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...

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...

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...

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

I have issues with it thinking all the data it gathered last time it was open never existed on my computer, where suddenly it will totally say in the column for "size downloaded" that I did indeed grab the large amount or whatever, and there's nothing I can do about it. It's really odd actually. Bummer, because it's currently seeming like the only available torrent client which not only has all the features that it should & I want/need, but looks good & boasts the only search function (at least worth using at all), which happens to show the s/l for each AND the URL it got the result from. :( Let me know if you ever find anything to replace it....I'm on the same search. :(

You certainly can have them both installed at the same time. I have all these clients installed. I would suggest a separate ruleset with a different port for each client, though it is possible to use the same one (if you set a specific port to be cleared through the firewall). If you are going to run both at the same time, then you will need a separate ruleset. Steve

Thank You.

Hello Ladies & Gentlemen

I'm using Linux for almost two years, at my beginning on Linux had very difficult to become familiar with torrent applications because i've been using uTorrent for so many years on Windows. Started with Deluge, i was pretty happy on my Ubuntu 12.04 and Deluge did the job well. When Ubuntu 12.10 come out some worse stuff hapened on Deluge home folder, each time that i change download destination folder Deluge still truncate /home/ and bring problem to me, some other problem with /quit and some not reporting to tracker so take off (purge), i know they've fixed the home folder with v1.3.6 but i won't go back to the Deluge for reasons (using Tixati below) tried qBittorrent, really lightweight, i like the skip hashchecking, but can't understand not having stop button on menu. Yes i want to stop torrent because Pause options is buggy and not report to tracker, I'm a seeder and i want a stop button before doing eject my HDD with command line, funny, this problem of pause not reporting to tracker is there since 2 years, Yes Pause not report to tracker at least on the private tracker where i'm member. (Purget this client too just for the pause that do not did the trick), works to pause torrents but not reported on tracker. Devs of qBit not want to implement a stop button well, i think they're wrong. Vuze, damn what to tell a Java application, lots of waste Mem and CPU, skiped since two simple test for 10min. kTorrent looks a complete when it comes to Options and Settings a lot of stuff for newbie and advanced, but for me it's a messy like default KDE, sorry but i not like at all KDE and his Interface.

From almost a 1 year i'm using Tixati may i rate this client 8/10

It would be appreciated and rate 10/10 if there are not missing something.
I will talk about this below.

I'm using "CrunchBang 11 waldorf" Debian Based. Tixati 1.96
Seeding on a Private tracker almost 700 DVD9 24/7 every day - All the options that his client are working pretty good, reporting to tracker, huge informations, stop , pause, edit, move, remove are precise. A balancing excellence during seed, some said it's a avarage for Download, well if everybody read a bit Optimizing Tixati can do even better regarding speed and sustainability. People said Tixati is fugly, guys, we're on Linux nothing is ugly. We have on our own hand to do what we want with graphic GUI - Here is my copy http://imageshack.com/a/img19/8397/srmr.png - does not look so, although I have anything put up regarding colors. What have minus?

Doesn't have options (skip hashchecking), i want so much this option, i have a lot of DVD to seed, but i not want to add them on transferlist by doing hashchcking everytime that i upgrade my Linux System because it takes time to 2 or 3 days and excessive fatigue of hard disk if not backup folder core .tixati at /home/ but this feature must have as on/off

some other features i've requested on official forum - http://forum.tixati.com/support/369/

For closure or conclusion:

If you're using Linux OS? get Tixati, no one else Work like Tixati. Build, customize, seed, and in the end you'll see what is needed is TIXATI.

I don't know how it work on Windows because never tested.

I'm for Tixati all the way.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my 2cents.

Regards,
Nili

Considering that Tixati not only comes with a few different interface themes by default, but also allows to easily -customize the colour of each individual item of its interface- to suit everyone's tastes (how many apps are that versatile ?), one can only assume that people who call it "ugly" either are the kind of end user who can't be bothered to open a program's options panel and see what's inside, or those who've just seen screenshots in the web and never actually tried it.

I don't think Tixati is perfect by any means (nor any other client I've tried), but it IS being actively developed and improved with each version, and given the alternatives in the market, it gets my vote over them any day of the week.

Those few remaining private tracker admins resistant to change and progress just need to smarten up and get along with the times. I guess it's up to us users to let them know.

Thank you for sharing my thoughts on that. I believe every software should be customizable to user's own tastes, specifically because of the lately trend of these horrifically hideous & atrocious childish flat designs of bright colors (which you cannot do ANYTHING about on Windows 7, because they use something that overrides the Windows colors & themes, an absolutely INFURIATING thing I find totally unacceptable) and because of the fact everyone has different NEEDS. I *need* and I really mean *need* a dark set up, I spend all of my time staring at the screen & white or bright colors being the base for things makes me insane with rage (as well as hurts my eyes). Also, we need the ability to be able to control things more. It's like people have decided to start only developing software for clapping seals with no ability to open an options panel, or who actually need a step by step instruction guide on how to open it, or people who never just look through settings when first installing software (if they don't, I'm sorry, but they need to get off computers & just go get a tablet or something. Computers aren't for them) and the rest of us, the people who love computers, need options & control, and know what we're doing, well....we're screwed & thrown to the side with no regard for us. It's unfortunate, because we are the ones who will give the reviews, we are the ones who care the most & we are the ones who most utilize the software available out there. We are computer users, and if people want to give up all control, have ugly, forced user interfaces & still have a shiny electronic device with a screen, by all means, let them get an iPhone & let us keep our Androids & computers....
Nothing makes me hate a software more & uninstall it faster than a forced UI (specifically a bright, flat one. I barely can stand the Spotify desktop UI, and that's a dark one though) with ugly bright colors and absolutely nothing I can do about it. I just want the option-Most of the time it requires nothing of the developer to give us the ability, and even more, to keep the ability if it was already an option in earlier versions & it makes literally no sense to remove a feature that doesn't hinder anyone's use but gives some of us the option to make the software bearable.....

As to the "look" of Tixati, I agree with you on this. There are actually thousands of options for Tixati's display, taking into account the various themes, colors and fonts. This is one of Tixati's strongest features. However, the issue at private trackers is not just one of being resistant to change. There was (as of 1.92 - not sure with 1.96) an issue of over-reporting data transfer amounts to the private tracker. There is a bit of work on the part of the private site to check any client (and many of the moderators are volunteers with plenty to do already) and once a client has an issue, they are less likely to review. Many sites still ban uTorrent 3 series based upon the first version and have not really re-tested since. Also, the ability to spoof other clients makes it suspicious to private site operators, even though that should have no bearing. One feature that I am surprised that Tixati has not enabled is support for web seeds. Given the huge amount of content over at the Internet Archive (supported by their servers) and other sites this is a growing area. Steve
I have been using Tixati on Windows since a long time now. I absolutely love it. It's got all I wanted, and it's perfect. Also, it's a clean software, no extras bundled. Just amazing. Also, I don't find Tixati ugly at all. It's great. Thanks for sharing your experience :).

I totally agree with you Anupam. I use Tixati with Linux and find it super easy to use.

I also do not find Tixati ugly. I've heard Tixati referred to as ugly before and never understood it. I find it very pleasing. and you can change so much.

With the news of utorrent adding a coin miner I've never been so glad to be using Tixati.

Yes, me too. Stopped using utorrent long ago, and I am glad I did, reading about the latest news.

I started using Tixati, and within two hours I started getting alerts from MalwareBytes that connections were being blocked to sketchy URLs in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan. Hmm.

Uninstalled it and the alerts stopped.

Your own post answers your own question, leaving no room for doubt: whatever happened on your end, it has nothing to do with Tixati, but with whatever torrents you added to it, their trackers, and their interaction with your security software.

The exact same would happen with any other torrent client you would use with the same torrents, trackers and the same security software.

It's probably yet another false alert from an incountable number of false alerts and misunderstandings caused by contemporary real-time security software, but if in doubt, reconsider what torrents you're adding to your client, what trackers they use and where you get them. In the end, if you're unsure of what you're doing, it's always best not to do it.

It has been a while since I have heard from someone on MalwareBytes and bittorrent. When they first added this into their product, there was a rush of activity on bittorrent forums. Their list of "sketchy" URLs is overly broad (my opinion) and specifically of no importance in bittorrent (not an opinion). Even if one assumes that their listings are correct, if you have chosen a safe torrent (one that is known to be clean and real either by comments or ratings), there is no way that anyone can inject malware into the content you are receiving. It would not just be Tixati that would cause such alerts as I have heard from users of various bittorrent clients as to this issue with MalwareBytes' Malicious Website Blocking "feature". Bittorrent clients make connections through trackers and DHT to many URLs and it is not unexpected that some will fall within the ranges chosen for their list. A range or URLs is designated as dangerous when a certain percentage of URLs in that range are known to cause issues. No one ever tells what percentage will trigger the range block - it could be 10% (which means 90% of the URLs are OK or unknown). I can tell you from my personal experience that the blocklist will designate every seedbox user as suspicious, when these are the most valued users in bittorent due to their high upload speeds. Some people consider such lists useful for web browsing, but they are of no use in bittorrent. Steve

I have found only this portable version of Vuze "available from the developer" [Link removed - not free] but it is a "Free trial". Furthermore, why don't you put the download links for the portable versions, as for the installable ones?

Unfortunately, the portable field of the database here at Gizmo's has no option to insert links, only preset language. I suppose I could put the portable links in the Additional Information field. The Vuze portable is a bit more complicated than others. Since Vuze requires Java, to be truly portable the Java also needs to be run portable. http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Portable_Vuze There also is a Vuze to Go from Azureus, but it is not a freeware. I had put together a portable Vuze package (java included) which I uploaded on a torrent site. But I have not updated it in some time. I might go through the process again and put it up. Right now, I am testing clients for a new review, so if any of the above is to be done, it will be done after I finish testing. Steve
New client with an interesting name. Yet Another uTorrent: http://www.yetanotherutorrent.com/
Thanks for that Anupam. That is one I did not hear about. Just went and got it. It is under a GPL license, so that is a good sign. I installed and the options screens reminded me of another client (I could not remember which) and then I checked the "About" tab and it is based upon Halite. It is a 2.85MB download and 8.44MB installed. So it is small, but not the smallest I have seen. Without any torrents running it is using about 3MB of memory. It will be interesting to see if it varies from Halite in any way. Thanks again. I will give it a go in my next round of testing (I found another newbie I want to check out also). Steve
Interesting. Looking at the name, you would think that it would be based on utorrent :D. Will be interesting to know how it fares.
Could have switched to qBittorrent if it had a Scheduler feature. In terms of raw featuers Tixati seems to be the best, but qBitTorrent is faster.
I have been away from my computer for a bit and did not have a chance to respond to this earlier. First, thanks for bringing this up - the lack of a proper scheduler is a weakness of qBittorrent that I overlooked as I do not use a scheduler. The "Alternative Global Rate Limits" feature is close to a real scheduler, but it lacks the ability to completely disable transfers. Setting the alternative to 1 KiB/s is the lowest you can go. Other than that, it does give some nice options. The feature has been requested. However, since the development team is small, it is not likely to be added in the near future. When I have a chance, I will add some info in the article on this. Thanks Steve

Any feature or performance difference between install & portable version or both works same?

UTorrent & others too.

I have used uTorrent both portable and install on many different occasions and have seen no difference in performance speedwise. I did not pay much attention to RAM and CPU, but I do not think there was a difference. Some of the others I have used portable just a few times (I install for testing), and again have seen no difference in performance speedwise. Nice question. I have not seen it raised before. Next round of testing I will run the portables just to make sure on RAM and CPU. Steve

I couldn't find portable utorrent on official site. Can you direct me to portable utorrent on official site?

I tried Tixati and I would suggestion uTorrent or Bittorrent over it 100%. I tried using Tixati and the downloads were slow. Switched the download to uTorrent and the download barely took 5 minutes to download. I know some are different than other ones but if Tixati can't download fast via my internet then I am wondering why is it so high rated?

You did not give any information on how you set up Tixati or uTorrent, so I will have to guess why. My guess is that you did not follow the guide here on Optimizing Tixati for Speed (and probably did not for uTorrent either). A difference between the two is that uTorrent has an option (enabled at default) to automatically set an exception in the Windows firewall and Tixati does not have such an option. I believe that if you had followed the guide for Tixati, then you would have found the speeds right there with uTorrent. On the "highly rated", the article is clear that the top echelon of picks are essentially equal speed wise. The differentials are the look and info that Tixati gives as well as its lack of ads and addons in the install process that uTorrent and BitTorrent have. Steve

I tried utorrent, it was the first program I tried for downloading. I find it generally easier to download directly from my web browser though, so I use the torch browser when I want to download. I don't think there's another one that does the same thing...

uTorrent and Bittorent are pretty close to the same in features. The looks are similar as well. I have used both and they are great programs.

uTorrent and BitTorrent are identical except for name and color. They are both built by the same release team and about the only real difference is that the uTorrent updates are released slightly before the BitTorrent update. Steve
Opera does have a built in bittorrent client and there may be some others. I did test Opera and Torch and Torch performed much better than Opera. Torch did just as well speed wise as these clients. The reason it was not included was due to the lack of options and the RAM and CPU use was higher than using one of these separate clients. (Vuze used more RAM, but it does have many more options and addons) Torch is not a bad option, just not as good as these. My bottom line was that a user could have all the options available with a separate client and still use less RAM and CPU than Torch. Steve

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