You will probably have heard about magnet links before but despite the growth in their use over the last year, there is still a reasonable chance that you still have not used on as yet.
If you are a bittorrent user then a typical torrent search for legal, non-infringing content, will invariably involve you coming across magnet links, so here is a look at what they are and what they can do to enhance your downloading experience.
Spot the difference
As you no doubt already know, when you download a .torrent file, you are essentially downloading a compact file that contains within it, information relating to the larger files that you want to download.
The torrent file’s function is to tell your torrent client information such as the names of the files that are being shared and a URL for the tracker, amongst other things. It then calculates a hash code that is unique to that specific torrent.
It then utilizes that code to source other users that are uploading those files so that you generate the opportunity to download from them.
The difference between a .torrent file and a magnet link in simple terms, is that a magnet link cuts out the middleman, making the process potentially a lot more straightforward and convenient.
No tracker required
A magnet link is basically a hyperlink which contains the hash code for each specific torrent, which it can instantly use in order to locate people who are sharing these files.
A magnet link does not require a tracker because it uses DHT instead and it also does not need you to download a separate file before you start our? download, which is certainly more convenient.
Using magnet links
One of the key selling points of magnet links is how simple they are to use.
Some sites are even using magnet links as their default option and all you have to do is simply click on the chosen magnet link and your browser should automatically open up your default bittorrent client and start downloading, without any further intervention on your part required.
The beauty of magnet links is that downloading is simplified because you can often get the file you want with less clicks involved but the end result is actually the same.
Being able to start a download by simply clicking on the chosen link is undoubtedly more convenient but the uptake in use took a while to take hold as not all torrent clients supported them initially, but magnet links are now commonplace amongst most of the popular torrent clients.
Chrome users have experienced problems with magnet links and found that Chrome does not recognize them.
As you would expect, there are many fixes available from bittorrent discussion forums although it is also worth noting that Firefox does recognize magnet URIs, so a large percentage of Chrome users simply get around the issue by choosing to paste the link into their Firefox browser and download from there instead.
The main thing to remember is that magnet links are quick and easy to use, which means that you spend less of your time downloading.
Lucas Weston has been managing data online for many years. He enjoys the challenge of finding and explaining the most efficient and secures methods for sharing data via the web.