We're big fans of BitTorrent. It's the fastest way to download files quickly without lining up for an HTTP download or opening an FTP client, and it's a great way to host large files without having to provide all of the bandwidth on your own. Here's a look at five of the most popular BitTorrent applications.
Deluge is one of the most lightweight BitTorrent clients available. Part of the reason it's so light on system resources is because of its robust plug-in catalogue, where most of the real power comes from. The bulk of its features come from available plugins, and those plugins are just as cross=platform as the core application is. Deluge supports private torrents, encrypted transfers, password protection and bandwidth scheduling, so you can let the app eat your available bandwidth when you're asleep or at work, but throttle it back when you're home. Deluge is completely free.
For a long time, Transmission was the only feature-rich BitTorrent client available for the Mac, and even today, it's the go-to client for many. Transmission is free, open-source, and runs just as well in Linux as it does in Mac OS X, and the developers provide distro-specific packages of the application for your downloading needs. The app is also designed to run quietly in the background without eating too much bandwidth or memory, but doesn't skimp on the features. Transmission sports robust system notifications, download scheduling, magnet links, port forwarding, remote management, encryption and more.
µTorrent was one of the first solid, lightweight BitTorrent clients to hit the Web, and since then it has soared to massive popularity. It doesn't hurt that µTorrent is a tiny installation, easy to use and understand, but has enough advanced features to keep the pro users hooked on the app. For example, µTorrent supports remote control, scheduling, port forwarding and smart bandwidth throttling – it'll give up bandwidth as you start to use bandwidth-intensive applications without you forcing it to. Plus, it is developed and owned by the same people who invented the BitTorrent protocol. There was a time when µTorrent was Windows only, but that's clearly no longer the case. Best of all, it's free.
Who needs GUIs? rTorrent and ruTorrent are free, designed for Linux and Unix-based systems, and will handle your downloads entirely by command line. When we say "entirely" we mean it –it's not like rTorrent or ruTorrent have some web interface you just have to toggle. If you want a GUI, you'll have to download a plug-in. Still, if you're managing your torrents remotely on a Linux box on your network, rTorrent lets you log in and manage them easily without firing up an app to do it. Plus, both apps support SSH remote control, so you don't even have to be home to manage your downloads.
Where all of the other applications focus on being as lightweight as possible, Vuze takes a different approach. The app goes above and beyond to include as many features as it can. Vuze will download and manage torrents, and it also supports remote management, mobile devices, and bandwidth throttling. Vuze is also a video player, and can play HD video, or push it to your mobile device. The app automatically detects iTunes and iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. It also supports streaming audio and video to Android phones, BlackBerry devices, and game consoles like the XBox 360 and PS3. It's not the lightest of the group, but it tries to manage all of your downloads and help you enjoy them at the same time. Vuze comes in two flavors – a scaled back free version, and a "plus" version with all features unlocked, for $US24.99 per year.
Did your favourite BitTorrent application fall out of the lineup? Do you have something to say in defence of one of the contenders? Make your case in the comments.