In terms of market share, uTorrent is the king of torrent clients. But is it just coasting on past glories? Does its open-source alternative, qBittorrent, better serve users? In this comprehensive qBittorrent vs uTorrent comparison, we take a look at aspects of both services to determine which is best.
Which is better: qBittorrent or uTorrent?
The answer, for those short on time and/ or patience, is qBittorrent. It’s ad-free and faster. Users can stream in-progress downloads for free, whereas uTorrent requires a subscription to its Pro plan for the same feature. There are other reasons, which we’ll get into later.
The only caveat to our blanket recommendation of qBIttorrent concerns Android-users. qBittorrent doesn’t have an Android app, whereas uTorrent does.
With that out of the way, let’s get started and dig deeper into the two services.
qBittorrent is available to download from its website, which takes all of a few seconds. A wizard takes you through set-up, after which you’re presented with the interface.
Things are a little more complicated for uTorrent. First you need to choose between one of three forms: a web-based version that lets users play torrents while they download; uTorrent basic classic (with or without ads); and uTorrent Pro.
For the sake of a fair comparison, we’ll use the “free” basic classic version. This is what the majority of users opt for in any event. The software is available to download directly from the uTorrent site.
The uTorrent set-up wizard is straightforward, though it pauses mid-way to advertise installations for WebCompanion, AVG Antivirus Free, and Opera. We suggest declining these – now is not the time to make decisions about whether you want a new browser or antivirus software.
Once installation is complete, you’re presented with the interface. The basic “free” version of uTorrent is ad-supported, so it’s not surprising that approximately a quarter of the screen is devoted to adverts — the banner ad was removed by our uBlock Origin browser extension. You can pay to have the ads removed or do it yourself with an ad-blocker.
Other than that, the two clients look fairly similar. Both are pleasingly minimalist and unlikely to spook those new to P2P sharing. Available buttons allow users to create their own torrents, or add them from a URL. Once started, the sidebar lists how many torrents are downloading, seeding, completed, active and inactive.
We first tried downloading The Incredible Petrified World, which is a 2.4GB public domain movie available from the Internet Archive – a non-profit digital library.
Both clients were equally easy to kick into action and able to work from a torrent link copied to the clipboard.
qBittorrent vs uTorrent speeds
Out of the two providers, qBittorrent progressed faster with downloading.
By the time it had finished, uTorrent still had an estimated four more minutes to go.
We then tried again, this time with a 3.42GB movie – After Hours. The torrents were started near simultaneously on the same device (an ASUS Vivobook). This time, the clients performed similarly.
For our third trial, we tried downloading a 4.81GB Linux distribution from the Ubuntu site. qBittorrent performed significantly faster. When it had finished the download, uTorrent had only completed 64% and had an estimated 16 minutes left.
In both cases it’s possible to improve torrent speeds by using port forwarding – we cover this in detail elsewhere. You may also be able to improve download speeds by using a VPN if you suspect your ISP is throttling your bandwidth. Our own tests were conducted while connected to the Surfshark VPN.
Many of the features found in qBittorrent are also found in uTorrent, as the table below demonstrates.
One important difference between the two clients is that qBittorrent is open-source. Aside from the security benefits this brings, it means it can accept plugins created by open-source developers. Many of these help users to find available torrents serving specific interests.
For example, plugins are available for downloading scientific datasets or trade-friendly music. qBittorrent allows these search engines to be added to the torrent client. This is not possible with uTorrent
qBittorrent allows you to preview the files contained within the torrent before they’ve finished downloading, thanks to sequential downloading. For example, if you’re downloading a movie, you can start watching it while it downloads. In uTorrent, this feature is only accessible in the paid-for Pro version.
qBittorrent vs uTorrent pricing
uTorrent started out as open-source, but its code is now owned by BitTorrent, Inc. and closed to community inspection. Paid plans have also been introduced rather than relying solely on advertising revenue.
The Pro version – which isn’t available on macOS – costs $19.95 per year for Windows and $2.99 per year for Android. It includes a malware-blocker and options to convert and play files. The Pro version is available to try without charge for 14 days. If you additionally want a subscription to the CyberGhost VPN, you can get both for $69.95 a year.
Those who don’t mind being advertised at can use the basic uTorrent Classic version for free. Alternatively, you can pay $4.95 for an ad-free version – or use appropriate ad-blocking software.
qBittorrent is available for Windows 10 and 11 as well as Linux. The current version is compatible with macOS Catalina, Big Sur, and Monterey. However, as the qBittorrent site points out, the macOS version of qBittorrent is “barely supported.” This, it says, is due to a dearth of active macOS developers and contributors. So, while the client for macOS works, you may experience minor bugs.
qBittorrent doesn’t make an Android app. If you want to download torrents straight onto your Android device, then uTorrent is the only option.
The Pro versions of uTorrent are available for Windows, Android, and Linux. The web-based client and the free basic client are available for macOS and Windows.
Neither of the two providers have an iOS app. This is hardly surprising as Apple doesn’t allow apps that “facilitate illegal file sharing” in its App Store. The only way to get an iOS torrent client would be to jailbreak your device, which isn’t something we’d recommend.
Security & privacy
qBittorrent and uTorrent both offer message stream encryption (MSE) or protocol header encrypt (PHE). These improve privacy and help make torrent traffic more difficult for third parties to identify. Note that these features won’t protect your torrents from being identified by peers in a torrent swarm (e.g. other uploaders and downloaders).
Both torrent clients can bind to a specific IP address. This is a security measure that can prevent users from unintentionally torrenting on an unsecured network. You’ll need a static IP address for this to be useful.
qBittorrent additionally allows users to force connections through a specific network interface. The most obvious application of this is to only connect through a VPN. This ensures that your IP address is hidden and traffic encrypted while torrenting. However, most VPNs have a kill switch, which achieves the same result. We’ll talk about VPNs a little more later.
The subscription-only Pro version of uTorrent has antivirus – a feature absent from the freemium client and qBittorrent. If you’re worried about viruses and malware, you’re better off subscribing to standalone antivirus software rather than paying for uTorrent Pro.
qBittorrent vs uTorrent verdict
Overall winner: qBittorrent
While uTorrent is the name most often associated with torrenting, it’s no longer the best option. Its free version relies on adverts being displayed in the client and it’s relatively slow compared to qBittorrent. You can upgrade to Pro to get rid of the ads, but that seems like an unnecessary spend when qBittorrent is free and better overall.
qBittorrent is faster and lets you preview the contents of torrent files mid-download. It’s richer in features more generally. The software is open-source, allowing developers to make plugins available for more client flexibility.
That’s not to say qBittorrent is perfect. The macOS version needs some urgent help from the community and there’s no Android app. However, if you’re a Windows or Linux-user, you need look no further than qBittorrent for a capable, fast and user-friendly torrent client. The ever-changing bank of available plugins is a big plus, as is the ability to preview files before they’ve downloaded.
Whichever torrenting software you ultimately decide to use, it’s good practice to protect connections using a VPN. Downloading files from often anonymous sources is risky. The qBittorrent site additionally suggests that anyone “concerned about legal authorities and copyright trouble” should use a VPN.
A VPN that supports P2P sharing will add a layer of security by hiding your IP address and encrypting your traffic. The VPNs we recommend come with kill switches built into their apps, so you remain protected if your internet connection drops out. Some VPNs allow you to exclusively protect your torrent client with a feature called split tunneling, while other apps use your normal internet connection. If you do consider using a VPN, make sure it’s fast enough to download efficiently – we have a regularly updated list of the fastest VPNs available.
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