Free is such a great word and things like music, software, video games, e-books are all out there for your enjoyment… FREE.
So you ask me how is this possible? Well one simple word… torrents. Now you have most likely heard about them, or your friends use them, or you maybe have forayed into the world of torrential bit streaming but this article is a step-by-step course to get you up and running.
Now, before you can get going, we’ll start with a little bit of theory. A) Is this legal? NO, not technically… will you be arrested… doubtfully. See the technical terminology for the usage of electronic copies of things is licensing. Now these licenses basically give you “permission” to use things like music, etc. Now technically, if you own an album or movie you can copy it for backup purposes indefinitely, but if you DO NOT, then legally you have to remove the illicit copies from your machine within 24 hours or pay ungodly fines up to $250,000USD or whatever the FBI warns you about at the beginning of movies for criminal copyright infringement. Anyways, enough with the legal schmegal.
How does it work technically: well here goes… Think of a torrent as a file which is a list of all the people around the world who have the file you want. Now once you have downloaded this torrent file you have a list of exactly what you want as it exists in no particular place, but in pieces all over the planet. NOW, the big key to this whole thing is the torrent client (ie. the program you use on your computer to sort out all the locations around the world where your file is). There are many different clients… uTorrent (http://utorrent.com/download/langpacks/dl.php?build=4470) is my fav, but there is also Azureus and BitLord among many many others.
Why is it called a torrent? Well think of the term torrential rain; a crazy amount of rainfall all at once. Now think of that in terms of data, when you load up the client on your machine and then load the torrent file you are inviting a torrent of data. All of the locations of the file around the world are found and chunks come from everywhere ALL at once (each piece is called a seed btw, which is a small chunk that flies across the internet and is reassembled on your computer as a piece of the file you want). The torrent loads up and all of a sudden you are getting data streaming to your computer and by the time you know it the file is finished and just like that you have a shiny new piece of data. Being your music, movie, game file or what have you.
NOW, “Mike, where do I get these torrents??,” well the answer is pretty straightforward. Since the listing of torrents is not illegal they have search engines designed to index all the torrents on the WWW. So, some of my favs are. Piratebay (www.piratebay.org), TorrentReactor (www.torrentreactor.net) and Torrentspy (www.torrentspy.com). They each have their specialties, strengths and weaknesses but they will give you a search of essentially the same pool. I would say that Piratebay is the deepest pool, but some times harder to sift through. Essentially in the end you just want to download the torrent file you want and do it by any means necessary.
So to summarize. Step-by-step:
1) Go get a torrent client – uTorrent (http://utorrent.com/download/langpacks/dl.php?build=4470) and install it.
2) Go get a torrent – Piratebay (www.piratebay.org) – go to this site and where it says search look for “Metallica” then choose one of the results, then click download, then open it! The file will automatically open uTorrent and prompt you as to which files you want to download. If you want to download the whole album, click okay. If you want to download specific songs or specific files, then you should check and uncheck the specific files you want from the torrent and push okay. You will see what I mean.
3) Once the file is done, go to the location where you told the program to download. OR in the uTorrent window, right click the torrent that is at 100% and click “Open containing folder” now do what you wish with the files, load them in iTunes or whatever.
So that covers step by step how to get the data. There is a bit more detail if you want to download specific programs and things like that. There is a bit of an art to that and it will be covered in a future article. For now, just follow those steps and any music you want will be at your finger tips almost immediately (assuming you have a fast internet connection and some hard drive space left).