ExpressVPN

5 Best VPNs for Torrenting, P2P, Filesharing

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).

VPN for torrents

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!

Check out our list of the best VPN torrenting services below, then read on for a full discussion on this subject.

Best VPN for Torrenting, P2P and Filesharing Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

IPVanish Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.2/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VPNArea Logo
Read Review8/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

AirVPN Logo
Read Review7.2/10
$4.82 / monthVisit Site
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

Best torrenting VPN

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • No usage logs
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
  • ConsCONS
  • Connection logs
  • A bit pricey

ExpressVPN is hands down the best torrenting VPN. Although ExpressVPN does keep some connection logs (but no usage logs), it is based in the British Virgin Islands. This means it can happily protect its P2P-using customers with little fear of legal retribution. As a more general VPN service, ExpressVPN is also excellent, with a strong focus on great customer relations. Its 30-day genuinely no-quibble money back guarantee is is an industry leader in this regard, as is its 24/7 customer support.

ExpressVPN offers powerful but easy-to-use apps for Windows, OSX, iOS and Android, and operates stealth servers in Hong Kong that can help defeat not just the Great Firewall of China, but internet censorship everywhere.

Additional features: “Stealth” servers in Hong Kong, free SmartDNS.

Pick the best P2P VPN now!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money back guarantee

2nd place

IPVanish

4.6/5

P2P VPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • Shared IP’s
  • Servers in 61 countries
  • P2P: yes
  • Accepts Bitcoins
  • ConsCONS
  • Based in US
  • So-so support

IPVanish is one of the best VPN for filesharing. Despite the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs, the United States does not have any mandatory data retention laws. IPVanish takes full advantage of this to offer a fast and effective no logs (at all) VPN service that is also torrent-friendly. And with servers in over 60 countries worldwide, you will always find one nearby. Those of you who value privacy will also appreciate the fact that IPVanish accepts payment using Bitcoins.

Additional features: Two simultaneous connections, Android app.

Visit IPVanish »


3rd place

NordVPN

4.1/5

best VPN filesharing

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs policy
  • Based in Panama
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Global server network
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Above-average price

NordVPN’s location in Panama allows the provider to enforce a strict no-logs policy – a feature that is surely appreciated by those looking for a VPN for torrenting! In addition, NordVPN 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 Panamanian provider include over 550 servers in over 47 countries worldwide, dedicated streaming servers, and the option to use Tor over VPN.

Additional features: Great compatibility across platforms, VPN alternatives such as Socks5 Proxy and Smart DNS, accepts Bitcoin.

Visit NordVPN »


4th place

VPNArea

4/5

VPNArea

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Based in Bulgaria (no DRD)
  • Five simultaneous devices
  • Great Windows client
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Uses VPS instances

VPNArea ranks among the best P2P VPNs. This friendly Bulgarian provider keeps no logs at all, and uses excellent encryption. In addition to this, being based outside a Fourteen Eyes country means no direct NSA or GCHQ spying, and little real threat from copyright holders. VPNArea’s 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.

Additional features: Great customer service, seven day money back guarantee, servers in 51 countries, WebRTC leak protection, DNS leak protection.

Visit VPNArea »


5th place

AirVPN

3.6/5

AirVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • VPN through Tor
  • Transparent service
  • Remote port forwarding
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Techiness does put people off
  • Customer support could be better
  • Limited number of locations worldwide

AirVPN really cares about its users’ privacy, and in terms of technical excellence and VPN know-how is at the top of its game. Unfortunately, its tech-heavy focus and rather brusque support manner alienates many would-be users. This is a shame, because the open source desktop client acts as a kill switch and prevents DNS leaks. WebRTC leaks are also blocked by both “network lock”, and at the server level.

In addition to this, AirVPN keep no logs at all, and use top-notch encryption with Perfect Foward Secrecy. Its VPN through Tor feature allows true anonymity while using the service (although this is not suitable for P2P use). And the ability to tunnel VPN connections through SSL and SSH tunnels is a great way to circumvent censorship. All features that make it one of the best VPN for torrenting!

Additional features: Real-time user and server statistics, accepts BitcoinVPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, very reliable, open source client with internet kill switch and DNS leak protection, Three day free trial, three simultaneous connections, WebRTC leak protection.

Visit AirVPN »


Torrenting and P2P VPN Considerations

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

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…

Vuze

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:

  1. 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:

  1. 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

torrent address detection

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!

Port Forwarding

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.

The qBit Torrent client

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.

Best P2P VPNs Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

IPVanish Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.2/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VPNArea Logo
Read Review8/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

AirVPN Logo
Read Review7.2/10
$4.82 / monthVisit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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34 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Torrenting, P2P, Filesharing

  1. im planning to buy private internet access but i wanna ask if its good for torrents and i live in middle east and all ports are closes thats why i consider pia over nord vpn since it has port forwarding feature what do u think is best for me pia or nord ? my isp throlls my speed much and it annoys me especially at torrenting thats why need an advice what to choose between both of them

    1. Hi mallahata,

      Yes. I would day that PIA us a good choice, for precisely the reason you mention. And NordVPN can be rather slow.

      1. thank u very much its just seen some reviews that says pia slow and stuff that why got confused between it and nord vpn but yet over all nord is much slower since it has double encryption and tor over vpn feature thats probably bad for downloaders like me since i have low internet speed i have like 400-900 kb download speed only since im in a poor country

        1. Hi mallahata,

          I’m afraid that NordVPN can be slow even when double encryption or tor over VPN are not used.

  2. For Torrenting and streaming i would say Ivacy Vpn is really good. I have been using it and til date its working great. This Black Friday they are offering 1 year free with 1 year subscription for $1.50/mo. I think that’s a pretty good deal with some really good features such as
    200+ Servers in 100+ Locations
    P2P Optimized Servers with Unlimited Bandwidth
    5 Multi-Logins
    Split Tunneling
    Internet Kill Switch
    Live Chat Support
    Unlimited Data Transfer and Server Switching
    And also supports different devices such as
    Windows
    Mac
    Android
    iPhone
    iPad
    Kodi
    Linux

  3. VPNArea does a perfect job with P2P. They have plenty of servers to choose from to torrent with. They have stated some servers don’t like torrenting and don’t allow VPNArea’s users to torrent with (Probably due to copyright strikes they keep getting). The servers are marked and still there are plenty of other servers that allow torrenting.

  4. Again, what a dishonest review, no offence. Or at least skewed.

    You put it as a con that VPNArea runs VPS instances (which also makes logging easy, despite the “no-logging” claims btw) and then you list AirVPNs con as “not enough locations”, EVEN THOUGH most of these services should be downgraded, as most of them use VPS instances! Air doesn’t, though. If you went to the trouble of checking all the services you review, with an eye towards VPS-use, most VPN services on your site would get the same con as VPNArea did.

  5. PIA VPN says it has a kill switch but when I tried to activate it I was advised not to use it as it reset my configuration, So why advertise it?

    1. Hi Lamptable,

      The problem with the PIA kill switch is that following a VPN disconnect, the VPN client does not attempt to reconnect the VPN or to reset your computer’s DNS settings back to their defaults. This is a bit of a pain in the butt, but it is not difficult to reset your DNS settings manually. I therefore do not consider the issue to be a fatal flaw.

  6. Anything kind free? I want to know what’s good for torrenting but I am on a limited income so I can’t afford one more than 4.99 a month. I currently have Unblock-Us but it doesn’t hide my IPS. I use it for Hulu as I am not based in America.

    1. Hi Quinn,

      Betternet is a free service that permits torrenting (in fact it is the only free one I know of to allow this). Far better, however, would be pay for an annual subscription with AirVPN or VPNArea – these come in at under $5 per month…

  7. I just installed and used VPNArea. I had several issues.
    1) I got disconnected approximately every twenty minutes and there is no automatic reconnect setting.
    2) When I disconnected from their VPN, their client was supposed to kill my internet connection. They provide two options to do this, neither of them worked.
    3) Their “safe” DNS setting connected me to my ISP’s (Comcast) DNS servers (which are not safe).
    4) Their app attempts to uninstall from the default location instead of the actual installation location, which implies a) you might have difficulties uninstalling their client, and b) their software engineers suck.

    So, even though all your site does is find “the best” VPN’s, you recommended a truly shitty one to me.

    What the fk?

    1. Hi Dan,

      Hmm. Definitely seems something is wrong. For Windows, VPNArea uses a custom version of the Viscosity OpenVPN client, which has always worked fine for me. Have you contacted VPNArea’s support about your problems? I have always found it to be very keen to assist…

    2. @Dan Lokemoen

      – There is automatic reconnection setting in “Settings”
      – Killswitch does work, tested by thousands of users.
      – Did you actually put different DNS servers in the “Anti DNS Leak” section? The “Anti-DNS Leak” section is tested by thousands of our users and it Works perfectly. It also has “Extra DNS Leak protection” setting that prevents the special DNS leak in Windows 10 Home.

      We asked you for more information regarding the issues you described so that we can guide you through fixing them but we received no reply.

  8. Nord VPN vs VPN Area which would you choose? Which is faster and best for torrenting? I like the idea of VPN Area’s Anti DNS, ipv6, and web rtc leaks. I also like the level of encryption on Nord. Thoughts?

    1. Hi JoJo,

      They are both good services. The main problem with NordVPN is that many of its servers can be slow. Fast ones do exist, but some trial and error is needed to find them. VPNArea relies quite heavily on VPS instances in order to offer the number of server locations it does. Whether this is a problem is your call (I’m pretty sure NordVPN also does this).

  9. You state that AirVPN doesn’t have many servers worldwide. From what I can tell they have a LOT of servers. PrivacyTools.io lists 162 servers. While not the most, it seems to be a large number. How many servers sis your higher-rated VPNs have?

    1. Hi David,

      I meant to say that AirVPN offers servers is an a fairly limited number of locations worldwide (15). Compare this to ExpressVPN which offers servers in 87 countries, and IPVanish which offers servers in 60+ counties. AirVPN does have much greater control over its own network than most providers, however, and is therefore more secure. It all depends on what you want out of a VPN service. I have modified the text to clarify that I refer to server locations rather than total number of servers per se.

  10. Doug – your link to TorrentFreak’s Speculative Invoicing Handbook does not work!
    TF claims there’s nothing there, even if you use TF’s own search function it also faikls to locate any such item (other similar download links from other sites for downloading this same resource also provide the same failure-result.)

    1. Hi xp,

      Hmm. That is certainly interesting – it is the link address provided by TorrentFreak itself in this article. Anyway, a copy of it can be found here (and I have updated the link in the article). Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  11. Than i wish them good luck taking me and de rest of the 500.000 people in this country to court! They will never do that…

  12. Hi Douglas,
    UK has stricter policy on piracy.
    In the Netherlands they will not so fast target downloaders.
    They also don’t like restrictions on internet like blocking certain sites….

    1. Hi MV,

      I know that :). Dutch law allows the copying of material for personal (non-profit) purposes, but this has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice. You are still relatively safe downloading stuff for personal use in the Netherlands, but this does not mean that you cannot be taken to court by copyright holders (or persecuted by copyright trolls).

  13. For only downloading torrents, i’m not scared to have no VPN!
    VPN gets important when you start uploading torrents and also when you are seeding
    files for really long periods!
    But maybe i’m naive to think that nothing’s wrong!
    In the Netherlands they recently began targeting the big time uploaders of copyright material.

    1. Hi MV,

      It’s up to you to assess the risk, but I think you are being over-complacent. Certainly here I the UK I would not feel comfortable downloading without a VPN!

  14. Express VPN is mostly recommended nearly everywhere and why are they more highly recommended over Private Internet Access when it seams that PIA has more security features? More IPs to choose from doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. I’m looking for a good VPN but due to the fact that PIA is US based am not confident in them eventually ever tracking you. I heard people have been caught torrenting downloading using their service which doesn’t give me much confidence in them. I am also not confident with a non US based service either as I hear a lot of over seas services are not trustworthy, and that the US are not restricted to go after data. I have been doing a lot of reading and want the very best no logging VPN service. I am a little skeptic as to which is the best VPN to use for total privacy.

    1. Hi joseph,

      People use VPNs for various reasons. Our research shows that ExpressVPN ticks just the right boxes for a great many of our users. It is very easy to use, has excellent performance, has great customer service, and its 30-day genuinely no-quibble money back guarantee is a doozy. It is not the most secure or privacy-focused VPN service out there, but it is secure and private enough for most VPN users’ needs. Personally I would not use a US-based VPN service because I simply cannot believe they are not compromised by the NSA. This is one reason why I stopped using PIA.

  15. Great site…just a quick question…
    If ExpressVPN keeps some logs, how is it number one on the torrenting friendly list? Shouldn’t this list be similar to a no-log list? I’m in Canada by the way.

    1. Hi A,

      ExpressVPN will protect users from copyright holders (being based in the British Virgin Islands helps with this). If you are worried about the NSA or GCHQ, you should choose a genuinely no logs provider, however.

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