For some reason the makers of uTorrent have decided to include a raft of sneaky installation files in the latest version of uTorrent. Not just a few, either: a couple of installation windows now pop up and install the following extensions:
SearchMe in Safari.
Amazon, eBay, SearchMe and Savings-Slider in Firefox
Amazon, Domain Error Assistant, eBay Shopping Assistant, Searchme, and Savings Slider in Chrome.
If that wasn't enough fun, it also changes your Search engine and Homepage to Yahoo. A change that's about as welcome as a skunk in a spacesuit. It's not really malware, but it's still a wealth of unwanted crud all over your Mac.
It's pretty easy to click Decline, or remove extensions if you know what you're doing. But this is still enough of an annoyance for us to drop uTorrent all the way from the top of the list to the bottom (and the app into our Trash can). It's a shame because before all of that, uTorrent was a cracking little app.
What are torrents?
Torrents are small files that you can download and open in a torrent client. The torrent client then downloads a larger file from the internet using a process known as BitTorrent. BitTorrent enables people to share large files with each other using a peer-to-peer network, which means they share parts of the file with each other, rather than downloading the whole file from a central location (such as iTunes).
You download a small file, called a torrent, and this enables you to connect to other computers with the same file and download parts of it from each other. These parts are then shared until you have the whole of the file, at which point you can continue sharing the file (known as seeding). One person has to seed the whole of the file in the first place for other to share it. BitTorrent is an efficient way to share large files across multiple computers. It has something of a bad reputation because of its association with file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, but the technology is often used to share less controversial large files, such as software updates, Linux installation distributions, and open-source or copyright-free programs, movies, music and other large files.
To download a torrent you must download first a torrent client. This accepts the file and logs on to peer-to-peer networks to hunt for other people sharing the file. Once it's found them it will begin downloading the file.
Are torrents legal?
Torrents and BitTorrent technology are, themselves, completely legal. However, many people use torrent technology to download files from popular filesharing sites like The Pirate Bay. Many of the files shared, such as the latest movies or television shows, may be subject to copyright laws, and downloading them is generally subject to copyright law in most countries. Film and music companies have been known to monitor torrent activity and bring court cases against individuals it suspects of copyright infringement.
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