How Do Torrents Work? The Complete Tech Guide


Have you ever downloaded a file off of the internet that you didn’t have to pay for? Was it a song, movie, or TV show? If so, you might have downloaded a torrent.

Torrents are a great way to access all sorts of files. Although people often use them for illegal purposes, they aren’t illegal by definition, either. 

That being said, there are some things you’ll want to understand the next time you install a torrent on your computer. Having a better understanding of them will ensure that you don’t download something you shouldn’t. 

How do torrents work? Keep reading to learn more.

What Are Torrents?

Torrents are nothing more than a type of downloadable file. They’re only a few kilobytes in size, but they allow you to download larger files once they’re on your computer. 

Let’s say that you’re trying to download a torrent for a movie. The torrent file that you get from the website may only be 50 kb, but it will then start the download of the 2 GB movie file. 

Torrents provide you with their files through the use of a P2P network. This is where two (or more) computers work together to share resources with one another.

The file comes over from someone else’s computer to your own in small pieces, and eventually, you end up with the finished file on your local disk drive. 

Are They Legal?

If torrenting sounds sketchy, that’s because lots of times, it is. There are entire websites devoted to providing users with counterfeit movies, TV shows, games, and music. 

The penalties for downloading these forms of counterfeit media can be steep. A warning letter from your internet provider is a common first step, but in extreme cases, you can incur fines of up to $150,000. You can also serve jail time. 

That being said, torrents themselves are just a type of file. There are many legal torrents that you can download. If you’re not downloading licensed content for free, then you should have nothing to worry about. 

Benefits of Torrents

Torrents provide users with several different benefits and advantages over traditional file types. 

As mentioned, they rely on a P2P download system. This means that you have multiple sources from which you can download a file from. With traditional files, you only have one, and if the main server goes down, the download won’t be able to complete.

Have you ever begun downloading a file, only to have your computer or internet crash? In most cases, that causes the download to stop. However, torrents save their download progress even if you restart your computer. 

Likewise, if your internet is slow, torrents can often get you your files faster than traditional download methods.  

Disadvantages of Torrents

All of that being said, there are some disadvantages of torrents that might not make them great for all users or files.

While the P2P system that torrents use is effective, it does have its limitations. Not all files you’ll want to download will have peers that can share the information with you. This can cause files to download slowly, and in some cases, can prevent them from downloading at all. 

Check out this guide to learn how to fix a torrent not connecting to peers.  

You’re also not able to see what a file contains until it’s on your computer. Torrents can therefore contain malware and different types of viruses. In some cases, you might not realize that they have something harmful until it’s too late.

Users who are downloading torrents can also see your IP address. This can lead to security issues and is why many experts recommend using a VPN to download a torrent. 

Understand the Different Torrent Terms

Once you start downloading torrents, you’ll realize that you always see three different terms. It’s important to understand what each of these means because they play a direct role in how fast you get your torrents to your computer.

Let’s take a look at each one. 


In the world of torrenting, think of seeders as sharers. These are the people who have the entire file that you’re downloading on their computer and can share it with you. 

As a general rule of thumb, the more seeders or seeds that a file has, the faster it will download. If a file has none or only a few, it might fail to download at all. 


Think of peers as partial sharers. These are people that have yet to finish downloading the file, but still have bits and pieces that they can share with you. Once you finish downloading a file, you become a seeder.

While peers can also help you download a file faster, they can only share the information that they’ve already downloaded. 


Many people see leechers as the bane of the torrenting world. These are people who have finished downloading the file to their computer but opt out of sharing it with others.

If you see a file with a lot of leechers but not a lot of seeds or peers, it might be best to find another one. 

How Do Torrents Work? It’s Not Magic

If you’re someone who regularly downloads files from the internet, then odds are you’ve run across a torrent before. Having a better understanding of the files that you save to your computer work is never a bad idea.

So how do torrents work? We hope that after reading this guide, you can now answer that question. 

Did you find this article on using torrents to be helpful? If you did, make sure to check out some of our other posts for more tech-related guides and tips.

Salina is a professional blogger and marketer. She has an excellent talent for writing. She is very much passionate about contributing her ideas on online platforms. Generally, she shared her thoughts on trendy topics such as health, beauty, travel, food, fashion, technology, business, finance, and so on.