If you’re a torrent user who is new to VPNs, you may be wondering how to protect yourself in the best possible way while combining these two technologies.
You already did the most important part and purchased a Virtual Private Network. But to maximize your privacy, you need to learn how to use your new VPN.
In this post, we’ll go over some tips for VPN beginners who are just starting to hide their torrenting activity.
1. VPN Before Torrent Client
This may seem obvious, but it’s essential to connect to your VPN server before opening your torrent client. Doing this ensures that all of your internet traffic is routed through the VPN, including your torrenting activity.
I’m mentioning this obvious step because some beginners think it’s fine to start the BitTorrent client first and only after turning on the VPN. Unfortunately, this is not the case. By the time you connect to the VPN server, your torrent client will have already sent out your real IP address to the tracker.
The “Start with computer” and “auto-connect” features will help with that
A great way to ensure the VPN always protects you is to use the “Start with computer” and “auto-connect” features. This powerful combination of tools will protect beginners who sometimes forget to connect to the VPN manually before starting their downloads.
The first option lets you launch your VPN app when your computer starts. The second one automatically connects you to the server of your choice as soon as the app is open. In other words, the VPN will automatically:
- Turn it on at the same time as your device
- Immediately establish a connection to a server
That’s all you need to be on the safe side without having to do anything.
How to do it?
Most VPNs offer these two features. Evidently, the menus are different for each provider, but the principle is the same. Let’s use PureVPN as an example. They make it easy to use these tools.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you just have to turn these features on and specify which server you want the VPN to connect to by default.
For providers with P2P optimized servers, such as PureVPN and NordVPN, you have to select a location that allows torrenting. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to download your files.
So, before you select the server, go to the server tab and see which locations allow P2P downloads. In the example above, I made sure that I picked one of the P2P server locations, which is the Netherlands.
2. Bookmark Your Favorite Servers
One of the neat things a VPN lets you do is bookmark your favorite servers. As you will see, you will need to change servers sometimes. That usually happens because the server you are connected to is getting congested. In other words, many users are trying to connect to the same server, resulting in a slower connection for everyone.
When that happens, you should find another server that is not too crowded, to enjoy a faster connection.
If you get used to bookmarking fast servers, you can quickly build a custom list of servers that will give you a great connection whenever one of them is crowded.
3. Don’t Select Servers That Are Too Far Away
In general, the farther away a server is from your physical location, the slower your connection will be and, therefore, your downloads. That’s why you should try to find servers that are as close to your location as possible. The same continent should be fine, but a country immediately next to yours is even better.
Don’t choose servers that are too close either
Remember that choosing a server in your own country isn’t always the best option. Connecting to a different country will increase your anonymity because it’s harder to track your activity when various jurisdictions are involved.
4. Take Advantage of the Kill Switch
Another critical step when torrenting with a VPN is to use a kill switch. This tool is basic but very powerful; it prevents your real IP address from leaking in case the VPN connection goes down.
Even though modern VPNs are quite reliable, they may stop working unexpectedly, just like any other software.
For example, the app may crash, or your computer may freeze without you noticing it. If that happens and you’re still torrenting, your IP address could be exposed, putting your activity at risk. To avoid that from happening, simply turn on the kill switch feature.
Check our post about the importance of the VPN kill switch to learn more about it.
5. Make Sure the VPN Is Doing Its Job When Torrenting
This is a step that every torrent user should perform when using the VPN for the first time. You should make sure you are using the IP address of the VPN when downloading your files, instead of your real one. You should do this at least once, but preferably every few months.
You never know when your VPN may not function properly and leak your IP. Here is our guide to check your torrent IP, where you will find some recommended tools to do this easily and quickly.
Start Exploring More Advanced Features
Even though the features we mentioned here are very important, some other tools can come in handy when torrenting with a VPN. A good example is the DNS leak Prevention. We didn’t include those features here, because they are not as easy to set up and understand. And, as the title of this post mentions, these are for beginners.
But we have a more advanced tutorial on how to set up your VPN for torrenting, where you can find more steps to fine-tune your settings and increase your level of protection.