Torrenting is a popular way to share files online. Through torrents, and with the ever-increasing mobile speeds in the Philippines, you can easily get or host books, videos, music, and other content on your smartphone while you’re on the go. Here’s how you can use torrents on your smartphone to share files.

What is a torrent?

A torrent is basically a metadata file (with a .torrent filename extension) that contains information about data being distributed via BitTorrent, a popular communication protocol for transferring large files using peer-to-peer connections. As a downloader, you need to open the torrent file with a BitTorrent client to start downloading the actual content you want to get. Torrents allow file sharing without relying on the traditional client-server pattern.

Android and iOS do not recognize a torrent file

Torrent files are not natively supported by the Android and iOS operating systems. If you try to open one on Android, for instance, you’ll get a prompt suggesting you find and download an app that can open torrent files.

How do you download and use torrents on smartphones?

You need an app that functions as a BitTorrent client to download files using torrents. For Android, a good choice is the Free Download Manager. Besides having torrent support, it’s a feature-rich download manager that lets you resume broken downloads, adjust download speeds, and set a download schedule. The FDM app also supports magnet links, which essentially allows you to download files via BitTorrent without having to download a .torrent file first.

With the Free Download Manager app installed, just visit a torrent indexing website to search for files you want to download and get the corresponding .torrent file (or magnet link). Opening the torrent file or link should launch FDM automatically. In the New File screen, set the file name and save location, then tap Download.

As for iOS, Apple is quite strict with torrents due to potential copyright violations (more on this below), which is why the company doesn’t list BitTorrent clients on its app store. You may find iOS compatible BitTorrent clients from third-party app stores, and some of these clients need you to jailbreak your device.


Monitor your data usage

While a torrent is active, note that you may be uploading as well as downloading the file. This may contribute to a large consumption of your mobile data, so do monitor your data usage when you’re not on an unlimited data subscription. Prefer using Wi-Fi to mobile data when torrenting.

Aren’t torrents illegal?

With the way it became popular, torrenting is often thought to be synonymous with pirating copyrighted material. However, the act of torrenting, the use of BitTorrent clients, and BitTorrent as a protocol are completely legal. Torrenting is against the law only when piracy is involved.

In the Philippines, the common actions taken against illegal torrenting are to take down websites (such as KickassTorrents in 2014) or at least block direct access to these sites. But there have also been arrests, especially when illegal activities start to hurt the profits of businesses. If you don’t want to attract the attention of the authorities, then don’t get involved in piracy.

Are torrents safe?

Like other activities we enjoy on the Internet, torrenting is not free of bad actors who spread malware. Cybercriminals regularly target and exploit users that crave the latest music, movies, games, and other popular content but don’t want to spend for it. Files shared through BitTorrent, especially pirated versions, may come with malware.

BitTorrent client Vuze has a list of websites with legal torrents. That list has not been updated since 2017, though, so some websites may be outdated. If you’re in doubt on whether you’re about to download illegally or not, always look up the owner of the content and see if they allow their work to be distributed for free.

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