Downloading music, television shows, games, and movies is an extremely easy thing to do. It only takes a BitTorrent client and obtaining media becomes very simple. However, file-sharing is not always simple and free from consequences. And there is a surprisingly big amount of users who are still downloading torrents unprotected, without a VPN.
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 while torrenting is one way to ensure you are not vulnerable to snoopers.
But People Download Torrents Without Protection
It’s true. Millions of users around the world download torrent files without any kind of protection. However, this does not mean that you are safe from having your Internet services disconnected, legal notices arriving and having legal action taken against you.
File-sharing provides you with instant access to the media you are searching for. But it is important to understand the potential risks involved each time you download a new file to your computer’s hard drive.
Just because you know someone who has torrented for years without a VPN, or another form of online protection, does not mean that you are not at risk yourself. Consequences can be entirely random, but you are never completely excluded from the risk involved in the act itself.
How Torrenting Works
Torrenting utilizes a P2P (Peer to Peer) sharing network that allows multiple users to share files between them. Anytime you begin downloading a file, your home’s IP address becomes visible to the swarms of users who are also sharing or downloading the file.
In addition to other users having the ability to view your IP address, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and large corporations also have the option to do so, to pinpoint who is “stealing” copyrighted material.
Once your IP address has been identified, it can then be traced back to your exact location. This provides ISPs and corporations with the ability to take legal or threatening action. Without masking your IP address, you become vulnerable each time you download a new file.
Risks of Torrenting without a VPN
Before making the decision to download media, it is important to understand the risks you are taking when you are not utilizing a secured and verified VPN. You should be aware that there can be long-term consequences once you are discovered, and pursued by any type of agency.
1. Share Personal Information With Strangers
While torrenting, your information becomes exposed and vulnerable. Anyone who is using a program to download the same file as you has the ability to view and save your IP address. When your IP is shared with strangers, you have a much greater risk of being tracked and identified.
2. Allow ISPs to Track You
As your IP address becomes public with each file you download, ISPs may begin to monitor your movements online. Once an ISP has flagged an IP address they serve, you may begin to receive cease and desist letters in the mail.
In some cases, ISPs throttle bandwidth of users who torrent on a regular basis. In recent years, ISPs are beginning to threaten users, cutting off services or sharing legal letters of intent with customers. Many providers have introduced new user agreement policies that prohibit sharing copyrighted material.
When customers ignore these warnings and letters in the mail, they may face additional throttling, the canceling of their service, or legal action, depending on the content they are downloading.
3. Copyright Infringement
While not all files found on torrenting websites are monitored, the most popular pieces of content types are watched by ISPs, legal offices, and corporations that represent creators. In such scenario, receiving a copyright infringement flag, such as a DMCA notice, is not uncommon.
But it is essential to remember that there are real life consequences of downloading torrents without a reliable VPN to protect your identity. While most consequences include receiving letters to encourage ceasing and desisting, it is possible to face real financial trouble and, in some extreme cases, the risk of jail time.
Users are often required to pay fines and fees to cover the losses that companies experience from downloaded content, even if there are others who have downloaded the same file. In some countries, individuals have been charged with theft and sent to jail for downloading copyright material.
File-Sharing is one of the favorite ways for hackers to infiltrate a computer and steal personal info. But that’s not all, harmful files are another threat to your computer. Even though a VPN doesn’t protect against viruses, it will help keeping hackers at bay.
As we saw before, it’s very easy to identify an IP address through a BitTorrent client. If you are showing your IP, then it’s simple to follow it and infiltrate the respective computer.
A VPN Solves Those Problems
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a software that helps protect the identity and location of users whenever they are online. Thanks to the high level of anonymity it offers, a VPN is the favorite tool of torrent users. But they are also useful to keep identity a secret when browsing other websites that are notorious for tracking and creating profiles on users.
But it’s not as simple as that, not all VPNs are ideal for torrenting in a fast and safe way. Some of them are slow, others keep logs of your activity, and some are simply not offering enough protection.
Benefits of Torrenting with a VPN
A VPN provides security, protection, and anonymity when downloading content. There are two main advantages of using a VPN when you are downloading files:
Masking Your IP Address
VPN servers have their own IP addresses, which are assigned to users, making it more difficult (if not impossible) to track and pursue. It keeps your location, IP address, and other sensitive information out of the wrong hands.
Encrypting Your Data
Whenever you upload or download a file, a VPN software encrypts the data. That makes it impossible to learn what data is being exchanged, its origin and the users involved.
Data encryption is imperative to avoid revealing your identity to entities who are trying to monitor your activity.
Paid or Free VPNs?
Virtual Private Networks have become very popular, with plenty of options to choose from. While there are services that advertise themselves as free of charge, it is important to keep in mind that they are not always fail-proof.
Many times, a free VPN leads to exposing your IP address and personal information. Some of them sell your activity history to agencies that want to know which ads to show you. Remember that if it’s free, it probably means they are making their profit some other way.
Suggestions of VPNs for Torrenting
Torrenting without a Virtual Private Network is risky and definitely not worth the trouble. A good VPN will hide your real IP and encrypt your connection. It’s the best way to prevent your information from being exposed and shared with millions of users globally.
But before choosing a provider that is right for you, do some research, compare features and security capabilities. Some of the most popular providers are just a few dollars each month.