In this article, we will look at the best VPNs for Popcorn Time in 2017. Popcorn Time (PT) is an open source app that allows you to stream high quality video content to all major platforms. It is notable for having a very slick and intuitive interface, and for providing access to a huge library of up-to-date content.
The thing is, however, that Popcorn Time uses BitTorrent P2P technology to do its thing. In many ways this is great. The BitTorrent protocol is a very efficient delivery system, and because Popcorn Time leverages content from regular torrent sites, the latest TV shows and movie releases are always available.
The downside of this is that the content available on Popcorn Time is copyrighted. And because PT uses the BitTorrent protocol, it is very easy for copyright holders to track down users. It is for this reason that using a VPN is vital when streaming with Popcorn Time.
For further discussion on the dangers of using Popcorn Time, plus a look at the best PT forks, please head down to the end of this article. But first, let’s look at our pick of the best VPNs for Popcorn Time 2017.
Best Popcorn Time VPN: Summary
|10/10||$8.32 / month||Visit Site|
|8.8/10||$6.49 / month||Visit Site|
|8.4/10||$5.75 / month||Visit Site|
|8/10||$4.92 / month||Visit Site|
|7.4/10||$4.82 / month||Visit Site|
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No usage logs
- Servers in 78 countries
- Great customer service
- P2P: yes
- Connection logs
- A bit pricey
ExpressVPN has honed user-friendliness to an art form. Although its Windows, Mac, iOS and Android apps look simple (and thus are a doddle to use), they pack the most important features a VPN user (and in particular a Popcorn Time user) could hope for – full firewall-based DNS leak protection and kill switch. WebRTC protection and a superb OpenVPN encryption suite complete the picture.
And this user-focused attitude goes well beyond its software. ExpressVPN offers an industry-leading 30-day money-back guarantee, servers just about everywhere (including “stealth” servers in Hong Kong), and 24/7 customer service. It is no wonder that ExpressVPN consistently tops our five best lists!
Additional features include three simultaneous connections, WebRTC protection, free SmartDNS, and .onion web address.
- No logs at all
- Client with VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
- Five simultaneous connections
- Smart DNS included
- Accepts bitcoin
- Based in US
- So-so support
This large, US-based VPN service keeps no logs whatsoever, accepts payment in bitcoin, and permits torrenting. As with ExpressVPN, IPVanish offers a generous five simultaneous connections and throws in a Smart DNS service for free. Its apps are also streamlined, yet feature DNS leak protection and a kill switch.
Additional features: P2P allowed, mobile apps for all operating systems, seven-day money-back guarantee.
- No logs at all
- Up to six devices at once
- Fantastic value for money
- Servers in 47 countries worldwide
- Excellent technology
- Speeds can be slow
Arguably the best thing about this privacy-focused VPN provider is that it is based in Panama. Not only does this place it firmly outside the NSA and GCHQ’s direct influence, but it should make it pretty darn resistant to legal action by copyright holders. Not that this really matters, as NordVPN keeps no logs at all.
NordVPN also uses great encryption, accepts payment in bitcoins, and offers “double-hop” VPN for those who want it. Unfortunately, many of NordVPN’s servers are rather slow. But with a little trial and error, fast ones are available.
Additional features: P2P is permitted, DNS leak protection, per-app kill switch (desktop clients).
- No logs at all
- Five simultaneous devices
- Accepts bitcoin
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- P2P: yes
- Not much
This small Bulgarian company features a seven-day free trial, fantastic connection speeds, and has among the most friendly and helpful support I have come across. Its desktop client is a custom version of Viscocity, and offers DNS leak protection, disables IPv6, and provides a per-app kill switch. The auto IP feature changes your IP every five minutes, which is interesting. VPNArea runs servers in 60 countries, which are a mixture of bare-metal and VPS instances.
Additional features include great customer service and a seven-day money-back guarantee.
- Open source with DNS leak protection and kill switch
- No logs (at all)
- VPN through Tor
- Accepts bitcoin
- P2P: yes
- Techy-ness puts people off
- Customer support could be better
- Limited number of servers worldwide
When it comes to caring for customers’ privacy and for technical whizz-bang, AirVPN is hard to beat. This tech-heavy focus, combined with a rather brusk support style, however, makes this Italian VPN service less popular that it otherwise deserves to be. AirVPN’s open source VPN client (“Eddie”) offers a firewall-based kill switch and DNS leak protection, port selection, and more.
AirVPN also uses very strong encryption, permits VPN obfuscation using SSH and SSL tunneling, supports anonymous VPN use via VPN through Tor, and allows port forwarding. It permits P2P and is very fast, making it ideal for PT users!
Additional features include real-time user and server statistics, VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, a three-day free trial, and three simultaneous connections.
Popcorn Time VPN: Considerations
Why You Need to Use a VPN with Popcorn Time
It is important to understand that under that funky and easy-to-use interface, Popcorn Time is a fairly regular BitTorrent client. It is just that rather than downloading video content, PT allows you to stream it.
This means that watching movies and TV shows on Popcorn Time looks exactly like regular torrenting to outside observers. And like torrenting, this can get you into big trouble.
Note that in some countries downloading copyrighted content is illegal but streaming is not. Even then, however, lawyers could argue that PT caches content in order to deliver a smooth experience. So you have in fact downloaded content.
Regardless, I think we can all agree that having to argue your case in court is a far from ideal outcome!
How VPN Services Protect You
When you “download” a file, via BitTorrent, what you are really doing is sharing pieces of that file with anyone else also downloading or sharing that file.
Here in Vuze I can easily see the IP address of everyone one else who is sharing the same file as me.
In Popcorn Time this process is hidden under the covers, but it is the same process. And it should come as no surprise that copyright holders routinely monitor P2P downloads of their intellectual property in order to catch “pirates.”
Using a VPN Protects You in Two Ways
- It acts as a proxy that sits between your computer (or other device) and the internet. This means that anyone on the internet will see the IP address of your VPN server, not your real IP address. This includes other file-sharers and copyright holders.
- Your ISP cannot see that you are streaming Popcorn Time content. Or anything else that you do on the internet, for that matter! This is because all data traveling between your computer and the VPN server is security encrypted.
Now, a copyright holder can approach your VPN provider and ask it to hand over your details. And some do. It is therefore vital to choose a VPN service that permits P2P (and, by extension, Popcorn Time). These undertake to protect customers from copyright holders, and often use tactics such as sharing IP addresses and keeping no logs of what their customers do on the internet in order to ensure they can do this effectively.
After all, if they have no records to hand over, they can simply explain that they cannot comply with a legal demand for information. No matter how forcefully made!
What to Do if You Are Caught
If you decide to skimp on paying for a VPN when streaming via Popcorn Time, then you might get a stern warning from your ISP.
More alarming is the increasing practice of speculative invoicing. This is when legal firms (often referred to as to as “copyright trolls”), acting on behalf of copyright holders, threaten victims with legal action unless they cough up a cash settlement. These cash demands can range from tens to thousands of dollars.
If this happens to you, then consult the UK government’s official guidance and (much more useful in my opinion) TorrentFreak’s Speculative Invoicing Handbook. Both these documents relate to the UK, but the advice given in them is also broadly useful if you live in Europe or North America.
Or just use a VPN in the first place!
Free VPNs and Popcorn Time
Free VPNs do exist, but there are invariably either dodgy (how can they afford to run an expensive service for free?) or are legit but severely limited (usually in the hope that you will pay for a more unlimited “premium” plan).
Probably most important for Popcorn Time users is that almost no free VPN service permits P2P. Exceptions such as Hotspot Shield and Betternet do exist, but limitations with their free services make streaming media using Popcorn Time an impractical proposition (at best!).
Popcorn Time Forks
Popcorn Time started life in 2014 as a single, open source app. The original developer, however, bowed down to legal threats by Warner Bros. He withdrew from the project and deleted all files from the Mega servers on which they were stored.
By then, however, the software was already widely available on torrent sites and other channels. And since it was open source, there was nothing to prevent other developers from picking up the ball and running with it.
There have consequently been a number of different Popcorn Time forks developed since the original shut up shop. All of these use the same basic Popcorn Time code and interface, but many have improved upon this and introduced new features.
Some of these forks have bitten the dust, and some have evolved in different ways. The three forks discussed below are the most stable and fully-featured forks still in existence. Even more importantly, they are the most reputable! Unfortunately, some rogue developers have released versions of Popcorn Time that include malware, while others have released forks that demand payment in order to use them.
Let me stress: Popcorn Time is a free and open source (FOSS) project. And no reputable version of the software will require you to pay money (although PTse does encourage you to sign-up for its partner VPN service, and PTCE invites voluntary bitcoin donations).
I also strongly advise that you only download these forks from their official websites.
For a long time, Popcorn Time.io was considered by the mainstream Popcorn Time Community to be the most “official” version of the software (whatever that means with FOSS software). Under pressure from the MPAA, the team split up. Some developers moved on to Butter Project. This is a PT fork that aims to stay on the right side of the law by not integrating copyrighted content.
Others continued to develop Popcorn Time, while leveraging the developments made to the core software by Butter Project. The result is Popcorn Time.sh.
PT.sh is available for Windows (7+), Mac OSX (10.7+), Linux , Android (4.03+), and Android TV (5.0+). Most content is available in both 720p and 1080p resolutions, and the default catalog is enormous and up-to-date.
Chromecast is supported (and now works well on the desktop while connected to a VPN), as is streaming via Airplay and DLNA. PT.se can also integrate with TVShow Time, Track.tv, and OpenSubtitles.
Formerly Time4Popcorn (T4P) and PT.eu, Popcorn Time.se was for a long time embroiled in a sometimes bitter rivalry with PT.sh. This rivalry has now been put to bed, and PT.se remains a driving force for Popcorn Time innovation.
Popcorn Time.se is available for Windows, Mac OSX (10.7+), Linux, and Android (4.0+). Most content is available in both 720p and 1080p resolutions. In my personal experience, PT.se has the best library of all the forks, especially when it comes to TV shows. This is a highly subjective view, however.
Chromecast is supported and works with a VPN connected on all platforms.
PopcornTime.se includes a built-in VPN, courtesy of AnonymousVPN. This costs $12 per month (or $5.75 per month if billed annually). We have an AnonymousVPN Review, but the reviewer is no longer with BestVPN.com. I personally do not recommend the service.
This popup warning when you start to stream using PT.se is mildly irritating. It can be safely ignored, however, if you are using a third party VPN provider (such as those listed above).
This more recent fork was independently developed by the Popcorn Time community, and “created by dozens of developers from all around the world!”
It is pretty much identical to PT.sh, and offers the same features. There is an additional button soliciting (100% voluntary) bitcoin donations, however, and the library of titles does not seem to be as large or up-to-date as those of the other Popcorn Time forks discussed here.
VPN for Popcorn Time: Conclusion
Popcorn Time is a great piece of software, and one that should make its commercial rivals very nervous. Do be aware, however, that under most jurisdictions, you can get into trouble for using it. It is therefore vital, if you wish to stay safe, to protect yourself with a VPN.
Best VPN List: Summary
[top5table ExpressVPN IPVanish NordVPN VPNArea AirVPN ratings=”5,4.4,4.2,4,3.7″ ExpressVPN=”/goto/expressvpn_popcorn” IPVanish=”/goto/ipvanish_popcorn” NordVPN=”/goto/nordvpn_popcorn” VPNArea=”/goto/vpnarea_popcorn” AirVPN=”/go