Usually, ISPs are clued in to torrent activity by an excessive use of bandwidth. If they see you are downloading large amounts of data, they will investigate and uncover your activity.
In turn, they could throttle your Internet or send you a warning note. Depending on the ISP, they could even contact the authorities for further investigation.
To avoid those nasty consequenses, many people will use a VPN to hide their torrenting activity from ISPs. Is this an effective strategy, or will the ISP still be aware of the torrenting?
Throttling Torrent Downloads
An ISP can take different approaches when they identify a user downloading torrent files. One of the most common ways is to deliberately reduce torrenting speeds. These techniques are called bandwidth shaping or throttling.
Throttling is a targeted attempt to categorize web traffic and slow down some of those categories. HD video streaming and torrent downloads are two very common targets for throttling. They generally do it for one of two reasons, or even both:
Torrenting Legal Implications
When your ISP slows your torrenting speeds, it is basically stating that they are discouraging file-sharing. Many torrent users seek to download legally distributed video or audio files. But others download copyright protected materials and exposing the ISP to legal battles.
By slowing torrenting speeds, your ISP is protecting itself. At the same time, it's encouraging torrent users to find another provider.
Torrenting Takes a Lot of Bandwidth
With some shared BitTorrent files approaching over 10GB, these massive files are bigger than a normal download. These files are being simultaneously downloaded by users across the globe. This causes serious lags of bandwidth speed.
By throttling your torrenting activity, the ISP can regain control over bandwidth capacities that are being gobbled up by sharing huge files.
How to Avoid Torrent Throttling?
The ISP depends on categorizing and sorting the traffic you are sending and receiving to identify and throttle it. That being said, you need to block the ISP’s ability to identify it.
The easiest way to do this is by using a VPN. It will block the ISP from reading your traffic by encrypting all your data. This prevents the ISP from being able to sort or categorize your traffic, allowing you to enjoy maximum bandwidth with no throttling.
Can the ISP See You are Using a VPN?
Due to some identifiable traits that these networks use, the ISP can see that you are using a VPN. ISPs can see what port you are using, and they are aware that certain ports are exclusively used by VPNs. Even if the port is changed, the ISP can still identify it as a VPN.
Your ISP will be aware that you are using a VPN from the moment they try to see your data. Once they see that everything is encrypted, they will assume you are using a VPN.
Will a VPN Hide Torrenting from my ISP?
They can see the amount of data transferred, but they don't know what the data is, because it is encrypted. Your activity will be completely anonymous and you will go unnoticed under your ISP's radar. All the provider can prove is that you are protected by VPN software, which is completely acceptable and legal.
But not all VPNs are created equally
Besides hiding your torrenting activities, some VPN providers go even further. Some VPNs offer support for torrents in their services by offering dedicated P2P servers in countries that turn a blind eye to torrenting. A few VPNs may even allow you to torrent directly from any server.
A VPN can indeed mask your torrent downloads from your ISP. But that doesn't happen just because you are using a VPN. It will depend on which VPN did you choose. A decent VPN will do a good job, but the wrong choice can expose your activity to your ISP.
There are plenty of ISPs that looks down on torrenting, for different reasons. To fight it, they take actions such as throttling users, making the Internet connection extremely slow. But there are ways to avoid this.
The nature of a VPN is to protect your data from being tracked. It relies on encrypted tunnels to keep your information safe. In other words, while the ISP knows you are using a VPN, it cannot track what you are doing. Your torrent downloads will be anonymous.
However, pay attention when you are choosing a VPN. In order to be on the safe side, you should choose your provider wisely.