If you've been researching for a VPN for any length of time, chances are that you've at least seen the name “NordVPN” mentioned a few times. The company went from a small startup to a world-famous VPN service.
NordVPN became very popular in the torrent community. In fact, many consider it the best for torrenting. That's because it fully supports P2P and it offers features that go hand in hand with torrenting.
NordVPN's Policy on File-Sharing
NordVPN is very upfront about its torrenting policy. They allow BitTorrent traffic, and users can be sure of that within the application itself.
If you head over to the “specialty server” area in the NordVPN app, you will see a space dedicated to P2P. The fact that they provide servers built to download torrents is an obvious indicator of their stance on file-sharing.
Is NordVPN Safe for Torrenting?
In order to be considered safe to download torrents, a VPN must follow a few good practices that ensure the user's safety:
Encryption and Protocol
The software operates on the OpenVPN protocol, with an AES-256-CBC encryption cipher and a 2048 bit strength SSL key. This VPN protocol is considered safe for P2P file sharing, and it's the one we usually recommend.
On top of that, there's a new and promising protocol available, developed by the NordVPN team themselves. They've built the NordLynx protocol based on WireGuard, but with a few crucial improvements
NordVPN's business license is in Panama. It would be very tough to legally coerce the VPN company, since it's outside the US and EU jurisdictions. Staying away from the reach of governments that are famous for snooping on their citizen's activity is a big plus.
One of the essential details in a VPN that aims to be torrent-friendly is its logging policy. And according to NordVPN, they do not keep logs of their user's activity.
Recently, a famous and neutral audit company confirmed this policy claim after auditing NordVPN. They got permission to see what NordVPN sees and verify if they saved any activity logs.
How to Torrent With NordVPN?
It only takes a few steps to download torrents with NordVPN safely. After getting a subscription and downloading the software, this is what you should do:
1. Turn the Kill Switch on
When you activate this security feature, all Internet connectivity stops if the VPN connection drops for any reason.
2. Connect to a P2P Server
Now it's time to choose a server. Remember to connect to one with a “P2P” tag. Those are the ones that allow torrent downloads.
3. Start Torrenting
You are now protected behind a NordVPN server with its own IP address and an encrypted connection. You can now look for your torrents, open your BitTorrent Client, and start downloading.
NordVPN has more than 5700 servers, spread across 60 countries. But BitTorrent traffic is not allowed in all of them. Because this review is focused on torrenting, we will only focus on the servers that allow P2P traffic.
While some locations have no servers designed for P2P, such as Costa Rica and Israel, most countries have several available.
How to select a P2P Server for Torrenting
The P2P servers are the ones you can use to download torrents. They are meant for multiple upload and download connections. You will be able to torrent without restrictions and achieve breakneck speeds.
There are different ways of connecting to a P2P server. The only choice to make is whether you want to pick a specific one manually, or you'd like the software to assign it to you.
The automatic way
With this method, the VPN client selects a server for you. You just have to click on the “P2P” section on the main window. It will pick the fastest server for you, likely located from within your country.
The manual way
Instead of clicking the “P2P” option, click on the three periods (“…”) on the far-right of the selection. A mini pop-up menu will show up. This menu allows you to select the specific country you'd like and how the software should pick out your server.
Tip on connecting to servers
The automatic method will probably connect you to a server in your own country, as we mentioned above. That's because it's close to you and, therefore, the fastest available for you. In our opinion, this isn't the best option, as it prevents NordVPN from reaching its full potential, safety-wise.
It's best to cross borders and choose a server located in another country when downloading torrents. Anyone trying to track your torrenting activity would have to go through different jurisdictions. That would be a tough thing to do.
In our opinion, the manual approach is the way to go, as it lets you choose another country. Just make sure you connect to a country that is not very far away from you, so your connection speed doesn't suffer much.
Torrenting With NordVPN's Proxy
NordVPN subscribers may also use a SOCKS5 proxy to download torrents. It's a type of proxy that is usually used for file-sharing and it has no extra cost when you download the NordVPN software.
In our opinion, the NordVPN VPN client is more than enough to download files anonymously. But if you want to add the proxy server to your BitTorrent client, read our NordVPN SOCKS5 proxy setup guide.
NordVPN's configurations are directly related to security, helping you increase your online safety. We will go through the ones that have a direct impact on the torrenting experience.
Internet Kill Switch
The kill switch feature suspends your Internet connection if the VPN goes down and stops protecting you. It guarantees that your identity doesn't leak while the VPN was offline.
Although NordVPN never disconnected during our tests, it's always good to activate this option. It's an extra layer of security.
Application Kill Switch
You can think of this feature as a more specialized version of the regular kill switch. This tool will only kill the programs you choose when the VPN stops working. You may add an unlimited number of applications to this whitelist, as seen below, where we've added uTorrent.
In this scenario, if there is a problem with the VPN, only uTorrent would stop working. That way, the torrent download would stop before the real IP is exposed. All the remaining apps would continue working without the VPN's protection.
This is a useful feature in case you need to use your real IP for some online activities, but still want to hide it when using some programs.
DNS Leak Protection
NordVPN uses its own DNS servers, making a DNS leak impossible unless the user takes action and changes the default settings.
It's good to see this option. Some VPN services use your default DNS servers, leaving you open to snooping by whoever hosts them (hint: it's often your ISP!).
The CyberSec tool is a new addition that has the goal of preventing ads and bad scripts from loading on your browser. On a first glance, it's not directly connected to torrents, but the truth is that it can make your life easier in torrent sites that are full of intrusive popups. If you're interested in this feature, head over to our CyberSec post.
Modern VPNs have useful options that can make your life easier. And NordVPN is no exception. By tweaking a few settings, the program will do the heavy work for you. An excellent example of such options is the auto-connect window.
Let's say you always torrent connected to a server in the Netherlands. This is what you could do:
With the settings configuration in the image above, you only need to turn the VPN on. After that, it will automatically connect to a P2P server in the Netherlands, using the OpenVPN protocol. Obviously, you can adjust the location and protocol to your liking.
And it's possible to go even further than that. If you go to the “General” tab and select “Launch at Windows startup”, this entire process will happen when you turn your computer on. That can bring you peace of mind if you sometimes forget to activate your VPN.
To ensure that the VPN software and its features work without flaws, we conducted several tests.
Before we start, here is the IP address of the VPN server. This way, you can match it with our test results.
Torrent address detection
First, we looked for IP leaks while a torrent file was being downloaded. Here's the IP that the ipMagnet tool identified:
Torrent DNS leak test
After that, we verified the BitTorrent client's DNS request to verify if the leak prevention feature works properly.
Besides the results we are showing you, there were other tests. We performed them through several days, using different testing tools, and downloading various torrent files.
We didn't register any identity leaks during our tests. The IP address detected by the testing tools we used, such as “doileak” and “ipMagnet”, was always the one from NordVPN.
Torrent Speed Test
While NordVPN struggled with speed in its first years, it quickly grew past that issue. We ran a torrent test with a good number of seeds, and you can see the results below:
By rule of thumb, you should always allow about 10% bandwidth to be consumed by the VPN. That's because its encryption consumes resources.
When connected to one of the P2P servers, it hit 7.1 Mbps, comparing to 7.4 Mbps without a VPN connection. That's better than the average and a very acceptable speed difference, making NordVPN much faster than most VPNs out there.
The software is compatible with the major Operating Systems and devices, such as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, Android, etc.
Regardless of the platform, users are allowed to connect to the service six times at once. For example, you can protect your three laptops, smartphone, smart TV, and gaming console simultaneously. This also makes it possible to share your NordVPN subscription with your family members.
Like most VPN providers, the longer you subscribe, the cheaper you pay. The 2-year plan price is quite low, with a discount of 68% on the original price, a rare thing in this market. If we consider the quality and speed of NordVPN, $3.71 is pretty cheap.
Regardless of the subscription you choose, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee. That means that if the service doesn't work out for you, there's always the possibility of requesting a refund within thirty days of purchasing the software.
Why Do We Recommend NordVPN for Torrenting?
In a nutshell, these are the main reasons we recommend NordVPN:
- They don't save logs
- Latest and strongest encryption
- Located in Panama, without data retention requirements
- Many locations available
- High-speed P2P dedicated servers
- Different types of kill switch
NordVPN did a great job hiding our torrenting activity and keeping it private. The creators are clearly passionate about their work, and they've gone out of their way to demonstrate that they are, indeed, legitimate VPN providers that fully support P2P downloads.
Torrenting with the protection of NordVPN was a breeze. Their P2P optimized servers are easy to identify and, most importantly, they are reliable and fast. It was easy to place NordVPN at the top of our list.