Is uTorrent safe? Torrenting security explained

Anton P. | June 21, 2021

Is uTorrent safe for sharing files? It is a popular BitTorrent client, but experts note better clients are available. 

Over the years, uTorrent software had several run-ins with the law and public criticism. Some feared the program itself came tainted with unnecessary components. 

Others wondered whether this tool could serve its purpose without any legal implications. However, it remains one of the most popular BitTorrent clients. If you use it, you should learn more about it and improve its security and privacy.

Is it safe to use uTorrent for sharing files?

TL;DR – Atlas VPN guarantees that all your peer-to-peer activities stay safe. We have plenty of P2P-friendly servers letting you easily and safely share large files through the uTorrent system.

How uTorrent works

uTorrent (also known as µTorrent) is a free torrent client, widely popular across the world. Users can also sign up for its premium version, which reassures an ad-free experience.

However, its internal workings resemble any other torrent client you have come across:

  • uTorrent supports peer-to-peer sharing, meaning that you exchange files directly between users.
  • It prioritizes performance, and due to its lightweight nature, it does not drain computer resources as much.
  • BitTorrent Inc. maintains uTorrent after purchasing it in 2006.
  • In April 2017, BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen had introduced uTorrent Web, designed to function within users’ browsers.

Is uTorrent safe? Security issues

There are some risks of installing and using uTorrent. One clear threat is that torrenting will lead to a malware infection on your device.

This scenario typically plays out when users download torrent files from suspicious sources. However, over the years, uTorrent has been involved in several questionable affairs.

  • In 2015, users reported that the latest uTorrent update had brought a cryptocurrency miner into their devices. The client came bundled with Epic Scale, a Windows tool exploiting computers’ processors to mine Litecoin. According to BitTorrent, the installation was not a secret as users were informed about it during the install. Blindly agreeing to all offers during installation is a problem, especially when it comes to FOSS.
  • Microsoft and other anti-virus providers have flagged uTorrent as a threat. Usually, the torrent client would end up classified as a potentially unwanted program (PUP).

The fact that uTorrent offers bundled software is not necessarily a surprise. BitTorrent claims that nothing gets installed without users’ knowledge and consent.

Thus, it means that during the installation of uTorrent, people tend to agree with all presented offers. What they should do instead is prevent each additional program from being installed alongside uTorrent.

Is uTorrent Web safe?

uTorrent Web performs the same functions as the Classic version. The main difference is that Web works within users’ browsers. It is likely to be equally safe. However, using a browser means risking flaws that could interfere with torrenting.

Is uTorrent illegal?

uTorrent is the official torrent client owned and maintained by BitTorrent. By no means is the program illegal, although it might engage in questionable behavior as mentioned above. However, the use of the software, explicitly involving digital piracy, might make it involved in illegal activities.

Downloading copyrighted content from unverified sources is illegal, and many countries impose penalties for culprits involved. You can think like this: if you don’t use uTorrent to download licensed content, it is perfectly legal.

How to use uTorrent safely?

There are several precautions that uTorrent users should take.

  • Reject bundled software. uTorrent has a reputation for distributing additional software. Thus, be careful during its installation and refuse all offers to install more than one tool.
  • Avoid licensed content. Never use torrent clients to download copyrighted content. It might not only put you in hot water legally, but such downloads are one of the dominant sources of malware.
  • The malware threat. Perpetrators could use exclusive or licensed content as bait to get users to download files. Without realizing it, you might voluntarily infect your computer with malware. The latter involves various threats like Trojans, adware, browser hijackers, keyloggers, and spyware.

uTorrent security settings to use 

You can secure uTorrent more by enabling its security features. For instance, it offers SOCKS5 proxy support and encryption. Let’s see what changes are worth it to your client. 

Traffic encryption on uTorrent

uTorrent applies encryption to mask torrent traffic and makes it appear as regular browsing. However, remember that uTorrent encryption does not conceal what you download. 

Furthermore, it has its limitations. For example, Internet Service Providers can still detect torrenting via various inspection methods. 

Overall, uTorrent encryption should be active, and here are the steps to enable it:

  1. Open the Preferences menu in your uTorrent client. 
  2. Pick BitTorrent on the left side. 
  3. Find Protocol Encryption and select Enabled for outgoing connections. 
  4. Confirm your choices.

IP binding on uTorrent 

IP binding ties torrenting activities to a particular IP address. For example, you can bind it to your proxy IP address. Then, your real IP address remains hidden. 

It seems that IP binding via uTorrent is only available to Windows users. Here are the steps on how to enable it: 

  1. Connect to a proxy server or a VPN. 
  2. Check what IP address you have after connecting. 
  3. Open Preferences on uTorrent. 
  4. Pick Advanced
  5. Type in net.bind_ip in the Filter section. 
  6. Provide the IP address you have in the Value field. 
  7. Pick Set
  8. Type in net.outgoing_ip in the Filter section. 
  9. Provide your IP address under the Value field. 
  10. Pick Set. 
  11. Confirm your choices.
  12. Restart uTorrent client. 

SOCKS5 proxy for uTorrent 

uTorrent supports SOCKS5 proxy and lets you set it up directly through the application. It will conceal your IP address. However, it won’t encrypt traffic. 

  1. Open Preferences on uTorrent. 
  2. Find Connection on the left. 
  3. Pick Socks5 under Proxy Server
  4. Proxy field should feature the address of your proxy server.
  5. Provide credentials for your proxy server.
  6. Enable hostname lookups, authentication, and P2P connections.
  7. Disable DNS lookups and connections SOCKS5 does not support.
  8. Confirm your choices. 
  9. Restart uTorrent. 

How can a VPN improve your P2P experience?

A VPN and P2P sharing is a unique combination that will give you more control over the data you involuntarily share. When you connect to a torrent client and start downloading a file, your IP address is visible to everyone sharing that file.

As you might know, an IP address reveals your approximate location (city or region). If you want to prevent this IP sharing, you should connect to a VPN server beforehand.

Then, your peers will see the IP address belonging to the VPN server you chose.

A VPN also delivers another perk: it prevents ISPs from throttling your connection. In some cases, ISPs might automatically flag P2P traffic as suspicious, regardless of whether it involves digital piracy.

Thus, some providers might block access to uTorrent clients. Others can slow down the connection and make it difficult to download anything.

Thus, a VPN encrypts information about your internet traffic and prevents ISPs from distinguishing between different activities. The result: ISPs won’t know when you torrent or engage in some casual browsing.

A reliable VPN service qualifies to support P2P activities if it implements the following criteria:

  • Provides robust encryption. For example, Atlas VPN equips AES-256 encryption to safeguard internet traffic.
  • Contains a kill switch feature. A kill switch temporarily halts your internet connection when the VPN stops working. It prevents your IP address and other data from leaking.
  • Servers support P2P. If VPN servers are ready to handle torrenting, you won’t experience any evident performance issues.
  • Solid no-logs policy. A VPN should keep no records related to your online behavior. Only then can you use this service with confidence.

Atlas VPN delivers all these features to protect its clients. Thus, it is an effective solution for improving your P2P experience and privacy online overall.

Safer alternatives to uTorrent 

Many users abandon uTorrent due to its suspicious behavior and ads. Therefore, consider switching to a different client. 

However, remember to download clients from their official sites.

qBitTorrent 

qBitTorrent is a safer torrenting client for multiple reasons. It is free, open-source, and does not feature ads. 

BitTorrent 

BitTorrent also has its benefits. It has fewer security incidents, and it manages its ads better. Thus, it is a slightly safer option for torrenting. 

Transmission 

Transmission is free and open-source software. Some of its security features resemble uTorrent. However, it does not offer proxy server support.

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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