Downloading torrent files is a great way to gain access to a countless number of media. It only takes a BitTorrent client getting it becomes very simple. However, file-sharing is not always simple and free from consequences. With torrent websites being seized by authorities and faster action on DMCA requests, those looking to obtain media online have one option: use a VPN to download torrents anonymously.
Though a simple Internet search on the topic will make you think that torrenting is a simple task, you need to exercise extreme caution. By nature, the P2P protocol allows anyone to see IP addresses exchanging data at any given time on any public torrent file. Regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced user, these tips could help you to stay safe and have peace of mind.
Shouldn't Any VPN Work for Torrents?
Searching for “free torrent VPN” online will give you a plethora of options that appear to be free. Remember, a VPN takes in your traffic and encrypts it, making it impossible for third parties to view what data you exchanged. However, certain unscrupulous providers will tell you that they're providing you with privacy as they mine all of your personal information.
When you're researching for a VPN for torrenting, it's fine to compare prices and find one that works within your budget. Yet, you should take into consideration that many VPNs that don't require payment are most likely traps. The old adage of “if you aren't paying for the product, then you are the product” is quite applicable.
Security is the Name of the Game
Chances are that your overall goal is to remain anonymous while torrenting. Simply using a random VPN is often not enough. For example, a VPN may not offer DNS leak protection, which could lead to your identity being uncovered. Other providers could use outdated encryption protocols that can be broken quite easily. Spending some time learning what makes a VPN safe for torrenting could save you far more time and stress in the future.
Our goal is to inform and guide you on your choice. We will show you what to look for in a VPN software. On top of that, we will also give you a few VPN recommendations that follow all the requirements to download torrent files in a safe way.
A Few Tips for VPN Beginners
If you have ample experience in the field, feel free to skip these tips. These items are to assist novice users in successfully navigating the wonderful world of P2P file-sharing!
Avoid Protocol Panic
You'll see tons of protocol acronyms being thrown out there when you search for safe VPNs for torrenting. Many providers offer outdated, older protocols simply to add to the list of protocols that they support. That way, it will look like they offer more than the competition. Many of these protocols are useless and technologically obsolete.
A good bet is to look for one that offers OpenVPN. This is an open-source VPN protocol that is known to be the most secure on the market. Many providers do offer it because it's free for them to do so. Other than that, don't fret about what particular protocols they offer.
Get a VPN with a Custom Client
Though I now have years of experience in the field, when I first began my trek to learn about and use VPNs, I made a mistake. I purchased a VPN subscription without seeing how user-friendly it was. I thought that it would be like any other software I could install and easily figure out how to use. The problem was not the VPN in question; it was my knowledge at the time that was lacking.
A Virtual Private Network in itself is not a program; it's merely an access to a network. While it's possible to use third-party utilities to access the VPN you choose, doing so would be cumbersome. Nowadays, almost every VPN provider offers a custom, easy to use graphical user interface (GUI). Make sure you find one with an interface you're comfortable using.
Regarding the providers that do not offer a GUI, it's still possible to use them. Most of them offer a tutorial on how to use the OpenVPN generic client with their services. But that's something a beginner should avoid because it can be overwhelming.
Consider Paying With Bitcoin
Every decent VPN should offer users the option to pay via cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Though it may be easier to pay with a credit card, this ties your identity to your account. Because the more layers of abstraction you have, the harder it is to track you down. You should consider paying through means that don't require you to give out your name and address.
You Are Not 100% Anonymous
If all the leaks, hacks, and cybercriminal activity over the past decade have taught us anything, it's that virtually nobody is entirely anonymous online. It can be easy to get the sense that you're untraceable by simply connecting to a VPN. In reality, a VPN makes it much more difficult for you to be tracked down and tied to your online activity.
Your VPN for Torrenting Checklist
We know it can be overwhelming to pick out a VPN when you have so many options. With so many variables in the modern digital landscape, those with less IT experience may feel that it's a very difficult task. That's why we developed this checklist. We suggest that you go through it for any VPN service you plan on purchasing.
If you're relatively new to the concept of torrenting and VPNs, it probably seems as though the two go hand-in-hand. After all, people downloading torrents would naturally want protection from their personal information being exposed.
However, some VPNs flat-out ban P2P activity on their networks. That's because it can create a legal headache for the provider, depending on where they're located. Make sure that your VPN does allow P2P downloads.
In case they don't permit it, do not take a risk and share files. They would probably identify your torrent activity. The way a VPN service detects P2P transfers is typically through port monitoring. P2P protocols use specific ports by default. Another giveaway is a high volume of upstream and downstream data. Simply trying to hide your P2P activity while on a VPN would prove to be very difficult and a waste of money.
A Reasonable Logging Policy
This is an area that many sites paint as a much more “black and white” situation than it actually is. Generally speaking, “no-log” VPNs are the way to go. However, it would be technologically infeasible for a service to literally not log any activity. If a VPN states it doesn't log your activity but gives no further specifics, you should request them.
For example, VPN services sometimes keep a temporary running log of user logins and the amount of data transferred. Those logs are useful for debugging purposes, and they are automatically deleted after a very short period. That would be considered a reasonable logging policy. Some of the best VPNs for torrenting have this kind of short duration logs.
You have to pay close attention to what they state on their terms and conditions. Some well-known VPN companies state that they keep logs of your activity for a certain amount of days. Others say they do not, but later on, when a law enforcement agency requests records, they do have them. Again, doing security research on a specific provider is vital.
Servers Close and Abroad
Using any modern VPN will cause “latency” issues or delayed pings. This happens because your Internet traffic has more layers to go through than it ordinarily would. The further away the VPN server to download torrents is located, the higher the latency will be.
For a good combination of speed and security, pick a provider who offers servers in a foreign country that is not far from you. That's because a server in a different country adds another layer of protection. Someone trying to snoop on you would have to go through different jurisdictions.
With this in mind, it's always good to visit the VPN provider's webpage and check for their server locations. In case they only allow torrenting in some of their servers, then remember to have a look at the locations of their P2P servers.
Low User Saturation
Especially in the cheap rung of providers, there's a risk that you'll run into user saturation. This means that servers are running at 100% capacity. Users who connect to it face very slow download speeds. Better VPN providers can automatically route you to a server in the same location, but with an adequate bandwidth.
Some VPNs that cost very little cannot afford enough servers for their user base. You should try to find an unbiased reporting source of average VPN torrenting speeds, such as our VPN reviews, before proceeding with a subscription. After all, it wouldn't be very pleasant to invest in a fast Internet connection and have a download speed of under 1 Mbps!
Suggested VPNs for Torrenting
NordVPN is the only VPN to date that has been independently inspected by a member of the “big four” auditing firms to prove to the public that their no-logging guarantee is accurate. As such, it's built a good amount of influence in the P2P community. That's one of the main reasons why we think this is the most reliable VPN for torrenting.
File-sharing is expressly allowed by NordVPN and even has its own server category. These torrent servers are built to achieve fast download speeds. Over the years, the custom NordVPN client has been honed to accommodate even the most anxious BitTorrent users' worries. There is a kill switch and a DNS prevention leak among its features to ensure your activity doesn't leak.
ExpressVPN is another mainstay in the VPN industry. With servers available in nearly 100 countries and a strict “no logging” policy, this VPN service is a clear contender. It has a simplified interface, making it one of the easiest VPNs to use. To make it even more painless, they allow torrent downloads on every server, meaning you don't have to search for them.
If you like to search for fast servers individually, you will love their built-in speed test tool. You can test every server, making it easy to identify the best servers for torrenting.
Surfshark is lesser-known than the competition because of its very young age. The fact that we are ranking a newcomer in third place says a lot about this provider. We were quite surprised, in a positive way. This VPN is as feature-rich as most of the top VPNs on the market.
Like most competitors, it does not log any identifying information. Also, every server in its network allows P2P traffic. Those are just some of the features that make it a very decent VPN to protect your torrent downloads. Finally, because it is a new company, they still have a very affordable price; one of the lowest.
The provider is popular for its consistently high speeds, great UI, and additional security capabilities, such as an Internet kill switch. One of its most distinguishing features is how stylish and user-friendly the interface is.
It achieved the highest download speed from all our VPN tests. Even though speed is not everything, it's essential when it comes to P2P.
Depending on who you are and your experience, what you take away from this article likely varies from others. First, test your connection speed before getting a VPN. You can then make accurate comparisons between your original connection speed and the one the VPN connection provides. Especially if you're looking for a torrenting VPN, speed is crucial.
Second, knowing the jargon of the VPN industry can be an advantage. To be more specific, getting familiar with some basic terminology, such as “logs” and “protocols“, can be valuable when reading VPN descriptions. It'll be far easier to spot inferior VPNs if you know what to look for.
Third, take your time when checking out each VPN we've reviewed. Great time and care have been put into them to ensure that they're accurate.
Regardless of who you are or where you live, there is a VPN out there that can keep you secure while torrenting. Good luck with your VPN hunt!