Torrenting Anonymously With a VPN
Your Internet service provider, copyright monitoring agencies, and even hackers may be tracking your torrenting habits. Without the right precautions, your behavior is easily tracked. You may face potentially serious risks, including getting your Internet services revoked. With a VPN, you can mask your identity and download torrents anonymously.
If you want to remain hidden, explore the main features of VPNs and how to use these services to be anonymous when you download your files.
File-Sharing Exposes Your IP Address and Location
When you use a BitTorrent client, you connect to a network of other users who are downloading and uploading (seeding) the same files. This is called peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. Instead of downloading files from a central server, you are downloading chunks of data from the peers connected to the same network.
The IP address of each user is easily visible to anyone monitoring or connecting to the network, which means that your IP address is also exposed. Anyone can monitor your torrenting activity, including your ISP. That means that without the protection of a Virtual Private Network, your Internet activity is public.
When your computer makes a request, raw data gets sent between the IP address of the server or computer that you connect to and your IP address.
A VPN provides a way to mask your identity without anyone snooping. It encrypts data and hides your IP address behind other servers. This can be used for private web browsing and anonymous torrenting.
Why Do You Need to Download Torrents Anonymously?
The protocols and BitTorrent clients used to download torrents are legal. When you use these methods to download copyrighted material, you are committing a copyright violation.
Users have been penalized for torrenting copyrighted content. Your ISP may cancel your services or cap your bandwidth. You may also receive emails threatening legal action.
How can your ISP or a copyright holder track your torrent activity?
Torrents use a specific protocol for establishing P2P networks and downloading files. Compared to directly downloading a file from a central server, BitTorrent traffic is easier to detect due to its distinct protocol.
Your ISP may not monitor every website that you visit. However, establishing a P2P connection through a BitTorrent client raises a red flag. They may then monitor the information getting shared on the P2P network to determine if you are downloading illegal content.
Besides your ISP, you also need to worry about copyright monitors. There are agencies that monitor P2P networks. When they detect that users are sharing copyrighted content, they track the users based on their IP addresses. After that, the agencies often send emails threatening legal action. Some of these agencies work for major content producers, such as movie studios, while others are simply trolls trying to extort money. Using a reliable VPN to download torrents will protect you against these agencies and extortionists.
Are Legal Torrents Safe to Download?
Keep in mind that a lot of people rely on torrents to download all kinds of media, including legal content. While downloading open source software, public domain videos, and other free content is legal, it is not always safe.
Others may be tracking your activity and IP address for malicious purposes, especially if you obtain torrent files from an untrusted source. Again, a VPN helps keep your activity hidden from others, even when downloading legal content.
How Can a VPN Protect Your Identity?
A Virtual Private Network routes traffic through servers to create secure connections. VPN services are most often used for safe and private access to the web. When you use a VPN software on your computer, you get connected to a secure VPN server. The server then connects to the websites or computers that you want to visit. All data transmitted between your computer and the sites that you visit gets encrypted through the VPN, ensuring that your activity is completely anonymous.
Another great benefit is the fact that most VPN services operate a network of servers located across the globe. In other words, the user can select a server located in a specific country, and have a new IP address from that country. With a VPN, anyone monitoring your traffic only sees the IP address of the VPN server. Your location, IP address, downloads, and Internet activity are masked behind the VPN.
The Best VPNs for Torrenting
This is our list of recommended VPNs for file-sharing. The order is based on our test results and some criteria that we will mention a bit further. And keep in mind that, even though these providers are also useful for other purposes, the main priority of this ranking is the ability to download torrents.
NordVPN is an excellent choice for torrenting. It has a good combination of safety features, speed and price, making it a great all-around VPN. It’s great for users who are looking for a simple software with powerful options.
The simplicity and efficiency of ExpressVPN are outstanding. The software is very easy to use, with all the main options and it also has a good speed. It gives the user a high level of encryption with a simple click of a button. A perfect option for all kind of users.
CyberGhost has a new software version with important improvements. It has the basic features and also a few unique tools of their own. If we add fast speeds and a good company location, the result is a very good VPN for all kinds of downloads.
IPVanish has a great encryption and useful features. But the special thing about this software is the speed, which is very high on many servers. It’s a great solution for torrenting because it provides a mix of anonymity and a fast connection.
PureVPN is also a very interesting option for P2P. It offers features with customization options such as split tunneling. But it also has the essential tools for complete protection, like a kill switch.
PIA is the choice of many file-sharing users because of their high quality combined with a very decent price. They have nice extra features to increase security and a big amount of servers. It’s definitely worth considering this option.
How do We Select a VPN Provider?
When testing a Virtual Private Network, there were several factors we considered to make our selection. A good VPN should follow some criteria in order to keep users anonymous and safe. The following are the factors we considered to select our favorite Virtual Private Networks.
- Allows P2P: The first selection criteria was to identify the VPN providers that allow BitTorrent traffic. This subject has to be very clear in the terms of service of each software.
- Encryption: We only consider software that offers the highest level of encryption. At the moment, the highest is an AES 256 bits cipher.
- Protocol: OpenVPN is the safest protocol, the one we recommend. We will only include providers that have it available in their software.
- Speed: The encryption has an impact on the speed of the Internet connection. With some VPNs out there, the speed loss is quite big, with others not so much. When we talk about torrenting, the download speed is an important factor. We were careful enough to choose the ones that don’t have a very noticeable impact on the speed.
- Extra features: Features that increase security were also a factor to consider in our selection. Some features are very valuable, to the point that we see them as mandatory, like the Kill Switch. We excluded some providers because they don’t have this kind of tools available in their software.
- Servers: We made sure that we only recommend VPNs that have plenty of fast servers, fairly distributed around the globe.
- Bandwidth: Being able to download an unlimited amount of data is mandatory for file-sharing and P2P. All the options in our ranking have unlimited bandwidth.
- Ease of Use: We also prioritized software that makes it easy for their users. It makes all the difference when a software is easy to navigate. For example, some of them made it possible to establish an encrypted connection with one single click.
- Price: Although this wasn’t an excluding factor, the price-quality ratio was relevant in the order of our ranking.
Torrents are a great way to gain access to a myriad of media files and documents. But without a Virtual Private Network, you run the risk of having your Internet shutdown by your ISP, or even facing legal actions. The next time you choose to download a torrent file, think smart and get yourself a VPN.
There are two main advantages of using a VPN to download your torrent files with peace of mind. Before any data gets transmitted to or from your computer, the VPN service encrypts it. Your IP address is also hidden from the sites and servers that you connect to. That way, you are completely free to download torrents and browse the web anonymously.