Kodi Vs. Bittorrent: What’s the difference?

Kodi vs Torrents

This guide will compare Kodi vs. Bittorrent and examine the relative advantages (and drawbacks) of each.

Kodi is an amazing bit of technology and is surging in popularity worldwide; especially within the filesharing community. In fact, many people are shifting away from torrents/p2p and embracing the streaming potential of Kodi and it’s many addons.

But what is Kodi? How does it compare to Bittorrent? And what makes each of them awesome in their own way?

AN INTRODUCTION TO KODI

Kodi

Kodi is an open-source media streaming platform. It has been around for 15 years (originally released as XBox Media Center/XBMC). But it has gained massive traction in the past 3 years, thanks to Kodi’s improved UI, cross-platform support, and enhanced functionality via 3rd-party addons.

What is Kodi?

The best way to think of Kodi is as a complete streaming Operating System. It’s like Roku or AppleTV on steroids.

The core functionality of Kodi is designed to manage and stream local media files to all your devices. So if you have a decades worth of MP3, AAC, MP4 and AVI files, Kodi will easily let you stream them in full resolution to any screen in your house. Stream directly to tablets and phones (via the Kodi app) or install it on an Android box and stream to your HDTV.

Kodi also allows you to install addons (basically Kodi-specific streaming apps). Kodi’s core addons include: Netflix, Plex, Youtube, Udemy, HBOGo, ESPN, NFL Sunday Ticket, etc.

There are also 3rd-party addons built by the Kodi community that will let you stream virtually any movie, show, sporting event, or song you can think of. It’s important to note that some of these non-core addons are ‘unauthorized’ and my allow access to copyrighted contet. We do not endorse or condone the use of Kodi to access unauthorized content. 

How do I run Kodi?

Kodi is installable as an App or program on most devices. Visit the official Kodi Download page.

Kodi is available for:

  • PC/Windows
  • Mac
  • Android

You can also sideload Kodi on non-compatible devices, such as Jailbroken iphones or the ultra-popular Fire TV Stick

INTRODUCTION TO BITTORRENT

Unlike Kodi which functions more like a platform or operating system, BitTorrent is a specific file transfer protocol. Anyone sharing a specific file participates in a swarm.

​Members of that file swarm are called Peers. All peers help provide bandwidth to the swarm by sharing small pieces of the torrent file which can then be recombined after into a complete file once downloaded in full. 

How to use BitTorrent

To download a Torrent file, you need a torrent client, which is a piece of free software that uses the Bittorrent file transfer protocol. Our favorites are VuzeQBittorrent, and Deluge

You can then search for torrent files to download using a torrent tracker website. Some, like the Pirate Bay include copyrighted content, but here’s a full list of 100% legal torrent sites.

Advantages of Bittorrent

The main advantage of the bittorrent protocol is that a swarm can combine to provide virtually unlimited shared bandwidth for incredibly fast downloads

With a properly configured torrent client (and a torrent-friendly VPN to block throttling) you can download torrents at 90% (or higher) of your available internet speeds. Try doing that with an http file download from dropbox. You’ll be lucky to get 10% of a fast connection. It is literally possible to download movies at 1 Gigabit per second (1000 Mbps) if your internet connection is that fast.

That’s why companies like Facebook actually use the bittorrent protocol internally to quickly make software changes across multiple servers worldwide. It’s much more efficient.

Disadvantages of BitTorrent

The decentralized nature of Bittorrent is also it’s greatest weakness. In order to download a file from another peer, you have to connect to them via their IP address. This means that peers participating in a swarm are not anonymous, and shared files can be traced directly to a specific internet subscription. 

Also, the torrent protocol relies on users being both uploaders & downloaders. This is fine for most files, but for those that choose to participate in ‘unauthorized’ filesharing, it turns downloaders into ‘distributors’ as well. At least according to some legal interpretations. 

KODI STREAMING VS TORRENT DOWNLOADING/SHARING

One major difference between Kodi and bittorrent is the way files are handled. This is especially true of the ‘unauthorized’ 3rd-party Kodi apps that sometimes contain copyrighted content.

With BitTorrent:, all swarm participants are both uploaders and downloaders, and as a result all users actively ‘distribute’ a file. Also, your IP address is visible to all swarm participants, making your torrent download history easy to track.

With Kodi: Your device doesn’t upload. And often times it doesn’t even download, it just live-streams the data (sometimes with a small Cache download to avoid rebuffering). Your Kodi-enabled device never downloads the whole streamed file (unless you opt-in to downloads). This creates a legal gray-area, even when streaming copy-protected content like live sports streams. 

Important Note: We do not encourage or condone the downloading of illegal content or pirated Kodi streams. Kodi has literally hundreds of legitimate addons with authorized content. Kodi is the best free media management software we’ve ever tried. It is amazing for running a home media server (offline files) or streaming via Kodi addons. 

SUPPORTED DEVICES

Both Kodi and BitTorrent can run on a range of platforms, including PC/Mac and Mobile platforms. Kodi can also run on standalone TV boxes.

Kodi Devices

When running Kodi as a home media server or streaming server, most people will usually run it on multiple devices (why not, it’s free!). 

Kodi is available as a free downloadable app on Windows/Mac/Linux. You can also install it on android devices via the google play store (it’s not in Amazon’s appstore though). Apple has decided to block Kodi in the iTunes store, so you can only get it on an iphone if you choose to jailbreak your device. 

Installing Kodi on your laptop or tablet is great for mobile media streaming. But what about streaming direct to your HDTV? 

​The solution…
Kodi Boxes!

Kodi can be installed on any Android TV box that has access to the google play store, and there are literally dozens to choose from. Many are priced under $60. But the Ultimate Kodi box is the Nvidia Shield TV. It’s a beast of a streaming & gaming machine (if you can afford the $199 price tag). 

And the most popular of all is the versatile Amazon Fire Stick ($39.99). The new 2nd-gen Fire Stick runs Kodi GREAT and is the cheapest option available. It plugs right into your HDMI port for easy streaming up to 1080p. The stick is so popular among kodi users that there was actually a fire stick shortage caused by the insane demand from Kodi users around Christmas 2015. 

Kodi can be installed on your Firestick (free) in under 10 minutes

Bittorrent Devices

The vast majority of people run BitTorrent on their Mac or Windows computer. The most popular torrent clients are available for all major platforms, including linux. You can also run clients like Deluge as a headless server on a VPS to create your own seedbox.

iOS
The iTunes store currently doesn’t allow Bittorrent clients at all. The only way to get a torrent client for an iOS device is to jailbreak your phone. 

Android: There are several excellent android torrent clients. uTorrent and Vuze both have mobile versions in the Google Play Store. However our two favorite android clients are Flud and tTorrent. They are incredibly functional and stable, and both support Socks5 proxies for anonymous torrent downloads. Read our Android proxy setup guide here.

Inside Kodi: There are actually 3rd-party torrent client addons for Kodi, and their totally free. Most allow you to live-stream any torrent file or magnet link you can find, direct to your Kodi-enabled device. The most popular torrent addon is currently Quasar which is the 2nd-gen fork of the popular Pulsar​ addon. 

INTERFACE AND USER-FRIENDLINESS

Both Bittorrent and Kodi have a bit of a learning curve. But Kodi is definitely more user-friendly right out of the box, and you can easily navigate the interface to add your own media and download authorized (or unauthorized) addons.

Kodi Interface

Kodi Interface
Kodi Interface: showing video add-ons

Kodi’s interface is beautiful, intuitive, and really snappy to navigate. It’s especially quick when running on a PC or high-end android device (like the Shield). Navigation is easily accomplished either via a touch screen or a simple remote like the Fire Stick with directional buttons, a back button, and enter button, and a home button.

It took us less than 1 minute from the time Kodi was installed to get the Food Network Kodi addon installed and start streaming Giada, Bobby Flay, and Cupcake Wars in HD.  ​

Adding your own media is equally easy and can be done in a few clicks. Just add the file path to any local media folders (or even network folders such as a cloud drive or NAS storage). 

For more advanced addons, tweaking, and customization — there are literally thousands of Youtube videos dedicated to Kodi. 

BitTorrent Interface / Learning curve / User-friendliness

Let’s be honest. Bittorrent is a bit more confusing – especially for beginners. This is mostly because the content isn’t accessible directly from the torrent client software.

Once you figure out how to find torrent trackers and use magnet links, you’re pretty much ready to go. But there are still a whole ton of advanced settings inside even simple bittorrent clients. These settings affect things like privacy, download speed, stability, peer availability, and more.

So while you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to download torrents, you do have to put in some work to learn the ecosystem. And the learning curve gets steeper if you want to do any serious tweaking or use things like custom scripts. Even adding anonymity via a torrent proxy can be complicated for most users. Fortunately we’ve got setup guides for all major clients, including uTorrentVuze, and Deluge

VIDEO QUALITY: KODI VS. TORRENTS

Videophiles are obsessive about video quality, and many BitTorrent users prefer the UltraHD 4k files to lower quality versions. 4k video torrents are widely available, especially on newer releases.

This isn’t true of Kodi. While most popular addons have some 1080P content, the majority will be 720P or lower. Even the ultra-popular Ted Talks Kodi addon doesn’t stream in 1080P (which I found to be a major disappointment). And the Netflix Kodi addon doesn’t support 4k ultra (but their mobile apps and SmartTV apps do). 

The reason? High bandwidth streaming is expensive and slow. Most Kodi users don’t have 4k TVs yet, and even fewer have the 25Mbps+ connections required to stream 4k content.

That said, you can still use a torrent streaming addon like Quasar to access 4k videos within Kodi. Just make sure you have an excellent connection speed or you’ll be constantly buffering. And checkout our torrent throttling guide to get the most out of your existing connection (especially in the USA). 

The other option is to download files via Torrents, then use Kodi as your media manager to stream all your local files from your NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive to your TV or other devices. This is the intended original purpose of the Kodi platform after all

PRIVACY/SECURITY/ANONYMITY

Kodi and Bittorrent function completely differently when it comes to viewing/sharing a media file. In general, your Kodi usage is MUCH more private than when torrenting. By its very nature, the Bittorrent p2p protocol is very public.

But these privacy issues can easily be fixed on both​ platforms by using a non-logging VPN service

Bittorrent Privacy

With bittorrent, all peers (downloaders/sharers) are both uploaders and downloaders. All peers are also visible to all other peers sharing the same file. This is how your torrent client knows where to download pieces of the torrent file from. As a result, your IP address (which identifies your internet connection) is visible to all other torrent peers.

This is a privacy concern for people who would rather keep your torrent download history private. The easiest way to do this is by using a VPN which will route your internet traffic through a 3rd-party server, using encryption. Torrent peers will then only see the IP address of this VPN server, not your true IP Address

Kodi Privacy

All local media files streamed within your own network using Kodi are 100% private. If you stream web-based content via Kodi Addons, then this activity is traceable by the websites/apps you access for content. It could also be monitored by 3rd-parties such as your Internet Provider.

Many ISPs actively throttle HD video content in order to save bandwidth costs. This includes Kodi (as well as bittorrent). Our throttling guide will show you how a VPN can help you maximize your streaming speed and quality. In our testing with a VPN, we have been able to go from buffering 480p video to easily streaming 1080p with an ISP that throttled heavily. The only change was adding a VPN. 

And of course, any Kodi addon that streams torrents or uses torrent files as the Video source will have all the same privacy concerns as regular bittorrent files. Read our guide on How to use Kodi Anonymously

LEGALITY & LEGAL CONCERNS

Is Kodi Legal? Is Bittorrent legal? Judging by google suggested search results, these are common questions.

The answer to both is yes. Each is simply an open-source technology platform. As with any powerful, open-ended technology, both Kodi & BitTorrent can be used for legal (or illegal) purposes. 

Kodi Legal issues

The Kodi software is created by the XBMC foundation, a group run totally by volunteers. They release the software under an open-source license, and developers are free to modify or fork the code for any purpose they wish. In fact, there are several popular Kodi forks, including: OpenELECPlex, and Boxee.

Viewing media files that you own is always legal with Kodi. Also, all ‘authorized’ Kodi addons (those built into the Kodi software Repo) include 100% legal streams. There is tons of content there, including kids content, nature, documentary, tech, lifestyle, fitness, cooking, etc… 

When you start getting into ‘unauthorized’ addons, such as those provided by tvaddons.ag, things get a bit dicey. It’s important to note, that not all unauthorized addons contain pirated content at all. In fact, many are simply utilities allowing you to perform functions like refreshing Kodi, checking your IP address, adding a Proxy, customizing the look & feel, etc.

But some of the unauthorized streaming addons do contain copyrighted content, usually a mix of legal and illegal content. The question of whether streaming this content is ‘legal’ is a gray area, and varies on a country-by-country basis. Since streaming is very hard to monitor anyway (unlike bittorrent, which is more public) there isn’t much legal precedent.

Most (if not all) of the court cases involving ‘illegal’ Kodi addons has been against people loading boxes with ‘pirated content’ and then selling them on websites such as Ebay and Amazon. This is probably because those sellers are ‘Distributing’ pirated content. Streamers don’t ‘distribute’ anything, and likely aren’t even downloaders as the full file is never stored on a device.

Bottom Line: Kodi is legal, but some ‘unauthorized’ addons contain pirated content. The legality of streaming via this addons is questionable, and they are best avoided. 

Bittorrent Legality

Like Kodi, BitTorrent is 100% legal technology. That doesn’t mean all content distributed via torrents is legal. And some large torrent tracker sites (like the pirate bay) will have a mix of illegal and legal content. 

If you are unsure about the legality of a specific file, stick to torrent sources with 100% verified legal torrents. You can find a good list here, and here

No matter where you download your torrents from, it’s a good idea to anonymize your IP address using a VPN, in order to keep your identity private from torrent peers. You can also avoid ISP throttling while streaming torrents. And always choose a VPN that doesn’t keep logs.

Bottom Line: BitTorrent programs are always legal (except in a few banned countries), but not all torrent files are legal to distribute. It is your responsibility to respect copyright when torrenting. 

CONCLUSION: KODI VS. TORRENTS

So which is better? The answer of course is it’s personal preference.

And don’t think of Bittorrent and Kodi as an either/or thing. Use ’em both. They’re both awesome!

For some content types, BitTorrent will have much more availability. This is especially true of music, and books. For more mainstream video content, Kodi is better. And of course for streaming your own content, Kodi blows torrent clients away (even full featured ones like Vuze).

Important Final Note: Most Kodi streamers and Bittorrent downloaders will want to use a non-logging VPN. This dramatically improves privacy and will reduce/eliminate throttling and slow streams.

Please check out our related Kodi and Torrent guides. We’ve got all kinds of VPN reviews and torrent setup tutorials. And don’t forget to share!

Ryan McCarthy

Ryan is the editor and head reviewer. He's been a tech geek and digital privacy enthusiast since the Y2k freakout in '99. When not writing BitTorrent tutorials, he can usually be found sipping a lager or playing pickup football (the real kind).

2 thoughts on “Kodi Vs. Bittorrent: What’s the difference?”

    • When you say ‘both these’ do you mean Kodi and BitTorrent? Or two VPN providers? If you just want to stream torrents, a torrent client with streaming ability like uTorrent or Vuze. Kodi would also work on good hardware but you need reliable addons/sources.

      Reply

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