These days, it’s incredibly easy to torrent, stream or download movies for free. 

Yes—streaming any movie for free is illegal—but with how accessible free movies are and seemingly with no consequences, college students – or anyone for that matter – can take advantage of using these websites without any major risk.

For us college students it is a viable option. If we aren’t going to spend our money at the theaters, why pay to buy or rent a movie when these movies are accessible in HD on countless websites?

Some websites even have movies that are currently in theaters in high quality. 

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For film lovers like myself there is now a moral dilemma. I want to support the filmmakers I love by paying for their movies but in my current state I don’t have the money to keep up with the amount of movies I watch. 

I see any and every highly anticipated movie in theaters and that’s how I show my support, but afterwards I’m not going to buy it on Apple TV, Blu-Ray or on demand. 

Chris Stuckmann and other respected movie critics will stress the importance of helping filmmakers and the industry make money — and they should. Its really cool that Chris Stuckmann reviews movies in the room that holds his Blu-Ray collection on his YouTube channel.

Maybe once I have a legitimate job in the real world I will be able to curate a Blu-Ray collection of my own or find another way to consistently support the film industry, but I’m not at that point yet. 

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One of the biggest problems with using these free websites is that high quality indie films that nobody sees in the theaters will really struggle to make money unless they make it to Netflix, Hulu or HBO. 

Luckily, Netflix continues to expand their movie selection and welcome more and more quality indie films. If Netflix, Hulu and HBO continue to dominate and grow, they could eventually hold all the movies you need to see.

What the streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have over the shady free movie websites is the ability to discover. With personalized recommendation features, you will come across movies you might otherwise not have watched and because you gave Netflix recommendations a try, you might find your new favorite film.

Over winter break, I watched “A Ghost Story” on Netflix because of the recommendation feature and now its my favorite movie of all time. Nobody I knew had seen the film, so if it were not for Netflix I may never have watched it because I would not have known to search for it on a free movie site. 

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What streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO can’t compete with is the fact that these free movie sites get Oscar-nominated films either while they are in theaters or before they come out digitally to rent or buy. 

So for anyone interested in keeping up with awards season and seeing the movies the critics loved, these sites offer tremendous value. 

A lot of times, big time movies make it to these sites quickly because voting members get copies of the movies before their actual release and many of these copies find their way in the hands of others before they are eventually uploaded to the website. 

Any shady free movie website runs the risk of leaving your phone or laptop with a virus, so users have to be quick to click out of harmful ads or have their device equipped with the best ad block and virus protection software. 

The best solution to avoid this harm is to buy or use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).VPN’s create a private tunnel connection with whatever site you are using so that no third-party can affect your experience with that site. 

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If you do use free movie sites, there are a couple to avoid. 

Moviesin.co, Hulu123.net and Putlocker are just a few to watch out for. 

Not only will these sites run a good risk of infecting your device, you are also not going to get quality copies of the movies you want to watch. Moviesin.co often has versions where someone is sitting in the theater recording the movie on a camera.

Nobody wants to watch that. 

Hulu123.net has a wonky interface and clicking on anything at any point on that site could lead to malware. 

Putlocker used to be a lot more popular than it is now and it has been around for a few years. It has run its course after being taken down and put back up multiple times and there are many cleaner alternatives now who do not run the risk of getting shut down. 

Popcorn Time—though shady in the past— and 123 Movies have both proved to be quality alternatives to some of the sites above, with clean interfaces posing a lesser risk for viruses or any sort of malware. 

Free movie streaming is a fascinating phenomenon because its an illegality that is so easy to commit and so inconsequential, but with Netflix continuing to expand to be more personalized, there may not be a need for free movie streams with how much Netflix can package for a small monthly price.