Some users get a Virtual Private Network and make the mistake of immediately starting torrenting. However, the default configuration of the VPN software is not always optimized for P2P file-sharing. If the VPN settings are not properly set up, the likelihood of your activity being leaked increases significantly.
You must ensure your VPN has been configured correctly to get the best protection while torrenting. The best part is that you only have to activate a few options once, and then you can forget about it.
These steps will show you how to set up a VPN for torrenting the right way to ensure your activity stays protected.
Turn the Kill Switch On
The kill switch is essential and should be the first thing you activate. If a problem occurs and there is a VPN disconnection, this tool 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. A disconnection is a rare thing 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 (if they have them). Your ISP shouldn’t be able to access these requests anymore.
But unfortunately, it’s not that simple! The problem is that your device may still send requests through the default DNS servers (from your ISP).
That’s why turning this option on is crucial; it overwrites the default DNS servers, ensuring 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. In fact, some VPNs are getting rid of weaker protocols, such as L2TP.
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, activate it. If it doesn’t have this option, 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 by having all the privacy features in one place.
For example, this is what you see on the IPVanish app when you go to “Settings”.
More and more providers are starting to understand the importance of adequately organizing all these settings to provide a good user experience.
Check for Security and Speed
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 should ensure that you are using the correct IP address, which is the one provided by your VPN. Remember 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 for checking 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 too much speed. Remember that it’s normal for your connection to be slower because the VPN consumes resources. In case it’s too slow, try connecting to another server.
Extra Tips for Configuring a VPN for Torrenting
Now that you’ve got your VPN set up and ready for torrenting, it’s time to learn a few tricks that will improve your torrenting experience even further.
These tips are not mandatory, but they can make a significant difference in terms of speed and safety.
Make sure that your VPN allows torrent downloads
One important thing to remember is to ensure that your VPN allows torrent downloads. Unfortunately, some providers have an issue with torrent traffic and may block it when they detect BitTorrent activity. In that case, no software configuration will help you.
So, before choosing a VPN, research and ensure that it supports torrenting and P2P, allowing you to download files securely.
These are a few VPNs that are known for allowing BitTorrent traffic:
- Supports torrent downloads
- Good set of features
- Unlimited device connections
- Optimized for torrenting
- Vast P2P server network
- Top VPN choice for P2P
- Robust features for torrenting
- Speed-optimized P2P servers
- Excellent value for money
Turn the VPN On Before the Torrent Client
Always remember that connecting to a VPN server first is crucial. It is only after this point that you should begin downloading torrents. Doing this ensures your internet traffic is routed through the VPN, including torrenting activity.
I’m mentioning this obvious step because some beginner torrent users think it’s OK to start the BitTorrent client first and only after turning on the VPN. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you connect to the BitTorrent client first, it will immediately reveal your real IP address.
Use “Start with computer” and “auto-connect” features
Using the “Start with computer” and “auto-connect” features is a great way to ensure the VPN always protects you. This powerful combination of tools will protect users who sometimes forget to connect to the VPN manually before starting their downloads.
The first option lets you launch your VPN app automatically when starting your computer. The second one connects you to the server of your choice as soon as the app is open. In other words:
- The VPN will turn on at the same time as your device
- It will establish a connection to a server of your choice
That’s all you need to be on the safe side without having to do anything.
How do you use these features?
Most VPNs offer these two features. Obviously, 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.
Important note: 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.
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 occasionally. That usually happens because a server is overloaded. 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 less crowded server 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 very busy and slow.
Don’t Select Servers That Are Too Far Away
The distance between you and the server you’re connecting to affects your connection speed. To get the best results, try to find a server close to your location. The closer the server, the faster your connection will be. Ideally, look for servers in the same continent as you are. A server in a neighboring country usually provides the best speeds.
You should also avoid servers in your country
It’s important to remember that selecting a server in your own country isn’t always the most secure option. Instead, try connecting to a server in a different country. This will help increase your anonymity because it becomes more difficult for others to track your activity when multiple jurisdictions are involved.
Torrenting with the complete 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.
However, some configuration steps are needed to ensure you take advantage of all the protection features a VPN offers.
Finally, remember 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 feature names are different. But the process should be similar; you just need to poke around to find everything you need.