With so many torrent clients out there, picking the right one can be difficult. A simple search for quality, established clients leaves most users with even more questions. We've found two free clients with long track records: BitTorrent and qBitTorrent. So, what are the differences between them?
What is qBitTorrent?
qBitTorrent is a popular, fully open-sourced client written in 2006. It caters to users who want an “all-in-one” torrenting interface. Fully funded by donations and cross-platform, qBitTorrent's rise to fame occurred when µTorrent became proprietary in 2012.
It's a free, open-source P2P client designed to be accessible. Its creators realized most clients had either great UIs or great features, not both. The UI is suspiciously similar to µTorrent's well-known, sleek UI. Made to be a “cradle to grave” P2P client, qBitTorrent does it all. From an integrated search engine to advanced controls, it's truly an all-in-one tool.
Outside of UI, qBitTorrent's second main focus area is full format support. The application can interpret every major type of torrent file. It natively integrates with P2P firewalls. Port forwarding can be performed in seconds rather than hours. More advanced users will appreciate full prioritization and scheduling customization options.
What is the BitTorrent client?
BitTorrent is one of the most popular clients in the world, garnering more than 2,000,000,000 users. Unlike qBitTorrent, it has a more polished interface, but not all features are free. Originally written in 2001, the client pioneered many technologies that have become commonplace.
BitTorrent refers to both a protocol and a P2P client. This is because the creators of the BitTorrent protocol made it open-source. BitTorrent was the very first consumer software released for torrenting. Originally open-source, its creators saw an opportunity for profit. Given that they had the most experience in P2P, they figured people would buy their client.
Every version through 5.3.0 of BitTorrent was completely free. However, with version 6, its creators made it proprietary software. Modern versions of BitTorrent are redesigned clones of µTorrent. It offers core P2P features free, though it has ads. The company has a paid version of their client. However, BitTorrent's primary investments are in “BitTorrent DNA” (Dynamic Network Acceleration). This technology allows web services to leverage the bandwidth of visitors' connections to improve speeds. As of 2021, BitTorrent is finishing the development of DLive, an enhanced version of DNA.
Similarities Between BitTorrent and qBitTorrent
As two of the best torrent managers, BitTorrent and qBitTorrent share some traits.
- They both support the same protocol and input file types.
- Both now offer browser-based clients.
- Over the years, the default UI for these services has become very similar.
- They support remote torrenting.
- Each client displays a similar level of information granularity.
- The controls on bandwidth and seeding ratios are also quite similar.
Differences between BitTorrent and qBitTorrent
- Advertising: qBitTorrent has zero advertising in any version of the software. BitTorrent has a wealth of advertisements for free users.
- Plugins: qBitTorrent offers a wealth of open-source plugins to perform various functions. BitTorrent's closest alternative are features unlocked in the paid version.
- Customization Level: BitTorrent allows users to tweak the appearance of a few boxes, but that's it. qBitTorrent, for better or worse, lets users customize nearly every aspect of the P2P experience. Responsible torrenters will appreciate how easily they can alter the appearance and operation. However, more reckless users may inadvertently create security risks with this level of power.
- Resource Usage Levels: One of the most positive things about qBitTorrent is that it's lightweight and doesn't consume many resources. On the other hand, BitTorrent users have reported that their network is heavily affected. In other words, more bandwidth gets used than is being put towards torrenting.
Are There Free and Premium Versions?
qBitTorrent does not have a premium version and it's open-source. No plugin or feature costs money, but donations are heavily solicited. Notably, its creators gave up the “Potentially Unwanted Programs” (PUPs). That decision demonstrates they've placed integrity above money.
qBitTorrent was released almost the same date that BitTorrent became proprietary. Its creators believed that the protocol itself may become proprietary. They rushed their first open-source release, which slowly became adopted by the P2P community.
Many users contribute to keep qBitTorrent up to date. However, torrenters looking for the most effortless experience may miss some premium conveniences. A prime example is that BitTorrent supports silent, no-restart updates. However, qBitTorrent requires users to download updates and restart the software. Differences like these are trivial to some users and matter to others.
The 3 Premium BitTorrent Plans
There are Premium editions for each type of P2P client it offers.
This is the Desktop version, which does not include the Web client anymore. The Classic client currently supports only Windows. There are two different plans of the Classic version:
- The first is $4.95/year and only removes advertisements and provides access to the BitTorrent support team.
- The Windows Premium version costs $19.95/year. It comes with built-in media players and automates media conversion. It also removes ads and claims to have better malware prevention measures.
“BitTorrent Web”, the browser-based version that supports Windows, offers a Premium edition for $19.95/year. There is an experimental Mac version that is free for now.
It uses BitTorrent's heuristic algorithm to find malicious seeds and torrents. It allows users to customize the torrent search engine that is used. Premium support is provided. More information about torrents in progress is also displayed.
The Android client is primarily made to enable users to start and stop torrents remotely. There is a baseline free version that has advertisements. It lacks the internal media player and resource-saving features of the Premium edition.
After myriad user complaints about its pricing of $19.95, they decreased it to $2.99. It offers benefits akin to BitTorrent Classic's $4.95/year version. Ads are all removed, and it helps preserve mobile device resources.
Is qBitTorrent or BitTorrent Safer?
The answer to this question depends on the user. BitTorrent uses industry-accepted encryption and block verification methods. Its security largely can't be edited, making “user error” issues less likely. qBitTorrent must be set up more carefully to avoid security issues. However, assuming that you have a correct qBitTorrent setup, the two clients' security is similar. qBitTorrent's security is highly configurable, so only advanced users should attempt it.
Remember that even the best torrent client configuration doesn't stop copyright trolls and your ISP from watching you. In order to be truly secure, you need a VPN on top of your P2P client. A trusted and vetted VPN will make it virtually impossible for you to be identified. It also provides another layer of protection between you and other P2P users.
These VPN providers work very well with both qBitTorrent and BitTorrent clients:
Should you Choose BitTorrent or qBitTorrent?
Both clients are great at their primary job, which is downloading and uploading torrent files. Users must look at each one's details to confirm which one matches their preferences.
BitTorrent is one of the best-known torrent programs available. It's basic and easy to use, and because it belongs to BitTorrent, the company behind the peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol, it's been a popular choice for BitTorrent users for years. The program's interface is clean, simple, and supports all the basics. And the ones who need more features can upgrade to a paid plan.
But if we talk about free versions only, qBitTorrent takes the prize. It may not look like the most beautiful client out there, but it works great. It provides many unique features that make it stand out. In a nutshell, it's lightweight, straightforward, and open-source, which means it receives frequent updates. But what we love the most about qBitTorrent is that it's highly customizable, thanks to the available free plugins. Torrenters can modify plenty of features and information they want to be displayed.
If you consider that BitTorrent has some of those features, but they are locked behind a premium plan, the choice becomes even more evident.