uTorrent is the most popular torrent client in the world by a large margin, but is uTorrent safe? This guide will teach you how to use uTorrent as safely as possible, and how to get the most from your uTorrent experience.
- What safety issues does uTorrent have?
- The safest versions of uTorrent to use (and which ones contain malware)
- How to block ads in uTorrent
- How to protect your identity when downloading torrents with uTorrent
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We recommend you also read:
- How to use uTorrent anonymously (Learn to hide your uTorrent IP address and encrypt your torrents)
- uTorrent proxy setup instructions (use a SOCKS proxy for more anonymous downloads)
QUESTIONS ABOUT UTORRENT’S SAFETY
uTorrent made news across the internet in 2015 when it was reported that they were bundling bitcoin mining software that would auto-install along with uTorrent and secretly use host machines to mine for bitcoins without the users’ knowledge.
It turns out that this issue wasn’t widespread, and uTorrent removed the malware from future releases, but it did raise questions about how far the company is willing to go in order to generate revenue. Currently, the bulk of their revenue comes from low-cost advertising and the small percentage of users who choose to upgrade to utorrent pro for $19.95/year.
In 2014, google’s chrome browser also flagged uTorrent software as malware though it came up clean on virus scanners. This issue was temporary as well and likely had nothing to do with the actual risk of installing the software.
Adware and ransomeware bundled with other torrent clients, has demonstrated the risk of installing torrent software, even from reputable sources. In March 2016, an update of Transmission torrent client (distributed from the company’s own servers) was infected with ransomeware which would hold users’ systems hostage by encrypting the harddisk and demanding a ransom payment in bitcoins.
SO IS IT SAFE TO USE UTORRENT?
The short answer is yes, but it’s complicated.
Currently, uTorrent’s software is considered safe and free of dangerous malware. The primary risk of using uTorrent comes not from the software itself, but the risk of downloading dangerous or infected torrents from unknown sources. No torrent client can protect you if you choose to download unsafe files which may contain rootkits, malware, or trojans. Read our safe torrent guide for our top prevention/safety tips.
It’s also a good idea to always your identity when downloading torrents, and to encrypt your traffic so you can’t be blocked or throttled by your internet provider. We wrote our‘ultimate guide to anonymous utorrent’ to show you exactly how to hide your identity while torrenting.
Safest versions of uTorrent
There is great debate over the best version of uTorrent released over the years. Some versions are more stable then others (and have less privacy leaking features). Over time, uTorrent has become much more bloated (with extra features) and less lightweight then it was in the early days.
Among hardcore veterans, uTorrent version 2.2.1 is still the favorite (and considered the last version not bundled with adware). You can still find download links to this old utorrent version (though always software from unknown sources before installing. This reddit thread has several links to download this OG version.
You can also find previous versions of uTorrent on oldversion.com
USING UTORRENT ANONYMOUSLY
We always recommend taking steps to hide and anonymize your torrent downloads. By using a VPN (best option) and/or a proxy service, you can make your torrent downloads virtually impossible to monitor or trace.
Here are some step-by-step guides to help you use utorrent safely:
- How to use uTorrent Anonymously (VPN + Proxy setup instructions)
You will also likely find this youtube video helpful. It includes step by step instructions showing you how to use a VPN or Proxy with uTorrent, and how to check your torrent IP address to verify your setup is working and your IP is hidden.
HOW TO REMOVE ADS FROM UTORRENT
Advertisements in uTorrent can be rather annoying. Fortunately, you can choose to disable them by tweaking a few advanced settings in the uTorrent preferences menu.
Ubergizmo has the complete guide on how to disable ads in uTorrent.
Best of all, this isn’t some hack method. It’s actually a built in option buried deep in the uTorrent’s menu. It works great, and you can have an ad-free uTorrent experience in just a few minutes.
uTorrent is still the torrent client of choice for over 100 million users worldwide. The software itself remains relatively safe, though if you want a true ad-free and adware-less torrent experience, you should consider trying one of the open-source torrent clients like Deluge or Qbittorrent, both of which are extremely functional and popular.
The biggest risk with uTorrent (and with any torrent software) is what you download, and where you download it from. The safest practice is to never download installable files or software such as .EXE or .BAT files, which could contain dangerous software, keyloggers, spyware, etc. You should also have a high-quality antivirus, and use it frequently. Read our Safe Torrent Guide for a full list of good safety practices.
Be well, torrent safely and always use strong protection.
Ryan is the editor and head reviewer. He's been a tech geek and digital privacy enthusiast since the Y2k freakout in '99. When not writing BitTorrent tutorials, he can usually be found sipping a lager or playing pickup football (the real kind).