis today, we’re going to show you the best torrenting client for 2020.
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In order to crown a winner, we’re going to look at each torrent client’s:
- ease of download
- ease of installation
- design and interface
- safety and security
- user ratings and reviews
- speed tests on desktop and mobile
With that in mind, we need to get one thing out of the way first: the (wrong) idea that both BitTorrent and uTorrent are exactly the same, and that there’s no meaningful difference between the two.
BitTorrent vs uTorrent: a useless comparison?
When we decided to look at which torrenting client was better, BitTorrent vs uTorrent, we were eager to see the differences in desktop and mobile applications, their interface, security, and of course speed.
However, we soon learned that there seemed to be virtually no difference between the two torrenting clients. uTorrent was originally developed by Ludvig Strigeus in 2005, but since December 7, 2006, its code has been owned and maintained by BitTorrent, Inc., the private company that’s responsible for the development of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol.
In fact, after taking over the uTorrent code, the BitTorrent client (also known as BitTorrent Mainline) was rebranded as just another version of uTorrent.
It seemed initially that the battle between BitTorrent and uTorrent was already moot: the two apps are made by the same company, with the only difference being the name and color.
But after digging deeper, we discovered that wasn’t the truth at all:
While they are similar in appearance and functionality, BitTorrent and uTorrent are quite different in a few important ways.
Depending on what you value the most, you can use either BitTorrent or uTorrent. However, based on our tests, in the match of BitTorrent vs uTorrent, we give a slight advantage to uTorrent.
Read on to find out why.
Ease of download
There are some small specs differences we should get out of the way when discussing BitTorrent and uTorrent:
- BitTorrent has a download file size of around 3 MB, while uTorrent has a file size of about 1 MB
- the BitTorrent Android app is 67 MB (after a fresh install), while uTorrent’s app is less than 51 MB.
- BitTorrent only releases stable updates (and not very often), while uTorrent updates regularly with alpha and beta releases
- both BitTorrent and uTorrent support all of the popular platforms, but uTorrent also supports Linux
Now, in order to get these torrent clients, the first thing you’ll have to do is to visit their websites to download the programs. When you try to download these files, you’ll see that they have a similar, straightforward, no-nonsense approach.
Here’s how to download BitTorrent:
And this is how to download uTorrent:
For both clients, their websites will determine what your platform is. If you click on the big “Download” button on their homepages, you’ll get the correct file downloaded automatically.
Alternatively, you can choose your platform by yourself. All in all, we can see that there’s virtually no difference in the ease of downloading.
No winners, no losers: both torrent clients are easy to download.
When it comes to installation, however, that’s a different thing.
Ease of installation
Installing BitTorrent (at least for Mac) was a breeze.
We’ll talk later about the ads and monetization systems that both torrent clients are using, but suffice it to say that in order to install BitTorrent you’ll have to make it through two offers.
The first one is for Yahoo’s search platform:
You can choose to install by clicking on Quick (recommend) which, incidentally, we don’t recommend.
You can also install by clicking on Advanced and choosing the options that work best for you:
For us, we just went ahead and clicked on ‘Skip’. We then got the second offer, this time for Opera’s browser:
For this one, we just clicked on ‘Skip’ again. After that, BitTorrent installed easily. No problems.
Now, for uTorrent…
When we clicked to install the uTorrent download file, we were immediately notified by our AVG Antivirus program that multiple threats had been detected and had been secured:
We also got the following notification:
(Note: when we installed uTorrent on Windows, we didn’t get any notification, even though we had the same antivirus program installed.)
Deciding to look into it further, we looked up what this “pseudonychium” vulnerability was that caused our antivirus program to deny us uTorrent.
From what we found out, pseudonychium is no joke. According to ThreatPost, pseudonychium is a vulnerability that can allow for hidden commands ranging from “downloading malware into the targeted PC’s startup folder or gaining access to user’s download activity information.”
Although uTorrent’s founder, BitTorrent, stated in February 2018 that the vulnerability had been patched up, our antivirus seems to be telling a different story.
We attempted to install a previous version of uTorrent for Mac, but it provided a buggy experience. Eager to test other parts of the app, we decided to ignore our antivirus’ warnings and very carefully install the newest version of uTorrent.
We went through exactly the same Yahoo and Opera offers that we had with BitTorrent’s installation. The only difference here were the brand colors and the final success image:
After that, we turned our antivirus back on hoping that nothing too bad will happen.
BitTorrent was easier to install, with uTorrent having some virus problems (at least on Mac).
The overall design and interface
The design interface for BitTorrent is exactly the same as for uTorrent. Here’s BitTorrent’s interface:
And this is uTorrent’s interface:
The only difference would be that uTorrent had an ad for CyberGhost running, while BitTorrent’s app didn’t show us any ads.
We wish there was something more that we could analyze here, but these apps are virtually the same with some small and insignificant differences.
In fact, this would be a good point to talk about their ads and monetization policy. Both BitTorrent and uTorrent clients make money by selling ad space on their apps and including bundles software—which we saw here with the Yahoo search and Opera browser offers.
They also offer a Pro version of each, both uTorrent and BitTorrent, although the big question here is: who would buy it?
They’re both the same price ($19.95 at the moment). BitTorrent Pro offers include:
- file conversion
- HD media player
- instant streaming
- remote access
- bandwidth booster
uTorrent pro offers much of the same:
- file conversion
- HD media player
- instant streaming
- no ads
- extra content and bundles
Both on these options alone, we have to decide if it’s more valuable to have a bandwidth booster or have no ads shown.
For us, since we’re so used to seeing ads that we’ve developed a psychological blind spot to them, bandwidth booster is much more appealing.
Both interfaces are the same. However, for Pro plans, BitTorrent has a slightly better offer.
Safety and security
Of the two torrent clients (ignoring that they are created by the same organization), only one has had some controversy that would concern the average torrenter.
And that is uTorrent.
The Conduit Engine adware toolbar
In 2010, some users were concerned when the uTorrent release included adware known as the Conduit Engine. This installed a toolbar on the users’ browsers and changed their homepages and default search engines.
Many users claimed that the installation was done without the user’s consent and that the software was difficult to remove.
The Epic Scale crypto miner
In 2015, one of uTorrent’s bundled software monetization schemes included a cryptocurrency miner called Epic Scale.
As with the Yahoo search and Opera browser that comes bundled when you’re trying to install BitTorrent or uTorrent, Epic Scale was an optional add-on that users could skip if they wanted to.
However, if you’ve ever installed anything at all, you know that most people just click “Next” or “Accept” until their program is installed and working, neglecting to stop and read what they’re actually accepting.
That’s what happened with Epic Scale, as people began claiming that uTorrent silently installed this Bitcoin miner. However, BitTorrent, Inc., simply claimed that there was no silent install happening but that “most likely, the users accepted the offer during the install.”
Beyond that, the Epic Scale miner was pretty easy to install. However, because of the optics of the entire thing (the installation of a cryptocurrency miner that can reduce the performance of users’ computers) was very bad.
Because of that, many torrenters were reluctant to use uTorrent again for a while, leading them to instead use the other BitTorrent client.
BitTorrent is safer, only because it hasn’t had the controversies that uTorrent has.
User ratings and reviews
It’s quite difficult to get comprehensive reviews of either BitTorrent or uTorrent’s desktop apps, seeing as they’re downloaded from the respective sites that don’t contain any reviews or ratings.
Therefore, the best way to get a sense of user feedback on each torrenting app, we’ll have to go to their mobile app reviews.
On the Android Play Store, you’ll see that both apps have a cumulative rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. However, it’s also worth noting the difference in total installs in order to get a sense of each app’s popularity and perceived trustworthiness.
BitTorrent has roughly 671,000 installs:
Surveying the average sentiment from the top reviews left by users, the biggest pains with BitTorrent seem to be buggy file selection and problems with the app loading.
However, you should take this with a grain of salt, seeing as the overwhelming majority of users gave this a 5-star rating.
uTorrent has roughly 5 times as many installs as BitTorrent, coming in at 3.5 million:
Looking over at the average sentiments for the top reviews, we see that uTorrent users most often had problems with ads and some bugs with the app not loading or not fully downloading files.
Again, however, it’s important to remember that most of the reviews gave the app 5 stars.
Both have the same ratings and similar reviews, but uTorrent wins due to its higher amount of installs.
The all-important speed test
To have an in-depth BitTorrent vs uTorrent analysis, we need to check what kind of average speeds these separate clients have.
In order to do that comprehensively, we’ll do the pairs of speed tests on both desktop and mobile.
BitTorrent vs uTorrent speed test on desktop
In order to test the speed of each torrent client (in other words, the most important BitTorrent vs uTorrent discussion), we decided to download a popular, totally legal torrent from the Vuze StudioHD Network:
The file comes in at about 330 MB. Using BitTorrent, it took just under 3 minutes with an average speed of 3.3 Mbps:
uTorrent did much better, however, blasting past BitTorrent’s with an average speed of 4.1 Mbps:
In this one, based on the speed of the desktop site for exactly the same torrent file, we can safely say that uTorrent is the better client.
The mobile speed test
The mobile experience for these apps is more straightforward, and therefore less versatile than their desktop equivalents.
We downloaded the exact same Vuze StudioHD Network comedy file on both BitTorrent and uTorrent. We noticed that the mobile apps didn’t offer the ability to see the average download speed and total download time for each file after you’ve downloaded them.
Therefore, you’ll have to take our word for the average speed and download times. For BitTorrent it took about 9 minutes, with an average speed of around 600 KB/s:
Much like its desktop program, uTorrent outperformed BitTorrent again.
This download averaged a speed hovering around 700 KB/s, and it took roughly 6 minutes to download:
uTorrent wins the speed battle, hands down.
However, we did notice something for both apps that we didn’t really appreciate too much—they wanted us to allow access to our location:
We don’t really take too kindly to having our location exposed, especially with an app that doesn’t really need to know our location (except for better ad targeting), so we did what any sane person did:
Don’t even think about asking again.
uTorrent has much better speeds on desktop and mobile for the same file download.
BitTorrent vs uTorrent: the overall better torrent client is…
When it comes down to it, we see that the overall better app between BitTorrent and uTorrent is…
We put an asterisk there because we believe uTorrent is the better torrenting client only if these two conditions are met:
- you’re using something else than a Mac (such as Windows, Linux, Android)
- you read carefully before you click “Accept” when installing the app
Those things are pretty easy for most of the world. This is mainly because of the important similarities between the two apps. However, when it comes to the most critical part of torrenting—speed—uTorrent has BitTorrent beat.
However, if you’re using a Mac, we’d recommend you use BitTorrent. This is mainly because of the virus warning about pseudonychium is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Until uTorrent updates the Mac version of their app, we recommend you sacrifice a little bit of speed for a whole lot more security by using BitTorrent instead.
For both apps, however, just remember to either read carefully when installing the desktop apps, or simply click on “Skip” to avoid installing the mostly useless software bundles.
A quick note about being safe while torrenting
It would be irresponsible of us to end this BitTorrent vs uTorrent analysis without discussing the overall—and extremely important—issue of torrenting safety.
Here we’re not just talking about having your antivirus active when installing the torrenting client. We’re talking about the issue of piracy and copyrights.
We’re not naive: while we went ahead and downloaded a legal file, we understand that there’s a wide variety of files you’ll probably be downloading. Having said that, even though you’re downloading completely legal files, ISPs, corporations and government institutions generally view torrenting in general as illegal (even though it isn’t).
Because of that, it’s important that you practice safety by using a VPN (virtual private network) to hide your true IP address. If you’re using a different IP address, they won’t be able to find you. By using a VPN, you’re essentially spoofing your true location by using a different city’s or country’s IP address.
There are some great VPNs optimized for torrenting that can give you some great download speeds. In fact, during our entire BitTorrent vs uTorrent analysis, we were using a VPN for both desktop and mobile (it’s just a basic behavior for us, since we always have a VPN active when browsing the internet on both).
Even then, we got some pretty good speeds. Internet safety is no joke, and there are many more benefits to using a VPN besides just torrenting safety.
We highly recommend you use a VPN for your torrenting so that you can enjoy all your content in peace.
So, which of these torrent clients are you using in 2020? In the battle of BitTorrent vs uTorrent, which is your winner?
Let us know in the comments below!