Downloading torrent files is a great way to gain access to a countless number of media. It only takes a BitTorrent client and obtaining media becomes very simple. However, file-sharing is not always simple and free from consequences. Without the right precautions, your behavior is easily monitored. The Internet is becoming increasingly self-aware, with agencies collecting and tracking data from users.
These days, maintaining your privacy and security is imperative. Masking your IP address with a VPN is one way to ensure you are not vulnerable to snoopers. That's why we are going to discuss how a Virtual Private Network can protect you. On top of that, we will share our list of the most suitable VPNs for torrenting anonymously, according to our research and extensive testing.
- 1 Can You Torrent With Every VPN?
- 2 Things to Look For In a Torrent-Friendly VPN
- 3 The 7 Best VPNs for Torrenting
- 4 Which VPN Should You Choose?
- 5 Tips for an Improved Experience
- 6 Conclusion
Can You Torrent With Every VPN?
Unfortunately, not every Virtual Private Network is optimal for torrents. There are VPNs that give a false sense of security, exposing the identity of users. When it comes to torrenting and P2P, it's very important to choose a software that doesn't compromise you. Let's have a look at the main reasons why some VPNs are not safe:
Some VPNs don't allow BitTorrent
File-sharing can be a bit of a grey area. It has many useful uses, but it's also connected to online piracy. Because of that, some VPN companies decide to stay out of it. If users try to use a BitTorrent client or any other type of torrent manager when connected to one of those VPNs, the download simply won't start. Depending on the provider, you may even get disconnected.
Some of them don't have the right security tools
Some tools are necessary if the goal is to torrent with safety. A few examples are the encryption level, features such as DNS leak protection and a Kill Switch. Keep reading, we will go through the mandatory features in a few paragraphs.
What about free VPNs?
Getting torrents with a free VPN can be a risky thing. These companies claim to have a free product, but they are spending money developing software, maintaining servers, paying employees, etc. The thing to have in mind is that they must be getting their money back somehow, to pay for all those expenses.
Not so long ago, some of these so-called “free VPNs” were caught logging user activity and selling it to marketing agencies. By knowing the online activity of the users, these marketing agencies would know exactly what ads to show them.
This goes exactly against what a Virtual Private Network should do, which is hiding your activity and identity. Paying for one may cost a couple of dollars per month, but at least you know how they are making their money.
Things to Look For In a Torrent-Friendly VPN
When testing a Virtual Private Network to download torrents, we consider many factors. A proper VPN should follow some criteria, so it can keep its users anonymous and safe. Here are some of the most important features:
Allows P2P file-sharing
The first thing to consider is the provider's policy regarding this subject. If they allow BitTorrent traffic, it's usually stated in their terms and conditions.
One of the main things that separate good VPNs from bad ones is whether they save user logs or not. We believe that keeping logs goes against true anonymity. Excluding the ones that save user activity should be one of your main priorities.
Encryption and protocol
The software must be up to date with the latest safety developments. The most advanced encryption cipher at this moment is AES-256, and most modern VPNs should have it.
Also, it should have protocols that are proven to be safe. Keep in mind that the amount of protocols available is not the most important thing. You should focus on which protocols, and not how many. In our opinion, OpenVPN is the best one at the moment, offering a good combination of safety and speed.
Some providers like to advertise the fact that they have thousands of servers. But there are a couple of factors that are more valuable than numbers.
You should pay close attention to the server coverage. In a perfect scenario, a VPN provider has servers spread all over the world. You will want to make sure that the one you choose has servers in areas that are not far away from you. If they are present in most countries, then every user will find a server nearby, which allows a fast connection.
Let's imagine you live in the UK. You wouldn't want a VPN that only has servers in the United States, for example. That's because you would have to connect to a server that is very far away. That way, you would be losing quite some download speed because of the huge distance from the location you are connected to.
When we talk about torrenting, download speed is an important factor. And a popular issue with VPNs is that the encryption makes the Internet connection slower. But fortunately, some providers improved their software in a way that it doesn't have a big impact.
Some features are very valuable, to the point that we see them as mandatory for P2P. A good example is the Kill Switch. A VPN that doesn't offer a tool like that will always have a risk of exposing your identity. It shouldn't even be considered.
The 7 Best VPNs for Torrenting
This is our list of the best VPN services for torrenting. And keep in mind that, even though these providers are also useful for other purposes, the only criteria used for this ranking is the download of torrents.
NordVPN is the only VPN service to date that has been independently audited by a member of the “big four” auditing firms in order to prove to the public that their no-logging guarantee is accurate. As such, it's built a good amount of clout in the P2P community. While the provider has about 6,000 servers in its network, not all of them support torrenting by default.
However, the practice is expressly allowed by NordVPN and even has its own server category. The more security-conscious may also opt to use the “double VPN” feature, which essentially chains two VPN servers together for added anonymity. Users even have the option to utilize NordVPN's “Onion VPN”, which simply runs all traffic through the Tor router.
However, members of the BitTorrent community are likely to find that upload and download speeds when run through Tor are quite slow. In stark contrast, NordVPN's P2P servers tend to nearly match the speeds of users' Internet connections.
As most torrent users know, remaining anonymous is often critical to avoid very costly lawsuits. Over the years, the custom NordVPN client has been honed to accommodate even the most anxious BitTorrent users' worries. It has a “kill switch”, meaning that users can opt to simply kill their Internet connection instantly, should the VPN connection drop. On a smaller level, the client allows users to kill only certain applications if the VPN connection is dropped. Users simply select the executable of their torrent client and are then ready to go.
For the techies out there, NordVPN supports several different popular cryptocurrencies for payment. While their custom client is excellent, users may also connect to servers manually using any of the major VPN protocols, such as OpenVPN. Prices are surprisingly low for the service, but only for users paying for at least a year in advance.
- Huge server network with more than 60 locations.
- Has VPN servers dedicated to P2P users.
- One of the cheapest options.
- The only VPN service that has proven it's as secure as it says.
- Users must purchase long subscriptions in advance for savings.
- There is a strict “no sharing” policy for accounts.
ExpressVPN is another mainstay in the P2P VPN industry. With servers available in nearly 100 countries and a strict “no logging” policy, this VPN service is a clear contender. Unlike most of its competitors, this provider uniquely gives users the option of using a “split tunnel” connection or a “full tunnel” connection.
The difference is quite simple. A “full tunnel” simply means all web traffic gets passed through the connection. This is the model that essentially every other VPN company utilizes, since it's much simpler to create and maintain. Traditionally, “split tunnel” services have been used by workplaces, but ExpressVPN found a new use for them. This option means that only BitTorrent traffic is run through the VPN, while other traffic, like standard web browsing, is not.
This feature is a game-changer. It means that the user can be certain that their torrent traffic is fully anonymized, but other websites they frequent won't see a foreign IP address and assume their accounts have been hijacked, a frequent occurrence for many VPN users.
While it comes with plenty of advantages, such as almost limitless server options, connection methods, and unlimited monthly bandwidth, it carries a more hefty price tag than many competitors. It does accept Bitcoin for a small discount, however.
- Offers very unique “split tunnel VPN” service.
- Has servers in almost 100 countries.
- Fully intended for P2P traffic.
More expensive than many competitors.
Surfshark is lesser-known than the competition because of its very young age, but it's equally feature-rich. Like most competitors, it does not log any identifying information. Like ExpressVPN, it offers “split tunnel” VPN services.
When grabbing and seeding torrents, the VPN software will automatically determine which servers are the best ones to handle it. Users are often directed to servers in the Netherlands and Canada, both known for their lax rules regarding downloading content via torrents. Additionally, every server in its network of about 1000 servers in more than 60 countries allows P2P traffic, so no more worrying about choosing specific servers that do!
In addition to specializing in torrenting, clients of this VPN provider can take advantage of the bonus of being available on most platforms and smart devices. So, the likelihood of having any compatibility problems is very low.
Any consumer who's done their due diligence on multiple VPN companies knows that it's very common to see caps on the number of devices and users who can be simultaneously connected to the VPN network under one plan. Surfshark, at least for the foreseeable future, did away with these caps.
Not only is there no cap on monthly bandwidth, but there's also no limit on how many connections or devices may be connected to the network at the same time using just one account! This makes it perfect for households with lots of people and devices. That being said, if an account is clearly being shared among many people, that is grounds for termination per their Terms of Service.
Prices are quite low for the industry, and there is a “no questions asked” 30-day money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the service.
- Only major provider with no limits on connected devices or users.
- All servers support P2P.
Comes with full suite of security features.
- Supports a split tunnel.
No router-level capabilities.
CyberGhost, a Romanian VPN provider with one of the most generous “money back” guarantees in the business, is another large player in the P2P VPN market. Giving every user 45 days to decide if the service is right for them, no other major provider can match their offer. CyberGhost has traditionally invested a good amount into their user interface across every major platform, appealing to users who don't want to be required to mess with the technical aspects of using a VPN service.
Also with a strict “no logging” policy, CyberGhost supports P2P traffic on selected, dedicated servers in its network. However, these are clearly denoted. Unlike most competitors, CyberGhost allows the user to change the VPN connection type from within their application. However, only advanced users should do this, since certain connection types can actually create a security risk for some depending on local configurations.
Some other services, such as NordVPN, regularly test as supporting faster Internet connections than CyberGhost does. CyberGhost has a very large user base, making it difficult for the company to keep up with demand as it comes. However, benchmarks demonstrate that torrents over CyberGhost are far faster, on average, than they are through some of the competition. They explicitly states on their website that they do support (legal) torrenting and go out of their way to ensure that users will always be able to do so.
Overall, CyberGhost is one of the most P2P-friendly VPN providers there is. The Romanian company stands behind their service with a great guarantee, and it's quite easy for beginner users to utilize. With an intuitive client, no tricky command-line instructions or configuration changes are needed for most users, regardless of platform. However, high-volume torrenters or those on very high-speed connections, such as Gigabit connections, may wish to look elsewhere.
- Openly P2P friendly and has dedicated servers only for torrent users.
- Does not log anything users do.
- Has the longest “money back” guarantee period in the industry (45 days).
- Easy to use interface.
- Slower than certain providers, and faster than others.
- Less additional security options than some providers.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a long-time member of the VPN provider community. Many see the provider as budget-friendly, since, when paying for a year at a time, the cost is far less than any competitor's cost.
In terms of flexibility for torrent seeders and leechers, this provider has it all. Users who want guaranteed privacy can even set this service up at the router level. It supports just about every platform, as well. With nearly 3,300 servers across 29 countries, there's no shortage of options.
PIA lags behind the competition in two areas. First, its customer support is barren and is typically not terribly helpful. Second, its speeds vary a great deal. At one moment, your torrent speeds might be excellent. Suddenly, a demand surge could ruin that; load balancing on this provider is not as finely honed as it is with other VPN services. While the provider does allow P2P traffic, there is almost no mention of this fact on their website. This is likely partially due to the fact that they are based in the United States, a country with strict civil laws on copyright protection. Nonetheless, it has a strict policy to keep no logs.
For those willing to put in the time and effort, there are ways to mitigate its speed issues. For example, PIA offers free access to SOCKS5 proxies, often faster than VPNs and can be directly integrated with most common torrent clients. It also comes with the standard Internet kill-switch if VPN connection is lost and a degree of ad blocking and malware protection.
With support for up to ten devices, those who have the patience to deal with issues that come up on their own and come up with crafty measures can get the most bang for their buck with PIA.
- The cheapest major service on the market.
- Has a standard security suite.
- Lots of servers and alternative options (like SOCKS5).
- Lackluster customer service.
- Speeds are highly variable, often dependent on the time of day.
IPVanish interestingly explicitly bans the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted materials but maintains a strict “no logging” policy. BitTorrent traffic is allowed on all of their 1300+ servers.
One of its most distinguishing features is how stylish and easy the user experience is on the VPN service's custom application. Allowing users to easily take advantage of any common, secure VPN connection method, users can also customize settings, though there is no “split tunnel” connection type; either all traffic or no traffic is routed through their network.
The provider is often praised for its customer support available around the clock, consistently high upload and download speeds, great UI, and additional security capabilities, such as giving users access to a SOCKS5 proxy, as most major torrent clients support, and a general Internet (but not application-based) kill switch.
- Strict “no logging” policy.
- Very fast download speeds on many servers.
- One of the best user experiences in the VPN market.
- Smaller server network than other providers.
- Slightly more costly than other providers.
PureVPN is a well-known VPN provider hailed for its affordability. There's a great deal of misinformation out about the provider due to previous issues it's had with respect to logging. Fortunately, after an independent audit of the service, PureVPN is officially a “no logging” provider like the rest on this list, contrary to many older reports online.
With full support for P2P traffic on selected servers in its network, torrent users are able to stay anonymous through any of the major VPN connection methods. The service offers the unusual perk of having a “personal IP address”. This IP is one that is assigned only to the user, making it perfect to access subscription-only sites and anything that monitors for account-sharing by IP address. Though it doesn't have the highest speeds of providers in this list, benchmarks indicate that it reliably hovers around the 100 Mbps throughput mark for upload and download.
While there's no free trial available, PureVPN offers subscribers up to a 31-day money back guarantee period, full-service and around the clock customer support, and no longer logs users' connections as it used to. It also has some unique security services, such as automatic connection when the user connects to public WiFi. Finally, the service can unblock pretty much any streaming service around the world via “tricking” these services using DNS, allowing users to still take advantage of their full connection speed.
- Affordable service.
- The service no longer logs user activity.
- The provider has a reasonable average throughput.
- Innovative features, like a personal IP address.
- 31-day money back guarantee only for longer-term subscribers.
- No SOCKS5 proxies available like some other providers have.
Which VPN Should You Choose?
Our advice is that you start by visiting each provider's website and check if they have servers in countries close to you, preferably on the same continent. The shorter the distance, the higher the connection speed. Usually, every provider has a page on their website with all the available locations.
After that, it will depend on what your preferences are. For example, if you want a good all-rounder that ticks all the boxes, then NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both great options. If the price is your main priority, then Surfshark is the one to go. Each one has its strengths, and it depends on you to choose the one that best suits you.
Tips for an Improved Experience
Choosing a Virtual Private Network to stay on the safe side when getting your torrents is the most important thing. But there are a few extra steps you can take to improve your downloads, making them safer and faster.
After buying and setting up your new VPN software, you should explore it and test it. The following tips are some things to have in mind:
1 – Cross borders
It’s recommended that you choose a server located in a country other than your own. If someone is trying to monitor your activity, they would have to face two different jurisdictions to follow you. That is extremely difficult to do, and even if someone was willing to attempt this, there's still the encryption of the VPN protecting you. We see this as an extra layer of security.
However, as we mentioned before, do not connect to a very distant server. Experienced users advise that you connect to one located in a neighbor country. It's quite simple, the proximity means that you won't lose a lot of speed due to the distance.
2 – Not every country is a good choice
Try servers in countries that are “torrent-friendly”, such as the Netherlands. Avoid the ones located in countries that are known for heavy monitoring, such as the US and UK. Those are the ones constantly looking.
3 – Look for P2P optimized servers
As we discussed earlier, the distance from the server has an impact on your connection speed. The closest you are from it, the faster your connection will be. But there are some exceptions to this rule. Some providers optimize servers for P2P, and those are much faster, even if they are far away from the user. During our extensive testing, we saw this situation a few times. Let’s take a look at a specific example:
IPVanish allows BitTorrent on every server. But still, some of them seem to be optimized for torrenting, and no matter how distant they were, we still got very fast downloads. For instance, some servers based in Canada, which is in a different continent from where we are, were three times faster than others that are closer to us. Some providers tend to have this kind of servers in countries that are more tolerant regarding file-sharing.
4 – How to know if a server is fast?
There's nothing like testing it yourself! A few softwares, such as ExpressVPN, already have a speed test feature included, which is very cool. Others only have the ping latency. For example, in NordVPN's software, there is a latency percentage indicator for each server.
There are a few websites where you can perform such a test. We like speedtest because it’s quite accurate.
Thanks to the anonymity it provides, a VPN is a very popular choice of torrent users. But not all of them do a good job to keep you safe. If you use a low quality software, you may end up getting exposed, with your activity in the wrong hands. That's why it is crucial to do a good research.
All the options that we listed above do a great job to protect your torrent activity. But they are different when it comes to extra features, ease of use, servers, and price.
Do your research thoroughly, see which providers match your preferences. And remember that, although the choice of the VPN software is very important, there are more factors you should have in mind. The tips and suggestions we gave you should improve your file-sharing experience considerably.