BitTorrent is the go-to resource for downloading everything from music and movies to software and operating systems, but as its popularity continues to grow, so do the number of tools available for making the most of it. Some are must-haves, while others are a waste of time. Climb aboard for a look at 10 of the best BitTorrent utilities, tools, and resources for finding and managing your BitTorrent downloads quickly and efficiently.
Of course BitTorrent is a great place to go looking for files, but you can actually take advantage of BitTorrent's distributed download protocol to share your own files. This guide details how to create your own torrent to distribute a file on your computer. The guide covers creating the torrent with the popular, Windows-only uTorrent, but the feature is available in almost any BitTorrent client.
Using IM applications like Pidgin or the Mac-only Adium, you can set up your IM client to automatically accept downloads from specific users (namely, you) and then save the file to a folder that your BitTorrent client watches for new torrent files (in Pidgin you'll need to go to Tools -> Plugins and enable the Autoaccept plugin). Most clients like uTorrent (Windows) and Transmission (*nix) support folder monitoring, so if your BitTorrent client is running it'll detect the file you've sent yourself and automatically start downloading the torrent. This method doesn't allow for very advanced remote management (like #5 below), but if all you want is a quick method for starting a new download, it's quick and easy.
I'd always recommend using a dedicated BitTorrent client whenever you can, but sometimes installing or running another app just isn't an option. In those cases, web application BitLet is a perfect solution. It runs BitTorrent downloads through an applet directly in your web browser; all you have to do is point it to the torrent file. (Read more)
Cross platform, open source application Miro is designed as a one-stop shop for handling video—whether that's video podcasts or BitTorrent. It doesn't have all the tools available to less specialised clients like uTorrent or Transmission, but it does work well to automatically download a season's worth of television while it's happening. (Read more)
Whether you're new to BitTorrent or you're just not getting the download speeds you were hoping for, you can take steps to speed up your downloads by capping your upload speeds, adjust your connection allowances, or switch the default port. (Read more)
Sometimes a slow connection is the result of intentional BitTorrent throttling by your internet service provider. In addition to switching the default port your BitTorrent client is using, there are tons of other methods—like turning on encryption or adjusting the way your client behaves—that can help fool your ISP and speed up your downloads. (Read more)
5. Remote Control Your BitTorrent Downloads with uTorrent's WebUI or Transmission's Clutch
You're gaga for BitTorrent, and these two tools let you control and manage all of your BitTorrent downloads from the comfort of your web browser—no matter where you are. Both applications can handle almost any feature of the desktop version (and both look very similar, as well). Just find the one that fits the operating system you're using and get started with your remote access. uTorrent even has a special web interface for the iPhone.
Whether you opt for Ted (all platforms) or TVShows (Mac OS X only), these apps ensure you'll no longer need to dig for the latest and greatest episodes of your favourite TV shows week after week. You just point them to what you like, and they automatically download new episode torrents as they become available.
Rather than get into an argument over the best torrent tracker/search engine, might I instead submit YouTorrent, a meta search engine that scours some of the best BitTorrent trackers for downloads and sorts the results by number of seeds. I know it's new, and who knows if it'll last (it doesn't even have ads yet), but—god willing—YouTorrent is currently the easiest place to look for a new, healthy torrent (barring some really good private tracker that most of us are not members of). (Read more)
The go-to BitTorrent client for Mac users, Transmission has that Mac feel that makes you want to go out and
pirate download some Creative Commons-licenced content. It's popped up already a lot in this list, from its torrent folder monitoring to it's snazzy remote control features, so if you're looking for a great client for your Mac, Transmission is the best on the market. (Read more)
It's unfortunately Windows-only for now (that may change sometime this year), but uTorrent is bar-none the best BitTorrent client you'll find. It's fast, lightweight, and full-featured (as you've seen above). If there's one Windows application I miss when I'm working away from Windows, uTorrent is that client.
Honourable mention update: I completely forgot to mention PeerGuardian2, a freeware IP blocker designed to protect your privacy from blacklisted IPs (like anti-P2P groups who might want to track your activity). It's not a sure thing, but a lot of people consider it a reassuring layer of protection.
If you're new to BitTorrent, all of this may have come at you a little fast. Check out our beginner's guide to BitTorrent, and once you're up to speed, take a look at our more advanced intermediate guide.
If you're not new to the world of BitTorrent, then chances are your list may differ from mine. If there's one thing avid file sharers are passionate about, it's their favourite clients and methods, so let's hear what would have made your list in the comments.