Ever since the Internet existed there were ways to get access to all kinds of media online, with movies being extremely popular. However, a lot of methods the cool kids used in the old days are not up to date anymore, and misinformation is alarmingly widespread.
So, here is the total guide on how to watch movies online.
1. Streaming Sites: The new trend
In the last few years, webspace and traffic has become so cheap that a whole new kind of websites was made possible. Streaming sites have become the favorite way of many to watch movies and TV shows online these days, due to simplicity and huge choice.
Basically you simply select a movie and click on one of the links offered. You then either get redirected to a third-party filehosting service where you can watch the movie or the site offers an imbedded player, very much like a YouTube video on your favorite cat content site.
The downside comes in form of annoying ads (did someone say “make $731 daily ”?) and prominently placed fake download links offering you dubious subscriptions for even more dubious paid video sites. See our guide on how to block banners and popups here.
Quality is often mediocre, and you might have to battle through a number of deleted videos and jumpy footage.
About security: For a long time it was completely safe to use these sites; however things are changing. Read more about how risky it really is to use these sites.
Summary: Good and well for watching some movie on your computer screen, but it has its downsides.
2. Torrents, the old-fashioned way.
A very popular approach is BitTorrent, or torrent downloads. Being classic filesharing, you install a small client such as uTorrent on your computer, head over to your favorite torrent site like the well-know The Pirate Bay, and search for whatever movie, music, game, application or book you’re looking for.
One more click and the downloads starts, with speeds varying from very fast to rather slow for old content.
And with dozens of different versions from highly compressed DivX to high-quality DVD images, you can get top quality.
However, apart from some ads on the torrent site, it has become highly unadvisable to use torrents without protection since the network is under surveillance, with stupid warning letters and lawsuits being send out here and there. Luckily it is very easy to protect yourself (see our guide here).
The verdict: Slightly less convenient, a lot of good reasons to go for it though.
3. Direct downloading from filehosters
Same quality as torrents, and you might get faster speeds. Notice I said MIGHT…
For this method, you need a site or forum like TehParadox (sic) which
4. Popcorn Time: Streaming And Torrents Combined
OK, so streaming is fast and easy, but quality is not the best and handling can be a little bothersome, while torrents is a bit more tedious but often delivers much better quality. So what is you could combine both methods into one?
Introducing Popcorn Time, the streaming client for the BitTorrent network.
Open the program. Enter the movie you’re looking for in the search box and hit the “watch” button. In 10 to 50 seconds your movie starts, mostly in top quality. Even different audio tracks and subtitles are available, along with DLNA support to stream moves directly to your TV.
Of course, the program is totally free.
Apart from videos taking a bit longer to load than with YouTube or streaming sites, and delays of a few moments when skipping through the film, Popcorn Hour is an interesting alternative to consider. Since it is using torrents you definitely need to protect your privacy. We have written a guide explaining how to do that.