Leechers Meaning: What is a leecher?

Leechers meaning: A leecher in a P2P network is a user who disconnects the torrent as soon as he/she has the full copy of the desired file. When disconnecting the torrent, leechers minimize availability or ultimately put down the data upload. Leeching is the behavior of downloading more data than uploading (taking without sharing.) Leeching eventually kills a torrent. 

To understand the meaning of leechers, we must also understand their counterpart, the seeders. The seeders are the users on a torrent swarm with a full copy of the content. They allow others, “the leechers,” to download their content. A leecher never has a complete copy of the content, but it is always in the process of downloading it. When (and if) a leecher completes the download and starts sharing (uploading the content), it becomes a seeder. 


The word “leecher” is often used in a sarcastic or degrading sense to relate to such users that only take without giving back. So, a leecher always has the chance to clear its infamous reputation and become a seeder only if it gives back (shares) to the torrent swarm. 

But if this user shuts down the torrent (pause it or remove it from the torrent client) once it is wholly downloaded into its drive— the leecher stays a leecher. In a sense, a leecher is unfair because it is not participating in keeping the torrent alive for everybody. Leaving the torrent swarm (or disconnecting the torrent) leaves everybody else with fewer chances of getting the complete content. 

Interesting Fact! The term leecher refers to the parasitic worm — the leech. The leech has suckers on both ends and pierces the skin to attach to the host to suck and feed on blood. Once a leech is satisfied with consumed blood, it will detach from its host. In addition, the term leechers have also been used in culture to refer to a social parasite with insatiable greed. Outside the blood-sharing and skin-piercing world of bugs, within the torrenting world, a leecher is no different. A leecher takes the content with heartless greed and then detaches from the swarm without giving back.

Why are leechers still important? 

Due to how torrents work, when you are downloading a torrent, you are also simultaneously sharing (uploading) the part of the content you have already successfully downloaded. So basically, when downloading the torrent, everybody is a leecher at some point. They are the users with an incomplete copy of the file.

Leeching is highly discouraged in the public tracker and especially in private tracker communities because it eventually leads the torrent to die. If everybody is leeching (not giving back), there will be a point that there won’t be any seeders, and so nobody will be able to obtain a full copy of the torrent.

Once lechers evolve to seeders, meaning that they have the full copy and only stay in the torrent swarm to upload the content for the rest, they become vital to making a torrent swarm grow and be healthier.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • How to avoid being a leecher? For good torrent manners or courtesy to your fellow torrenters, always keep the torrent active in the swarm after you finish downloading it. At least keep it alive until you have uploaded more than you have downloaded. A good sharing ratio should be 2:1 (upload-to-download ratio). You can always get a seedbox with plenty of storage if you don’t have enough space on your drive.
  • What is a torrent sharing ratio? A torrent user (who participates in the individual torrent swarm) has a sharing ratio determined by dividing the amount of uploaded data by the amount of downloaded data.
    • A sharing ratio of one (1) means that the user allowed other users to download a full copy of the content. 
    • A ratio of more than one (1) means that the user uploaded more than one complete copy. 
    • A ratio of less than one (1) means you uploaded less than one complete copy of the content. 
    • Users with a sharing ratio of less than one are considered leechers.
  • Can you get away with being a leecher? You can be a leecher in public trackers, where there are no rules or torrent etiquette. But as Seneca once said, “There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with.” So, yes, share! On the other hand, private tracker communities would not tolerate leeching and will allow you only to use their trackers if you share (have a high sharing ratio).

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Disclaimer: This material has been developed strictly for informational purposes. It does not constitute endorsement of any activities (including illegal activities), products or services. You are solely responsible for complying with the applicable laws, including intellectual property laws, when using our services or relying on any information herein. We do not accept any liability for damage arising from the use of our services or information contained herein in any manner whatsoever, except where explicitly required by law.

About author Diego Asturias

Avatar for Diego Asturias

Diego Asturias is a tech journalist who translates complex tech jargon into engaging content. He has a degree in Internetworking Tech from Washington DC, US, and tech certifications from Cisco, McAfee, and Wireshark. He has hands-on experience working in Latin America, South Korea, and West Africa. He has been featured in SiliconANGLE Media, Cloudbric, Pcwdld, Hackernoon, ITT Systems, SecurityGladiators, Rapidseedbox, and more.

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