BitTorrent is a great way to transfer and share large files, but it's only as convenient and efficient as the application you use to seed and download them. This week, we're looking at five of the best BitTorrent clients, based on your nominations.
Photo by John Trainor
µTorrent (or uTorrent) is one of the most popular BitTorrent clients, and has enjoyed broad use because it's fast, feature-rich, and supported and developed by BitTorrent, Inc, which in a way makes it the "official" BitTorrent client. Even so, one company can't own a protocol, so BitTorrent is just one option in a vast sea of clients.
µTorrent retains the ease of use, speedy downloads, and fine controls over your download and upload speeds and bandwidth that made it popular in the first place. It has all of the features you would expect from a good BitTorrent client, including the ability to resume stopped downloads, download files in sequential order, support for encrypted files, support for remote control via mobile apps, download scheduling and port forwarding. It will even throttle itself back as soon as you start to use bandwidth heavy applications on your computer. µTorrent also makes it easy to find and download the official BitTorrent Bundles, which are packed with music, movies, and other great free, freely-licensed entertainment to enjoy. It's completely free, though the inclusion of ads has been controversial.
Built as a free-software, open source alternative and feature equivalent to µTorrent, qBittorrent is cross-platform, lightweight, well-polished, and free of many of the issues that made its inspiration controversial. Its somewhat spartan UI hides a wealth of features that make the client popular. qBittorrent can be configured to send email when your downloads are complete, and you can search for files inside of the app instead of digging around for reliable downloads. It supports web-based remote control, port forwarding and IP filtering.
It's remarkably powerful for those folks who need those features. Others just like it because they're disaffected by other tools, and they're looking for something that's lightweight and efficient. True to its open source, community-driven nature, it's completely free (although the project does accept donations.)
Transmission is a simple, lightweight BitTorrent client that many of you who use OS X machines, Linux boxes, or even Raspberry Pis preferr. It's super-lightweight, and runs quietly in the background with or without a UI, which makes it ideal for servers, NAS boxes, HTPCs and other "headless" systems.
Transmission can be remote controlled by a web client or through the terminal (via SSH). It's free and open-source, and there are distro-specific versions available for Linux users who want an option customised to their system. Transmission gives you robust system notifications for your active and completed downloads, download scheduling, port forwarding, remote management and encryption.
Deluge earns points for being one of the oldest BitTorrent clients available, and also one of the most lightweight. It's completely free and cross-platform, and supports encrypted downloads, private torrents, password protection, bandwidth scheduling and throttling, remote management via a web-based of console-based interface, proxy support and third-party plugins.
Those plugins are where Deluge's power really shines through. The ability to customise the client to your needs and then set it and forget it, as well as manage it remotely, makes Deluge another great option for lightweight needs or for headless setups like home servers and NAS devices.
Tixati is a relatively new BitTorrent contender. The client is a little basic, but it includes most features you're likely to need, including an easy view of all of your downloads, support for magnet links, port forwarding, IP filtering and event scheduling. It's certainly one of the fastest and easiest clients to set up on your machine. The Tixati web site is like a guide to torrenting for beginners — which makes sense, since the client is no-nonsense and focused on the basics too. It's completely free.
This week's honourable mention goes to rTorrent (OS X/Linux), a text-based BitTorrent client that actually made the top five the last time we looked at this category. If you're looking to manage your downloads without all of the overhead of a heavier client, or just at the command line or via SSH, this is the client for you.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell us about your top torrent tool and why you love it in the comments.