After more than ten years in the game, RARBG is one of the most popular and resilient torrent sites on the Internet today.
The site took fourth spot in our 2019 list of most popular torrent sites, a position that has been earned through regular high-quality releases of everything from movies and TV shows through to music, games and adult content.
During the past few days, however, the site took a somewhat unusual step that has had some users scratching their heads. A quick look inside some new video torrents released by the site reveals not only the content itself, but also an initially mysterious file called ‘ RARBG_DO_NOT_MIRROR.exe’.
As a general rule, when video torrents contain an .exe file there is a need for caution. These executables can contain anything and in some cases may be malicious, such as a virus or malware. As a result, experienced torrent users never click them but the same can’t be said about novices.
In this instance, however, there is nothing for regular users to be worried about. Renaming the file to give it a .txt extension reveals that this is just a text file that displays the following information:
“This is not an .exe file. This is just a placeholder to prevent mirroring over other public sites.”
So if it’s just a text file, why would RARBG include it in their torrents? The explanation, it turns out, is pretty straightforward and not directed at users at all.
While the site makes thousands of releases every week, these are easily mirrored on other platforms. Since .exe files are viewed with suspicion by tools used to automate the crawling of the site (most sites don’t allow .exe files to be uploaded in video categories), their inclusion means less diffusion of RARBG torrents to other platforms.
“[The .exe file] is included in torrent files to stop distribution to other public sites,” RARBG confirms in a new addition to its FAQ.
Interestingly, the “.exe” experiment is also having a positive effect on the health of torrents tracked by RARBG. According to the site’s operator, the inclusion of the .exe file in torrents “reduces the average hit&run [people who grab a torrent and then fail to seed] by 35% !”
As mentioned earlier, there is nothing malicious with the .exe file as far as users are concerned and, as the site points out, people can easily ‘untick’ the file in their torrent client and it won’t even be downloaded.
That being said, their presence won’t be welcomed by people looking to mirror RARBG torrents elsewhere. Since the traffic to such platforms could be negatively affected following the rejection of torrents containing an .exe, the job of their operators becomes much more difficult.
Finally, it’s worth reiterating that real .exe files in any torrent – or indeed anywhere on the Internet – should always be approached with caution.
Running these kinds of files without due diligence can be a risky proposition so the default actions should always be to run up-to-date anti-virus/anti-malware software and/or ignore and delete unexpected content, just to be on the safe side.