Do You Even Torrent?

Illustration for article titled Do You Even Torrent?

With the news that the “Netflix for torrents,” PopcornTime, is sneaking past the Apple Iron Shield, I’ve got to ask: given our newfound abundance of free, ad-supported and paid streaming services, who is torrenting these days? And what are you torrenting for?


I used to be dedicated to torrents — in high school and college, in the long long ago, they were godsends. In college I didn’t have a television, and I was hungry for media, much of it unavailable for sale at all or priced so exorbitantly there was no way I could pay for boxed sets via work-study. This was before YouTube, when Netflix was a sending-DVDs-through-the-mail service. I’ll state that I’m also firmly on the side of piracy for the greater sharing good, though that’s a can of worms for another time.

I’m wondering who is torrenting what in our reshaped internet landscape. I may be a unique case in not having traded files in years, because I’ve mostly operated off of business computers with strict rules regarding file-sharing software. Torrenting has been a no-no in the workplace not necessarily because of the legal issues attendant — though they’re there — but because the programs tend to strangle bandwidth and slow down everyone’s operations.

But some of my friends who used to live to torrent have developed Netflix addictions instead, or signed up for the plethora of other paid services offering easy access to content. There’s an equal abundance of free streaming media to contend with, and if you’re like me, you’re overwhelmed by the choices now rather than desperate to download.

Obviously file-sharing isn’t just for visual media. I’d probably hop back on the good ship torrent (RIP Pirate Bay) if I had a rare music obsession of the moment, or a desperate need for unattainable software. But I don’t, and the headaches of finding viable torrents and dodging potential malware doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

I think I might be in the minority here in terms of Gizmodo denizens, so I’m curious what how you use torrents — whether you’re actively sharing your own mighty collections, or searching out elusive creations. It’s cool if you’re just watching Game of Thrones, too — I won’t tell HBO.




I’ve heard some people have automatic setups. A guy I know has a NAS, which belongs to an invite only tracker, it monitors an IRC chatroom which has a bot that announces new downloads, there’s a script he can edit that automatically downloads torrents according to criteria. He gets many 1080p downloads before they even air. This torrent tracker is widely accepted to be the best tracker there is for TV shows. 1080p isn’t even broadcast. There are no commercials, and he’s on the west coast so he gets these shows before they even air here. His cable bill to get these shows would be $180/mo. He pays only for internet. The downloads complete, they’re automatically renamed and organized via another script, then shared to his Samsung TV and every single other device he owns, even his head unit in his car, via plex. There is no transcoding, it’s completely hands free. So he has every TV show and movie that he wants, downloading automatically, appearing commercial free, before they air where he lives. All this costs him is an internet fee. That’s what I heard anyway.