Years ago, a pretty big craze was going on in the BitTorrent community about so called “private” trackers, Torrent sites and networks only made available for those registered with them. Touted as being a lot better than your usual Torrent sites, the masses became curious as to what these super-secret trackers where. Are they an alternative to The Pirate Bay, Isohunt and the like, or are there for more adept users with too much time?
What is a tracker?
A tracker is the central server behind most torrents, listing the swarm of users participating in the download and bringing together both parties. Imagine it to be some kind of phone book for the BitTorrent: There are several of them, and it is there that your torrent client finds other like minded users to download from.
Tracker information is included in the .torrent file you download on your regular torrent site.
OK then, what is a “private” tracker?
“Private” trackers or sites only allow members of the closed community to connect to it and share content. Popular communities are BitGAMER (for gaming), Bit-HDTV (for HDTV rips) or more specialized ones such as BitSeduce for material related to seduction and personal development.
All these trackers only allow new members to signup for a few hours each month or by being invited by an established member.
What are the advantages of using a private tracker?
- A much larger selection of torrents. Especially if you’re looking for content in a certain niche such as lossless music, HDTV rips or anything in between, many private sites have an immense archive. Stuff can be found here that is not available anywhere else.
- Great downloading speed. Ever downloaded a torrent as fast as your Internet connection would allow? Then it is very likely you used a private tracker. Frankly, the speeds there are known to sometimes even max out the fastest connections available on the market sometimes.
- More privacy. Copyright trolls are known to have a focus on the large, public trackers, since private sites are more difficult to track. Its like having sex with a very old condom with small holes in it: Not really safe, but your chances of having a family in 9 months are reduced.
So, why isn’t everyone using them?
Alas, they come with some disadvantages.
- They are often difficult to get in. Waiting times of several weeks or months, a complicated application process often including an interview with senior staff, as if you tried getting a high-profile job. Talk about standards in those little secret clubs! You have to really want access to get it on the top trackers.
- It’s difficult to stay in. Leechers just waiting for the download to finish will get kicked out within a few days to weeks, depending on the rules. This is because members are required to maintain a certain ratio of data downloaded vs. data uploaded, often requiring you to keep your computer on all day and night (or you can buy a seedbox), and even that isn’t enough in some cases.
- VPNs and proxy-based anonymization services are often not allowed, and will result in getting banned on some trackers. To download anonymously, you’re pretty much forced to get a seedbox; you should also check if it is allowed to, at least, visit the tracker itself with anonymization enabled.
Where can I find good private trackers?
A good place to start is OpenTrackers.net which lists some of the major trackers along with information if registration is open or close at the moment. For all the small niche communities there is a much longer list at OpenTrackers.org.
What are your favorite trackers, and what experiences did you have with them? Tell us more in the comment section below!