Many users make the mistake of getting a Virtual Private Network and start to download torrents immediately. But sometimes, the default configuration of the VPN software is not the most appropriate for P2P file-sharing. That misconfiguration increases the risk of an activity and identity leak.
In order to get the best protection while torrenting, you need to ensure that your VPN is set up correctly. You only have to activate a few options once, and then you can forget about it.
These steps will show you how to configure your VPN client for maximum security while downloading torrents.
Turn the Kill Switch On
This is a very important tool in the torrent world and should be the first thing you activate. If a problem occurs and there is a momentary VPN disconnection, this feature will interrupt the internet connection. It prevents your real IP address from being visible while the VPN is not working.
For example, if you are downloading a torrent file and the VPN connection drops accidentally, the torrent download will also stop. You will have no Internet until the VPN is working again. This issue doesn’t often happen with a good provider, but it’s always possible. It’s a handy tool that guarantees your security at all times.
We have a post about the VPN kill switch feature for torrenting, where we go into more detail about how it works and which providers have it.
Activate the DNS Leak Protection
DNS leaks are one of the biggest threats to anonymity, even when you feel protected. This is the way how ISPs log the activity of their clients.
When you use a Virtual Private Network, the DNS requests should go through their servers. Your ISP shouldn’t be able to access your DNS requests anymore.
But unfortunately, it’s not that simple! The problem is that Windows may use the default settings and send DNS requests through the ISP servers. In that case, your ISP can still see them, even if you are using a VPN.
That’s why turning this option on is crucial; it overwrites the default Windows settings. This feature will make sure your requests are routed through the VPN DNS servers.
Choose the Right Protocol
As you probably know, the VPN establishes its connection through a protocol. Nowadays, the OpenVPN protocol is the most appropriate when you download torrents. It provides a good combination of security and speed, which are the most important things when it comes to torrenting.
There are other protocols, but they are not as safe. Some VPNs are actually getting rid of weaker protocols, such as L2TP. As we mentioned, OpenVPN is the way to go, preferably UDP.
Disable IPv6 Traffic
IPv6 is still not very popular, and most VPN networks are configured for IPv4. Because of that, allowing IPv6 on a VPN configured to encrypt IPv4 may cause leakage.
The new protocol will be more prevalent in the future, and VPNs will be reconfigured to be compatible with it.
But for now, you should disable the IPv6 traffic to ensure there are no data leaks. If your VPN provider offers IPv6 leak protection, just activate it. But there aren’t many that offer this feature yet. In case you don’t have this option in your VPN, you can do it manually. You can follow this guide to disable IPv6 on your computer.
Settings Example on a Specific VPN Provider
You should always check every tab of the VPN app to be sure all the essential features are turned on. But some VPNs make it easy because they have all the privacy features in one place.
For example, this is what you see on the IPVanish app when you go to “Settings”.
As you can see, all the features we talked about are activated.
But IPVanish is not alone. More and more providers are starting to understand the importance of adequately organizing all these settings to provide a good user experience. Here are a couple of my favorites:
The last thing to do is check if these features are working as they should and that your VPN is correctly configured for torrenting. The most common things to verify are the IP and speed. In other words, you want to ensure that you are anonymous and that your connection doesn’t get too slow because of your VPN.
You will want to ensure that you are using the right IP address, which is the one provided by your VPN. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do this on a general “check my IP page”. You need to see what IP is being used with your BitTorrent client. We have a guide to check the torrent IP address to help you with that. You should do this at least once to ensure the VPN works as expected.
After you know you are safe, test your online speed. Go to a reliable speed test tool, and see if you didn’t lose most of your connection speed. Remember that your connection will be a little slower. That happens because the VPN consumes resources. In case it’s too slow, try connecting to another server.
Torrenting with the full protection of a VPN is not as complicated as it was years ago. Nowadays, providers have straightforward interfaces that allow changing the settings by ticking a few boxes.
Finally, keep in mind that every software has a different user interface. The options and settings we discussed today will be organized differently, depending on your VPN service. Sometimes, even the names of such options are different. But overall, the process should be similar; you just have to poke around for a bit to find all the necessary tools.