What Is a TORRENT File?

How to open, edit, and convert TORRENT files

A file with the TORRENT file extension contains information about how files should be accessed through a peer-to-peer network.

Much like a URL, TORRENT files simply point to another area on the internet where the file is at and use that location to retrieve the data.

Things like file names, locations, and sizes are included in a TORRENT file, but not the actual data itself. A torrent program is required to download the digital files referenced from within the TORRENT file.

While there are many places to find TORRENT files, many are used to spread copyrighted movies, music, and games, which is considered illegal in many countries. Pick from free and legal alternatives to watch TV shows onlinestream movies online, download music, find audiobooks, and download PC games.

How to Open a TORRENT File

Take great care when downloading software, music, or anything else through torrents. Because you're taking files from people you don't know, you always run the risk of malware within the data. Use an antivirus program installed to address anything potentially dangerous.

TORRENT files work in a torrent client like uTorrent or Vuze, or even online through a website like Filestream, Seedr, or Put.io. If you're on an Android device, try the Flud or uTorrent app.

Online torrent sites like Filestream and ZBIGZ download the torrent data for you on their own servers and then give you the files to download directly through your web browser like you would a normal, non-torrent file.

Screenshot showing how to download a torrent online with ZBIGZ

Downloading torrents online with Put.io or another web-based torrent client is helpful if your ISP or institution blocks or limits BitTorrent traffic, because from the service provider's point of view, the downloads aren't different from regular HTTP traffic.

The contents, or instructions, of TORRENT files, can sometimes be viewed using a text editor. However, even if you can read through the TORRENT file as a text file, there's nothing in there that you can download or realistically read — you have to use a torrent client to actually get the files.

Here's an example of what's behind a TORRENT file (this one downloads Ubuntu):

Text behind an Ubuntu torrent file

How to Convert a TORRENT File

A free file converter is the method of choice for converting most file types, like DOCX, MP4, etc., but TORRENT files are an exception.

Since a TORRENT file's purpose is for holding instructions and not for storing files themselves, the only reason to convert a TORRENT file is to save it under a new format that can still use those instructions. For example, convert a TORRENT file to a magnet link (similar to .TORRENT) with the Torrent > > Magnet website.

Something you most certainly cannot do with TORRENT files is convert them to "regular" file types like MP4, PDF, ZIP, MP3, EXE, MKV, etc. Again, TORRENT files are only instructions for downloading these types of files, not the files themselves, which means no amount of converting of any sort could ever pull these types of files out of a TORRENT file.

Person thinking about a Western movie while looking at torrent files on their computer
Lifewire / Derek Abella 

Still Can't Open the File?

Some file extensions looks similar to others, but that doesn't mean that the files themselves are related or that they can be used by the same programs.

For example, TORRENT and TOR look alike but the latter is a file extension used for Star Wars: The Old Republic asset files that holds game data like weapons and music. The Star Wars: The Old Republic game is needed in order to make use of TOR files.