Some things you should consider:
Since this is a “moral” or “ethical” issue to some people, I should probably go over some things. Torrents aren’t evil. A lot of bands use torrents (or other free download methods) as their preferred method of distribution. Why? Because they believe in the honor system. If you like an album, then you buy the CD/LP/TAPE/whatever version, or preferably (from an ecologically, economically, and time-to-enjoyment standpoint) donate. Torrents don’t come in plastic or use gas to get to you, the band’s profit rate is now 100% (instead of a label taking 90-99%) so they can charge less, and you get it right away. + The RIAA (the corporation that serves 82 year old women with court subpoenas over downloading songs on limewire (which I hope you aren’t using for many reasons)) have stopped pursuing new cases.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s now a bad idea to protect yourself. Start by downloading an IP blocking program that gets updated often. For both MAC AND PC I prefer PeerGuardian – you may have to add a few lists if you find that some websites aren’t working correctly when using PG. It’s a good idea to protect yourself in as many ways as possible so if you don’t have a good firewall already (windows built-in firewall doesn’t count), get one. For Mac, try NetBarrier – and for PC get a program like Avast.
So why not just keep using Limewire?
Besides all the virueses, malware, spyware, and insecurity of P2P downloading programs like these (limewire is the worst), the music selection is sub-par. You usually have to search for each individual song, and when you get it, it’s encoded at an extremely low quality, and has a bunch of loud popping noises in it. With torrents and good torrent websites on the other hand, you know exactly what quality (bitrate) the files are, can download whole albums at a time (can also opt to download only certain files) – and there will be a much more consistent download speed (fast).
The Programs that will do the downloading:
Yep just one more program to download and install. You are going to use your torrent program to download and manage all of your torrents so choose a good one. For Mac a good option is Transmission, and for PC the choice is uTorrent. Both are free! As of right now uTorrent is also available for Mac but only in beta form. There are tons of torrent programs to choose from, these are just the ones that I have personally had the most success with.
Where to get torrent files, and what they are:
To put it simply, a torrent file gives you a way to download the music, movies, or other files that you want to download. It’s like a shortcut on your desktop; it links to the files. That’s why you’ll find that torrent files are very small in size. If you know anyone that downloads media through torrents, they may be able to provide you with the best option: an invite to a private torrent community. In the meantime you can use sites like TorrentScan to find files. Public trackers (Like the sites on torrentscan which are freely accessible), are going to be much more difficult to find what you’re looking for. The incentive for people to seed (upload) files on a public tracker just isn’t there, and as a result the torrents end up getting deleted – where as in a private community, seeding is encouraged – to the point that you can get banned if you don’t upload enough (download too much too fast), and even get banned because you invited someone that got banned. You wouldn’t be able to download at all if people didn’t let you download from them first, so repay the favor to them by leaving torrents active and seeding (uploading) once they have finished downloading. Once you run into a torrent that nobody is seeding anymore you will know how frustrating it can be on the other end, especially if you can’t find any other options. Other sites to try: Coda.fm
Good Articles on the topic: