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

My install guide http://www.techsupportalert.com/installing-vuze-without-toolbar A couple links on the VPN and Vuze http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Proxies_And_VPNs#VPN_Configuration http://wiki.hidemyass.com/Tutorials:Force_Vuze_to_only_load_Torrents_thr... The IPv6 settings are at the bottom of the Advanced Network Settings options page. All should be disabled. Good luck

Again, I really appreciate your excellent advice, but I don't like Vuze for so many reasons. Comodo firewall was going crazy with alerts I lost count of them, and amongst other things I had to compromise security by reinstalling Java. It just isn't worth all the problems. I'll try my luck with Tixati or qbit. If any light can be shed on how they can be configured to guard against VPN disconnects and ipv6 leaks I'd be really grateful.

Ouch. This article may help with the VPN down issue using outside software. http://torrentfreak.com/how-to-make-vpns-even-more-secure-120419/ On the IPv6, Direct is an open VPN that is not supposed to have the Ipv6 leak. However, there was one site that could see my IPv6 address with any of the VPNs and even when I disabled IPv6 on my connections. Not sure how, but the rest of the sites (and Check my Torrent IP) did not see my IPv6 address. So I am not sure the advice there on the IPv6 will work completely.

Thanks a lot. I'll check it out. I've just raised these points on the Tixati and qBit forums so maybe they can shed some more light on things. If I hear anything of interest I'll post here (if this is the right place).

Here or the forum. Just start a new comment here- we are getting thin. Thanks

Thanks for the review, but for Deluge it says: "A portable version of this product is available from the developer."

Yet all there is in the downloads is an installer.

Thank you. You are correct and I have changed it. I do not know if I confused it with another program listed here. Since I have started testing and will be redoing the review, I will make sure to check on all the products instead of assuming they are correct on the portable. Thanks again Steve

Deluge works fine for me but I can't get qbittorrent to work at all. Every torrent shows stalled at 0% with nothing downloaded. It will be interesting to see how it does in the next test.

I am currently using qBittorrent 3.0.8. It works perfectly from what I have seen, 3.0.7 had a few bugs which were mainly from libtorrent.

I am running 3.0.8 in my testing and it is running very well. I have finished 3 rounds of testing (5 torrent or magnet downloads) and there are 10 clients left in the running. At this point, all things considered, it looks like it is coming down to qBittorrent and Tixati for top pick. Though I have a few rounds to go. I am keeping pretty good notes on the tests and results this time. If anyone wants to see them (nothing exciting). I'll figure a way to post them up. Steve

Sorry for pestering but when do you think we will see results?

Just finished another round of testing. From here on, I am only going to be testing 3 clients that have a shot at top pick. I should be finishing testing this week and get the new review up over the weekend. Today is kind of busy, but I will get the notes up either this afternoon or tomorrow. Steve

I like stats, when could you upload the notes?

I put the notes up here https://sites.google.com/site/bittorrenttesting2013/home/bittorent-testi... The clients that will be included in the new review have been selected. I am going to be doing further testing to determine top pick. Steve

Thanks for the notes. Great read.

I had the same problem when I tried it on my XP SP3 system.
Seems like every time I open qBittorrent this past couple weeks, there has been an update. I do not know if it is related to the issue you both have. What version were you guys using? Not sure if I will get to testing this week. Some things came up. Maybe at the end of the week I can get started. Steve
I don't remember the version. It was long back when I tried it.
OK I think I remember you mentioning that before.

I'm using qBittorrent 3.0.8.

I don't know if this is the cause of the problem, but in Behavior in Options, the 'Use qbittorrent for magnet links' and 'torrent files' boxes won't stay checked. After I check them and click on Apply and OK, when I exit and then return to the Behavior section the 2 boxes are unchecked.

If you are using Win 7, or 8, or Vista, you might have to try right clicking and run it as administrator, and then make the changes in settings for it to stick.

Thanks a lot Anupam. They now stay checked! Never had to run as administrator before with torrent clients. I wish I'd noticed earlier those boxes weren't staying checked. Anyway qBittorrent appears to be working fine now.

I just installed 3.0.8 and had the same issue. Run as administrator does make them stick. I had checked with that change in BitTorrent and did not need to run as administrator to make the change (and the icons for torrents changed). When I run qBittorrent as administrator and enable those boxes they stay ticked, but my torrent files do not show qBittorrent as the default. UPdate - it took a reboot to change the file association. However, I ran the LibreOffice torrent in qBittorrent and it immediately went up to my max download speed.
Glad to know :). Well, in XP, this was not required, but with newer Windows like Win Vista/7/8, for file association settings, you are required to run the program as administrator. Good to know it's working now. So, that means my problem becomes a mystery now :D.

I started this by saying Deluge worked fine, but that was before I tried magnet links which I can't get to work at all. qBittorrent, however, works very well in every respect. Just that UI issue with the torrent and magnet link boxes which appear checked but require administrator rights to remain so.

I am going to be conducting a new round of testing soon. If you know of a program that supports bittorrent that is not listed below (and does not have an orange or red WOT rating), then please post a link here. The program must be Windows compatible and have been updated within the past year and be free. This year I will only be testing on my Windows 7 64bit computer as my XP has become unusable. I test each client on 3 torrents and 3 magnet links several times while cross checking with other bittorrent programs. I will be testing the following clients: Already in Review qBittorrent Tixati Deluge BitTorrent uTorrent Transmission-QT Vuze BitComet Not in Review Ares Galaxy Free Download Manager Frostwire Miro MLDonkey Shareaza Tribler I do not want to get too much into the comments just below since I will be testing again, but I will say that the reason for Tixati (my personal favorite at one time) not making the top listings was trouble with two of the three magnet links used in testing. I will keep an eye our for the glitches mentioned regarding the other clients. In years past I used my bittorrent programs throughout the year and was able to analyze such glitches better. In the past two years my use has gone way down, so that I really do not view a program outside of the week or two of testing. Input is always welcome and I will try to find information on any issues presented by users. Steve Edit: A few more Opera Torch browser Halite (had been removed last year because not updated within a year, but has a fresh release this January.
Would be interested in your review this time around. I have been using Tixati from a long time now, and am loving it. I don't even recommend utorrent, or use it anymore. I did face Tixati hanging sometimes, as I had mentioned before. Turns out, it was because of few things. First, I was using it on an old P-III PC. So, things were already slow on it. Then, I had Avast on the PC, and it seems that Avast got Tixati to hang on its startup, or other times. When I removed Avast from system, and I had not been using any AV, Tixati did not face any problem while startup, or while adding a torrent. It did use to hang occasionally, but I think that was because of the low configuration of the PC. On newer systems, it works without problems. Atleast, from what little I have seen. Apart from this, I haven't faced any problem with Tixati, and I love using it, and its various features. I have currently installed it on Windows 8, will let you know how it works. Keep up the good work mr6n8 :).. and thank you for all the hard work you do, managing this category, and many others on the site :).
Just an update. Tixati is working great on Windows 8, without any problems at all. No hangs, nothing. Working just fine :).
Thanks for that.

I should point out that there is an alpha version of qbittorrent 3.1.0 which in my opinion seems to work better than the 3.0.6 version. Which will you be testing?

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