Torrenting is without a doubt a proven and effective technology for quickly downloading any type of file, especially video files. In the past, most people waited for their torrents to finish before playing them. However, now you can easily stream torrents while downloading. We’ll show you how.
Below, we lay out how you can easily stream torrents while downloading them using different, freely available applications. You can enjoy the video files you’re loading without having to wait for them to finish. We also explore a few options that allow you to stream torrents without having to download the file at all and provide some guidance on the legal issues (both real and fake) surrounding torrenting.
Before we Proceed
We highly recommend using a VPN before torrenting anything. Users who torrent certain types of files have been known to receive copyright infringement notices from their ISPs. If you would like to keep your streaming habits private, our recommendation is IPVanish – a complete privacy solution for people who torrent.
How to Stream Torrents While Downloading
Thankfully, there’s no real magic to this. When you’re torrenting, you’re downloading bits and pieces of a larger file. After a certain number of file “bits” have been downloaded, it’s possible for some programs to coherently process that information and begin to deliver it to the user as intended. For video files, this means enough bits of the audio and visual have been downloaded to make process and play the file while the download is still ongoing.
This is similar to (but not exactly like) how Youtube and other streaming services work. As you may have experienced, when you start playing a video from a streaming service like Youtube, you usually haven’t loaded the entire video. You can watch the little bar load on the screen as you watch the video. You’ll also note that with a poor connection, you might stream the content faster than the download and run up against buffering, something that can be counteracted by lower the video quality so that the file size of the video stream is smaller.
To that end, the only thing that might stop you from streaming your torrents is the program that you’re using. As long as you’re using a program that can process and play back the downloading file, you’re in the clear. Most BitTorrent clients won’t do that, but some will, and some additional programs will take those torrent files and start streaming them after enough of the file is downloaded.
Below, you’ll find a few programs that can do this for you.
(*Note: We mention “torrent files” and “magnet links” throughout this piece. If you are unfamiliar with these terms and need to know that information before making a decision, scroll down to the section just below the list.)
VLC Player is an extremely common and popular media program. You can use VLC player to stream any currently downloading torrent from any torrent site. We’re listing this one first because some of the other options use modified versions of VLC. However, this is not the most user-friendly method, so we don’t recommend it over the other options. Should you choose to test it out, below is a text-based guide for how to play streams if you’re using uTorrent as your client:
- Click on your downloading torrent file
- Select Files in the bottom right window (if it’s not already selected)
- Right click the downloading torrent file in the bottom right window
- Select Copy Stream URL
- Open VLC Player
- Click on Media on the top left
- Click on Open Network Stream
- Paste the URL and click on Play
Kodi Media Player
Click here to download Kodi
Kodi is a ubiquitous media player, so it’s designed to play almost any type of file, including torrent files that are in the process of downloading.
After the torrent files reach a reasonable buffer, Kodi can start streaming the files. Unlike other torrent programs, Kodi uses what are known as addons, or plugins, that pull these streams from other sites. With Kodi, there’s less work than with using uTorrent combined with VLC Player.
Click here to access a quick and useful guide for how to torrent and stream through Kodi using the popular Quasar Kodi addon.
Click here to download Torch Browser
Torch is, as the name suggests, a separate web browser. However, Torch has a built-in media player that will can playback downloading torrent files.
You can read more about that feature on their blog post about it.
Click here to download TorrentStreaming.
TorrentStreaming is a media player designed around one thing: streaming torrents. TorrentStreaming cuts out the middleman from options like Kodi and VLC Player. It allows you to copy the magnet link or torrent file directly to the program and start watching within a few minutes or even seconds.
Torrent Stream (Chrome Extension)
This is a very interesting option for those who don’t want to download or share the torrent files. Torrent Stream allows you to play some torrent video files (h264, mp4, mkv) in your web browser. Torrent Stream needs the magnet URL from any torrent site that uses magnet links. Paste in the link, and Torrent Stream can start the stream for you. Torrent Stream also uses subtitles, which are integrated into the program. The biggest downside for this one is that there is currently no option to turn off the subtitles.
This is an interesting one to combine with Torch Browser, as the Torch Browser has Chrome Apps integration.
To find Torrent Stream, go to your Chrome App Store, and search for “Torrent Stream.” Then, click to download and install the extension to your Chrome web browser. (Or, click here to access the extension directly.)
Ace Player HD
Ace Player HD is a modified version of VLC player, but is specifically designed to work with BitTorrent. It’s sourced through the popular Ace Streams Media, which specializes in torrent streaming (usually for live TV, but other options are available). Specifically, this application will only run .torrent files.
You’ll have to follow a few steps to get this one, however, as it’s not an immediate download an install. It’s somewhat hidden in the Ace Stream download package. To get Ace Player HD up and running, do the following:
- Download Ace Stream Media
- Start your torrent download on any torrent site
- Find your download, then drag and drop it onto Ace Stream
- Ace Stream will then give you the option to proceed and let you load up the torrent while downloading in Ace Stream’s version of VLC player
Click here to download Zona.
Zona is a browser, of sorts, that allows you to stream torrents and magnet links, as well as play live TV and music. This one provides a nice alternative to strolling through masses of torrent websites. You’ll be able to search directly for video files and start streaming them that way.
Click here to download Rox Player.
If you’re going for simplicity, Rox Player might be a good option for you. Rox Player can play magnet links, torrent files, and stream directly from torrent URLs. It’s easy to add these in, as the Rox Player has a very simple interface. This also means you don’t have as many options and settings as you might have with some of the other options on the list.
Click here to download Popcorn Time.
Popcorn Time is a name that has been floating around for some time. This application has been developed, abandoned, redeveloped, re-abandoned, and picked back up again. Right now, it’s a fairly solid option for streaming torrents and magnet links. You can do so pretty easily. You may need also to download the VLC player, as Popcorn Time will route the links through its service to VLC player.
Why add this one over just VLC? Ease of use. You can drag and drop the links directly onto this one to get them playing.
If you’re new to torrenting, the terms “torrent file” and “magnet link” may be completely foreign to you. Hopefully, these short explanation helps clear that up.
Torrenting works by sharing files between different computers, over a network. There are multiple ways to do this, but in general, this works by using separate files that share the metadata about the large files you want to download.
When we talk about “torrent” files, those are ones that are indicated as “.torrent” in the download. These are important for sharing location data, such network location trackers. This is an important piece of information to share, as it tells other computers on the network where those files are located. This metadata file aids your computer by helping to locate other computers sharing the file you’re looking for over the file sharing network. All of that works together to pull those bits and pieces together from different locations so that you can download the file faster.
“Magnet links” are only slightly different. Without getting too technical, torrent files have a certain code that tells your computer exactly where to find the file (or individuals hosting the file). A magnet link simply makes the process of finding the seeders easier and turns the process into the simpler HTML format that is easier to use for torrent sites and users.
Is there any real difference between these two? Yes and no. They are designed differently, and some programs you might want to use to stream your torrents won’t work with magnet links. However, they link to the same things. Your best option is to utilize a program that will work with either magnet links or torrent files, or even torrent URLs.
To learn more about the technical nitty-gritty on the differences between torrents and magnet links check out:
For the most part, don’t worry too much about the differences. You won’t download a torrent any faster using a torrent file over a magnet link, or vice-versa. These are just different delivery methods that reduce some load on the servers connecting users together over the network.
Is Torrenting Legal?
This is always a touchy subject, but we’ll be direct here. Torrenting is perfectly legal, but torrenting some files and programs may not be. However, streaming torrent files without downloading them is a legal gray area in most cases, although legal in many cases.
The real issue with torrenting, for the most part, is not the downloading part, but the sharing part. Sharing copyrighted material over peer-to-peer networks has gotten even some regular people in trouble in the past.
If you’re afraid you might accidentally download and start sharing a piece of copyright material through a torrent, there are some ways to avoid this.
Use a VPN
Using a VPN is the easiest way to protect yourself while torrenting. A VPN will mask your identity through a private channel, and assign you a shared IP address. Neither your Internet Service Provider, any copyright holders, or government organizations will be able to determine your identity, as long as you’re connected to a legitimate, high-quality service. A good VPN service will use strong encryption standards and, importantly, avoid logging your data, keeping only metadata that does not track back to you.
As stated earlier, we recommend IPVanish for this as the service is well-known for its quality, high standards related to user anonymity and privacy, and advanced information security features.
We recommend you avoid using free VPN services if you do plan to torrent. Torrenting can be data heavy, and most free VPNs will have very specific data limits. Most paid VPNs have unlimited data usage and bandwidth. Additionally, free VPNs often have a very limited number of servers for users, so server load can tend to be pretty heavy, resulting in much slower speeds. When you connect to a VPN, you’ll experience some speed loss anyway, so it’s better to use a service that can help minimize that impact.
Turn Off Seeding
This is a somewhat controversial option, especially if you become part of a torrenting community. Torrenting only works if you both leech (download) and seed (upload). Among torrenting communities, you’re considered a leech (negatively, in this case) if you don’t share enough, or have a very good share ratio. Although failing to seed will help protect you against negative consequences, it’s not advised if you’re part of a community. However, not all torrenting sites require seeding, and many are closed to new contributing members.
You can read some interesting discussions on the matter on this Reddit post.
Where Can I Find Torrents?
You can also find some excellent torrent site options over at TorrentFreak. Regardless of where you go to get your torrent files or magnet links, it’s important to remember that you cannot stream them while downloading without a media player that will work with torrents. Additionally, depending on the program you use, you may also need a separate torrent client to begin the download process.
Click here to read an interesting Wikipedia article comparing the different torrent clients available.