Best Free BitTorrent Client

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Introduction

Bittorrent has become one of the major download formats. With good reason too: it's fast, equitable and efficient. For the downloader, bittorrent offers an uncorrupted copy of the original with the option to stop the download at any time and re-start from where the download left off, very useful for those on shaky internet connections.

If you haven't yet installed a Bittorrent client on your PC, you should as there are some great freeware clients available. In Bittorrent, the best clients are free. In fact, if a client costs money, it is most likely a scam. If you are not familiar with bittorrent, then read How To Use Torrents before continuing this article.

All seven bittorrent clients listed here performed excellently on all test torrents and any one of them will meet your needs as a bittorrent client. Rating of the clients was based on their speed and performance, while their features and support facilities were major considerations. A clean installation (without toolbars or ads) was a plus. See also Testing and Ranking at the end of this page.

 

Rated Products

Tixati  

It runs fast and offers a lot of information


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Stable and efficient with a good variety of options. Developers are active and responsive to user requests. Attractive interface. Good help resources. Clean install.
Help resource, though very good, could use some updates. Does not support web seeds.
Read full review...

qBittorrent   

The most efficient client in terms of RAM and CPU usage


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Low and stable RAM and CPU with all the necessary features. Fastest performance on torrents. Development still seems to be very active and responsive to users. Clean install, no addons etc. Cross platform client.
Support has improved, but could be better. Not that well known and not accepted at many private torrent sites (though the situation is improving).
Read full review...

BitTorrent  

A small and efficient bittorrent client with a great deal of features


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Same as µTorrent as they are identical bittorrent clients. Excellent speeds on torrents, efficient and stable client with a large amount of features packed into a tiny package. Excellent help resources. Streaming capability.
Same µTorrent except that BitTorrent is not accepted at most private torrent sites. Has had critical security alerts at Secunia (though none on this version). Recent versions of µTorrent have been in disfavor at many private sites, supposedly for reporting to the tracker issues.
Read full review...

Vuze  

A good choice for users utilizing a VPN or proxy


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
There is a wide variety of options and information within the program and an impressive array of plugins to satisfy any need. Support for VPN and Proxy use is superior. Streaming capability. Cross platform.
Toolbar install and home page change enabled at default on install. Advertisements within free version of Vuze interface (can be avoided by using Classic interface). High RAM use.
Read full review...

µTorrent  

A top flight bittorrent program


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Excellent speeds on torrents, efficient and stable client with a large amount of features packed into a tiny package. Excellent help resources. Streaming capability.
Has had critical security alerts at Secunia. (though none on this version). Recent versions of µTorrent have been in disfavor at many private sites, supposedly for reporting to the tracker issues.
Read full review...

Transmission-QT (Windows)  

A basic bittorrent client that runs fast with a simple interface


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free (Open source)
Efficient and stable with excellent speeds. Simple interface. Clean install, no addons etc.
Not an "official" release of the Transmission team and is lacking help resources. Missing some features
Read full review...

Halite  

A small and fast bittorrent client with low RAM usage


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free (Open source)
Small, efficient and fast bittorrent client. Lowest RAM use of the suggested clients.
Missing some features. Support is weak. Releases have been sporadic.
Read full review...

Related Products and Links

There are setup guides here at Gizmo's Freeware for each of the suggested free bittorrent clients. Links to the guides are provided in each review.

 

Testing and Ranking

Testing

The testing of the bittorrent clients was conducted in the two weeks before February 8, 2013 and used the latest versions of the clients at that time.

Anyone with knowledge of bittorrent knows that it is nearly impossible to have a testing procedure that is foolproof in measuring small differentials in speed among bittorrent clients. This is due to the fact that your download speed depends on the upload of other active users and there is no control over their actions while testing. However, I have been testing clients for this category for several years and am convinced that the better clients can be separated from the others.

There were 7 rounds of testing to boil down the 17 clients tested to the 7 in the review. Six torrents and three magnet links were used in this part of the testing. I then conducted several tests in two rounds of testing to determine the Top Pick. I did post pdf copies of my notes for each round of testing: Bittorrent Testing 2013 Notes.

All of the clients listed in the review had excellent performance on all of the testing, so all are superior bittorrent clients. The speed performance on the testing was a factor. Even though the speed differences were small, some consistently performed slightly better. Features and support were also factors. CPU and RAM mattered in that a client without many features that had high CPU or RAM use would fall to one with low CPU/RAM use. Toolbars and addons in the installation process were a slight factor.

Testing was performed on Windows 7 64bit.

Ranking

All of these clients have the basic bittorrent features like DHT, PEX, encryption and UPnP. 

All seven of the bittorrent clients listed here performed excellently on all test torrents. Speed and performance was a factor, but features and support facilities were major considerations. A clean installation (without toolbars or ads) was a plus.

Most people just want a client to download torrents, but there are some features that a number of users like to use, such as a built in IP Filter, use of RSS feeds, proxy support, a scheduler and a web interface.

I will make note of those that have installs or other changes to your system that are not necessary for the proper function of the bittorrent client. I strongly suggest that if you choose a bittorrent client that has these unnecessary add ons, to not accept those changes or add ons. I have put up guides to help with the installation of the three clients that have these unnecessary steps in the installation process.

About Me

I am not a technical expert, but I have been using bittorrent since 2003. Before coming to Gizmo's I was the Administrator at a general bittorrent forum site, giving assistance on a variety of clients, and a moderator at the Vuze fora. I still view a number of bittorrent fora and the fora of the various bittorrent clients. This gives me a good idea of what the average user is looking for in a bittorrent client.

 

Editor

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Comments

".. PicoTorrent is a tiny BitTorrent client for Windows with low memory usage, high performance and a native user interface ...": http://www.picotorrent.org

Tixati has web seeding capabilities now.

I have before pointed out how qBittorrent made me lose 20+ giga of files because of a bug and actually before that it would crash a lot. For the last 2 months I decided to try it again, because of it's attractive simple interface that reminded me of the good old μTorrent days.

As of now I can say qBittorent is awesome. I like the UI more than Tixati's that feels more rough and less simplistic and if anything I just want it to download my torrents and not care if Tixati does it in a different way. That is though with me having a 10mbps (1.2MBp/s) connection, so I can;t really talk about people that either have a really slow or much faster connection.

STILL though, I do not think qBittorrent is better than Tixati, I just feel and believe it is more simple and that is all. One feature I really miss from Tixati when using qBittorrent is how with Tixati had 9 different priority choices, which was really nice to have when I would download torrents with a large amount of files and I wanted to separate into many different priorities. Sadly qBittorrent has only 3. Also it had a LOT of choices when it came to setting the bandwidth and seeding for each file if you wanted, in case you wanted to do that.

For people that want more advanced options, especially uploaders, 100% Tixati. For users that just want to add downloads and do not care how they work or they are not computer savy qBittorrent.

Sadly Vuze is in my far past, when it was still Azureus and I still remember how dumbfound I was with it's awesome UI. uTorrent now, for me, joined Vuse, being a great torrent client of the past. Even people that still love it, seem to prefer to use the 4 year old 2.2.1 version, rather than use the latest 3+.

I want to like qBittorrent, I really do... I've tried it of several separate occasion but I can never get it to work consistently. If I can get it to start working, it's great. Its clean interface, speed, light resources and such is great. Unfortunately I inevitably end up with the dreaded "STALLED" torrent which I cannot get going again. It just sites there.

So I end up using Tixati, it's good, stable and predictable but it can seem like overkill at times. Perhaps someday I will find stability in qBittorrent, but not today.

I'd report the issue to the qBittorrent forum. There might be something with queuing or it might be something how libtorrent works.

From version 2.25 onwards Tixati can now bind to a VPN. The best just got better.

There hasn't been a comprehensive review of torrent clients for nearly 3 years since mr6n8's excellent test in early 2013. Any idea when the next one will be (I'm guessing he's no longer a reviewer)?.

QBITTORRENT seems to lack uTorrent's great Start, and Force Start. Since torrents sometimes seem to need a kickstart, this is no small deal. I urge experimenters with any torrent client to check for the existence of this feature. I like Qbittorrent [features, like Delete, and Preview are a bit easier to access] but watching dead torrents in QB's torrent list and wondering if they'd start if QB had a nudge feature, is really annoying.
Another watch for: Gizmo's excellent link to ad-removal page for utorrent. It's a hassle yes, but it does work, despite clumsy wording [some entries to be unchecked are already unchecked 'out-of-the-box', so that's confusing]. Utorrent without ads: hard to beat!

Thanks for the review! Would you consider including Deluge in the comparison next time?

Good morning you all.
I was using utorrent for quite a few years.
Very good. No complaints.
Evetually, the font size became too small for my eyesight.
So I switched to the top rated, Tixati, which has the option of changing font size.
Just for your information, all you good people.

Tixati updated to 2.11

I've been trying qBitTorrent for a while now but I'm fed-up with its bugs.

If I try to add a torrent that I downloaded a part of previously, it doesn't automatically recheck, all it does is stay "Stalled" and manual/forced recheck does nothing, it just re-downloads everything again after the check is done.

Also, when trying to change the download folder for the torrent, it becomes utterly retarded. Sometimes it works, but often it downloads some of the content to the new folder and the rest in a folder with the original name, it's so frustrating.

The only feature I liked about was the "sequential download" option, it's very helpful when downloading series..etc

I'll probably go back to uTorrent 2.2 since I still can't find a decent replacement.

I have lost 20+ giga of a download only because qbittorrent kept seeing it as "files missing when it either went idle or I stopped it manually. It would continue from where it left off after it started again but after I restarted my computer the file was gone. Quite buggy, but still good because of the lack of ads that makes μttorent feel bulky to me nowadays.

so much this, qbittorrent's checking code just DOES NOT WORK. downloading the same files over and over.

Used µTorrent for a few years. I liked small install size and minimalistic interface (and ability to hide even more tabs from info pane, LOL). For that reasons I didn't mind their ad bar. A few months ago I had problems with auto-update, that just closed the program, but didn't complete the update. So I just ignored update offers. Then several days ago my HDD died on me. So I had to install everything again on the new HDD. Then I find out that you can't choose install folder any more (at least in Windows). It just installs somewhere deep in user setting folder, not "Program Files" folders where you would expect program installs. Also, during last few days there was an issue where they tried to bundle install you some BitCoin miner program along with µTorrent. I guess there was an option to uncheck this during install, but by the time I installed µTorrent they (temporarily?) removed all ad offers from the installer.

Anyways, with all that I decided to try out qBittorrent. And so far, so good. Interface can be also set to µTorrent-like minimalistic setup that I prefer. You can't disable torrent library window/pane, but can just slide main window over it to hide it. There isn't auto-config feature (for download/upload speeds & ports) that µTorrent has, but even without default settings, speeds are similar (if not a bit greater) to µTorrent. And no ads.

One thing I don't understand though, is how come µTorrent can pack all the features in ~1.7 MB installer and most other torrent clients need ~10 MB. qBittorrent after install has ~46 MB on disc. There may be some advanced features under the hood that most average people don't understand, but in the end speed of downloads with most torrent clients are close. I guess that is the most important for most people.

I am using Tixati from more than two years.From my point of view it is the best free BitTorrent client.
It's ads free,Run faster,less ram needed.
It's amazing. 5/5

Tixati "attractive interface"? I know it's a matter of taste but I personally find it absolutely hideous.

As for me, I'm still using uTorrent 2.2.1 and haven't had a problem with it so far. I imagine that there will come a time when I have to upgrade, but not today.

No offense, but calling Tixati's interface "hideous" makes about as much sense as calling your *user-selected* MS Windows theme hideous.

Contrary to most other clients, Tixati's interface is FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE - it allows you to select different themes, and even individually select colours and other aspects of each tiny bit of the interface.

Anyone finds it "hideous", they just have to pick another of the included themes or even build their own with the built-in options to their full satisfaction! :-)

None taken, by the same logic your statement "attractive interface" is equally meaningless?

In any case, I was referring to the interface design. The use of "Buttons" for almost everything, the large bland icons, the colorfully vague logo design. It all reminds me of applications that was made with VB5/6 for Windows 9X back in the day.

I tried it and from what I could tell, you can't really change anything about the interface design. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but you can change colors and fonts, but the icons and ultimately the overall design remains the same.

I'm going to switch because Utorrent has become annoying with all the ads and i keep having to update tracker.

btw, this list hasn't been updated in over a year and for exemple Portableapps offers a portable version of Transmission-QT

I'm gonna try there qBittorrent portable.

I just dumped BitTorrent. For the last 2 days it has been spouting political ads while it's running. Either they've sold out, or the program has been infected. My system tests clean, though.

So tired of utorrent - I've been using it for years (an older version off filehippo) - and all it does now is produce errors. Tried qBittorent, and all it does is stay on stalled. Found one not on the list here to replace utorrent.

You need to check if the torrent file has the required seeds (specifically seeds:leech ratio>1) to download.

I tried to use Tixati 64 bit version on my Win7 (64) but it won't even add a torrent file.just hanged.

I tried Halite. It's small but not smallest. It's RAM uses are more than that of 'utorrent'. I also displayed a small window saying it will shutdown 'in a while'. Didn't shutdown in 10 min. so I had to 'End Process' it.

I have yet to try qBittorrent but I don't think it will be any better than 'utorrent'.
I am using an older version of uTorrent and happy with it. I don't think I need to switch to any other client.

You are totally wrong there. I made the switch a few years ago because I was sick of everything about utorrent, including the interface. I see minimal problems with qbittorrent, but it's worth the issues considering the epic search function (which is extensible through .py plugin downloads, or if you can write python, you can make one for any site) the absolutely awesome RSS functions (far superior than utorrent) and honestly the only thing I've missed is the ability to tell things to always seed no matter what, regardless of the set number of seeding torrents at a time & the queue they are in.

The only real issue I see is tracker problems, which I believe are mostly due to my own security set up, and a few file-checking issues once in a while. Still, regardless, it's miles better than utorrent, and they are open-source, they haven't sold out, you don't deal with adware, spyware, malware etc, there's a built in function for a custom IP blocklist, the custom advanced settings are many, and overall, it's just great.

You can also prioritize files within a torrent. This will allow you to make sure some files within it will download much faster. You can't set priority for the entire torrent from within the list of all torrents, but you can maximize the priority from within the "file" area below, just select all of the items in the torrent folder thing & right click & choose the priority. Oh yeah, it is also good at renaming or moving files from within, but if you rename them outside of the client, there's not really a way to keep seeding, so if you use a media center like XBMC or something & need to rename things a specific way, you may be annoyed as hell when you have to rename the episodes of something, one by one, within qbittorrent, though that's worth it in my opinion. Most things show up in XBMC anyways..... personally I think it's the only good torrent client available right now besides transmission, which I really wish the group would release a version for Windows that was identical to it.

Thank you for the review. I like qTorrent so far. I was using Free Download Manager before, but I do not like the new version (version 5 alpha). I a was searching for a cross platform client to switch to Fedora or arch someday. It works really good.

This feature of qBittorrent interest me: "Tracker Exchange"
http://www.bittorrent.org/beps/bep_0028.html

However, the anti-leech system concerns me. I'm not sure if qBittorrent offers an intuitive method to inform me that my uploads/seeds are throttling my downloads.

Huh? anti-leech system? I haven't really seen any issues. However, maybe I'm not sure what you're talking about because it has to do with using private trackers? No, I doubt there's a way to know what you need to know. However, there's a LOT of information choices available in the columns you set for the main window. Very helpful. I have only really had issues with trackers asking me for credentials or whatever, but I think that may be a rarer issue due to some of the security settings I have & maybe my VPN or something. Recommend at least trying qBittorrent. Get it from somewhere besides sourceforge though, unfortunately the owners of that website have destroyed a once great software hub.

According to Wikipedia, BitTorrent is a *re-branded* version of muTorrent (the letter that looks like a u is the Greek letter mu).

Has anyone tried Deluge? I saw a peer using it. On the website they mention 'full encryption'. Would that provide privacy?

I have been using qBittorrent for a long time and was quite happy with it until the latest v3.1.4 version which I have had problems with like not remembering settings and then not downloading at all after rebooting my PC. I have it working again now but it has made me come here to seek an alternative and to that end I see that Tixati is getting some good reviews. Is it possible to have both of them installed at the same time eg 64 bit Tixati and 32 bit qBittorrent and would both work off of the same ruleset/port on my Comodo CIS ruleset for qBittorrent which I set up after the tutorial here or would I need seperate rulesets/ports?.

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