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Much like every category in the tech industry, torrent clients just keep improving at a rapid pace. Every other month it seems as if someone has developed a new, better, faster, or more efficient way to download and upload torrent files. Needless to say, we are leagues away from where we were at the beginning of the torrenting age, when BitTorrent still ruled supreme. In the past 5 years alone, we have seen more breakthroughs in the torrenting world than we have since torrenting itself was created as a P2P file sharing alternative to Napster and Lime Wire.
Torrenting has hit a tipping point of sorts – which is great news for people like you and me who love to partake in P2P file sharing … but it makes things a little bit difficult for us as well. It is, indeed, both a blessing and curse.
As I just mentioned, once upon a time, the only sensible option when it came time to find a torrent client was to simply download BitTorrent. It was the be all, end all of torrent clients in torrenting’s nascent days. Not long after BitTorrent became a household name, however, coders began doing what they do best: innovating and improving. This led to the development of quicker, leaner, more lightweight torrent clients like uTorrent, once people began to realize that BitTorrent tended to be a bit robust and that it used an unnecessary amount of CPU and disk space to function.
uTorrent’s developers, to put it simply, had a vision of providing people a torrent client that performed just as effectively as BitTorrent without sacrificing the performance of a user’s computer overall in the process. Thus, the next big step forward in the progression of torrent clients had been taken – a step that would guide every subsequent move forward that torrent client developers would take from then on. Even today, the central goal of torrent clients in 2020 is to provide blazing fast downloads while using less and less computer space and memory.
Nowadays, torrent clients do not even need to be downloaded at all in order to download tons of torrents with breakneck speeds. After all, the web-based torrent client is really as lightweight as it gets. It doesn’t get much better than a program that utilizes 0 hard drive space, right? The philosophy behind many of the web-based torrent providers is to just cut out the middlemen entirely … to simplify the process and make for more direct P2P file transfers.
So, instead of using the sort of roundabout model of enabling users to access files from their peers by going through a byzantine communication through a centralized server, web-based torrent clients have thrown out the server entirely. The result is true Peer 2 Peer file transfers using nothing but your internet connection and whatever web browser you prefer.
This seems to be the future of torrenting in a nutshell. Cut out unnecessary steps and entities. Not only does doing this result in quicker, more widely accessible file downloads, it also makes a strong case for decentralizing the internet. As a matter of fact, many of the developers and coders behind this web-based torrent development are working from a shared agenda of taking back the internet, making it once again a democratic space that is truly of, by, and for the people. This, of course, does not end with web-based torrent clients, but these sites are one of the forces at the forefront of the movement. Instant.io is a great example of a web-based torrenting service that falls in this category, and it was recently developed by one of the biggest proponents for a decentralized internet, the same people who brought us the popular web torrent client, Web Torrent (aptly named, is it not?).
Instant.io is a simplified, stripped-down, more, well, instantaneous way to use Web Torrent. So, although Instant and Web Torrent are two separate sites, they work together and separately in some fun and interesting ways. At any rate, to solidify the ethos that courses through the servers of Web Torrent and Instant, Web Torrent’s FAQ page offers up a fascinating quote from Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive:
“The way we code the Web will determine the way we live online. So, we need to bake our values into our code. Freedom of expression needs to be baked into our code. Privacy should be baked into our code. Universal access to all knowledge. But right now, those values are not embedded in the Web.” This is the philosophy that fuels Instant and Web Torrent. And it is one that makes me optimistic for the future of the internet.
As I previously mentioned, Instant.io is an offshoot of Web Torrent, one that was launched in 2019 and is still currently in beta testing. The conception of Web Torrent itself, however, was rooted in the idea that a BitTorrent client could somehow be made to work on its own, using nothing but a web browser. No matter the browser, peers should be able to connect to swarsm of P2P files, fetch content, and verify files – without having to rely on a centralized server of any sort.
Alternately, torrenting would be handled by an interconnected network of browsers. This network, so the theory went, could become a sort of mega-collective living server of web browsers. In August 2018, Web Torrent finally made this lofty dream a reality.
Web Torrent has considerably expanded over the course of the last 2 years. And the introduction of Instant.io is one prime example. Instead of having to go through the trouble of interfering with your web browser’s script (which is the primary way that people have to use Web Torrent [unless you download the desktop version]), Instant.io does all the heavy lifting for you. Seed or download torrents right from your browser by merely dragging and dropping or copying and pasting. Torrenting has never been so easy.
There really is not much to Instant’s design. I mean, at all. It is little more than a white background, a “choose file” button, and a box to paste your torrent’s link with a “download” button to the right of it. That is literally it. Hey, I honestly cannot knock it. It works. It does precisely what it claims to do, and it doesn’t get bogged down in superfluous details or features. Visit, paste, download. Simple as that. The design reflects the site’s strictly utilitarian nature.
Content and Features
As I said, Instant is about as minimalistic as it gets. If you are looking for a features-rich torrent client, this is not the one for you. Short of uploading and downloading torrents (from their magnet links), there is nothing else that this client has to offer. On the one hand, Instant is great for a quick fix, especially if you are in a pinch. On the other, there are certainly more robust torrent clients available, elsewhere on the web.
There are, for instance, web-based torrent clients that allow you to stream content, organize your downloads, create playlists, and track the health of your torrents. Instant does not even allow for this. In fact, Instant does not even let you see the progress of your download. When you commence the download of your file, script indicating that the download has begun is simply added to a “Log” section of the page. How far along your download is, however, is anyone’s guess.
That is, of course, until you go to webtorrent.io, where you will be able to see your download in action. That being said, there does not appear to be any way to manage or cancel your download.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Fortunately, Instant and Web Torrent both have remarkable mobile sites. So, if you are looking for a quick torrent download on your phone or tablet, Instant can make a formidable backup torrent client from your usual go-to.
Pricing and Plans
Instant.io and Web Torrent are both 100% free – ad free, freeware, and open sourced. The way that all torrent clients should be. If you are paying for a torrent client, I strongly urge you to consider finding a new one – there are plenty to choose from here on my list of the best torrent clients on the web!