Without a VPN, torrenting is a recipe for disaster, but there is a lot of conflicting information about the best VPN for torrenting.
Numerous so-called “torrent VPNs” leak the same data they promise to safeguard; others prohibit torrenting or peer-to-peer sharing, and others are so sluggish that you’ll want to give up.
Because P2P sharing exposes users to unknown files from anonymous sources, it is prudent to use a VPN to offer an additional degree of protection.
Torrent users rely on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to maintain their privacy and security online. However, not all VPNs are compatible with BitTorrent. Indeed, torrenters should avoid hundreds of popular VPNs. We discovered several difficulties with the VPNs we evaluated:
- Numerous VPNs are much too slow for torrent users, resulting in sluggish torrent downloads.
- Some lack adequate leak security, exposing personally identifiable information to copyright trolls and other third parties. This implies that your true IP address may be disclosed to unscrupulous individuals.
- Despite deceptive marketing promises to the contrary, many VPNs have records of user behavior. This includes information that may be linked back to particular internet users (as part of our study, we evaluated the logging practices of over 100 different VPNs).
- Several major VPN services have regulations against torrenting.
Best VPN for torrenting
As part of our study, we exposed VPNs to a range of tests and analyses. To help you choose the best VPN for torrenting, we’ve included a discussion of our process below our recommendations.
Without further ado, here is our top recommendation for the best torrent VPN:
NordVPN, situated in Panama, is our top option. It maintains no connection or traffic records and, by default, employs 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy, as well as optional double-hop encryption and Tor over VPN capabilities. Since Nord launched its NordLynx technology (based on the WireGuard protocol in its current edition), speeds have been lightning fast. As a result, streaming or downloading huge files should be straightforward. In the settings, both DNS leak prevention and an automated kill switch may be enabled. The classic all-or-nothing kill switch is an option, or you may select specific apps, such as the BitTorrent client, that are disconnected from the internet if the VPN connection dies.
NordVPN makes use of shared IP addresses and offers limitless bandwidth. Torrenting is expressly allowed. Each membership includes a proxy, encrypted chat, and self-destructing encrypted notes. Additionally, it can unblock a variety of geo-restricted streaming services, including Netflix United States, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. A risk-free money-back guarantee allows you to test the service risk-free and obtain a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied.
Apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux, and Android are available.
A method for evaluating VPNs for torrenting
As part of our study, we exposed VPNs to a range of tests and analyses. To determine the best VPN for torrenting, we must first establish criteria for evaluating them. Above all, torrenters and P2P file-sharers want more internet anonymity, unrestricted data use, and high download speeds. As a result, we’re going to assess each VPN using the following criteria:
- Security: Encryption guarantees that other parties cannot eavesdrop on the VPN user’s behavior or the torrents they download. Encryption, in particular, helps keep internet service providers at bay. A VPN kill switch and DNS leak prevention are required to guarantee that no personally identifiable information escapes from your computer or mobile device.
- Logging policy: A P2P VPN service must be logless, which means it must not record or store your activities. Additionally, IP addresses are not recorded. In an ideal world, the provider gathers no information and so cannot be hacked or blackmailed into disclosing client information. More information on each VPN’s logging policy may be found here.
- Bandwidth restriction: Specific VPNs impose data quotas or bandwidth restrictions, which impede or prohibit downloads over a certain threshold. We want to avoid them since torrents often use a large amount of data.
- Speed: The torrent VPN we suggest performs far better than average in our speed testing.
- Shared IPs: For torrenting, we advise VPNs that employ shared IP addresses. This implies that you share your IP address with dozens, if not hundreds, of other users. Shared IP addresses provide an additional degree of anonymity, making it more difficult to track down your activities.
Kodi and Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time’s video streaming service is based on torrents. While you may not be physically downloading files from The Pirate Bay to your hard drive, make no mistake: using these programs does not make you less accountable in the eyes of the law. When you use Popcorn Time, you can download and upload content concurrently.
Certain Kodi add-ons also use torrents to get video feeds. Keep an eye out for a platform called Acestreams that is very new. Acestreams take advantage of peer-to-peer BitTorrent connections to allow concurrent users to share a stream’s burden. This implies that your connection is shared with others, potentially posing security and online privacy concerns that can normally be avoided with the use of a torrent VPN. Acestreams are gaining popularity as a platform for live and on-demand video.
How torrenting works when a NAT Firewall is in place
Numerous VPN providers have built-in NAT firewalls that restrict connections from peers on peer-to-peer networks and other unwanted connections. This may prevent torrents from running correctly since they depend on P2P networks.
You may be able to deactivate the NAT firewall somewhere in the VPN program’s settings, depending on the product. Otherwise, port forwarding will be required. Typically, this is a manual process in which the VPN provider assigns a particular port for P2P communication. The user’s BitTorrent client must be configured to use this port. If the VPN provider’s website does not show the port, the user must contact customer care and ask for it.
The critical nature of kill switches
The VPN kill switch suspends all internet traffic if the VPN connection is lost for any reason. This keeps your true IP address and torrent traffic from being exposed to your ISP’s unencrypted network, exposing your behavior to your ISP, copyright trolls, and hackers. This is why it is critical to either bind your IP address (as described below) or to utilize the kill switch.
On their desktop versions, the best VPN for torrenting we suggest has a kill switch, although it may not be activated by default. Ensure that it is enabled in the settings. Android and iOS VPN applications are significantly less likely to provide kill switches.
Bear in mind that not all kill switches are equal. While a basic lost connection is relatively straightforward to prepare for, the kill switch may be incapable of dealing with various forms of network disturbances, crashes, and configuration changes. More information on leaks that occur in these settings may be found in our VPN leak testing study, which will be expanded to include other VPNs in the future. IP address and IP traffic leaks are the two forms of leaks that are most relevant to torrenters.
Is it required to bind your IP address prior to torrent download?
IP binding is a necessary precaution if you want to guarantee that all torrent downloads occur through the P2P VPN. By associating your torrent client with an IP address, you may restrict downloads to that IP address. This implies that you may configure the client to download torrents only while connected to a certain P2P VPN server. When the VPN connection ends or you disconnect, the downloads stop, thus providing a kill switch for your VPN without interfering with other programs and services. This ensures that no torrent traffic is routed via your actual IP address.
Examine the settings of your torrent management software to see if it supports IP binding. uTorrent supports this on Windows, whereas Azureus Vuze supports it on both Mac and Windows.
How to stay safe while downloading torrents
Malware thrives on torrent websites and torrents themselves. Because torrents are peer-to-peer, they often go undetected by viruses and malware. In early 2018, 400,000 customers were affected by a virus epidemic triggered by a Russian torrent client. It’s a good idea to check any torrent you download with reputable, up-to-date antivirus software. If the website from where you acquired the file has a comment area, other users may have already made mention of possible hazards. This is particularly true for software and video games, which include several files, making harmful files simpler to conceal.
Is port forwarding required to download torrents?
Port forwarding is a divisive issue among torrent users. According to some, it speeds up downloads by enabling their torrent software to connect to additional peers.
Others believe that it is superfluous and, when combined with a torrenting VPN service, simply serves to complicate torrenting and may even compromise user privacy. This is because all other users sharing the same VPN IP address will be restricted to the same ports, except for the user who decides to port forward. This makes it easier to track P2P activity back to a particular user.
Most commercial VPN clients do not support port forwarding and function very well without it. For those who do, configure your torrent client’s options to include the forwarded port. Port forwarding with a VPN is not dependent on port forwarding on your router. NAT-PMP and/or uPNP mapping may need to be disabled for the torrent client.
FAQs about the best VPN for torrenting
What legal ramifications does torrenting have?
Although torrents have become associated with copyright infringement and piracy, the underlying technology is not unlawful in and of itself. There are perfectly legal file sharing and torrent sites that are frequently utilized, such as SXSW and content that is in the public domain.
However, if you frequent ThePirateBay, uTorrent, RARBG, Putlocker, Zooqle, 1337X, or KickassTorrents, the likelihood is that the content you download is not legal. Government authorities have the authority to penalize you for committing a civil infraction, while ISPs and copyright holders threaten and, in certain situations, take legal action against you. While it is unlikely that a record business would sue someone, they may pursue compensation via settlements.
The following is a brief overview of the torrenting regulations in many countries:
United States of America
In the United States, it is unlawful to download copyrighted content. ISPs often enforce a three-strike policy against customers who illegally download torrents. Downloading non-copyrighted information is entirely lawful.
Making illegal copies of musical recordings, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) website, may result in civil action. It may potentially result in a five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.
Copyright holders often act via copyright trolls, who monitor torrenters’ IP addresses and issue settlement letters asking for payment. These companies have the legal authority to sue on behalf of copyright owners, but since an IP address does not establish an identity in the United States, the wisest course of action for recipients is to ignore them.
The January 2014 passage of the Copyright Modernization Act mandates ISPs to provide notifications to copyright offenders on their networks. For a period of six months, the receivers’ identities are recorded on ISP servers. Copyright holders cannot sue for more than $5,000 in damages when the copy is used for non-commercial reasons, which is hardly worth the time or effort in most circumstances.
Although the notice system is educational rather than legal, ISPs may still punish torrenters by shutting down bandwidth.
Larger ISPs are obligated by law to alert users in the form of a stop and desist order when the British Phonographic Industry discovers them downloading torrents. ISPs retain the authority to impose bandwidth restrictions and disconnect subscribers. However, ISPs with fewer than 400,000 users are exempt from this rule.
Even if no monetary gain is involved, copyright holders can prosecute uploaders and downloaders for damages.
In the United Kingdom, most ISPs block prominent torrent trackers like ThePirateBay, however, they may still be accessed with a VPN service.
Piracy is a criminal offense in Australia, however, enforcement is lax. It is not unheard of for a copyright holder to successfully sue ISPs for the names of torrenters, from whom they may subsequently seek compensation via a procedure known as speculative invoicing, although it is uncommon.
A “three-strikes” plan under which ISPs would alert torrenters on behalf of copyright holders was shelved earlier this year over cost disagreements.
ISPs have banned several torrent trackers and other websites that host pirated content, such as The Pirate Bay, in response to a court ruling. In 2016, an Australian federal court ordered internet service providers to restrict BitTorrent tracker websites such as ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and SolarMovie. This is still accessible using the VPN service mentioned above.
Parliament amended the Copyright Act in late 2018. This change enables ISPs to restrict proxy servers and mirror sites—duplicates of torrent trackers that are created after the original site is blocked—without having to seek a new injunction for each violation. Similarly, Google and other search engines must demote or delete links to infringing websites, as well as their proxies and mirrors.
We’ve included a section on the Netherlands since there is a widespread misperception that copyrighted works are legal in that country. As of 2014, this is not the case. As this is a civil crime rather than a criminal one, you will not be pursued by law enforcement, but you may be penalized.
However, since the law prohibits unduly excessive penalties, the amount of damages that copyright holders may seek is limited. Dutch Filmworks was granted authority by the Netherlands’ privacy watchdog, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP), to collect IP addresses of anybody unlawfully downloading movies in early 2018. The corporation has the authority to penalize users and has set a cost of 150 euros for each video.
In Germany, it is unlawful to download copyrighted content without authorization. Typically, enforcement is conducted by legal firms that represent copyright holders (see: copyright trolls). Typically, fines run up to 1,000 euros.
In a similar fashion to the United States, copyright trolls threaten torrenters after establishing their IP address. While we are not legal experts in German law, the consensus of what to do if you get a letter is similar to that in the United States: disregard it if it does not identify you by name and does not come directly from the police.
It’s worth noting that if someone downloads content over an unprotected wifi network, the owner of the network may be held accountable for damages, even if they were unaware of the illicit activities. The fine is often in the region of 100 euros.
In India, the regulations governing online piracy are a bit hazy. According to a series of 2016 news stories, just browsing particular online sites or torrent files (rather than the copyrighted content itself) was enough to subject surfers to severe fines and prison time. This is not accurate; the notion originated from an erroneous warning shown by Indian ISPs when customers attempted to access restricted websites.
Piracy is illegal in India, as it is everywhere, and might result in fines or prison time, however, enforcement seems to be focused on redistribution, such as bootlegging and selling stolen content, rather than personal use.
PrivacyExplore never condones or promotes piracy. Kindly use only legal torrents.
Are there any free VPNs that are suitable for torrenting?
Generally, using a free VPN for anonymous torrenting is a no-no. Many free VPN providers restrict P2P activity due to high bandwidth requirements. Others are insecure, and a good deal of them have data limitations. With free services, the prevalent adage is that if you do not purchase the product, you are the product. This is particularly true given that a VPN is not just a piece of software; it is a continuous service that needs continuing funding and maintenance.
TunnelBear, Windscribe, and Hide.me’s free tiers are all somewhat more respectable, but they come with speed and data limits that make torrenting difficult. TunnelBear and VPNGate, a community-run VPN project, forbid P2P file sharing expressly.
Additionally, we bypassed some premium VPN services. Due to their logging practices, PureVPN, VyprVPN, HideMyAss, Overplay, and Hotspot Shield all failed to make the cut. Due to performance issues, IronSocket and BolehVPN were omitted.
Other ostensibly free VPNs for torrenting may compromise your privacy rather than enhancing it. Several of them maintain records of your behavior, implant tracking cookies into your web browser, insert adverts into online sites, and even deliver malware payloads.
Certain unscrupulous free VPN services may be collecting and selling customers’ personal data to other parties. One such high-profile example involved Hola, an Israeli-based free VPN company. Hola was detected selling customers’ bandwidth, and the company was chastised for being unclear about how each Hola user became a network node rather than having its dedicated VPN servers.
VPNGate is an incredible scholarly endeavor based in Japan that strives to uncensor the web for those who live in repressive anti-free expression regimes. It relies on a network of volunteer nodes located across the globe to act as relays. It does, however, prohibit P2P file sharing activities that would clog the network, and it maintains records for up to three months to assist in weeding out misuse and illegal conduct.
Although IronSocket does not maintain logs, the bulk of its servers specifically forbid P2P activity. These non-P2P servers disable P2P connections entirely. Even if it does not maintain logs, it is monitoring your behavior in some way.
How can VPNs safeguard your anonymity while torrenting?
A VPN protects your privacy while torrenting in two essential ways.
To begin, it conceals your torrenting activity from your ISP and anybody else on your local and ISP networks. Since all files downloaded and uploaded using BitTorrent are encrypted as they move through the server networks of your ISP, their content cannot be detected. It would take an enormous amount of time and effort on the part of your ISP to even try to overcome the encryption used by your VPN service.
Second, a VPN hides your IP address from other users who are downloading and/or uploading the same files as you. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing protocol. This implies that everyone who downloads the same torrent file is linked in a “swarm” Each device linked to the swarm has access to all of the other devices’ IP addresses. Numerous BitTorrent clients also enable you to examine a list of other devices to whom you are connected when leeching or seeding data on the network.
Without the usage of a VPN, your public IP address may be used to determine your approximate location and internet service provider. This is how copyright trolls locate torrent users and threaten them with settlement letters (read about how to respond to these in our torrenting safety and legal guide).
A VPN conceals your IP address, allowing other devices in the swarm to view just the P2P VPN server’s IP address. The best torrent VPNs often employ shared IP addresses, which means that dozens, if not hundreds, of users share the same IP address. Due to the vast number of users, it is very hard to attribute torrenting activities to a particular individual. Additionally, if you are using a logless VPN we suggest, the VPN provider will not have any user information to share with a third party.
Additionally, masking your IP address protects you from hackers who may use it as a backdoor into your system, get personal information about you, or even harass you at your house. Your IP address is similar to your home address, only it is unique to your computer. Someone familiar with it can ascertain your whereabouts.
Why would you want to conceal your IP address while torrenting?
Torrenting is often related to piracy, and stealing is defined as piracy. Additionally, torrenting exposes you to content from unknown sources, making it generally desired to secure your identity. We highly advise you to only torrent content that you have the legal right to access to avoid getting into trouble. If someone is apprehended, it is unlikely that the police or the copyright owner will come knocking.
Copyright holders are often huge media businesses who subcontract piracy lawsuits to unscrupulous legal firms known as “copyright trolls.” Copyright trolls scour popular torrent sites for the unique IP addresses of machines connected to the swarm to post or download content. They then associate those IP addresses with the internet service providers that allocated them to users. Copyright trolls contact each torrenter through their ISP and send them a settlement letter or a copyright infringement notice. Settlement letters demand payment and threaten users with legal action if they do not comply.
As you would expect, concealing your IP address is common among BitTorrent users. VPN will substitute the VPN server’s IP address for your own. Regrettably, not all of them perform admirably. The majority of VPNs do not protect against some sort of leak, which might reveal your true IP address to other parties. There are many types of leaks, including DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, and WebRTC leaks.
- DNS leaks occur when an IPv4 address is exposed when a DNS request is made outside of an encrypted VPN tunnel. The VPN we suggest provide protection from this sort of leak.
- When IPv4 traffic passes through the tunnel but IPv6 traffic does not, IPv6 leaks occur. This is a typical occurrence on Windows 10 computers. While some VPNs guard against this, it’s best to just stop IPv6 if you’re seeing this leak.
- WebRTC is a technology that enables audio and video chat applications to function in your browser, such as Skype for Chrome. Even if you’re connected to a VPN, a WebRTC request might disclose your true IP address. Although very few VPNs provide protection against WebRTC leaks, you may also stop WebRTC on your browser.
The finest VPN applications safeguard against all of these breaches in all circumstances. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are notable for their leak-proof capabilities, which are achieved via a mix of kill switches and leak prevention methods. Even if your connection is broken in any way, the tunnel contains no identifiable traffic.
Additionally, it is critical to choose a VPN that maintains no records. Numerous VPN providers claim to be logless, although this often refers to traffic records of your online activity. Numerous ostensibly “no-log” VPNs continue to log customers’ IP addresses, which is unacceptable for torrenters and anybody else concerned about their privacy. The VPN we suggest does not keep records of user traffic or IP addresses.
Are all VPNs compatible with torrenting?
The majority of VPNs permit torrenting. After all, concealing P2P file sharing is a frequent reason to purchase VPNs. At the very least, the VPN you use should provide a kill switch and never record your IP address or activity. Which VPNs match those three requirements is shown in the table below.
Even if your VPN service permits torrenting, it may require you to utilize specified servers or regions. Consult your provider’s website or customer support to see whether servers are torrent-friendly.
Is it possible to boost your torrenting speed by utilizing a VPN?
If your ISP throttles BitTorrent transmission, a VPN may increase your torrenting speed. Because the VPN’s encryption conceals the fact that you’re torrenting, your ISP is unable to discriminate against certain forms of internet traffic.
Otherwise, a VPN will either have no impact on torrenting speeds or will significantly slow them down, depending on the bandwidth differential between the VPN and your internet connection.
What is a peer-to-peer VPN?
A peer-to-peer (P2P) VPN is any VPN that allows you to conceal your torrenting activities. The best P2P VPNs maintain zero logs, provide kill switches, use robust encryption, and provide fast download speeds. The VPN we suggest can be used as a P2P VPN.
What is the best VPN for novices to use for torrenting?
The VPN we propose is quite simple to use and should pose no difficulty for novices. I’d suggest going with a VPN that has a money-back warranty and live chat assistance 24 hours a day. Our support team can swiftly assist you with any issues you may have when setting up and using a VPN. If you’re not satisfied, take advantage of the guarantee and try another.
What is the best VPN for Android torrenting?
The VPN we suggest offers Android applications, not all of which provide a kill switch. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN may be configured to block all internet traffic when the VPN connection is lost.
Which country’s VPN service is optimal for torrenting?
Certain VPNs route torrent users to servers in specified regions. Among other places, torrenting servers are typically located in the Netherlands and Canada.
However, which nation you connect to for torrenting should ultimately be irrelevant. If your VPN is safe and does not keep any identifying records, you should be able to torrent in any country while connected to a VPN.
What is a Tracker for Torrents?
Simply put, a torrent tracker is a program that assists users in locating and downloading torrents from peers on the BitTorrent network. BitTorrent often keeps portions of data on the computers of many users. When you attempt to download a file, the tracker locates all of the components on other users’ computers and supports you in reassembling the file.
Numerous major trackers serve as BitTorrent search engines as well.
Which server location is optimal for torrenting?
If your VPN service does not maintain records, any location should be OK. Your VPN provider will not know your identity or the activities you engage in while connected to the VPN.
To be secure, here are a few more considerations to make when selecting a VPN server location for torrenting:
- Connect to a country other than the one in which your VPN is based.
- Disconnect from the United States of America.
- Avoid connecting to the nation in which you are presently located.
- Connect to a server that is geographically close to you to boost performance.
- Verify that your VPN uses P2P-optimized servers.
You may get information advising you to connect to the Netherlands owing to the country’s lenient copyright rules. This is incorrect advice. Copyright infringement is unlawful in Holland, and the country’s anti-piracy regulations are consistent with the rest of the EU. While the Netherlands may have been a haven for pirates a decade ago, downloading pirated media became officially illegal in 2014. In 2021, there is no benefit in connecting to Amsterdam for torrenting.
Comcast can still monitor my torrent downloading activity even if I use a VPN.
No, as long as your VPN does not maintain records and provides enough security. Comcast has no method of monitoring what you do using VPN, due to encryption and the VPN server acting as a proxy to the internet.
If your VPN connection stops abruptly while downloading, Comcast may be able to trace your activity. Ascertain that your VPN has a kill switch and that it is enabled in the app’s settings. A kill switch will disconnect your internet connection if a VPN connection is lost for whatever reason, protecting your anonymity until the VPN connection is restored.
Which port is the most suitable for torrenting?
To prevent being banned or blacklisted, you’ll want to utilize a port number greater than 10000. Numerous analysts indicate a port in the ephemeral range 49152–65535 as a possible location. Numerous torrent clients use ports 6881 to 6889 as their default.
In actuality, your port number is irrelevant as long as no other applications or services on your device are using it.
It’s worth noting that the majority of VPNs do not support port-forwarding due to security concerns. PrivateVPN is an exception since it enables port forwarding inside the VPN program.