Wouldn’t it be easier if people can download .torrent files with their web-browser? This is a question BitTorrent novices often the ask. Last year Opera was the first browser to add BitTorrent support, soon followed by BitFox, FireStorm, FoxTorrent, AllPeers, and Wyzo/FireTorrent. Here’s an overview of these applications and extensions that add BitTorrent support to your web-browser.
All the applications listed in this article were previously featured on TorrentFreak. Our friend Niek from mininova wrote a great roundup post at the Mininova blog reviewing all of them, and pointing out some of the pros and cons. The remainder of this article is copied from his post.
Opera was the first browser to support the Bittorrent protocol. Their BT support is quite solid, but not very advanced and doesn’t support some well-known BT extensions. In short: nice for new users, but not for regular downloaders.
Pros: Nicely integrated, multi-platform.
Cons: No advanced features (missing DHT, peer exchange, encrypted transfers), not open source.
BitFox is a quite new extension for Firefox, made by the student Joshua Hendo. The backend of the extension is based on Rasterbar’s libtorrent, so it supports quite some advanced BT features. The project is in a VERY early stage of development, and can only be obtained from SVN, so I haven’t tested it yet.
Pros: Open source, using libtorrent, so a quite solid backend (including DHT).
Cons: Not usable yet, early stage of development, seems to run only on Windows & Linux.
FireStorm is quite similar to BitFox, it’s an extension for Firefox and still in pre-alpha development stage. They use the Mainline client as a basis, so they will probably support most BT extensions/features.
Pros: Open source, using the Mainline reference client as a backend.
Cons: In pre-alpha development stage, not usable yet, interface is quite ugly.
FoxTorrent is a project of the company Red Swoosh/Akamai, these guys have the funding and expertise to build a nice Firefox extension. This extension isn’t that well integrated in Firefox, clicking a torrent basically opens a webpage to the webinterface of an external application. The advantage is that closing your browser doesn’t stop the torrents from downloading.
Pros: Open source, torrent streaming/progressive downloading support, continue downloading even when browser is closed.
Cons: Not very well integrated in Firefox, no advanced features (missing port mapping, DHT, peer exchange, encrypted transfers).
AllPeers is also funded by a company, so you would expect a nice client. The whole interface looks very nice and clean, but they’re more focussed towards sharing URL’s/images/etc than downloading torrents. In the current stable version (0.60), there is not an option to download a regular torrent. They do have a My Torrents tab in the beta version though.
Pros: Clean and professional interface, also available as a bundle with FireFox
Cons: No regular torrent support (yet), no advanced features (missing port mapping, DHT, peer exchance, encrypted transfers)
Wyzo/FireTorrent is very new, they released their first public version a week ago. The difference between the two is that FireTorrent is a BitTorrent extension for Firefox, while Wyzo is a full-featured customized Firefox browser including the FireTorrent extension. These guys managed to integrate BitTorrent support seamlessly in the Firefox download manager. FireTorrent also has the most advanced BT features of all the projects mentioned here. The Wyzo browser has some cool advantages over Firefox, like direct searching on social sharing networks (including Mininova) and Alexa/Pagerank integration.
Pros: Seamless Firefox integration, available as a bundle with Firefox (Wyzo), has all advanced features (including port mapping, DHT, encryption, peer exchange, STUNT).
Cons: Not open source, Mac/Linux version not out yet – will be released in a few weeks
Of all the projects reviewed above, I think Wyzo has the most potential. This browser supports all the nice BT features/extensions and makes downloading via BitTorrent as easy as a regular HTTP download. Does Wyzo beat the “good old” ÂµTorrent and Azureus? Probably not, but I will definitely recommend new BitTorrent users to install this browser.
A final note from TorrentFreak, in case you are wondering, the Wyzo banner in the sidebar is NOT an ad. We put it there because we support the project.