The "Do’s and Don’ts" of Torrenting


    This post by no means promotes the downloading of anything illegal, please use the information I provide here at your own risk.

   I have been torrenting files for a long time.  I remember  when I first discovered torrents.  This was around the time when people were using Napster-like p2p clients to download single songs.  I remember the thrill I got downloading entire collections with the click of a button, all organized in folders by album.  It was fucking awesome.  I don’t swear much on this blog, but when I do, its warranted.  Getting a decade of albums downloaded from a band in 5 minutes is indeed “fucking awesome.” Back then things were easier, nobody really knew how to fight the war on file sharing.  Today its different.  I am an advocate of file sharing to the fullest, but you need to take precautions before doing so.
  Someone that is not familiar with using bit torrents might just waltz over to the Pirate Bay and start downloading.  Maybe back then it was a good idea, but these days, you have to be smart.  There are 3rd party companies that scour IP’s looking for idiots downloading cam videos of movies released yesterday only to offer them scary settlements or cease and desist letters.  Here are some rules and guidelines to follow.

1)  Don’t use Pirate Bay.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Pirate Bay is legendary and they are constantly fighting for internet freedom.  The truth is, unless you are pretty experienced  downloading torrents, this site can expose you to torrents riddled with virus’s, fake files, or torrents monitored closely for infringement.

2) Get yourself onto a private tracker.  There are some really great private trackers out there.  The problem with these is that its tough to find any with open registration.  The only way to get into them is to be persistent and check every day to see if they open up registration.  Another way is to get an invite from someone who is already a member.  You can sometimes gain invites by being cool in a forum where someone might have a spare one for you. There are a number of great private trackers out there, just do a little research.  I belong to “Iptorrents”.  Another good one is “ilovetorrents”.  Again, there are tons.  The benefits of belonging to these are high speed downloads, and every file posted will usually have plenty of very accurate comments pertaining to the file of interest.  You rarely find fake files posted or anything infected with a virus.  One thing that you can’t be when belonging to a private tracker is a “leacher”.  These are people who download files but do not share them.  The trackers usually have a minimum ratio of download to upload that they want you to maintain.  If you don’t maintain this requirement over a period of time, they will ban you from the community.  This can sometimes be tough to do, especially when we get to my next topic.

3) Be careful what you seed.  This won’t be popular amongst file sharing community, but if you are new to torrenting, don’t seed anything until you learn the ropes.  You are probably  thinking, “How can i get my sharing ratio up on a private tracker if I shouldn’t seed?”  That answer is easy.  Know and understand what you are seeding.  Don’t seed anything new and popular as they are sure to be targeted files.  Join a private tracker and download something obscure.  A lot of the time, you can sort the search results for files that have a lot of people downloading them.  Look for something obscure, even if its something that you don’t care about, you are getting it to increase your ratio.  Another way to increase your ratio without uploading, is to “Donate”.  Many of the private trackers will grant you a certain amount of Gigabyte downloads per dollar that you donate.  The money goes towards server costs.  Its a nice way to not seed, but to contribute without being looked at as a leach.

4) Get a VPN or Torrent Proxy….or even better..Both.  These days, with the NSA nonsense, there hasn’t been a better time to get yourself a VPN.  VPN’s are tricky.  If you are not familiar with a VPN, its basically a service that gives you an alternate IP address other than your own.  Everything you do online will go through the vpn first, kind of like a middle man.  This in turn hides your IP address from prying eyes.  Just recently, TorrentFreak recently published an article that was more of an investigative piece, where they went to all of the VPN services asking them about “Logging”.  The article can be seen here.  Many of them openly stated that they didn’t keep logs while some chose to not comment.  The others simply said that they emptied the logs after a few days or daily, simply because they didn’t have the space to house that much data.  When it comes down to it, this is the statement that carries the most validity.  When it comes down to it, they could be lying, who knows.  One  thing that is probably true though, is that the amount of data to log every users activities is probably pretty ridiculous, and they would need to empty the logs.  Regardless, you might as well go with one that promises complete anonymity.  Torguard offers a VPN and specifically a torrent proxy, both relatively inexpensive.  So basically I have my VPN and then when I torrent, my traffic goes through a proxy and then through the vpn, and vice versa.  Can your activities be tracked if you use a VPN.  Its possible, depends on how much they want to spend figuring out who you are and tracking your whereabouts.  Again, this post isn’t promoting illegal downloading so this shouldn’t be a concern, but you should know your options when trying to stay private.

    There is so much to learn about file-sharing, that your research shouldn’t end here.  Read as much as you can about downloading and about current events with the copyright wars.  It all directly effects file sharing and torrents weather you download illegal content or not.  Always be educated and informed.  Knowing is half the battle!

What Can You Do to Protect Your Privacy?

   So much information gets thrown at you every day, things can get confusing really quick.  We hear about the NSA and how they invade our privacy.  You hear about Edward Snowden from different media outlets, some calling him a traitor or whistle blower, some refer to him as a hero.  Maybe he’s both?  Regardless of what he is, a lot of stuff came out because of him and the entire world looks at the internet and its usage a lot differently.
   I often laugh at the people that ignore what goes on, the ones that say “I’m not doing anything wrong, so I have nothing to worry about.”  I suppose in a way that’s probably true, or is it?  Or is this just insanely short sited?  The more the government obtains unrestricted access to petabytes of personal information , the more powerful it becomes.  I am one of the many people that isn’t doing anything wrong, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try my best to keep as much privacy as I can for the things I’d like to keep private.  Everyone should do the same.

Here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from the NSA:

1) Stay away from the Cloud:  I would think this would be common sense.  Anything personal that you may have should always be kept on your own server or data center.  This includes the SaaS apps (software as a service) that are so easy and available for everyone such as Gmail and Office 365.

2) Encrypt your email:  A few months ago it was released that the NSA was working on a computer that would decrypt encryption.  I haven’t read anything about it since, but all emails should be encrypted if there is anything personal in them.

3) Hide your web browsing:  This is a major one.  Not with just the NSA, but corporate America in general.  My stepfather was telling me a few days ago that he had read on the news that Airliners have possibly been tracking IP addresses s that when you checked on a price for a flight and then came back after shopping around, that the price was higher than before.  This is a bullshit practice and can easily be avoided.  It’s sometimes creepy when you are bopping around the internet and you get adds for super obscure items you probably purchased recently.  I hate it.  To avoid all of this, use Tor.  Tor takes your internet communications and bounces it off a series of networked relays so they can’t see what sites your visiting.  It also keeps webmasters from knowing where you are browsing from.  Tor has its limitations and is basically bare bones web surfing, but its nice to know that option is there.

4) Protect the Internet:  The internet is that last frontier.  Not only our government but governments across the world are constantly trying to gain control or regulate the internet in one way or another.  Always be aware of legislation that sneaks passed main stream media that aims place regulation on any aspect of the internet, whether it be net neutrality or SOPA, any sort of regulation or censorship of the internet should be shot down immediately.

Realistically, you are probably not going to do a lot of these things as we live in a society that is tricked by convenience and ease.  We live on social media not realizing that when you make a bitstrip on Facebook that not a single person ever laughs at, that your signing over your personal information.  Every app, every nonsense thing you take part in ends up being way more expensive than you realize.  Know that you have options, and know what they are.

Please stop posting bitstrips if you haven’t already. 

Thank you.

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