Used properly, bittorrent is one of the safest ways to transfer content. The torrent file contains metadata (hash) about the files to be shared and the bittorrent client checks content received against this metadata. If there is any difference, the content received will be discarded. This means that malware cannot be added to a torrent after it is active and that any data that is damaged in transmission will be discarded and re-downloaded.
Public vs Private Torrent Search Sites
This article lists public torrent search sites, which do not require registration. There are many private torrent search sites and it would be impossible to fairly rank them here as one would have to be a member to fully evaluate.
Many people prefer private torrent sites for the privacy (only members active on torrent), clean torrents and speed (ratio enforcement ensures a well seeded torrent). The downside is that there are rules and regulations and sometimes overzealous administrators.
If you are interested in a private site take a look at Getting In To Private Torrent Sites.
Scam Links, Toolbars and Ads
Unfortunately, even the best public torrent search sites have ads, scam links and toolbar downloads.
I strongly suggest that you use a web browser that has ad blocking capability as that will make all the ads, toolbar download and scam links disappear.
I use Firefox with the AdBlockPlus and AddBlockPlus PopUp add ons and most all scams, fake downloads and ads were invisible. Another popular option is Chrome with the AdBlock For Chrome extension. My check of Chrome with the AdBlock addon was that it removed ads and scam links as effectively as Firefox with its ad blocking addon. Other browsers may have a similar feature and may be more to your liking. There is an excellent review of the Best Free Web Browser here at Gizmo's Freeware.
SCAM LINKS Many bittorrent search sites, and some of these, have advertisers that offer "High Speed download" "Trusted Download" "Direct Download" "Sponsored Links" or similar terms. These should all be avoided.
TOOLBAR DOWNLOADS Some sites deceptively put a "Download" button near the "Download Torrent" button. Many times I have seen a new bittorrent user end up with a toolbar instead of the torrent.
ADS Some torrent search sites have a large number of ads through the pages. Many of these are ads for questionable site and all ads should be avoided.
Torrent Search Site Features
Your goal in a public torrent search is to find a clean, real and healthy torrent for the content you want. Google will return the most results for your search, but has no tools to narrow the search towards your goal. It is important for a torrent search site to have a large index of torrents, but the value of these torrent search sites are the tools they have to achieve this goal. This goal is achieved through three features:
- Comments and Ratings - The first step is finding the torrent that has the clean and real content you want. Some of these sites have torrents that have been "verified" to be clean and real. Others have a rating system that achieves the same result. Comments also help in this. The rating system and comments need to have high user interaction at the site. The "verified" rating uses a variety of confirming techniques. Comments may also be helpful in determining the quality of the download.
- Search Filters - Features such as Categories and versions can help to filter the results closer to the one torrent you are seeking.
- Sorting - The ability to sort the results of a search is used primarily to find the healthiest torrent. On occasion sorting may be needed to filter the results to exactly what you want. Using age, name or size sort may help in this regard.
I have added information on those sites that offer magnet links as this will appeal to some users. Sites with a offer the alternative of a magnet link. (Thanks to Max for this suggestion).
Torrent Search Site Listings: General and Unique
This listing is divided into two parts. The General listing is of the sites that index all varieties of content. They have large listings and will be the sites that most of you will use most of the time. The sites listed in the General listing are also among the most popular torrent search sites. The Unique sites are less popular and have smaller indexes, but have unique features that make them worth using in certain searches.
I am not going to consider or discuss the scams and ads much. If you have read the above, you will be using an ad blocker at these sites and will not see these.
General Torrent Search Sites
These sites are among the most popular torrent search sites and offer large indexes of torrents and helpful features to verify, filter and sort among search results. Any one of these sites will serve your goal of finding a clean, real and healthy torrent for the content you want.
Since these are public torrent sites and, for the most part, allow anyone to upload, fakes can make their way into the listings. It is important to use comments and ratings to avoid these fakes.
KAT (https) KATProxy KAT Pirate Proxy Come In is the top pick here at Gizmo's due to its large index of torrents and verified torrents as well as the comment, filter and sort features that they offer. They index over 9 million torrents, including over 1 million verified torrents. Tabs on the torrent page allow viewing of the files, trackers and comments. KAT offers many features to help in your search, they are responsive to user feature requests and are always improving.
Comments and Ratings: Large listing of verified torrents. Advanced search may be used to list only verified torrents. Comments are very well used and are helpful in verifying as well as quality. Number of comments and verified "crown" shown in search results.
Results may be filtered by categories and for videos further filtering is available by version. Sort by size, date (age), files (number of), seeds and leeches.
Torrentz (184.108.40.206) is another comprehensive search engine that lists over 14.5 million torrents and has almost 3 million torrents that have been verified to be clean. Torrentz also has the nice feature of listing all trackers for a torrent, not just the ones embedded in the torrent file, though this is not that important in torrents now. One drawback is that they do not host the torrent files and one must go to other sites for the download. Be careful with the sites you choose to go to. Try to go to first to sites that are listed here. Their large verfied listing is an attraction.
Comments and Ratings: are well used. Users can verify a torrent to be clean and real or tag it as fake, virus, password or low quality. Large listing of verified torrents and results may be filtered to show verified only.
Torrents may be sorted by relevance, date created, size or number of peers (seeds and peers/leeches combined). No category filters.
BitSnoop (220.127.116.11)This is a metasearch site that indexes over 17.8 million torrents from 369 trackers. Although they do not list a number that I could find, they appear to have a large listing of verified torrents. This site is extremely fast at returning search results. They also have a TV Finder which lists all shows alphabetically with links to all torrents for each show. Their filter and sort features are not as good as the above, but they do have their followers.
Comments and Ratings: They have a good number of verified torrents. They have a "no fakes" filter for search results. Comments are not widely used.
Filtering by category is decent and they have the no fakes filter. Sort by age, seeders, name, size and rating+health. Their TV finder is useful.
Torlock advertises that all the torrents there are verified to be clean and real. Their listing now has over 500,000 verified torrents. A negative is the lack of comments or ratings for the quality of the content. However, for newer users, this is a good site to start your searches to ensure a clean download. Caution: Only click on the word "torrent" on the download page. The other links are scams. Also do not choose a "sponsored" result. Thanks to freestuffrocks for this site.
Comments and Ratings: General ratings are not necessary as all torrents are verified to be clean and real. Comments are not generally used. No ratings as to quality.
Filtering by category is available on a search. Sorting by name, size, date uploaded, seeds and peers are available after a search.
ThePirateBay (18.104.22.168) ProxyBay.Info Come In is probably the most well known torrent search site. They list about 3.7 million torrents. TPB has an excellent filtering system and clean torrents can be found quickly in the search results by looking for a skull image next to the torrent. The one drawback now is that they are switching to magnet links only and given the issues that some of the bittorrent clients have with magnet links, this is a negative.
h33t after some down time, this popular site is back. It indexes over 5 million torrents and monitors the torrents that are uploaded through their site. As long as you stick to the torrents that are h33t uploads, you are pretty safe. The site looked to be ad free when I disabled ABP, but on one occasion I did get a couple popups and there is a scam download link. All in all, it is pretty clean, but I would suggest keeping ABP enabled. There is a lot of content uploaded through the site, so you do not need to go to the other torrents listed. The link here is to a search for h33t only content. There is a good amount of information and screenshots provided by the site on each upload. Thanks to Philphil for this suggestion. Even though the site is just back up, there looks to be a lot of activity.
Torrents.to is a search site that culls results from a large number of torrent search sites. Nice feature is that you can choose the sites to include in the search (this is saved in the site cookie for future use). The results show the pages at the sites and the sites can be togggled up top. Not my personal preference for viewing results as I prefer to see all the results at once, but this type does appeal to some users. As usual, caution needs to be taken at the sites from which results are shown. Thanks to Nero for this site.
Comments and Ratings: Not applicable as results are strictly from the sites chosen, where there may be comments/rating, filtering and sorting available, but there is none here.
ExtraTorrent (22.214.171.124)has 1.5 million torrent in its listing. It is not the largest listing, but they seem to have many of releases and no duplicates. A good number of the torrents I checked were from a trusted or verified uploader. Unfortunately, this is not shown in the search results. This site has gained popularity with a number of users on the web and is a good source. Avoid the "Direct download" link. As noted by ChaosReigns there is a good amount of information put up with each video, including screenshots, which is helpful in determining video quality.
Comments and Ratings: Comments are very well used here. Many of the torrents are uploaded by verified or trusted uploader, but this is not shown in the search results, you hhave to look on the torrent page.
Filtering by category is available, but is pretty basic. Sorting by size, seeds,leeches and number of comments is available only to VIP members.
Unique Torrent Search Sites
These sites cater to special niche interests and stand out for their attention to that niche and their clean offerings.
EZTV (126.96.36.199) is the site for all things television. It is the biggest and past and easiest to use for TV offerings. In addition to torrents they have a countdown list as to when shows are to return to original broadcasts, a show list indicating the status of a TV show (ended; pending; airing etc.), TV news and acalendar of shows being broadcast.
Coda.fm (188.8.131.52)is a music albums bittorrent site. There is a good deal of information on the artists and albums. All listings are verified to be clean and real. If you are looking for a public, music only, bittorrent site, then this is the place to look. It is an ad free site. The amount of listings is still quite small, being in the thousands.
Take.fm is the sister site to Coda.fm, specializing in movies. It is similar to Coda in layout and all of its listings are also verified to be clean and real. At this time there appears to be just shy of 2000 listings. Hopefully the site listings will grow as time goes by as a clean movie search site is needed in bittorrent.
Torrent Butler this site was only carrying movie torrents, but recently added TV Shows. There are a lot of verified torrents/magnets listed for each listing. The verified torrents/magnets are indicated by a green checkmark next to the download link. Each movie comes with a video trailer and information on the movie. Movies are sortable by genre. The TV shows are sortable by genre and all episodes available are included under each show's listing. Again there is a a trailer for each show and information. Be sure to have AdBlockPlus installed as there are a couple scam links that are not visible with ABP. Nice site give the layout and large amount of verified torrents.
YIFY Torrents This is the site of a release group that has an excellent reputation for quality rips with small file size. All torrents are those of the release group. All the releases here should be clean and real.
NyaaTorrents is the site to check out for Anime. The torrent links in blue are A+ in quality, meaning they are the best copy available. The torrent links in green are from trusted uploaders. Thanks to Capcapper for this site.
All of these sites have received a green rating from WOT (Web Of Trust) and only sites with a green rating from WOT will be listed here.