Protecting your identity online today is a must. From hackers, ISPs and governments. Especially if you’re torrenting. Here’s the 5 best VPNs to do that:
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Not familiar with VPNs? Here’s our handy guide to torrenting, P2P, and filesharing.
Privacy is especially important for those who torrent. Here’s why.
So, which VPNs are best for torrenting (also known as P2P and filesharing)?
Our experts took a look at 5 VPN services, rating them on speed, customer service and more importantly privacy. Based on those factors, here are their top five picks:
- Fantastic mobile and desktop apps
- End-to-end encryption
- Good customer care
- Servers in 61+ countries
- P2P: yes
- Medium speeds
- Slightly above average pricing
NordVPN takes a hard line on privacy, which makes it great for torrenting users. This excellent VPN is based in Panama. It keeps users private and secure with 256-bit AES encryption. It permits bitcoin payments and has a strict zero logs policy. Their speeds are excellent which is probably the most important thing for torrenting.
NordVPN servers in 47 countries, including lesser-represented areas such as South America and South East Asia. As well as its OS X and windows client, mobile users will love NordVPN’s dedicated iOS and Android App.
You can try Nord VPN for torrenting today – just click on the button below and make use of the risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee.
Try the best P2P VPN now!Visit NordVPN »30 day moneyback guarantee
- No Usage Logs - Total Privacy!
- High-Speed Servers
- 256-bit Blowfish Encryption
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Five Simultaneous Connections
- OpenVPN Protocols
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Pricey but worth it!
Buffered is one of the best VPN for torrenting. Located in Hungary, keeps no usage logs, and uses shared IPs, which makes it impossible for anyone to identify the user. It has amazing speeds, and so has earned the crown in this list. In addition, Buffered offers a generous six simultaneous connections and compatibility with plenty of platforms. This means that you can use the VPN to torrent on just about any device you own. Other perks of the Hungary provider includes servers in 35 countries worldwide and a sweet port discovery feature for public WiFi, a techie feature that no other VPN has. Support is 24/7 live chat, so any problems you can reach them quickly, and a generous 30 day moneyback guarantee if you don’t like anything and want a refund.
- Protects your data - no logs at all
- Makes you impossible to identify with shared IPs
- Servers in 61 countries
- Torrenting allowed
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Based in USA – where the NSA could come knocking
- So-so support
IPVanish is our #3 pick for best VPNs for filesharing. Despite the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs, the USA doesn’t have any mandatory data retention laws. IPVanish takes full advantage of this to offer a fast and effective no-logs VPN service that is also torrent-friendly. And with servers in over 60 countries, you’ll always find one nearby. Those who value privacy will also appreciate that IPVanish accepts Bitcoin payments. Additional features: two simultaneous connections, Android app. Try it now with a seven-day money-back guarantee:
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- 30-day money back guarantee
- Good privacy - no usage logs
- Servers in 94 countries
- Supports multiple devices – up to three simultaneous connections
- Great customer service
- Torrenting allowed
- Connection logs
- A bit pricey
Although ExpressVPN does keep some connection logs, it’s based in the British Virgin Islands. This means it can happily protect your privacy with little fear of legal retribution. If you’re using a VPN for more than just torrenting, ExpressVPN is a great choice (in fact, it hit #1 on our list of top VPNs in 2017). Performance is ridiculously fast. Customer service is excellent. And its 30-day genuinely no-quibble money back guarantee really is all it claims to be. It also offers powerful but easy-to-use apps for Windows, OSX, Linux (command line), iOS, and Android, plus custom router firmware. ExpressVPN operates stealth servers in Hong Kong to defeat not just the Great Firewall of China but internet censorship everywhere. Additional features: free SmartDNS. Give it a test drive with that genuinely quibble-free 30-day money-back guarantee:
Visit ExpressVPN »
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- Servers in 29 countries
- Strong OpenVPN
- Keeps no logs
- Cheap pricing
- No built-in DNS leak protection
When it comes to VPNs for torrenting, PrivateVPN is one of the most budget-friendly options, ringing in at only $4.46 per month for an annual plan. It slow cost doesn't mean it sacrifices security: It boasts a strict no logs policy, strong encryption, and a built-in killswitch. It also has other attractive features such as servers in 29 countries, six simultaneous connections, and super fast connections.
The major downside to using PrivateVPN for torrenting is that it has no built-in DNS leak protection. However, after extensive testing we didn't detect any DNS leaks, so its software seems up to snuff.
Best VPNs for Torrenting Compared Side by Side
|1||NordVPN review||$3.29 / month||Visit Site|
|2||Buffered review||$8.25 / month||Visit Site|
|3||IPVanish review||$5.19 / month||Visit Site|
|4||ExpressVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|5||PrivateVPN review||$2.98 / month||Visit Site|
Protect Yourself Today
Privacy matters. Especially when you’re torrenting. So if you aren’t already using a VPN, now’s the time.
And if you’re still feeling unsure about which to choose? Don’t forget that all five of our top picks have money-back guarantees or free trials. Which means it’s as simple as choosing the one that sounds best to you and taking it for a test drive. If you hate it, you can grab a refund and try another option.
Torrenting and P2P VPN Considerations
The names torrenting, “downloading”, P2P (peer-to-peer), and file-sharing all basically mean the same thing. Namely, obtaining content via the BitTorrent protocol. The way the BitTorrent protocol works, however, means that VPNs for torrenting are essential if you wish to protect yourself while downloading.
BitTorrent is a very efficient way to download files, and the fact that no centralized servers are required ensure its popularity among those unconcerned with copyright issues. Unfortunately, copyright holders are concerned with such issues. And this is where the BitTorrent protocol can be something of a liability to its users
As the last two synonyms I list above (P2P and file-sharing) suggest, when you “download” a torrent file you are really sharing pieces of that file with anyone else also downloading or sharing that file.
A potentially nasty side-effect of this is that all these “peers” can see your IP address (and you can see theirs).
Here in Vuze I can easily see the IP address of everyone one else who is sharing the same file as me
It should come as a surprise to nobody, then, that copyright holders routinely monitor P2P downloads of their intellectual property (IP) in order to catch “pirates”. The good news is that if you torrent with a VPN it will protect you from this, as long as the provider permits P2P. Not all do!
How do VPNs for torrenting protect me?
Using a VPN creates an encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server run by a VPN provider. This VPN server then acts as a proxy, sitting between you and the internet. For a full discussion on the benefits this provides, check out my VPNs for Beginners guide. With regards to P2P, however, the key points are:
- Your ISP cannot see what you get up to on the internet as all data that passes between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted. This means that your ISP cannot see that you are torrenting, or indeed what you are torrenting.
- Anyone watching from the internet (e.g. copyright holders who monitor the IP addresses of torrent users who download their content) will see the IP address of the VPN server, not your real IP address. In other words, using a VPN hides your real IP address. This does, of course, mean that VPN providers end up facing the heat from copyright holders instead of you…
- By connecting to VPN servers located in countries that do not censor websites on copyright grounds, you can access torrent sites that are usually blocked to you.
Choosing a Good Torrent VPN
As you may know, certain aspects of torrenting are illegal. But, in terms of the technology, just about any VPN service can do a good job of protecting you from copyright holders. Many, however, don’t.
This may be on ethical grounds, or (more commonly) because the legal situation where they are based is too hostile to copyright infringement to make permitting P2P on their servers worth the trouble. It is for a similar reason, in fact, that some VPN providers allow torrenting on some of their servers, but not others (often servers located in the US or UK).
It is worth noting that that free VPNs for torrenting do not, basically exist (with one exception that I know of). Dealing with irate legal demands from copyright holders is simply far too much hassle to deal with when users are not even paying for the service!
Many paid-for VPN providers, however, do very good business protecting their P2P-using customers. And if a VPN provider permits torrenting using its service, then its business reputation rests on its ability to do this.
So if a provider allows P2P, you are safe. Just be sure to check first. If not, then it may pass on DMCA and similar warnings to your ISP (which will then send you nasty letters). It could even hand over your details directly to copyright holders’ lawyers…
The Vuze BitTorrent client allows you to bind Vuze to your VPN interface so that it will only download (and seed) when your VPN connection is active. See here for instructions on how to do this
Speculative invoicing and other such nastinesses
Countries such as the UK and India are getting tougher on online copyright offenses (at least on paper), but in most places piracy remains a civil rather than a criminal offense. Although this means that won’t end up in jail if caught, it does not mean that you can just walk away scot-free.
The most common punishment is warning letters from your ISP. If you ignore too many of these then you may find your service throttled, or even cancelled. In theory you can also be taken to court for civil damages by copyright holders, and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in compensation.
In reality, obtaining such convictions is not easy. So copyright holders often employ “copyright trolls” to monetize the piracy of their IP. This is done via the tactic of “speculative invoicing” – threatening victims accused of copyright offences with full legal action (and the associated court fees) if they do not pay a reduced cash settlement out of court.
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.
If you use a VPN for torrenting, however, this should never be a problem.
How to check that your VPNs for torrenting are protecting you
While connected to your VPN service:
- Visit IPLeak.net. If you cannot see your real IP address or one belonging to your ISP, then you are protected.
You don’t really need to do anything else, but if you are a paranoid android, then you can specifically test whether your BitTorrent client is leaking your real IP address. To do this:
- While till on the IPLeak.net web page and with your VPN connected, scroll down to “Torrent Address detection,” and add the magnet link to your torrent client.
IPleak.net will monitor the IP address of anyone else sharing its uniquely generated test torrent file (i.e. you). After a few minutes, the IPleak.net web page will start to display the results
Again, as long as none of the IPs displayed belong to either you or your ISP, then you are good
Note that you should always use a kill switch of some kind when downloading stuff. If you don’t, then VPN dropouts can result in your IP being exposed for all the world to see. Often for hours at a time if you leave your downloads unattended!
Some P2P VPNs support port forwarding. This is (at least in theory) great for file-sharers, as it can overcome problems related to the use of NAT firewalls. Most VPN providers use NAT firewalls to shield users from incoming traffic from the internet. But when this incoming traffic includes P2P traffic, it can cause problems.
VPN NAT firewalls can affect not just you, the individual user, by making your downloads slower, but can slow down the entire P2P network for all users. The solution to this problem is port forwarding, which allows you to open a port in the NAT firewall in order to allow P2P traffic through.
This should improve your personal download speeds, and help make the entire P2P network more efficient. In order to gain maximum benefit from port forwarding, your torrent client needs to know which port is open. It can then listen for incoming connections.
On some clients, this needs to be configured manually, while others support technologies such as NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) and UPnP port mapping. These aim to make your job easier by automating the process.
qBittorrent is a lightweight open source BitTorrent client that supports UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding
Best Torrenting VPN Summary
In Switzerland, downloading copyrighted content for personal use is legal. And in many places outside Europe or the English-speaking world, nobody really cares. If you live somewhere that does care about copyright piracy, however, you are frankly mad to P2P download without the protection of a VPN.