Using a VPN is essential if you value privacy and want to stay safe and secure while torrenting. Filesharing using the popular P2P protocol is a very popular way to obtain all kinds of digital content for free, but this can get you into trouble with content owners.
Here at BestVPN.com we consider VPNs to be a vital tool for torrent users who wish to maintain their privacy while downloading. This is because a VPN provides perfect privacy by hiding what you get up to from your ISP, and hiding your real identity from other filesharers.
Choosing a VPN for Torrenting
When looking for a torrent VPN, you need to think about the following issues:
- Some VPNs don’t allow torrenting and block it, you need a VPN that allows it
- You need great speeds (lots of bandwidth) for torrenting
- A great killswitch means if your VPN connection drops, you are still protected
- No logging, so you can’t be identified
In the past 5 years we’ve reviewed hundreds of VPN services. Based on these three factors we’ve selected the best ones for you for torrenting.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
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- High-Speed Servers
- Firewall based killswitch
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 24/7 Live Chat Support
- Not the cheapest but worth it
Buffered is the best VPN for torrenting. Located in Gibraltar, it keeps no usage logs and uses shared IPs, which makes it impossible for anyone to identify the user. It is consistently rated in the fastest VPNs that we test, so their speeds are great, and has a firewall based kill switch, which is the best method for protecting dropped VPN connections.
In addition, our Buffered review found they offer 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 Gibraltar provider include servers in 46+ countries worldwide and a sweet port discovery feature for public WiFi, a techie feature that no other VPN has.
There is also a special offer right now where the total price is reduced by 49%, when buying a yearly account. 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.
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- Good privacy - no usage logs
- Servers in 94 countries
- Supports multiple devices – up to three simultaneous connections
- Great customer service
- A bit pricey - but worth it!
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 2018). 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.
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- Servers in 29 countries
- Strong OpenVPN
- Keeps no logs
- 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 $3.60 per month for an annual plan + 5-months free (17-month subscription). The low 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 the job.
- Protects your data - no logs at all
- Makes you impossible to identify with shared IPs
- Servers in 61 countries
- Torrenting allowed
- Based in USA – where the NSA could come knocking
- So-so support
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:
- No logs – proved in court!
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Client features kill switch and DNS leak protection
- US based company
- Apple users not so impressed
PIA is based in the US, so is not a provider for the more NSA-phobic out there. However, it keeps no logs, which is a claim that it has proved in court! And although optional, its security can be first rate. Its desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and port forwarding.
Up to 5 simultaneous connections are permitted. Its Android client is almost as good, and PIA boasts great connection speeds. P2P is permited on all servers located 29 countries. And unlike many VPNs, PIA alows torrenting on its US severs.
Why use a VPN?
The clue to answering this questing is in the synonyms for “torrenting”: P2P (peer-to-peer) and filesharing. Instead of being stored on a centralized server from which you download files, torrented files are shared among many of other torrent users. Popular files can be shared among hundreds of users.
So when you “download” (which is something of a misnomer when it comes to torrenting) a file using the BitTorrent protocol, what you actually doing is sharing small pieces of it with everyone else who is downloading that same file. A file is “downloaded” once you have all the pieces needed to reassemble that file.
In many ways, this setup is great as it provides a decentralized way to share content. The flipside, though, is that sharing files with a bunch of other random “downloaders” on the internet is hardly private!
Using the right software (which includes many popular BitTorrent clients), it is very easy to see the IP addresses of every other person also sharing (“downloading”) the same file.
We can see this point in action above using the qBitTorent BitTorrent client.
They may then ask your ISP to take action against you or may take legal action themselves. If you enjoy giving yourself a scare, torrent users should visit iknowwhatyoudownload.com!
How does it protect you?
If you are not familiar with what a VPN is, then you might like to check out my VPNs for Beginners guide. The short version with regard to torrenting is that a VPN will protect you in two ways:
- A VPN hides your real IP address. All other downloaders (people sharing the same file as you) will see is the IP address of the VPN server. As long as you choose a secure torrenting VPN provider that permits P2P , you can trust it to protect your real identity.
- Your ISP cannot see what you are downloading because the connection between your computer and the VPN server is securely encrypted.
Below we can see what iknowwhatyoudownload.com looks like when using a VPN. All those downloads are associated with the address of the VPN server I’m using – not my real address.
Some ISPs throttle P2P traffic. When they detect that the BitTorrent protocol is being used, they reduce your bandwidth. They may even do this for legal torrents on the assumption they are illegal. Using a VPN will usually prevent this because it hides the fact that you are using BitTorrent from your ISP.
Just be aware that there is no such thing as true “anonymous torrenting.” A VPN will hide your IP from other downloaders, but your VPN provider will always know your real IP address. This is why it is best to pick a no logs VPN provider.
How to test it works?
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 have no IP leak and 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 still 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.
Why can’t I torrent through my VPN?
Be sure to use a VPN that permits P2P torrenting!
You should be able to torrent through any VPN, but please be aware that not all VPNs permit it. If you download copyrighted material via a VPN that does not permit P2P, then you may get into trouble if the VPN receives a DMCA complaint or similar.
The VPN itself may send you a warning or may terminate your account. It is even possible that it may hand over your IP or other details so that the content owner can take direct legal action against you.
So always check that your VPN provider allows torrenting of all content you wish to download.
Many VPNs use NAT firewalls. This is often presented as a feature that protects users’, although it is debateable whether they are really necessary. If present, then NAT firewalls can block incoming connections from torrent peers. This is unlikely to completely prevent you from torrenting, but it can make downloading much slower.
The solution is port fort forwarding, which allows you to route incoming peer connections through the NAT firewall. On some clients, this needs to be configured manually. Others support technologies such as NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) and UPnP port mapping. These aim to make life easier by automating the process.
qBittorrent, above, is a lightweight open source BitTorrent client that supports UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding.
What’s a good VPN for torrenting?
In many ways, what makes the best torrent VPN is the same as what makes any good VPN. Things torrenters should pay particular attention to, however, include:
P2P is permitted
As discussed above, this is probably the single most important thing to look for.
If a VPN has a good no logs policy then it cannot “tell” on you, even if it is somehow forced to. Please see 5 Best No Logs VPNs for a full discussion on this issue. Please remember that VPNs provide privacy – but not anonymous torrenting.
You should always use a killswitch for secure torrenting. This will prevent your downloads from continuing and thus exposing your real IP address if the VPN fails in some way. An increasingly large number of VPNs offer a kill switch as standard.
Reactive firewalls detect when a VPN connection drops and cut off your internet access to prevent your IP from being exposed. The better kind are firewall-based. These use firewall rules to prevent the possibility any connection outside the VPN tunnel.
Note that even some firewall-based ones only operate while the VPN app is working, and will, therefore, stop working if the app crashes. Others use Windows/Mac built-in firewall – this is good because they will continue to work even if the VPN app crashes, but might cause issues if you use a third party firewall.
As already discussed, port forwarding can be an important feature if the VPN uses a NAT firewall.
The faster your internet connection, the faster your torrents will download. Using a VPN will slow down your internet speeds, but if you connect to server geographically nearby this overhead should be minimal.
For privacy purposes, however, if you live in a country where they are (such as the UK) it is probably best to connect to a VPN server located in a country that does not require VPNs to keep logs.
We take VPN speed seriously here at BestVPN.com. We extensively test every service we review to make sure we give you the most accurate representation of VPN speed. For more information on our comprehensive speed tests, click the link.
Torrenting is anything but private, so if you value privacy while torrenting (and you really should!) then using a VPN is a total no-brainer. All the VPN listed above will keep you nice and safe! Here’s a summary again of the best VPNs:
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Buffered review »
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Buffered review »
ExpressVPN review »Visit Site »
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PrivateVPN review »Visit Site »
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IPVanish review »Visit Site »
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IPVanish review »
PrivateInternetAccess review »Visit Site »
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PrivateInternetAccess review »