BitTorrent trackers are an essential part of torrenting that happens in the background. Whenever you download a torrent, your BitTorrent client points to trackers, which are servers that allow peers to connect. These trackers fall into two categories: public and private.
While public trackers can be used by virtually anyone who can access them, private trackers require access credentials that can only be obtained through registration.
You can think of private trackers as a members-only club, and membership does have enticing benefits and safety measures not offered by public torrent trackers.
After comparing public and private trackers, we will discuss the benefits of private torrent networks and their registration process.
What Is a BitTorrent Tracker?
Here is a quick overview of how these trackers work. When you download a torrent file and open it in your BitTorrent client, the client accesses a variety of details about the data you want to download, including the tracking server responsible for managing P2P communication.
The tracker keeps track of the IP address of each BitTorrent client, either downloading or seeding the torrent file. They allow clients to download and upload files on a P2P network efficiently. Basically, they help peers find each other.
After opening a torrent file, your BitTorrent client connects to the tracker. The tracker then lets your client connect to other clients containing the file fragments you need to download.
The tracker is not responsible for relaying data. It is not a proxy or a file server. It simply connects peers to create a swarm of users who want to download and share the same data.
Public Trackers Are Regular Torrents
When you browse a list of files on a popular torrent website, that means those files are available on a public tracker. These are open to the public; everyone can download them.
One of the most significant disadvantages is the fact that anyone can access the public tracker and the list of IP addresses connected to the server. ISPs and copyright watchdogs occasionally monitor these trackers to detect illegal downloading.
Private Trackers Are Invite-Only
A private BitTorrent tracker is not open to the public. It is a tracker maintained by a large community, requiring an invitation. Many private trackers cater to specific interests. For example, you may find a BitTorrent tracker dedicated to gaming or another that only tracks music files.
You cannot torrent a file from a private tracker without getting invited, which means that third parties should not be able to eavesdrop on the files getting torrented. That offers a boost to your privacy, but it is not the only reason to use a private tracker. Other factors make these closed communities very appealing to torrent users.
Vast collection of torrents
Private trackers typically have a better selection of files for their niche interest. You may be able to track down files that you cannot find elsewhere, such as a rare old-school computer game or an old movie that does not have seeders in public trackers anymore.
The groups that maintain private trackers also tend to have standards when it comes to the quality of files. They do not allow inferior copies of content to get shared through their trackers. For example, some private trackers dedicated to music may only share lossless audio.
Private tracker groups also have strict requirements for their users, including seeding rules. Having more users seeding a torrent file contributes to a healthier P2P environment, which means you get better download speeds compared to public trackers.
How You Can Join Private Torrent Comunities
As previously mentioned, you will have to register as a new member to access the torrent private communities listed above. And this is accomplished through invitations. If you know a member in good standing, you can ask for an invite, but you can also join online forums where topics related to file-sharing are discussed.
In these forums, you are bound to run into recruiters looking for new members who can contribute to the community. You may be directed to Internet Relay Chat channels, where you will go through a short interview to determine if you can be invited.
Similar to how private clubs have certain membership requirements, private trackers will check if prospective members qualify. Some networks will ask for upfront financial donations, which are usually pretty reasonable.
Is a Private Tracker Safer Than a Public One?
Private torrent communities take pride in protecting the privacy of their members. It is true that fewer people have access to your activity when you download through a private tracker. However, it’s important to remember that a private BitTorrent tracker does not automatically guarantee your privacy. Remember that the other users in the group can still view your IP address and location.
Can you use a VPN on a private tracker?
It’s widely known that a VPN is the safest way of protecting yourself when torrenting. But the truth is that some private sites do not allow them.
For example, trackers such as RED do not allow a VPN when accessing the website because they need to ascertain who you are. Another valid reason is that admins are concerned that you will not configure the VPN app for port forwarding, which is necessary to maintain a good ratio. The private torrent sites that conduct interviews may even check your knowledge regarding this matter.
Some private sites let you use a VPN, and some don’t. Our advice is to protect yourself behind a VPN whenever you can, as it can considerably increase your anonymity. Here are a few good providers:
Popular Private Torrent Comunities
In case you want to try and become a member of this type of community, we made a list of some of the best private trackers out there.
As its name suggests, this is a community focused on films, especially popular Hollywood productions that generate impressive box office numbers.
Getting an invite for PassThePopcorn is not easy. But it is worth it if your interest in movies lies right at the intersection of both quality and quantity. It’s estimated that this network will soon reach a million titles in its collection, and most of them are high-resolution files.
More commonly known as RED by members, this private tracker is the main spot for music lovers. It’s a favorite for those looking for quality audio files instead of uploaded YouTube tracks that sound like old cassette tapes.
To join RED, you do not need to be an audiophile. Still, many registered users had to prepare for the interview, which asks about the fundamentals of digital music formats, CD ripping, and file sharing in general. This site has a vibrant community of music fans.
Gamers flock to this private torrent community for more than just video game releases; they can also find mods, additional downloadable content, podcasts fixes, and more.
Modern games, particularly AAA titles, tend to be huge files, and their torrenting takes up significant bandwidth. GazelleGames takes pride in being a tracker where users enjoy high torrent speeds. As you may have guessed, that is accomplished through maintaining a high seeding to leeching ratio. You have to make a commitment to share in this community actively.
This network is mainly supported by donations. It has been able to amass an amazing collection of digital media that includes everything from movies to television series and from games to audiobooks.
This general-interest private tracker will open windows for donation drives and invites through its IRC channel, which you can access from its website. IPTorrents is one of the few private torrent clubs where you can make upfront donations to join.
If you are into ebooks and digital media related to the written word, this is the tracker you will want to join. There are hundreds of new titles added on a daily basis.
The best way to access the massive ebook library offered by Biblotik is to join a torrent forum where recruiters hang out. Most likely, you will need to have access to an OverDrive account. Constant leeching can result in immediate bans.
BroadcastTheNet is like a love letter to television in all forms. BTN offers retro TV series along with some of the most recent digital streaming hits.
Unlike other private trackers mentioned herein, members of BroadcastTheNet are not subject to complex rules. You are expected to maintain an adequate ratio, but that is about it. Proper naming of files and organization is a must. If you have streaming series to contribute, you will earn nice upload credits and be allowed to invite friends.
As you can guess by its name, the focus of this torrent community is on anime series and films. But there is also quite a bit of manga and other works of Japanese-style animation.
Those passionate about anime and manga have probably seen offers to join AnimeBytes posted on their favorite online discussion forums. Old manga titles that predate the Internet are always welcome in this club.
One could argue that the private torrent websites on this list do not have the extensive collection of magnet links offered by public trackers. But keep in mind that these networks add new media at an impressive rate. And their specific focus, coupled with a strong sense of community, translates into a better torrenting experience.
The Internet has changed considerably in the two decades since the first version of the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol was released. Gone are the days when you downloaded files without having to worry about malware in torrent sites, fake files, and traps set up by unscrupulous law firms trying to trick unsuspecting users.
Private torrent websites provide the best experience to torrent users because of their attitude towards privacy. They also promote a sense of community through digital content that members wish to share.
Keep in mind that you need to follow their guidelines if you join, which often include rules for maintaining leeching-to-seeding ratios. If you don’t follow such essential rules, you risk getting banned.
In the end, a private tracker does not add privacy. It simply offers access to a private community. You should not try to join one if your only reason is to torrent anonymously. You can (and should) do that with a VPN.