In a sea of endless BitTorrent client options, finding one with just the right balance for you can be difficult. For example, resource consumption will probably be on the forefront of your mind if you use a lower-performance machine. On the other hand, if you’re using a higher-end box, you’ll probably want the flashiest product out there.
We’ll do an in-depth review of Vuze, one of the more popular options out there. Its history goes back to the older torrent client, Azureus, as Vuze began as a “fork”, or clone, of that project. It very quickly evolved into one of the most feature-rich torrent clients out there.
Note that there is a paid version of the software, known as “Vuze Plus”. With licenses selling for about $15, this version removes the small banner ads that support the free version. It also allows you to play media files as they download, has a DVD burning feature, and has its own antivirus solution embedded. Keep in mind that this review will be strictly on the free version of the product.
The Vuze Client
Available on Windows, Mac OS X, and pretty much every flavor of Linux (even Android), Vuze will run on nearly any OS. Let’s see how it stacks up!
Vuze does not target one specific “level” of users. Upon installation, users can pick the level of complexity they wish to have: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Remember, though, Vuze development focuses on creating as many features as possible and inserting them into the client. That means that even those who choose the “beginner” option may have difficulties using it at first, especially if they don’t have experience with torrent clients.
If you’re looking for a lightweight torrent client, we have some bad news; Vuze tends to be a resource hog. You may use operating system settings to prevent it from using up all of your CPU or RAM, but you will experience a performance hit.
Vuze is only recommended for those running modern computers. Its features, like a rich community with lots of free plug-ins to enhance your experience, are well worth it. However, running it on an older machine would not be a pleasant experience!
Resource consumption is essentially the only “con” of Vuze. It’s a well-known issue that its developers are trying to tackle.
Many BitTorrent users like to maintain their privacy while torrenting to ensure anonymity. Vuze has plenty of options for those looking to keep their torrent usage private. For example, it supports the use of SOCKS5 proxies if you operate one or pay to use one. The client also has built-in support for all of the various VPN protocols (L2TP, OpenVPN, etc.).
One especially nifty privacy feature is Vuze’s ability to bind a VPN. To keep the explanation brief, this means that we can force Vuze to only use a specified network interface (in this instance, the one our VPN uses). If that VPN goes down, traffic will cease and Vuze will only work when the VPN is up again.
This is a great alternative to the classic “VPN Kill Switch“, a feature that allows you to force some applications (or the entire Internet) to automatically close if a VPN dies.
More advanced users will appreciate the fact that Tor is integrated into Vuze and may be used to enhance privacy. However, this will slow down your download and upload speeds due to the multi-tiered nature of the Onion network.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of using a solid, well-reviewed VPN when torrenting anything. If you don’t use one, literally anyone will be able to look into the peer pool for a particular torrent and grab your own IP address. This can be used to identify and attack you.
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As we mentioned, Vuze has no shortage of features in exchange for its hefty resource usage. If you’re into aesthetics, Vuze offers easy theme and layout customization so you can have it match your other applications.
You can also configure Vuze to not use more than a specified amount of bandwidth per day. You can use your own privacy settings (as we discussed in the previous section), password-protect torrents you create, and more. IP-wise, you can block specific IPs, view the peer pool quite easily, to see where all seeds and leeches are in the world. It’s also possible to specify a particular proxy IP to use, if applicable.
For those who follow a particular tracker, Vuze also supports reading RSS feeds and automatically grabbing content made available. Also called “broadcatching”, this allows you to get content as soon as it’s released.
One of the coolest parts of Vuze is the ability to make and use the community’s plug-ins. The free repository offers tools that can accomplish virtually anything you want to do with the client, from creating a media server to automatic music file tagging to movie file processing!
Finally, you can also “remote control” the Vuze application using the Vuze Android companion app and linking it with the app on your computer.
A Reflection on Vuze
Vuze is an excellent option for those with speedy computers; those with less resources to use should consider lighter clients. It has bountiful features and a nearly endless repository of plug-ins written by experts for free use. While Vuze has the ability to keep your activity private, you must configure features like VPN binding yourself!
All things considered, the free version of Vuze could be the best BitTorrent client. Considering that it supports nearly every platform, does its job well, and can be extended almost infinitely, the sky is the limit!