What is the Pirate Bay
Arguably the most popular and well-loved index of torrents of all time (well, of all the time we've had the Internet), The Pirate Bay has kept us entertained for nearly 20 years.
Ever since it was established in 2003 The Pirate Bay, or TPB as it's known to its legions of loyal fans all over the world, has served as the go-to place for all peer-to-peer file sharing of digital content.
Whatever it is you're in the market for, be it audio, video, applications, games, or books, The Pirate Bay delivers. And yet, as is the case with other torrent websites, downloading files via The Pirate Bay is seen in many countries as an illegal activity, so much so that in some parts of the world such torrenting websites as The Pirate Bay are blocked by internet service providers, or ISPs.
But how exactly does The Pirate Bay, and indeed torrenting in general, work? Why is it that you might not be able to access The Pirate Bay in your home country, and what can you do to get around the problem so that you can get back to watching the content you love without having to pay a penny?
File Sharing: The Genesis Account
In the olden days, before a hero by the name of Tim Berners-Lee invented a little something called the World Wide Web, sharing content was a very different procedure indeed.
A movie or TV show would be bought on video tape, later DVD, from the local video or entertainment store, and once you'd watched it, you might pass it onto your friends to watch it, too.
Occasionally, one of the more tech-savvy friends of the group would copy the tape from the original onto a blank, and would maybe even have a little racketing job on the side, selling copies outside their lockers in the hallway, slipping a DVD of Titanic into your rucksack while you covertly handed over a couple of bucks as though you were buying the hard stuff.
It was a slow process, the quality of copied movies wasn't great, and if you weren't in with the cool kids, you might never get to find out what happened to Jack and Rose on their fateful voyage across the Atlantic.
Something had to change so that the world could get its entertainment fix, and very soon along came a knight in shining armor, who went by the name of The Internet.
In the early days, where memory was tiny and bandwidth was laughable, the only thing you could expect to download were images and, as time went on, individual song tracks. Then, you could download whole albums, then small videos, and so on.
As technology advanced and the internet took over the entire world, even the most remote places on earth were beginning to get hooked up to internet, as humankind began to understand just how important this new method of communication was.
And eventually, thanks to the wonders of Wifi, of broadband, of huge leaps in infrastructure and technology, the world became well connected enough and internet speeds became both fast and reliable enough to cope with literally billions of people demanding information.
Today, downloading and uploading files are things that can be done in the blink of an eye, and without us even having to sit at the computer and press a single button.
And when you have files that other people want, be they movies, TV shows, games, songs, books and even a little of the ol' sexy content, you can upload these files to be enjoyed by others. This is known as peer-to-peer sharing. It's The Pirates Bay 's bread and utter.
Only, your peers are no longer your friends at school who want your bootleg copy of Titanic. They're the millions of strangers all over the planet who love to watch the same content you do.
And this is where torrenting comes in, and where The Pirate Bay in particular leads the way.
Share and Share Alike
It's never been easier to download files, even huge ones, hundreds of gigabytes in size at times. The newest Marvel movie in Ultra HD? The entire series of Squid Game in 8K resolution because your ex changed the Netflix password? Neither are a problem thanks to strangers on the internet offering to share their copies with you via The Pirate Bay.
The Pirate Bay acts like a broker for these shared files, known as torrents. And just in case there's some confusion as to what exactly torrents are and how they work, here's a little reminder.
If you already know all of this stuff and are just here to learn more about The Pirate Bay, then you might want to skip ahead to a later subheading.
How Does Torrenting Work?
Imagine that you sit at the dining table to do a jigsaw puzzle one afternoon (maybe your internet's down) but when you open the box, there are no puzzle pieces inside. You've seen the picture on the cover of the box and you've been looking forward to doing this puzzle for ages, but now there's not a single piece to get you started.
So, you call a friend who you know has the same puzzle, and he kindly offers you a few pieces of his puzzle to get you started.
You call around a few more friends, and those friends call their friends, and all these people who have the exact same puzzle all offer to chip in some pieces so that all the pieces of puzzle arrive that afternoon, in your mailbox. You go outside, collect all the pieces, and then you put them all together and marvel at the final picture, as the puzzle's complete.
Torrenting works in a similar way. All files, whether they're a 1-page Word document or a four-hour-long movie with the best resolution known to humankind, are broken up into millions of separate pieces, known as bits. Bits are the smallest denomination of data you can possibly find on a computer.
Many bits make up a kilobyte, many kilobytes make up a megabyte, many megabytes make up a gigabyte, and so on. This process is known as the Bittorrent Protocol.
The Bittorrent Protocol
When it comes to downloading a torrent file, the most efficient way to do it is to request tiny pieces of the file from lots of different people at the same time, in the form of packets.
And in order to send out the signal that you need a particular torrent file, you would proceed to any one of several torrent sites, the most popular of all being The Pirate Bay.
The Pirate Bay is one of several sites that use the bittorrent protocol. This is the name given to the peer-to-peer way of downloading torrent files from sites such as The Pirate Bay without The Pirate Bay having to host the content itself.
This protocol makes it much easier to remain anonymous online, particularly given the legal battle aimed especially at those uploading, as opposed to downloading, the content.
Why Download Torrent Files from The Pirate Bay?
The great thing about the internet is that it's made our lives so much easier in ways that we've even come to take for granted. We can order practically anything in the world and it'll be delivered to our door, sometimes the very same day. Nothing's out of reach, or inaccessible.
You still need to know where to search for the things you want, so you'll go to the biggest suppliers. You'll head to the largest retail sites for the items you want quickly and relatively cheaply. You'll go to your local online directory to quickly find tradespeople in your area.
Torrenting is no different. When you want torrent files, you'll head over to the website with the best collection, and with the fastest delivery.
The Pirate Bay is the world's most popular place from where to download torrents. The more Pirate Bay enthusiasts there are, the more content you'll be able to find. Not only that, but the more people who use The Pirate Bay, the faster you'll be able to get your content.
Going back to the analogy used earlier: when you're looking for places to source pieces to your jigsaw puzzle, it would help to ask the friends you know have the same puzzle. Then they ask their friends, who they also know have the same puzzle. The more people you ask, the more chances you have of getting the pieces you need.
Downloading torrent files from The Pirate Bay uses the same principle. The more people who own a copy of the file, the more sources you have from which to get the files that you need. When many users have the same file and they're all willing to share it with you, they're all giving you different pieces of the file at the same time, so the file's complete in no time.
Does The Pirate Bay Store the Content
The Pirate Bay doesn't store content directly on its site. The files that you're downloading are being shared directly from other Pirate Bay users. What The Pirate Bay does is to create unique magnet links that act as calling cards, giving out a virtual bat signal bright into the internet night sky.
From that signal, computers all around the world from users who are sharing the content you need automatically respond, sending you the pieces of the file that you're downloading.
The Pirate Bay is just a host of magnet links, a library containing millions of these uniquely coded magnet links that will appear when you do a Pirate Bay search.
What You Need to Download Data Files From The Pirate Bay
Using The Pirate Bay is extremely easy, but there's an extra piece of software that you'll need to arrange the millions of pieces of data you've received from Pirate Bay users all over the world into usable content.
When you're looking to download your favorite movies using magnet links in the form of bittorrent files, it's not a case of each person sharing the file sending individual seconds of a film.
Instead, you'll need a bittorrent client. A bittorrent client is a program that takes all the millions of pieces of the file you're downloading, and arranges it into a useable format.
It's a little bit like taking a suitcase full of loose change of all denominations into a store that has a coin sorting machine. When you pour all the loose change into the machine, it sorts it for you into more convenient cash denominations, spitting out ten or twenty dollar bills at the end of the process.
In the same way, a bittorrent client takes all the pieces of the data file that other users have shared with you, and it sorts it into the movie, song, TV show, game or book that you can then go ahead and enjoy.
You can download a bittorrent client onto your computer and even onto your phone, using apps downloaded from the App Store or the Google Play store.
Which is the Best Bittorrent Client?
Over the years since torrenting revolutionised the concept of sharing data, there have been an abundance of program creators who've made torrent client software. And different people have different preferences.
Programs such as qBittorent, Vuze and Transmission are all very popular among The Pirate Bay community. Some prefer one over the other depending on the kind of operating system they use, as they find performance is better on a Mac or a PC. Others like the client's interface, and still others are simply creatures of habit.
Do You Need to Pay to Use a Bittorrent Client?
Modern day heroes like Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neil and Gottfrid Svartholm, the creators of The Pirate Bay in 2003, set up this system of peer-to-peer sharing because they were against the idea of copyrighted material being restricted to only a few. Instead, they wanted to create a way to open content up, making it available for all.
It means that to have to pay to access this kind of content (in the case of The Pirate Bay, audio, video, and beyond) would fly in the face of what it is that The Pirate Bay was set up to achieve. So, you should never have to pay to download magnet links, and you should never have to pay to use the software that processes them.
Extras that Paid Clients Can Give You
It doesn't mean that there aren't some features of a bittorrent client that aren't worth paying for. While the basic access is more than enough for some people, others don't mind chipping in a few dollars a year to support the software creators.
It could be that they have VIP access which means faster download speed or access to more seeders, or people who share the content. Some client packages include the ability to begin watching the content you're downloading before the download has completed.
So no, you don't need to pay to use most clients, but some do carry extra perks you might like.
How Are Audio, Video, Applications, Games Free to Download?
The joy of P2P, or peer-to-peer sharing, means that you really don't need to pay for any of your favorite movies or content ever again. It means no more subscriptions to sites like Netflix or Hulu.
It's the same idea as watching a movie and then sharing it with your friends, as mentioned at the outset. Only on a colossal, worldwide scale. And this could cause you to wonder whether all this is legal. Which brings us to a whole host of questions surrounding the gray area of sharing copyrighted content.
Is it Illegal to Download from The Pirate Bay?
Technically, visiting The Pirate Bay site or any other similar torrent site to download content is illegal. This is because copyright law all over the world dictates if you download files containing content you don't have either the license or the license holder's permission for, then you're breaking the law.
This doesn't mean that visiting The Pirate Bay site itself is illegal. Nor does searching for links in the search bar of the site. It's when you begin to download the content that the law has an issue.
That's not to say that all content to be found on The Pirate Bay and other sought after torrent sites is under copyright law. Some of it has never been copyrighted, and others have been out of copyright because they're over a certain number of years old. But that chance that this applies to the most recent high res movies on The Pirate Bay is very slim indeed.
And it's not just you who's breaking the law when you download torrents from such sites as The Pirate Bay. It's also illegal to distribute content, too. So the seeders, or content uploaders, are also in violation of copyright law.
Can I Be Arrested for My Downloaded Files from The Pirate Bay?
On visiting the site, you may see a Pirate Bay warning or other such reminder concerning the legalities of downloading such material. However, the chances of any legal action being brought against you is very slim.
It's not illegal to download copyrighted movies or other such content, unless the content itself is illegal, such as the kind of movies that feature sexual content of an illegal kind.
You can get into trouble for distributing copyrighted material, but there's very little chance that you'd ever be arrested for it. Instead, those who have been prosecuted in the past have received such punishments as fines or having their internet service provider block them from accessing anything else.
However, these kinds of occurrences are incredibly rare and generally apply to people who upload huge amounts of movie, TV and video content in order to make a profit for it. The very ethos of The Pirate Bay is one of good faith: it's file sharing, and not file selling.
How Has The Pirate Bay Not Been Shut Down?
There's no denying that holders of copyright for content are frustrated by people sharing files. After all, if you're going to watch your favorite movie via a magnet link downloaded from a torrent website, then you won't be paying to sit in the movie theater, or giving cash to subscription sites such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Accusations of copyright infringement against The Pirate Bay founders led to their arrest and they were imprisoned for a short time in 2009, as well as being handed hefty fines.
Despite their convictions, though, The Pirate Bay is still going strong, thanks to the continued efforts of the anti-copyright movement keeping the cases stalling throughout courts all over the world, along with the murky laws concerning intellectual property rights when it pertains to peer-to-peer sharing.
Why Can't I Access The Pirate Bay?
If you've ever gone to a search engine and tried to look for The Pirate Bay, only to see that it's been blocked by your internet service provider, then you'll see just how much the government of your country is trying to do whatever they can to stop people downloading files.
Many a successful legal battle has led to service providers no longer allowing its customers to access certain sites, and The Pirate Bay website along with other sites are the first to be targeted.
However, all is not lost! The Pirate Bay people aren't about to let you down that easily, and they've come up with ingenious ways of making sure that you can still access Pirate Bay content even if the website is blocked. This is all thanks to The Pirate Bay 's mirror sites.
Always Check for the Most Recent Pirate Bay Mirror Sites
When an internet provider gets wise to certain Pirate Bay mirror sites they'll occasionally shut them down, but before they can close one, another will open up in its place.
It could mean that the Pirate Bay proxy site you've been using for the last few months is now blocked, but a quick Google search for such phrases as "Piratebay proxy sites" will soon bring you the latest Pirate Bay mirror so that you can get back to accessing Pirate Bay content.
The heroes of the internet will never leave you without the ability to download files so as soon as you find that the Pirate Bay you were using is no longer accessible, then look for Pirate Bay list of mirror sites and you'll soon be greeted with a whole host of brand new Pirate Bays to access. This goes for all of the latest torrent sites, too, and not just The Pirate Bay.
Get Yourself a Virtual Private Network Provider
Another way to get around the issue of The Pirate Bay being blocked in your country is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN works by concealing your IP address from websites that check it before allowing you to access their content.
An IP address is an internet protocol address, a unique code that informs others of your device's location. Your IP address is what Netflix and other sites check before they let you unlock certain content particular to your home country.
If you've ever wanted to watch a movie on US Netflix only to find it's not there, you can use a VPN to change or mask your IP address and 'pretend' that you're in another country entirely, thus unlocking the movie or other content you want.
The Pirate Bay's catalogue isn't location specific, and yet The Pirate Bay's user base knows that when it comes to downloading content from their favorite website, they know not to proceed without the use of virtual private networks. There are a few reasons for this.
How a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Will Help You Access The Pirate Bay
While the founders of The Pirate Bay created their torrent site to be enjoyed by all users across the world, internet service providers, working with governments, began to make it very difficult for users to download torrent files.
They shut down access to The Pirate Bay website in many countries by stopping devices on the networks they hosted from accessing the content, so no more hunting for movies using a Pirate search.
Internet service providers are able to stop access to torrent sites because they know your internet protocol, or IP address. So, in true defiant fashion, virtual private networks were established so that users could share files via such sites as The Pirate Bay without the internet service providers catching on.
Now, if The Pirate bay is blocked in your country, then a virtual private network will allow you to bypass the internet provider's rules by tricking it into thinking your device isn't where it says it is. A virtual private network can fool the machines that check whether you're in a certain state, country, or continent by providing a cover IP address.
In Some Cases, a Virtual Private Network is Mandatory
For some, The Pirate Bay may open but torrent files are not accessible until you're using a virtual private network (VPN). You may find that when it comes to accessing a torrent website like The Pirate Bay there's no problem getting into the site itself, but when you click on a magnet link, an ad for VPN services comes up, like a Pirate Bay warning.
Once you have the VPN installed and working, you will no longer see this warning screen. The Pirate Bays staff know that using a VPN is the only way to download content safely, protecting not just your IP address but that of the other users who have uploaded files to share with others, as per the protocol discussed earlier.
VPNs Protect Personal Data
Even if you've managed to get Pirate Bay access and you're back to downloading torrents, you should still always consider using a virtual private network (VPN) in order to download content. But even if you don't need to use The Pirate Bay on a particular day, it's still a good idea to keep your VPN switched on, and your IP address hiddden.
The internet has drastically changed in recent times and no internet connection is really truly safe in today's world. Hackers, malware and spyware about, even with the Pirates Bay and other websites' security checks. By now you'll know the importance of installing a reliable antivirus program on your computer, but you can double down on security measures by always keeping your VPN switched on.
Which is the Best VPN to Use?
While The Pirate Bays content is free to download, and there are a whole host of free bittorrent clients to choose from, using a reliable VPN isn't always a free deal. And yet, it's always worth paying a little extra to get the best service possible not just so you have access to torrent files but that you can continue to browse the web safely.
There are some free VPN services out there but you may find that there are restrictions on free accounts. You may find you're limited to the amount of time your VPN can be switched on before you need to upgrade it, or that there's a limit to the amount of data you can download before it stops working, which can be a real pain when you're in the middle of downloading files.
Free VPN companies include ProtonVPN and TunnelBear, but these will come with features that may make you want to sign up for a paid service instead. There may be limitations on the number of locations you can switch to with the service, or you may be bombarded with ads.
Very Important Person (VIP) users to paid services like Express VPN and Nord VPN find that there are more location options, more reliable services, better download speed through the VPN, and better online protection than there is with a free service.
So, now you've got your VPN switched on, you're concealing yourself online as though you're in a far-off land, and you're ready to download torrents from The Pirate Bay. How do you go about it?
How to Use The Pirate Bay
Now that you know the basics, you'll understand that before you enter a torrent site like The Pirate Bay and begin to download files, you'll need a torrent client. Remember, you should never have to pay for a torrent client, although you may enjoy the perks that VIP users get as part of a subscription package.
It doesn't matter which of The Pirate Bay's mirror sites you use; some search engines will reveal different sites to others but even if the first one doesn't work, try another.
By putting the name of the file you need into the search bar, for example the title of your required movie or TV show into the search box of The Pirate Bay, you will be be given a list of torrent files that match that file's description, and from there choose the best one. But how do you know which torrent file to choose from the list?
Which Torrent File Do I Choose?
It's great when you have a huge selection of torrent files to choose from, as it means that there are plenty of sources who have the pieces of the puzzle that you need. The Pirates Bay community uploads content so quickly to the site and in such huge quantities that the site of multiple files to choose from can be daunting.
So, it's good to familiarize yourself with the jargon used on The Pirate Bay and practically any other torrent site you visit.
When you download content from other users via The Pirate Bay, you're known as a 'leecher'. This isn't a derogatory term in any way, instead it's merely a way to describe your role in The Pirates Bay operation. Those who have uploaded the content for you to download are the seeders.
Other Tips on Choosing Your Pirate Bay Torrent File
Look at the size of the file. If it's a movie that's under 1 gigabyte, it's likely to be poor quality. Today's movies in Ultra HD or even 8K are large files, so expect a high res movie to be upwards of 5 or 6 gigabytes.
If you have the bandwidth and the space, and if there are plenty of Pirate Bay seeders to help you out, then by all means select the larger files, but be prepared for longer download times.
You can download multiple files at once from The Pirates Bay but be aware that this will also impact bandwidth so you might want to download multiple torrents consecutively, or one after the other, as opposed to having them all going at the same time.
The Pirate Bay also has a feature that allows you to see the quality of a file. If you see pink, it means the file is Trusted, and green means VIP users. Little tips such as these are easy to pick up and you'll soon get the hang of knowing which Pirate Bay links to use.
Seeders and Leechers
Leechers are the people who want the content, and the seeders are the ones who have it, and are sharing it. So, when choosing a torrent file to download from The Pirate Bay, you're looking for more seeders than leechers.
This can be tough when you're looking for new content that everyone wants, but the better the ratio of seeders to leechers, the quickeryour torrent file will download.
Copy the magnet link and paste it into your bittorent client. You may need to go into the file menu of the client and select "new download" or a similar option and begin the download. Then, you can continue to use your computer as normal and the torrent file will download in the background.
In the torrent file community, the b est Pirate Bay users are those who seed their content after downloading so that other users can download the content quickly, too. That's why you'll often see a "please seed!" request within the details of torrent files. It's a gentle request rather than a demand.
How Do I Seed Torrent Files Back to The Pirate Bay?
Once you've finished downloading your file, your torrent client will usually be set to immediately begin to upload back to the internet, so that you become a seeder. This means that the next visitor to The Pirates Bay gets to download their content quicker.
You can switch off the option to seed after downloading your data files but it's usually a process that happens in the background and you won't notice it, but your Pirate Bay comrades will thank you.
Will Downloading Torrents Make My Internet Slow?
Torrent files are large files. Today's internet connection speeds are much faster than they used to be but still, torrenting can take its toll on your internet connection. An entire file, depending on the ratio of seeders to leechers, might take as little as a few minutes, or as long as several hours.
If it's a particularly large file, then put the Pirate Bay link into your client and then set it to begin to download at night, when you're asleep and it's likely that your local network is less busy. Waking up to a downloaded file is also very satisfying!
I Can't Find the File I Want on The Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay has so many contributors that you're likely to find the file you want but older movies, TV shows and games can be tough to find. Make sure that you're spelling the title correctly in the search bar.
Check to see if the file was released under a different name in another country, as this often reveals results. Choosing another mirror website is unlikely to make much difference but try other torrent sites, such as RARBG or 1337x to see if their database contains the file you're searching for.
The Pirate Bays Here to Stay
No matter how much the efforts to shut down The Pirate Bays continue, The Pirate Bay remains the most popular choice for downloading torrents. By not just downloading the torrent files but seeding them, too, you'll be helping out other users who come after you, as you share files with future leechers.
Keep using your VPN to hide your IP address, especially whenever you're using The Pirate Bay. This way, you get complete access to all The Pirate Bay has to offer without having the worry of your downloading activity being monitored.
The world should never have to imagine a time without a site like The Pirate Bay, long may it reign!