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With the world under lockdown, businesses closed, and people staying at home due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), online piracy is surging across the globe. Popular torrent trackers have been reporting record numbers of daily users, who use them to download movies, music, video games, and any other content to make the pandemic more bearable.

 

Growing Demand for Torrenting

coronavirus and torrenting

It turns out that when a third of the global population is on coronavirus lockdown, the demand for online entertainment skyrockets. Many online streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube, have voluntarily reduced video quality in certain regions to prevent the internet from collapsing under the strain of record usage.

But it’s not just legal streaming services that report record-breaking numbers. In northern Italy, the current epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, the content delivery network Cloudflare, which is used by many torrent sites for content distribution and DDoS mitigation, has reported a spike in traffic of more than 30 percent compared to earlier this year.

“As people are staying at home, content demand is bound to increase, and as it does, piracy is a continuing issue,” said Kieron Sharp, the CEO of Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the UK’s leading intellectual property protection organization.

Torrents are especially well-suited for meeting the current demand because of their peer-to-peer nature. In a nutshell, the more people download a torrent, the more available it becomes. Torrent sites themselves can easily handle more visitors because they don’t host any content on their servers. Their job is to simply help users find what they’re looking for and download it directly from other users.

Torrent sites argue that what they’re doing isn’t illegal because they’re essentially just glorified catalogs of links to files stored on other servers and computers. While the legality of torrent sites is debatable, what’s crystal-clear is that the act of downloading and sharing copyrighted content using the BitTorrent protocol is illegal in most countries.  

What Happened to The Pirate Bay?

Virtually all torrent sites are attracting thousands of new visitors every day, except for one: The Pirate Bay. For some time now, The Pirate Bay has been down and not working, displaying an “Error 522 Connection timed out” message.

covid-19 piratebay

As is always the case when the infamous torrent site represented by a pirate ship with the logo of the “Home Taping Is Killing Music” campaign on its sails becomes inaccessible, rumors have started to spread online about its possible end. Even the moderators on The Pirate Bay forum have no idea what’s going on.  

The only reliable information we currently have about The Pirate Bay comes from TorrentFreak, a blog dedicated to reporting the latest news and trends on file sharing and online piracy. TorrentFreak contacted The Pirate Bay’s operator, who goes under the name Winston, via a reliable source and found out that torrent site is experiencing technical issues and using the downtime caused by them to rewrite some of its code.

If that’s really the case, it’s likely that The Pirate Bay will be back online in just a few days. The good news is that the site is still accessible at its .onion address using the Tor Browser, a modified version of the Mozilla Firefox configured for the Tor network.

Top 7 Most Popular Torrent Trackers in March 2020

The ongoing pandemic has caused virtually all torrent trackers to surge in popularity, but some more than others. Let’s take a closer look at the top seven most popular torrent trackers in March 2020.

1. Pirate Bay (Alexa Rank: 90)

The Pirate Bay (PirateBay) 100% Working Mirrors & Proxies:

Last Updated: 26 May, 2020, EST

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1. 1337x (Alexa Rank: 313)

coronavirus torrent tracker 1337x

With The Pirate Bay temporarily out of the picture, 1337x has become the most popular torrent tracker in the world. The site has a group of dedicated uploaders who constantly supply it with fresh content, which is divided into the following categories: Movies, Television, Games, Music, Applications, Anime, Documentaries, Other, and XXX. For the last few years, 1337x has been able to maintain a great uptime because the torrent tracker has multiple domains to fall back on. In terms of design and usability, 1337x is one of the most modern torrent trackers in the world, and the people behind it seem to be determined to keep it that way.

2. RARBG (Alexa Rank: 495)

rarbg pandemic popularity

RARBG is known for its outstanding reliability and a curated selection of torrents. Whereas torrent trackers like The Pirate Bay are full of malicious torrents that often seem indistinguishable from legitimate torrents, RARBG takes great care to not allow them on its servers. RARBG is home to releases from the RARBG release group, which specializes in Blu-ray movies, transcoding releases from scene groups and making them smaller without sacrificing too much video quality. Because RARBG provides an RSS feed, it’s easy to track when RARBG releases a new movie or TV show episode using an RSS reader like Feedly.

3. YTS.lt (Alexa Rank: 568)

yts torrent tracker

On this torrent site, you can find movies released by the popular release group YIFY. All movies are available in HD, Full HD, or 4K, and their relatively small file sizes make YIFY releases suitable even for people with a slow internet connection. Many users are streaming movies directly from YTS using a Kodi addon, but copyright watchdogs have been trying to stop them. It’s important to note that there are many fake sites impersonating YTS and YIFY. Such sites are known for distributing malware and running crypto mining scripts, so make sure to avoid them.

4. NYAA.si (Alexa Rank: 802)

nyaa torrent site

If you’re interested in Asian (namely Japanese) culture, NYAA might just be able to keep you entertained during the coronavirus pandemic. On this torrent site, you can find everything from the latest anime to Japanese video games to manga and books. Some torrents are available in English, but most content is in Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. Because most torrents that are available on NYAA have never been licensed in the West, you can download them and rest assured, knowing that no anti-piracy organization won’t bother going after you.

5. Torrentz2 (Alexa Rank: 1,242)

best torrent tracker torrentz2

Torrentz2 isn’t like the other torrent sites on this list. It’s actually a torrent meta-search engine, which means that it aggregates torrents from other torrent sites, making it easier for its users to find what they’re looking for. At the time of writing, Torrentz2 indexes over 61 million torrents from 76 sites, which is by all accounts a respectable number. Because the indexing process is completely automatic, Torrentz2 sometimes displays low-quality torrents or even malware alongside legitimate torrents, so make sure to think before you click.

6. EZTV.io (Alexa Rank: 1,453)

eztv tv shows torrents

Pandemic or not, TV shows are always a fun way to spend free time, and EZTV is arguably one of the best sources of the latest TV show episodes on the internet. The site is named after the TV-torrent distribution group EZTV, which shut down in 2015 after a hostile takeover. It didn’t take a very long time for a new team to step in and claim the brand for themselves. While some may find a move like this to be immoral, most torrent users don’t care, which is evident by the site’s popularity.

7. LimeTorrents (Alexa Rank: 1,978)

limetorrents torrent tracker

LimeTorrents is a likable general-purpose torrent tracker that makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Content on LimeTorrents is divided into several categories (Movies, TV Shows, Music, Games, Apps, Anime, Others), and users can see which torrents have been recently uploaded to the side and which torrents are currently popular. Even though LimeTorrents has been around since 2009 and was the target of many domain seizures, it has remained online for most of the time, and everything indicates that the site is currently doing great.

Most Downloaded Movies in March 2020

Even when a third of the world’s population isn’t forced to stay at home, movies are one of the most downloaded types of torrents, along with video games and music. Here are the top 5 most downloaded movies in March 2020.  

Jumanji popular movies1. Jumanji: The Next Level

Starring Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, Jumanji: The Next Level is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise and a sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. This time, there’s a new villain that threatens to destroy the fantasy world of Jumanji and prevent our heroes from saving their friend. Jumanji: The Next Level was a huge box office hit, grossing $796.6 million worldwide against a $125 million budget, so it’s no wonder that it also became the most downloaded movie in March 2020.

The Invisible Man torrent 2. The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man is a science fiction horror movie about an insane scientist who became invisible after staging his own death to stalk his ex-girlfriend. The Invisible Man was on track to become one of the most profitable movies in recent history, but the coronavirus outbreak closed cinemas across the globe and forced Universal Pictures to make the movie available digitally-on-demand. Clearly, many people would much rather download it from a torrent site than watch it on Netflix because it’s the second most downloaded movie in March 2020.

The Rise of Skywalker3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the Skywalker saga. As you probably know by now, it stars Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, who apparently wasn’t killed by Darth Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. The movie was criticized for its messy plot holes, crazy pacing, and disappointing conclusion. Clearly, many people decided to download it online instead of paying to see it at the cinema.

Harley Quinn4. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, also called Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, is the worst-rated popular movie in March 2020, with an IMDb rating of 6.3 out of 10. The movie shows the events after Harley Quinn’s (played by Margot Robbie) dramatic breakup with Joker. The movie received a lot of praise for its visual style and Robbie’s layered performance, but it was criticized for feeling rushed and poorly produced.

Sonic the Hedgehog5. Sonic the Hedgehog

The star of countless 2019 memes, Sonic the Hedgehog is a live-action adventure-comedy movie about the famous blue hedgehog and the evil Dr. Robotnik, who wants to capture Sonic and use his special powers to conquer the world. The release of the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog sparked a huge internet outrage because fans of the video game franchise were appalled by Sonic’s character design. Paramount Pictures eventually decided to give Sonic a new look, which was well-received by Sonic fans and general audiences alike.  

Trending Virus-Themed Movies

It seems that one pandemic isn’t enough for some people because virus-themed movies have been trending on both torrent sites and streaming services in recent weeks.

virus-themed movies Contagion1. Contagion

It’s easy to see why Contagion is the most downloaded virus-themed movie at the moment. Its sobering portrayal of a worldwide pandemic caused by a virus with a significantly higher death rate than SARS-CoV-2 highlights how fragile humans living in a globalized world really are. It also helps that Contagion has an all-star cast that includes Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and other A-list actors and actresses. If seeing another pandemic destroy the world can help you forget about the pandemic that’s currently killing thousands every day and destroying the economy, go ahead and watch Contagion.  

Outbreak pandemic movie2. Outbreak

What if a deadly infectious disease similar to the Ebola virus reached the United States? That’s the question Richard Preston answers in his nonfiction book called The Hot Zone, on which Outbreak is based. The movie stars Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, and Dustin Hoffman, who must fight the virus and stop it before it’s too late. Because Outbreak received mixed reviews upon its release, you shouldn’t expect it to be flawless—just a fun movie to watch during the coronavirus lockdown.

28 Days Later zombie movie3. 28 Days Later

Written by Alex Garland, the man behind Ex Machina, Annihilation, and Dredd, this movie is a modern zombie classic that is just as entertaining as it was when it premiered in 2002. The movie is set post-apocalyptic London decimated by a highly contagious virus. Those who got infected by the virus turned into blood-thirsty zombies whose speed and ferocious nature make it difficult for survivors to stay alive.