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Is qBittorrent Safe?

JP Jones - CTO @ Top10VPN

JP is our CTO. He has over 25 years of software engineering and networking experience, and oversees all technical aspects of our VPN testing process. Read full bio

Our Verdict

Based on our testing, qBittorrent is totally safe, malware-free and legal to use. Unlike uTorrent, it comes without bloatware or adverts and it’s totally free and open-source. Overall, it’s the safest client for torrenting, especially when combined with a VPN.

A torrent client is a vital piece of software for P2P file sharing. It communicates with other users and organizes your P2P traffic, which gives it the potential to make torrenting very safe or very risky.

qBittorrent is one of the two most popular torrent clients, alongside uTorrent. Unlike uTorrent, though, it’s free open-source software and totally ad-free. It’s also our preferred torrent client for testing torrenting VPNs. But is it safe?

Our research has shown qBittorrent is a very safe torrent client, especially in combination with a good VPN. Torrenting always comes with some risks, though, so make sure you know how to torrent safely before downloading anything.

EXPERT TIP: There are some dangerous Bittorrent download links around the web, and some websites will bundle adware or bloatware into their installers.

Even when this isn’t dangerous (it sometimes is), it’s annoying. To download qBittorrent safely, always get the software from the official qBittorrent fosshub page.

Is the qBittorrent App Safe? (Tests & Results)

qBittorrent has a reputation for being a safe, reliable application, and our research has confirmed this. In fact, qBittorrent is the safest torrent client available at the moment.

This doesn’t mean that it comes without some drawbacks, though. Here is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the client:

  • Open-source software
  • No bundled bloatware or malware
  • No adverts
  • Integrated proxy support
  • Advanced security settings
  • Active community
  • Your ip address can be exposed during torrenting
  • Torrents can contain malware

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what makes qBittorrent safe to use:

1. Open-source software

qBittorrent is open-source, which means that anyone can inspect its source code for bugs or malicious content. As such a popular client, it really does get looked over again and again by programmers all over the world.

When bugs emerge they are fixed quickly, and if there were any significant vulnerabilities or malicious code they would have been identified.

2. No bundled bloatware or malware

As long as you download it from the official source, qBittorrent doesn’t come with any other bundled software.

This means you don’t have to worry about accidentally downloading annoying or even harmful programs and is a great start for building trust in the software.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with some competing torrenting clients.

3. No Adverts

The client doesn’t have any ads, which obviously makes for a good user experience. But it also means that it is more secure and private, with no closed-source third-party code or ad trackers.

Fewer components in the client also leaves less opportunity for vulnerabilities or security issues.

4. Integrated proxy support

While we prefer VPNs, qBittorrent has in-client support for SOCKS5 proxies, which are a popular way to keep IP addresses from leaking during torrenting. A SOCKS5 proxy works similarly to a VPN to reroute your traffic and obscure your true IP address from other users.

The client also supports HTTP proxies but they are insecure and unreliable, and we don’t recommend using them.

5. Advanced security settings

qBittorrent includes advanced tools to help keep your true IP address from leaking with a VPN or proxy. The first is network interface filtering, which allows you to select a specific network adapter to torrent over. The second is IP binding, which allows you to select a single IP address for the client to torrent from.

If your proxy or VPN connection drops, these features will prevent the client from torrenting. We’ve tested these features and have found they are both effective ways to keep your ip address from leaking with a proxy or VPN.

6. Active community

qBittorrent is well supported and actively updated by a global group of volunteer developers, led by a contributor called Sledgehammer999. This means that any bugs can be identified and fixed quickly. On top of this, there are no known serious bugs or exploits associated with the app.

This also means that it is very easy to get help from other users on the qBittorrent forums if you ever encounter any issues with security or performance.

qBittorrent Vulnerabilities

However we’ve also found that qBittorrent has some vulnerabilities. Torrenting always comes with some risks, and qBittorrent doesn’t eliminate them:

1. Your IP address can be exposed during torrenting

When you torrent other users in the swarm can see your IP address. This can be targeted by copyright trolls and cause legal issues. On its own, qBittorrent does nothing to prevent your identity being exposed during torrenting.

For this reason it is important you always use a VPN or proxy when using qBittorrent.

2. Torrents can contain malware

One of the biggest risks of torrenting is that you might accidentally download malware. There is nothing in the qBittorrent software to prevent you from downloading or sharing a virus.

To minimise the risk of downloading malware, we recommend installing antivirus software, and only torrenting from trusted sources.

Advanced Features Test Results

qBittorrent comes with several advanced features which greatly improve the safety of your IP address while torrenting, most notably: network interface filtering and ip binding.

We’ve tested both these features to make sure they work as advertised and prevent the client from torrenting (and leaking your true IP) if your VPN connection cuts out.

Network Interface Filtering

First we tested network interface filtering with the following method:

    1. We connected to a local VPN server
    2. We selected the TAP adapter for our VPN in the network interface setting
the qbittorrent advanced features menu with network interface highlighted

Tools > Options > Advanced > Network Interface

  1. We started torrenting our test file in qBittorrent
  2. Once the torrent was in progress, we disconnected the VPN
  3. After a few minutes we reconnected the VPN

Test result: Successful!

When we disconnected our VPN the download froze, and when we reconnected it the download resumed. This shows the function was worked as intended to prevent connections from outside the VPN.

IP Binding

Next we tested IP binding, following this method:

    1. We connected to a local VPN server
    2. We selected our VPN’s IP address from the “Optional IP address to bind to” setting
the qbittorrent advanced features menu with ip binding highlighted

Tools > Options > Advanced > Optional IP address to bind to

  1. We started torrenting our test file
  2. Once the torrent was in progress, we disconnected the VPN
  3. After a few minutes we reconnected the VPN

Test result: Mixed.

Disconnecting the VPN did cut out the torrent, but reconnecting didn’t start it again, as the VPN had given us a new IP address. So while this feature would work better with a proxy, or stationary IP, it is inconvenient for most VPNs.

Malware Test Results

In order to determine that qBittorrent is safe to download and use, we scanned the app with Malwarebytes.

malwarebytes scan of qbittorrent

Malwarebytes found qBittorrent to be 100% Malware free

The results were good: the antivirus software didn’t find any malware or signs of dangerous activity.

This is unsurprising. qBittorrent is a popular app and it would be known if it contained malware. The bigger risk is that torrent files you download could contain malware.

Because of this, we recommend you run antivirus software yourself while torrenting to make sure no torrent files you download are dangerous or include dangerous content.

Why Has My Antivirus Blocked qBittorrent?

It is possible that your antivirus software will flag qBittorrent itself as a potential issue. If this occurs, it is most likely that your client has connected to servers which are known to house malicious content.

This can happen because P2P file sharing involves connecting your client to lots of other peers. As long as the torrent file or magnet link you are using is trustworthy, though, it shouldn’t be an actual risk as the tracker co-ordinates the download between multiple peers.

As such, these alerts are generally false alarms, but they should be taken as a reminder to only download torrents from trustworthy sources.

ip filtering in qbittorrent

qBittorrent allows you to filter out ip addresses associated with malware

Using the IP filter feature (found under Tools > Options > Connection) with an IP blacklist is a good way to mitigate the risk of downloading dangerous or unwanted files, and prevent these kinds of alerts from occurring.

Is qBittorrent Safer than uTorrent?

Alongside qBittorrent, uTorrent is one of the most widely used torrent clients. We don’t recommend using it though.

By almost all criteria qBittorrent is a safer torrent client than uTorrent.

Here is a comparison of qBittorrent and uTorrent from the perspective of safety:

Advert Free
Bundled Bloatware
Support Forums
Proxy Support
IP Binding
IP Filtering
Port Forwarding
Windows, Mac, Linux
Windows, Mac, Linux, Andorid

Both clients come with lots of useful advanced features for protecting your anonymity, but uTorrent falls behind in three key areas.

On Windows, Mac and Android uTorrent is absolutely full of third-party adverts. These are intrusive and frustrating, as well as representing a potential privacy risk. By comparison, qBittorrent is totally ad-free.

uTorrent (left) and qBittorrent (right) side by side

uTorrent and qBittorrent side by side

uTorrent also comes bundled with bloatware, which you have to uninstall manually after download. When we tested uTorrent, it installed multiple applications onto out test laptop without our consent.

In the past, some of the bundled software has been considered dangerous malware (although as of September 2021 that isn’t the case).

Lastly, uTorrent isn’t open-source. Compared to qBittorrent, this means it lacks transparency, is less thoroughly tested by users, and is run to make a profit at the expense of its users.

Note: qBittorrent isn’t available on Android, so mobile users might want to consider using uTorrent instead.

uTorrent was once a very good piece of software, but has been let down by closed-source development, adware, and bugs. The only benefit of uTorrent is that you don’t need to download it off of a third-party website, but this isn’t an issue if you download qBittorrent from a reliable source.

There are holdouts who will insist on using old versions of uTorrent (2.2.1 and older), before the introduction of ads, but for up-to-date security we recommend sticking to the latest version of qBittorrent instead.

How to Use qBittorrent Safely

Our tests found qBittorrent is mostly safe, but we also found that it comes with two key dangers:

  • Exposing your IP address while torrenting
  • Accidentally torrenting malware or unwanted files

The two most important things you can do to make qBittorrent safer are to use a trustworthy VPN and run anti-virus software. It’s also important to configure your qBittorrent client correctly.

How to Configure qBittorrent for Safe Torrenting

Configuring qBittorrent is the simplest thing you can do to make it safer. Some small changes can mean the difference between accidentally giving your IP address away or not.

  1. Enable “Check for program updates”. You can find this under Tools > Options > Behaviour. This prevents you from missing any vital security updates to the client.
  2. Check “Enable anonymous mode”. This setting can be found under Tools > Options > BitTorrent > Privacy. It obscures meta-data about your client from other peers to maintain greater anonymity.
  3. Disable “Start qBittorrent on Windows start up”, under Tools > Options > Behaviour > Desktop. This gives you the opportunity to properly start your VPN before the torrent client starts.
  4. If you’re using a VPN, make sure either “Allow encryption” or “Require encryption” is selected under Tools > Options > qBitTorrent > Privacy.
  5. For VPN users network interface filtering is a good way to back up your kill switch. Navigate to Tools > Options > Advanced > Network interface, then select the TAP adapter associated with your VPN.This will restrict torrenting traffic to your VPN network adaptor and block torrents if the VPN disconnects.
  6. Alternatively if you are running a proxy or VPN, you can activate IP binding. Navigate to Tools > Options > Advanced > Optional IP address to bind to, and select the IP address assigned to you by your VPN service.This will act as a safeguard much like network interface filtering, but trigger unnecessarily if your VPN rotates between IP addresses.

Use Antivirus Software

One of the risks of qBittorrent is that you can accidentally download malware while torrenting. The best way to reduce this risk is to get a reliable and up-to-date antivirus program to detect any malware before you download it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to pay to get a good antivirus.

  • For Windows we recommend Microsoft Defender, Avira Free Antivirus or Malwarebytes.
  • For Mac users we recommend Malwarebytes.
  • For Android we recommend Malwarebytes or Sophos Intercept X.

It’s also important that you don’t run files if they aren’t what you expect, as they could be malware. For instance, if you think you are torrenting a film, but once downloaded it is an .exe file, delete it without opening.

Use a VPN

The best way to protect your anonymity while torrenting is to use a safe torrenting VPN. At the bare minimum you need a VPN which won’t leak your IP address, includes a kill switch and allows P2P traffic on servers near to you.

There are free and premium VPNs that offer these features, but premium VPNs tend to perform better and free VPNs come with limiting data caps. Here are some VPNs we recommend for torrenting:

  • IPVanish – our number one choice for torrenting
  • Windscribe Free – the best free VPN for torrenting
  • AirVPN – highly configurable torrenting VPN for advanced users (allows port-forwarding)
  • Astrill – the fastest VPN for torrenting in our P2P benchmarking tests

You can find more detailed test results in our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

Is It Safe to Use qBittorrent without a VPN?

A VPN isn’t the only way to protect your true IP address when using qBittorrent, but it is the safest. If you don’t want to use a VPN you can use a proxy service as an alternative, but you should never torrent without either.

A screenshot of ExpressVPN running at the same time as qBittorrent

Always connect to your VPN before torrenting

While proxies don’t generally come with kill switches, qBittorrent comes with two features that serve a similar function, network interface filtering and IP binding. These allow you to only torrent via one network adapter or IP address, and help to prevent IP leaks.

The biggest safety downside of a proxy compared to a VPN is that it doesn’t encrypt your traffic. This leaves you less secure than a VPN and allows both your ISP and network administrator to see that you are torrenting.

Is qBittorrent Legal?

qBittorrent is a 100% legal piece of free and open-source software, available under a GNU General Public License. This means you can own, use, distribute, and even edit the software legally. (The only thing you can’t do is sell it!)

While using qBittorrent is totally legal, using it to break the law isn’t. For instance, downloading or sharing illegal or copyrighted material using qBittorrent is illegal.

Because torrenting requires both seeding (uploading) and leeching (downloading) it generally counts as sharing copyrighted material, rather than just downloading it. If you’re caught distributing copyrighted material you could potentially face large fines.

About the Author

  • JP Jones - CTO @ Top10VPN

    JP Jones

    JP is our CTO. He has over 25 years of software engineering and networking experience, and oversees all technical aspects of our VPN testing process. Read full bio