Black Friday

5 Best VPNs for Downloading

Pete Zaborszky

Pete Zaborszky

May 29, 2013

One of the most popular reasons for using a VPN service is to provide anonymity when downloading games, movies, books, music etc. that may be copyrighted.Downloading illegal content is incredibly popular, with an estimated 150 million+ internet users engaging in the activity each month. Unfortunately, the most wide-spread, most convenient and most popular means to doing this, P2P filesharing using a BitTorrent client such as µTorrent or Vuze, is also highly insecure, allowing copyright holders and enforcers to relatively easily discover, through the use of BitTorrent tracking, the IP addresses that files are downloaded to.

This is particularly worrying given the increased militancy with which anti-piracy bodies are pursuing alleged copyright infringers, and the way in which the laws of many counties are being twisted out shape to deny their citizens’ most basic rights to privacy, all in the name of protecting the finical interests of a small (but extremely powerful) entertainment industry. When you also consider that (for example) the US movie industry alone made $40 billion profits in 2011 ($88.8bn worldwide), or that reports (such as a recent one by the highly respected European Commission Joint Research Centre) continually point to how filesharing may in fact benefit the music industry, the insanity and iniquity of this approach becomes increasingly clear.

Nevertheless, copyright holders are increasingly taking to the courts, demanding ISPs hand over records relating to client accused to filesharing, and then ‘speculatively invoicing’ those clients, demanding immediate payment of damages at the threat ruinous legal action, despite the considerable legal challenges involved in proving an individual is responsible for piracy. A particularly odious recent development has been for ‘copyright trolls’ (speculative invoicing legal firms) to threaten accused porn pirates with calls to their neighbors in an attempt to embarrass them into paying up.

VPN is a fairly easy, low cost, and highly effective way to protect yourself from being identified by copyright holders, as a secure encrypted tunnel through which all your internet traffic is routed is created between your computer and the VPN server. This means that not even your ISP can monitor your online activity, and that your internet ‘trail’ stops at the VPN server. The only weak point in the chain is the VPN provider, who can see what you get up to on the internet, so it is vital that you choose one who keeps no logs. No logs equals nothing to hand over that can identify your on-line activity, even in the event of legal action (or even server raids) targeting the VPN provider.

We therefore only recommend VPN providers that keep no logs, especially of you plan to use VPN to protect yourself while downloading.




  • PROS
  • Easy-to-use software
  • Excellent speeds
  • Good customer service
  • CONS
  • Bit pricey, but worth it for the features

With apps across all platforms and a mobile clients that blows the competition away, ExpressVPN secures our vote as the Best VPN for downloading. The download speeds are impressive and the software is straightforward to use. We really love some of the features like automatic protocol selection and server location recommendations.

ExpressVPN boasts round-the-clock customer support and an ultra reliable VPN network spanning 78 countries and hundreds of servers. They are also adding new locations all the time. These guys have done a pretty awesome job in building what we believe to be the best VPN service out there.

The pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. ExpressVPN also offers unlimited bandwidth and supports your mobile device (Android/iOS) for no extra charge.

Try Out the Best VPN for Downloading Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

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2nd place


  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Transparent service
  • Fast
  • Excellent attitude to privacy
  • VPN though SSL and SSH tunnels
  • Tor over VPN
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • None

Another company with a great regard for its users privacy is AirVPN, which offers a rather different set of features to PIA. It also keeps no logs and accepts Bitcoin payments, but rather than provide a fancy VNP client and Android app, it offers total ‘transparency’ by allowing its users to monitor its entire network in beautifully presented real-time, uses super-secure 256-bit AES encryption, and supports advanced privacy enabling technologies such as VPN over Tor, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels.

» Visit AirVPN

3rd place


  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Speedy
  • Great free service
  • Groovy VPN client
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • VPN client is Windows only (although OpenVPN setup guides are provided for other platforms)
  • Does not accept Bitcoin

CyberGhost is a Romanian provider who keeps no logs, has a good VPN client with built-in VPN disconnection protection, and who also run a pretty good free service. The fact that it doesn’t accept Bitcoin payments is a bit of a shame, but won’t affect most users, who will than likely be more appreciative of the very generous 30 free trial.

4th place


  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Good speeds
  • Cheap
  • Client features internet kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • A number of things didn’t work

We like companies that take privacy seriously, and Mullvad scores very well in this regard. It keeps no logs, accepts Bitcoin payments, and will even accept payment sent in cash through the post (the only company we are aware of to do so)! Mullvad’s Windows, OSX and Linux VPN client is one our favorites, and features DNS leak protection, port forwarding and an internet kill switch. Unfortunately not everything is so perfect, and Mullvad need to do a little work to make everything run as smoothly as it should. Still, Mullvad shows loads of promise, and despite a couple of flaws we give it our thumbs-up.

» Visit Mullvad

5th place


  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • Very ‘no frills’

BTGuard is a Canadian company that has the distinction of being recommended by leading internet freedom and BitTorrent activist organization, TorrentFreak. We found the service a little on the basic side though, with the open source OpenVPN client offering nothing in the way of extra features, and the speed test results, while perfectly ok, a tad disappointing. That said, with 256-bit AES encryption and a strict no logs policy, BTGuard has it where it counts, and therefore receives our full endorsement.

» Visit BTGuard


The world is becoming an increasing dangerous place for P2P file downloaders, but thanks to VPN technology it is possible to ‘slip under the radar’ and protect your anonymity from those who would spy on you, be they copyright enforcers, ISPs or governments. Just remember that any technology is only as secure as those who operate it, so be sure to choose your VPN provider carefully. The above providers are all (to the best of our knowledge) solid choices who care about your privacy and take robust measures to protect it.

And here’s the summary once more:


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