Torrent files can be more than a little confusing for inexperienced torrentors.
For one thing, they fall under 2 categories: those that act as a sort of URL and those you actually download.
In this guide, we’ll explain what torrent files are and how to open them.
As you probably already know, torrenting is the use of a peer-to-peer (P2P) network for file-sharing.
Essentially, you use a client like BitTorrent to properly access and work with torrent sites, which index the downloads available through its users and helps create the P2P connections between those users.
You can read a more in-depth explanation of our answer in our article: What is Torrent?
As torrenting is a highly complicated legal gray area, we strongly suggest you also take a look at our answer to Is Torrenting Illegal?
We should also emphasize we’re creating these torrent guides purely due to the legal applications of this technology.
In no way do we endorse or condone illegal activity such as downloading torrent files that breach copyright laws. However if you choose to torrent, then make sure you choose a torrent site that is trusted. Visit our best torrent sites guide to help make your decision.
How to Torrent Safely
Public torrent sites, such as Pirate Bay, RARBG, and 1337x, do not monitor the type of files made available in their indexes, so you’re likely to encounter fake torrents, most of which are riddled with malware.
The first step in protecting yourself is making sure you have a fully updated version of an anti-malware protection software like Bitdefender Internet Security. The second step is knowing How to Spot Fake Torrent File Downloads.
But you’ll need to demonstrate proper torrent etiquette on public sites (by seeding very nearly as much as you leech) before you can hope to gain access to a private torrent indexer.
Finally, you absolutely cannot torrent without using a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN). Make sure you pick from our best torrenting VPNs guide to keep you safe at all times.
The Best Torrenting VPNs we tested include:
How to Open .Torrent Files
The first type of torrent files you’ll come in contact with when using a torrent site are those with the .torrent extension.
These act as a sort of “P2P URL” by containing metadata instructions on where to leech the actual content from.
Once you download your client of choice, you need to configure it.
For starters, choose whether you want it to start running as soon as your computer boots up, select the file destination for torrent downloads, and enable UPnP port mapping for the highest possible download speeds.
To finish with, you can set bandwidth limits to control the maximum upload/download rates.
This is especially useful if you don’t have a broadband connection and/or your VPN provider has bandwidth limits (it shouldn’t, though).
When you double-click on the .torrent files you downloaded from the indexer you’re using, they should now open via your client.
The client will then read the metadata instructions and start downloading the actual content files via the P2P network.
How to Open Torrent Downloads
When your client is finished downloading the files, you’re ready to start interacting with the content.
Torrent downloads come in different formats, so we’ll run through the 4 most common ones and how to open them.
Video files come in a few different formats, typically MP4 or MKV (though there are several others).
For the most part, your default media player will be able to open and play these files without issue.
However, if you want to be sure you can open your torrent download, install VLC Player for free.
For torrent files with the .EXE extension (such as game updates), simply double-click on the Setup.EXE file and run through the installation procedure through your operating system’s Installation Wizard.
Some games – as well as other software downloads – will save as a single ISO file. Simply double-click on the file, which will then create a new virtual disk for you and initiate the installation procedure.
Most of the time, your torrent files will be a ZIP archive with the .zip extension. These are basically compressed versions that help make downloading large files easier.
To open a .zip file, you’ll need to extract the content using WinZip (available for free). After installing WinZip, right click on the .zip file and select “extract here”.