As a BitTorrent user, you probably already realize how downloading torrents is a legal gray area. The law is pretty clear on copyrights but torrents can sometimes bend the laws a bit to suit users who won’t have to pay any sort of compensation to access files that originally would cost a lot to get.
Now, this gets better with Magnet links. Torrent sites will now no longer host sites, they will just offer users magnet links.
Magnet Links: What Are They? 🤔
We will use the familiar torrent files to explain what magnet links are. When you download torrent files, you’re essentially downloading a tiny sized file that has in its information about a larger file you actually want to access.
What then happens is that the torrent file’s information informs your torrent client (uTorrent for example) about the name of the file, a tracker URL, and other tidbits of info for your clients to source and get the files you need.
What your client does is then calculate a “hash code”. This is basically like a unique serial number particular to that one torrent. It then uses that code to find others uploading the files the user needs to download.
Quite the work even though it doesn’t take as much time as it took writing the process down. What magnet links now promise though is even faster and direct.
In the former process, before getting to the “hash code” quite a bit happened but magnet links are like hyperlinks, they already contain the hash codes needed which means torrent clients can just immediately start searching for uploaders of the files you need.
Magnet links don’t require trackers because it uses “DHT” (). It also conveniently doesn’t require users to download a file before the actual download.
How To Use Magnet Links
Magnet links already make torrents easier to download and it is also quite straightforward to use. Go to your favorite torrent sites and more often than not magnet links will be the default download option.
Click on the magnet link and usually your browser will just automatically open your BitTorrent client and start downloading the files you requested.
With the advent of magnet links, torrent downloading has gone a few clicks faster, torrent sites will get into less trouble with the law than usual because they (torrent sites) won’t be hosting the files that sometimes infringe on copyright laws so it will be much harder to prove that the sites are at least deliberately aiding and abetting copyright infringements.
The law will probably catch up with this development but we can still enjoy the much faster experience derived from using magnet links for now.
The weird part is the torrent clients weren’t so crazy about magnet links when it first came out but now it is the goto mode for torrent sites and most clients now support it.
Another main advantage that magnet links have over the former normal torrents is that torrents contain trackers that can be blocked which immediately renders the torrents useless.
So the big advantage that magnet links promise is that you might be able to download the files even if the tracker has been blocked or closed at both ends.
This will not spell the end of .torrent formats for BitTorrent totally though, there is still vital information crucial to start the downloading process and it has to be available in the swarm for the whole process to work.
The main method now though is magnet links and here’s a guide below on how to open magnet links on browsers, we will be covering two major browsers (Chrome and Mozilla Firefox) and a generic way that should work on just about any browser.
How To Open Magnet Links In Chrome
Chrome has a particular setting that allows users to use magnet links, the first task you have to perform is to ensure that the setting is allowed or turned on.
Here’s how to do that.
Go to Settings, click on the menu icon located at the top left corner of your screen, and click on “Privacy and Security“.
Note: These clicks are sequential, click on one and it’ll lead you to the next.
In Privacy and Security, click on site Settings
Next, Handlers and “Allow sites to become default handlers for protocols“.
You’re pretty much set up for downloads now.
Magnet link Utorrent
After going through setting up your Chrome or any other browser for magnet links, as shown above, all you have to do is visit your favorite torrent site, click on the magnet links (chances are the normal download icon is a magnet link) and a message will pop up.
The pop up will basically be asking you to open the magnet link with a BitTorrent client (like uTorrent, Vuze, Transmission).
Accept it and your uTorrent client will open the magnet link. Note that you should have downloaded and installed Utorrent first.
Chrome also has a feature that makes this process easier the next time you want to download using magnet links.
When Chrome asks if you want to use your BitTorrent client app to open the magnet link, it will also ask if you want to “always open these types of links with the associated app“.
Click this box and you won’t be asked again another time to confirm your choice. It will just go straight to the BitTorrent client app and open the link.
How To Open Magnet Links In Mozilla Firefox
For Mozilla Firefox, the method is pretty much the same. All you have to do is visit your favorite torrent site, click on the magnet links and a message will pop up.
The pop up will basically be asking you to open the magnet link with a BitTorrent client (uTorrent, Vuze, Transmission). Accept it and your uTorrent client will open the magnet link.
A question which might arise is this:
“What if I have already checked the “always open these types of links” box for a particular BitTorrent client and I want to change to another BitTorrent client?
The answer is pretty simple. It is possible to do it and here’s how it’s done. It is called “resetting the association”.
First locate the Firefox address bar, enter “about:config” and then when a page shows, search for “network.protocol-handler.expose.magnet“.
Right-click the preference (making a particular bitTorrent client your default app) you made earlier and click “Toggle” to ensure the value is set to “False“.
Once the “value” is set to false, you can now try the magnet link and use another torrent client.
Go back to the torrent and click on the magnet link and that pop-up box asking which app you’d like to use as the default option for opening magnet links will show again and now you can choose the new BitTorrent client you want to use.
How To Open Magnet Links In Other Browsers
For generic browsers, most browsers will automatically ask you if you want to use your BitTorrent client to open magnet links when you click on them. But sometimes this might not happen and you will have to manually create a file association.
The issue resolved above was about resetting an association already made by browsers like Chrome or Mozilla Firefox but here the browser hasn’t even made any sort of association so the user has to manually create one.
Here’s a play by play on how it’s done.
Go to the Windows Registry Editor “Win + R and then enter regedit into the box”.
Find this location Computer -> HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT -> Magnet -> shell -> open -> command
Just by the right, in the registry pane under “Data“, you will find info about the directory of the BitTorrent client app you currently use and some other info.
In this case, we are going with uTorrent as our client so the default directory info will look a lot like this:
“C: UsersUserAppDataRoaminguTorrentuTorrent.exe “%1” /SHELLASSOC
Another question that could pop up would be:
What if the information on the data pane doesn’t match my BitTorrent client’s directory, what should I do?
Here’s what you should do-
Assuming you’ve already taken the steps outlined above to get to “Data” in the registry pane.
Then right-click “Default” and click “Modify” when it pops up.
An option to edit the directory will appear and now you can enter the correct directory for the BitTorrent client you’re using.
It is important to follow it up by “%1” /SHELLASSOC
After that, most generic browsers will link your BitTorrent client app with magnet links when you try to use them.
Are magnet links Safe?
Yes, magnet links are safe as it’s only a connection between your torrent client and seeders ( who have this torrent file that you want to download)
Can magnet links be tracked?
In simple words, the answer is No. magnet links are not stored on the torrent servers.
Can you go to jail for Torrenting?
In simple words, the answer is Yes or No. Torrent is the Peer-to-Peer transfer method to transfer files from one location to another location.
But if you are using torrent to download pirated movies, the software then you might be caught by legal authorities.
How can I download it without being tracked?
Every torrent client has a feature to enable encryption at the time of downloading. To avoid tracking, we will recommend you use paid VPN service.
Is seeding illegal?
No, until you are not sharing illegal content like movies or software.
Magnet links are becoming the norm and it is quite easy to use. The old way of torrents might not totally die down but using magnet links is on the rise and it is because magnet links are faster and safer for Torrent sites.
We would love to know about your experiences using them. Use the comment section to tell us what you feel about using magnet links.