For many people who download torrents on a regular basis, the only choice for a bittorrent client is ÂµTorrent. People love its interface, its lightweight footprint (it uses very little system memory, even while downloading many torrents at once), and other features such as filtering by torrent type and downloading torrents automatically via RSS feeds. For a long time, ÂµTorrent was only available to Windows users. Within the last year or so, however, ÂµTorrent developers started work on a Mac client, and recently announced that a Linux client was also in the works (although Linux users are at this point limited to using the ÂµTorrent web interface). For Linux users wanting the ÂµTorrent experience right now, qBittorrent is a good option.
Described on the project’s website as “a Free Software alternative to ÂµTorrent,” qBittorrent not only runs on Linux, but thanks to the cross-platform Qt toolkit, runs on Windows and Mac as well (not to mention OS/2 and FreeBSD).
I’ve been a happy user of the Transmission torrent client for a number of years, but Transmission is only available for Mac and Linux. A few weeks ago I wrote an article discussing programs for users who want tools that are available on Mac, Linux and Windows, and qBittorrent was one of the programs I looked at. Deciding that I liked what I saw in it, I realized a full review might be in order. So what does qBittorrent have to offer? Quite a lot.
First is the interface. It isn’t nearly as streamlined as Transmission, but for people used to the ÂµTorrent interface, it will feel comfortable from the first time it is launched. You have a sidebar on the left side of the interface, where your torrents can be filtered, so you only see torrents via their current status. You can view all your torrents, torrents that are currently downloading, paused torrents, active and inactive torrents, or torrents that have completed. You can also add labels to torrents, for easy categorization by type, such as music, videos, games, software, or whatever you want. The main window shows each torrent, and a number of statistics, such as download or upload speeds, connected peers, estimated finish time, and more.
Clicking on a torrent also allows you to view torrent-specific information in greater detail. Use the General tab to view general information about a torrent, such as which chunks have been downloaded, the torrent file’s hash, elapsed time, share ratio and more. The Trackers tab will show you which announce tracker is being used, as well as the number of connections from the main tracker, plus any gained via DHT, PeX or LSD (peer exchange protocols). The Peers tab shows all your connected peers, where they’re located (by country), their completion percentage and the speeds you are getting from them, as well as your upload speeds to them. If you have initiated a torrent download from a web URL (instead of a torrent file), you can get information on that in the URL seeds tab. Finally, information on the files in the torrent itself can be viewed in the Files tab. Here you can choose which files to download (or not), as well as the priority you want to assign to different portions of the torrent file, a useful tool if downloading a large group of files, when only a few interest you. You can grab what you want and ignore the rest.
One of ÂµTorrent’s main “selling” points has always been how lightweight it is. Even with multiple torrents being downloaded or uploaded simultaneously, it doesn’t use a lot of memory, meaning it doesn’t slow down the rest of your system. I don’t have any way of comparing the two from personal experience (or at least no recent experience with ÂµTorrent), but as a test I grabbed seven different concerts from bt.etree.org (a website that shares live concert recordings from bands which allow audience taping), and even with all seven downloading at more than 1.1 MiB/s, qBittorrent is only using up about 2 percent of my computer’s 2 GB of RAM. If I didn’t know it was running, I wouldn’t be able to tell, as my computer seems as snappy as ever.
A couple other features qBittorrent has that are worth mentioning is its RSS subscription capabilities, status icon and web interface. The RSS subscription capabilities allows you to enter in the address of a web feed (such as might contain a podcast), and have it checked for new items, and those new items downloaded. The status icon is pretty standard, but does allow users to add torrents, pause and resume torrents, and set global speed limits, right from the taskbar. It won’t allow you to do away with the qBittorrent toolbar altogether, but it does have a lot of functionality. The web interface is a feature many clients are adding, and allows qBittorrent, when running, so also act as a basic web server which can be accessed from anywhere (assuming the feature is turned on), so that users can access and manage their current downloads or uploads, even when away from the computer.
All in all, I’m really impressed with qBittorrent. It provides a nice option for fans of ÂµTorrent who may still be waiting for a native Linux client, or for people who want an identical experience whether running Windows, Mac or Linux. It’s fast, lightweight, and has a ton of features.