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've recently reinstalled uTorrent and tried Tixati. Both of these clients want to communicate with, and receive communication from, over 100 sites (I stopped counting at 100, but there were plenty more after that). What's the deal with that? I find this very intrusive and concerning.

Is there a torrent client that doesn't try to talk to the entire internet, only the site I'm downloading something from?

What software gives you the warning they are trying to communicate to sites? Bittorrent clients generally communicate with a large number of other users as that is how content is distributed in bittorrent, through the upload of active users. Steve

My ESET Firewall. I understand how bittorrent works (multiple users, etc), but I don't understand why these clients need to talk to 100+ sites during installation and when they're running, but not downloading anything. I never got to the point of actually downloading a torrent.

As MrWhite has said below, the clients are not connecting to sites. Your firewall is misinterpreting the communications. The reason there is connections made when not torrents are downloading (or uploading I assume), is that communications are made on the DHT network and also to the trackers on the active torrents. There may also be some communications to peers that had been connected to previously on a torrent. Sorry for the delay in getting back on this, but I was on the road with bad or no internet and also had some computer crashes. Steve

There is nothing wrong with any of the clients you mentioned, and they're not connecting to any "site".

As you've already been explained by Steve, bittorrent works by connecting your client to the clients of other users on their end (not "sites", there aren't any "sites" involved other than maybe each torrent's tracker), from whom you'll be uploading or downloading files. It connects not only to active downloaders or uploaders with whom you're transferring files at any given moment, but to other users connected to the same torrents. It must communicate with them first, even before an active transfer takes place. Which is exactly as most other P2P networks work and have always worked as well, even before bittorrent existed.

Of course that your firewall software will show those connections, and of course they're normal and necessary for you to be able to transfer any files. This is the standard behaviour both with the clients you mention and any other bittorrent client, since is how the bittorrent protocol works.

I would like to suggest the mods to either remove or lock topics such as this one, since it only displays lack of knowledge of the theme subject, and it would only serve to give readers of this site the wrong idea about the clients mentioned here.

Thanks for your answer on this. As I stated above, I had some issues that prevented me from completing my answer. As to removing these posts, it is quite possible that other users (particularly those with the same firewall) may get the same issue and this would help explain. Unfortunately, I was not able to complete my answer timely, but yours would help any such user. Steve
You can also argue that knowledge is best improved when comment replies such as yours are shared with a wide audience. This is why we prefer to keep such topics published in the hope that responses will benefit others. MC - Site Manager.

I agree that locking a topic just because someone doesn't understand how a program works would be rather harsh.

Persons of all levels frequent this site, and it's all about helping one another. We should remember we were once beginners too. For that matter, I continue to learn a lot from this site, including through comments made by others. Discouraging a person because they don't know enough is not something I'd like to see on this site.

I hope you can help me.

My OS is Windows 8. Whenever I download a torrent, my system almost comes to a stand still and I cannot get access to any websites. What am I doing wrong? I had Utorrent which I have since deleted and my system is working fine. The exact same thing happened with Bit Torrent.

Any suggestion would be grateful.

Thanks,
Joanne

uTorrent and BitTorrent are identical clients, except for name and color. So if you have an issue with one, it is almost certain you will have the same issue with the other. I am not aware of any specific issues with Windows 8. It may be your security software causing the issue. In any event, I would suggest trying Tixati (it is Windows 8 compatible) and see if you still have the issue. Also, use the optimizing guide for Tixati here at Gizmo's Freeware (linked above) as that should help. Steve

1. I use qBittorrent. It's really a good torrent client but needs more features. Very efficient, fast, and high performance client for downloading and seeding.

2. You may need to have uTorrent or Vuze, because some trackers, private trackers and private torrent websites still does not support and accept clients like qBittorrent or Tixati.

3. All of these 4 clients (qBittorrent, Tixati, Vuze and uTorrent) are good.

So I suggest:

Use qBittorrent or Tixati as your primary client and Vuze or uTorrent as your secondary client.

I have qBittorrent and Vuze.

Good points. Although qBittorrent is gaining acceptance at more private sites. Unfortunately, Tixati has not been as widely accepted. Also, uTorrent's latest versions have been rejected by a good number of sites, so Vuze is probably a better choice if one uses a private site that does not accept qBittorrent. Steve

I agree with you, Steve. That's the reason why I don't use Tixati. Tixati is a good client but not popular. I compared Tixati to qB (qBittorrent) by downloading same torrents. Some of the trackers does not accept Tixati and reject connections from this client but accept qB. I don't know why they reject Tixati. Not good to see the good Tixati is treated like a bad and poor client.

I was an uT user for years but I don't like it anymore due to its changes. So I've replaced it with qB. qB works well and I don't use uT anymore. uT is good but not as good as old uT in previous years.

Also Vuze is much better than uTorrent. Maybe it's complicated a bit, but if someone use it as her/his main and primary client, I think he/she will like it. Vuze is a feature-rich client. Very good for people who want something more than just downloading and seeding. I use Vuze for creating new torrents and much more.

So using a simple but powerful client like qBittorrent (qB) plus an advanced, popular and well-accepted client like Vuze is my recommendation.

What about Bitcomet? I had not tried it, but it seems to be a clean install without toolbars, according to my latest install in Sandboxie.

BitComet did clean up its install. Other than toolbar integration which is kind of sneaked in, it is clean now. BitComet has been suggested here in the past. However, this time it fell out when it failed on one of the torrent tests. On the Damn Small Linux torrent and magnet tests, which has all bad trackers and relies on DHT and PEX only, BitComet failed to get started at all while other clients finished quickly. Steve

Oh I see.

BitTorrent Testing 2013 Gives some information and stats on various torrent clients. The links at the end of the page shows the results of the final showdown on the 2 top best picks: Tixati and qBittorrent
Just downloaded Tixati and should say it's a very informative torrent client. How do I stop auto-downloading torrents after adding the magnet link?
Allright found it out. Go to Settinsgs->Transfers->General and uncheck the option "Start New Transfers" under Auto-Start
Sorry I was out of town when you posted and could not get back to you on this. Glad you found it. That is probably the most asked question on any bittorrent client and I will add your info in to a new help article for Tixati. Thanks Steve

Hey Mr6N8, how come you didn't include Deluge in your comparison?

http://deluge-torrent.org/

Deluge was tested and had been a suggested client for several years. This time, Deluge failed on the test torrent (and magnet link) with all dead trackers. Deluge failed to even get started (0%) while other clients were completing the torrent easily. You can look at the test notes here (and the torrent links): https://sites.google.com/site/bittorrenttesting2013/home/bittorent-testi... I do note that they came out with an update on February 25, 2013, a month after the review. I have no idea how this version performs. Prior to that Deluge had not been updated since April, 2012, which had some people wondering if they were even still developing. Steve

In that case, please be sure to include Deluge in your next review, as the 1.3.6 release was heavy on the Windows fixes, along with a brand new UI. I'd personally say that 1.3.6 is the release that Windows users should have had all along.

I did see that article. I like the project, but I do not think it should be used for bittorrent. These are volunteers offering up their connection. A lot of the servers I looked at had relatively low speeds to support bittorrent and other users. I have a feeling that if bittorrent got going on there, they would soon have to ban it as it uses too much bandwidth. I know that TorrentFreak used some for small torrents and got through. But if a lot of users signed on and used torrents, I think speeds and connections would suffer. I am also concerned about the logging. While many of the volunteers hold logs for 2 weeks, the main link is in Japan where the laws are more stringent. I am not sure how much information they keep. That is a great project to help people in firewalled countries to get to information. Which is why I would shy away from using it for torrents. I have been checking around in my spare time. So far I have found one that is really free and has no issues with torrents, but I am only getting about 125kBps. Steve

Thanks for the info and thoughts Steve, pretty much along the same lines as me. Think I'll give it a miss.

Like you I'm regularly on the lookout for a decent free VPN and I'll report back here if I find anything that looks interesting. Reviews of VPNBook look quite promising - no registration required, seems pretty secure and they don't keep logs. Not sure how torrent-friendly it is though - is it by any chance the one you say you can only get 125kBps with? If so I won't take it any further.

Sorry I missed this post. Yes it is VPNBook - though you might want to check it for your self. If you need any help on the setup, let me know. Small world eh? Steve

Could you give me a tutorial on how to set up qBittorrent with VPNBook? I've followed your Optimizing guide, but now I'm really confused about setting up this VPN.

Do I need to alter the settings in my Tomato Router? Why does it show two Internet connections in my system tray? Why does the torrent from Checkmytorrentip stall? There's no ca.crt; is there supposed to be one? Do I need Comodo Firewall to make sure that qBittorrent uses VPNBook? It's all a bit much for a newbie...

Hi mada

I don't know if you're still interested in VPNBook but I've finally got round to giving it a try. hopefully I can answer some of your questions. I'm by no means an expert, just someone who's picked up a few things along the way. I'm now getting reasonable speeds, anything up to 400KB/s at times.

Anyway, you no longer need separate certificates - just download one of the VPNBook OpenVPN bundles which includes everything you need, and copy it to OpenVPN's config folder (i'm assuming you've already installed OpenVPN). Right click on OpenVPN's desktop icon, run as administrator, and select one of the four connection options - I find TCP to be more reliable. In the authorisation box type vpnbook then the password below and it should connect.

Also,to ensure your bittorrent client only uses VPNBook you'll need some Comodo Firewall rules like these:
http://www.bolehvpn.net/forum/index.php?topic=5798.0
These are for an older version of Comodo so some of the terms are different but the principle is the same, and obviously for Boleh substitute OpenVPN. You could also use Vuze to do this but in my view it's a dreadful client and little more than resource heavy spyware (the only thing I disagree with mr6n8 over in his brilliant article).

Also check to see if VPNBook is leaking your real ip address by going here: https://www.dnsleaktest.com/

Finally, you say you use qbittorrent. I prefer Tixati which can prevent IPv6 leaks by just using IPv4. Obviously up to you though. Good luck!

I do not have it installed right now as I am testing another, so this is from memory. I can help with the ca.crt. You need to download a certificate from the VPNBook site and put it in the "config" folder of the OpenVPN installed folder. Then, when you right-click on the OpenVPN icon in the system tray, you should see an option to access through that cert. Also, be sure to copy the password and signin name from the VPNBook site to a document on your computer. You will need it when you get access through the certificate. The icon for OpenVPN looks like a network connection icon. If you right-click on it, you should see options for settings, exit etc. So it is possible that icon is what you are seeing as a 2d network connection. If not, you would need to post an image in a forum post on it. There should be no need to set exception in the router. I am not certain on the firewall as I do not know if Comodo has some extra protection, but generally no exception needs to be made in a firewall. As to why the check torrent IP torrent stalls, I am not sure what you mean and I am not sure which one you are using. The torrent is not supposed to actually download. Have you checked the "Trackers" tab to see if it shows an IP? You could try the one at this page and check the trackers tab under "message" as it has worked for me on the clients I tested. http://torguard.net/checkmytorrentipaddress.php For further help, you will need to try our forum as there will be others there who understand this better than I. One of the reasons, I did not put an article up on this is that I do not understand it all that well myself. Steve

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