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Is uTorrent Safe?

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

Fact-checked by Simon Migliano

Our Verdict

You can use uTorrent safely in conjunction with a VPN, but it’s not secure as other torrent clients like qBittorent. uTorrent itself is not a virus, but the application includes bloatware and invasive adverts. It has also distributed maleware and cryptomining software to users in the past.

Is uTorrent Safe

uTorrent is a well-known torrenting client, initially released by Rainberry, Inc (previously BitTorrent, Inc) in 2005.

It’s now the most popular torrenting client outside of China, with over ten times BitTorrent’s market share. uTorrent’s web application counts more than one million daily active users, and over 2 billion total installations.

However, there have been many safety and privacy concerns surrounding uTorrent over the years. For this reason, we put the uTorrent application through in-depth security tests to find out if uTorrent is really safe to use or not.

EXPERT ADVICE: For extra security, use a safe torrent VPN with uTorrent, like ExpressVPN. It hides your IP address and torrent activity, and you can try it risk-free for 30 days.

Our research found that uTorrent isn’t inherently dangerous, but it does pose several risks to your privacy and security.

In fact, uTorrent’s setup files contain unwanted software, the free software version includes invasive adverts, and the company has a history of accidentally distributing malware to user devices.

While you can download and use uTorrent safely, we recommend using a safer torrent client like qBittorrent, which is open-source.

Is the uTorrent App Safe to Use? (Full Tests & Results)

Torrenting always presents some risks to your safety, whichever client you use. However, you can offset these risks with caution.

uTorrent is hugely popular, and it’s technically not unsafe. The application doesn’t currently contain malware, and it effectively downloads and distributes torrent files.

However, uTorrent isn’t the safest torrenting client available on the market.

There are two versions of uTorrent for your computer:

  • uTorrent Classic: This is the desktop client, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s designed for bulk downloads, with a feature to turn off the app or your PC when it’s finished downloading, and a scheduler for downloads. It supports simultaneous torrent downloads.
  • uTorrent Web: This enables you to download torrents and play films in your browser while they’re still downloading. It includes a safe torrent scanner to help you find safe torrents when searching the web. If you’re using macOS with Catalina 10.5 or later, you have to use uTorrent Web. There’s no desktop application.

We put both versions of uTorrent through a series of safety tests. We found that both versions are safe to download.

However, compared to qBittorrent, uTorrent presents a higher risk to your privacy and security.

We found unwanted software bundled in uTorrent, along with invasive adverts. The torrent client isn’t open-source either, which means it can’t be independently inspected for security.

The table below summarizes uTorrent’s strengths and weaknesses:

Pros Cons
The premium subscription includes malware blocking, antivirus, and CyberGhost VPN Installation includes unwanted software
Supports IP binding to stop your public IP address from leaking Free version includes adverts
Integrated support for SOCKS5 proxy Advert was used to distribute malware in 2018
Not open-source
Users must pay for the safest software version

Below is a more detailed overview of what makes uTorrent potentially unsafe to use:

uTorrent installs unwanted software (bloatware)

Several different applications have been bundled with uTorrent since 2009.

In 2010, uTorrent bundled the Conduit Engine adware. Users reported it was installed without permission and was hard to remove.

In 2015, uTorrent came bundled with software called “SearchProtect” which was similarly hard to remove or opt out.

While the bundled software has changed over the years, the policy hasn’t. When you install uTorrent, you must be careful to avoid unwanted bloatware.

During the installation process, we were offered McAfee WebAdvisor and Adaware Web Companion. If you accept to install these programs, they will change your homepage, default search engine, and new tabs to Bing.

While these web security applications are legitimate, they’re unnecessarily bundled with uTorrent. Also, some antivirus programs flag them as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).

uTorrent makes it deliberately difficult to opt out of these additional downloads:

uTorrent Bloatware

uTorrent makes it difficult to opt out of additional downloads.

Consent forms are disguised to look like part of the uTorrent installation process, which is deliberately misleading.

Moreover, there is bloatware you can’t avoid. uTorrent silently installs the DLive and TronTV streaming features.

Additional programs have their own privacy policies and mechanisms. In other words, they can potentially monitor and record your downloads and behavior within the application.

uTorrent includes adverts and shares your personal data

uTorrent includes ads in the free versions of its classic software.

To remove ads from the desktop client, you’ll have to buy a subscription. Or, you can manually turn them off in the settings. If you’re using uTorrent Web you cannot disable ads at all.

Ads are risky because they can be used to distribute malware. In 2017, an advert in uTorrent was compromised and used to distribute malware called Meadgive, which attempted to use a vulnerability in Flash to install ransomware.

Including ads in the software also raises questions about who is tracking your behavior. uTorrent’s privacy policy says that Rainberry, Inc shares your personal data with its advertising partners for personalized advertising.

Additionally, the ads make the client slower than it used to be.

Here’s an overview of uTorrent’s four subscription levels and their advertising policies:

Subscription Tier Price per Year (USD) uTorrent Classic uTorrent Web
Free $0.00
  • Includes Adverts
  • Includes Adverts
Ad-Free $4.95
  • No Adverts
  • Includes Adverts
  • Uses Less Bandwidth
Pro $19.95
  • No Adverts
  • Includes Adverts
Pro + VPN $69.95
  • No Adverts
  • Includes CyberGhost VPN
  • Includes Antivirus Software
  • Includes File Conversion
  • Includes Adverts
  • Includes CyberGhost VPN
  • Includes Antivirus Software

There is also a uTorrent Android app that supports bulk downloads, music and video playback, and a WiFi-only mode to save your mobile data.

You can use the Android app to remotely add torrents to uTorrent Classic on Windows. The app is free, but you can pay $2.99 to remove ads and access power-saving features.

uTorrent’s previous security vulnerabilities

In 2018, Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy found a vulnerability in uTorrent that enabled a hacker to plant malware on a user’s computer.

uTorrent created a fix, but it didn’t fully address the security vulnerability. Instead of fixing the client’s flaw, they blocked Ormandy’s exploit.

Vulnerabilities and patches are a fact of life in software development. Software is complex, and errors slip in.

Sadly, uTorrent didn’t handle this vulnerability well (or quickly), which raises doubts about their commitment to user security.

Is uTorrent a virus or malware?

uTorrent itself is not a virus, but third-party security software often flag it. This is most likely due to complaints that uTorrent tricks users into installing unwanted software.

We ran the uTorrent client through popular antivirus software, and 28 out of 66 flagged uTorrent as malicious.

Moreover, the installer for the web client was also flagged as malicious by 11 out of 58 virus scanners.

EXPERT ADVICE: Although uTorrent is not a virus, there may be illegal copies of the software that contain viruses or malware. To be safe, always download from the official uTorrent website.

Does uTorrent include a cryptominer?

A cryptominer is an application that uses your computer’s processors to mine cryptocurrency.

Cryptominers use your computer’s resources, which means they can slow your device down significantly.

In 2015, uTorrent bundled the Epic Scale cryptominer in version 3.4.2. It mined Litecoin and sent the currency to an unknown owner.

Some users claimed Epic Scale was installed in the background, without permission. Others stated there was a prompt during the uTorrent setup process.

From the number of user complaints, the process was clearly not transparent enough. uTorrent later cancelled its deal with Epic Scale, and it no longer bundles the cryptominer.

uTorrent is not open-source

uTorrent is proprietary software, and the source code is not available for inspection.

Therefore, third-party security researchers can’t scrutinize the code quality, or verify how the client uses your personal data, unless uTorrent gives them access.

The closed nature of uTorrent was one of the motivations for the qBittorrent project, which provides an open-source alternative.

Is uTorrent legal?

uTorrent is legal to download and use in most countries, including the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and most European countries.

However, using uTorrent to download copyrighted movies, music, and software is illegal.

When you download torrents (leeching), your torrent client also shares (seeds) content for others to download. You may be threatened with legal action or a fine if you are caught distributing copyrighted material, which is illegal in most countries.

How to Use uTorrent Safely

Whichever torrenting client you use, torrenting itself is risky.

In addition to the uTorrent vulnerabilities we’ve highlighted above, you may also be at risk of:

  • Exposing your IP address: Copyright trolls can see that you’re torrenting and threaten you with legal action through your ISP.
  • Downloading malware: The easiest way to distribute malware is to disguise it and get users to voluntarily install it through torrenting.
  • Speed throttling: ISPs may throttle or ban users that torrent on their network, depending on their policies.

If you’re concerned about your anonymity and security while torrenting, here’s an overview of how to use uTorrent safely and securely:

1. Download uTorrent from the official website

Unofficial copies of uTorrent circulating online may include malware, viruses, or other unwanted software. If you want to download uTorrent safely, make sure to download the application from the official uTorrent website.

2. Disable the adverts in uTorrent

You can buy a subscription to disable uTorrent ads in the desktop and Android clients. Prices start at $4.95 per year on the desktop and $2.99 on Android. You cannot disable ads on uTorrent Web.

If you want a version of uTorrent that doesn’t include adverts at all, you can also download version 2.2.1. This was the last version not to include ads, and it remains popular in the torrenting community.

There are three risks in doing this:

  • The old version is not available from the uTorrent website, so you need to make sure you download from a trustworthy source like
  • Version 2.2.1 was released in 2011, so it’s likely to have security vulnerabilities that have since been patched. There may also be incompatibilities with recent operating system updates.
  • The old version of the software is unsupported by uTorrent itself.

Although uTorrent version 2.2.1 doesn’t contain ads, it is 10 years old and therefore could be vulnerable to old exploits that have since been patched. The safest version of uTorrent is usually the latest iteration with the ads removed by subscribing.

You can use the settings to turn off the adverts in the free version of uTorrent Classic.

To turn off the ads in uTorrent:

  1. Select Options in the menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Select Advanced in the window on the left.
  3. Using the filter box, search for the following options, select them, and then select False at the bottom to turn them off. If an option is already False, leave it set as False:
    • gui.show_plus_upsell
    • offers.sponsored_torrent_offer_enabled
    • offers.left_rail_offer_enabled
    • offers.sponsored_torrent_offer_enabled
    • gui.show_notorrents_node
    • offers.content_offer_autoexec
    • Bt.enable_pulse
  4. Select Apply.
  5. Restart uTorrent.

This will remove the ads from the free version of uTorrent Classic. However, it will not remove the links to DLive and Tron TV.

EXPERT ADVICE: Some VPNs such as Surfshark include an ad blocker, but these are unlikely to be effective against the ads in uTorrent. They can help to block connections to malicious sites, though.

3. Use a secure VPN with uTorrent

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) hides your public IP address, so copyright trolls and other users in the torrenting swarm can’t identify you.

VPNs also encrypt your internet connection so your ISP can’t monitor your downloads. Using a VPN is essential for anonymous torrenting with every torrenting client, including uTorrent.

Here’s how to use a VPN with uTorrent:

  1. Subscribe and download a safe VPN application. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Choose a VPN server in a nearby location for optimal speeds.
  3. Enable the VPN kill switch and any manual leak protection settings.
  4. Test for data leaks using a VPN leak test tool.
  5. Activate uTorrent.
  6. Download your torrent files.
  7. Keep your VPN on until your torrenting client is turned off completely. The client may share files after you have finished downloading.

Some VPN services only allow torrenting on selected servers. If your VPN isn’t working with uTorrent, exit the torrenting client and try connecting to a different VPN server.

If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to find a VPN that is compatible with P2P activity.

EXPERT ADVICE: To test your IP address in uTorrent, press F5 to show ‘Detailed Info’ and then select ‘Peers’. You’ll see your IP address with the IP addresses of other users in your swarm, and they can see yours too. If you’re using a safe VPN, you’ll see the IP address of your chosen VPN server.

uTorrent’s top subscription tier includes CyberGhost VPN. While CyberGhost is a secure VPN, it’s not one we recommend for torrenting.

In our tests, we found CyberGhost’s torrent speeds to be too slow. It’s average bitrate of 3.9MiB/s is significantly slower than ExpressVPN’s 9.4MiB/s.

If ExpressVPN’s price is too high, cheaper torrent VPNs like Surfshark are a good alternative.

EXPERT ADVICE: We recommend subscribing to a VPN separately to uTorrent. This lets you use a VPN that better meets your internet needs, and not have to pay for a uTorrent subscription.

4. Change your torrenting behavior

Regardless of which torrent client you’re using, it’s critical you torrent safely and follow the safety guidelines below:

  • Check the comments, seed count, and uploader before you download a torrent file. This will help you avoid accidentally downloading a file that is infected with malware. Torrents with many seeders are likely to be more trustworthy.
  • Check that torrent files are in the format you expect, such as MP3 or FLAC for audio, or MP4 or MOV for movies. Downloading .exe or .bat files is extremely risky. Even ZIP, PDF, and Microsoft Office files can exploit vulnerabilities on your computer.
  • Check file sizes, too. HD video is about 105MB per minute and Ultra HD or 4K video is 320MB per minute. If you download a movie and the file size is small, that’s suspicious.
  • If you do download something that looks wrong, delete it without opening it.

5. Use trusted antivirus software

When you torrent files, there’s a risk certain files are infected with viruses or malware.

That’s why uTorrent has added malware and virus blocking features, but only in its premium products.

To be safe, especially if you’re using uTorrent’s free software, we recommend using reliable third-party antivirus software to reduce the risk of accidentally downloading malware.

The table below recommends free antivirus software for Windows, macOS and Android:

Platform/OS Free Antivirus Software
Windows Microsoft Defender, Avira Free Antivirus, or Malwarebytes
macOS Malwarebytes
Android Malwarebytes or Sophos Intercept X

Keep in mind that antivirus software won’t always catch all new viruses. New vulnerabilities may be exploited by malware before antivirus signatures are updated.

How to Configure uTorrent’s Security Features

uTorrent has some built-in security features that can help to protect your privacy and security, including encryption, SOCKS5 proxy support, and IP binding.

In this section, we’ll explain the safest uTorrent settings and how to configure them so you can use uTorrent securely.

How to Encrypt Traffic in uTorrent

uTorrent applies basic encryption via the BitTorrent protocol, which is less secure than VPN encryption.

uTorrent’s encryption disguises torrent traffic as normal browsing activity, but doesn’t mask what files are being torrented.

Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent protocol used by uTorrent, has said:

“The so-called ‘encryption’ of BitTorrent traffic isn’t really encryption, it’s obfuscation. It provides no anonymity whatsoever, and only temporarily evades traffic shaping.”

In other words, uTorrent’s encryption can help to avoid ISP throttling, but it won’t make you anonymous.

The BitTorrent protocol is not particularly secure, and ISPs will still be able to identify your torrenting activity through patterns in the data.

If you are using a VPN, you don’t need to encrypt your P2P traffic using uTorrent as well.

To turn on uTorrent’s encryption, follow these steps:

  1. Use the shortcut CTRL+P to go straight to the ‘Preferences’ menu.
  2. Select ‘BitTorrent’ in the window on the left.
  3. Under ‘Protocol Encryption’, select ‘Enabled’ for outgoing connections.
  4. Check the box labelled ‘allow incoming legacy connections’.
  5. Press ‘OK’.
  6. Restart uTorrent.
uTorrent Encryption Settings

You can enable encryption in uTorrent’s preferences menu.

How to Set Up a SOCKS5 Proxy in uTorrent

SOCKS5 (Shadowsocks) proxies route your torrenting traffic through a proxy server that hides your IP address.

Masking your IP address protects your privacy, but it won’t encrypt your traffic or secure your connection.

Differently to a proxy, VPN software hides your IP address and encrypts your P2P traffic simultaneously.

The uTorrent client has native support for SOCKS5. To use it, you’ll need credentials for a SOCKS5 proxy service, which torrenting VPNs like PIA offer.

To set up SOCKS5 in uTorrent, follow these steps:

  1. Use the shortcut CTRL+P to go to the ‘Preferences’ menu.
  2. Select ‘Connection’ in the window on the left.
  3. Under ‘Proxy Server’, select ‘Socks5’ in the dropdown menu.
  4. In the ‘Proxy’ field, enter the address of your proxy server.
  5. Enter the Username and Password for your proxy server.
  6. Check the boxes to enable authentication, hostname lookups, and peer-to-peer connections.
  7. Check the boxes to disable local DNS lookups, features that leak personal information, and connections that SOCKS5 doesn’t support.
  8. Press ‘OK’.
  9. Restart uTorrent.
uTorrent Enable Socks

uTorrent has native support for SOCKS5 proxies.

You can also use Windscribe for torrenting with native support for SOCKS5.

How to Bind Your IP in uTorrent

uTorrent supports IP binding, which restricts your torrents to one specific IP address.

You can use this feature to bind your connection to your VPN or proxy IP address, preventing your true IP address from leaking if either fails.

Put simply, IP binding is an extra security measure in case your VPN kill switch fails.

IP binding is available in the Windows Classic uTorrent client, but isn’t available for Mac or Android.

To set up IP binding in uTorrent, follow these steps:

  1. Connect to your VPN or proxy service.
  2. Once connected, check your IP address and note it down.
  3. Open uTorrent and use the shortcut CTRL+P to go to the ‘Preferences’ menu.
  4. Select ‘Advanced’ in the window on the left.
  5. In the ‘Filter’ field, search for net.bind_ip.
  6. Enter your IP address into the ‘Value’ field.
  7. Press ‘Set’.
  8. In the ‘Filter’ field, search for net.outgoing_ip.
  9. Enter your IP address into the ‘Value’ field again.
  10. Press ‘Set’.
  11. Select ‘OK’.
  12. Restart uTorrent.

Safe Alternatives to uTorrent

You can use uTorrent safely by following our advice above, but there are several inherently safer torrent clients available.

Below we list three secure alternatives we recommend over uTorrent:

1. qBittorrent

Based on our security tests, we recommend qBittorrent as the safest torrenting client. It doesn’t contain malware or ads, it’s open source, and it’s also completely free.

Just like uTorrent, qBittorrent has IP binding and SOCKS5 proxy support. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and Mac, including recent 64-bit versions of macOS.

2. Transmission

Transmission is a popular torrenting client which is being developed for macOS. An early preview version is also available for Linux and Windows.

Transmission is lightweight with a small memory footprint, despite having a graphical user interface.

The torrent client supports encryption, but only at the same security level as uTorrent. However, because Transmission is open source, developers and security researchers can easily scrutinize its source code.

Unlike uTorrent, Transmission has no support for proxy servers. But, it’s completely free and doesn’t offer paid versions.

3. BitTorrent

BitTorrent and uTorrent are both owned by the same company, Rainberry, Inc., so it’s unsurprising they’re extremely similar.

In terms of risk, uTorrent and BitTorrent are just as safe as each other. And just like uTorrent, BitTorrent also features ads. However, Bittorrent manages its ads better, resulting in faster download speeds.

BitTorrent is not tarnished with uTorrent’s shady history with malware, which is its main benefit. The Classic version is available for Windows, while BitTorrent Web is available for Windows and Mac. There is also a BitTorrent Android client.