Protecting your identity online today is a must, from hackers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and governments. Especially if you’re torrenting. Here are the five best Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to do just that.
Our experts reviewed a range of VPN services, rating them on speed, customer service and privacy. Based on those factors, here are their top five picks:
Which VPNs are best for torrenting (also known as P2P and file-sharing)?
- Special offer right now: 49% off
- No Usage Logs - Total Privacy!
- High-Speed Servers
- 256-bit Blowfish Encryption
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Five Simultaneous Connections
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Not the cheapest but worth it
Buffered is the best VPN for torrenting. Located in Hungary, it 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, 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 Hungary provider include servers in 46+ 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.
Try the best P2P VPN now!Visit Buffered »30-day money-back guarantee
- 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
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:
- Zero logs policy
- P2P file-sharing supported and encouraged
- Dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming
- Servers in over 50 countries
- Free copy of Viscosity VPN software
- Based in the US
As its name might suggest, TorGuard is a zero logs VPN
that considers torrenting central to its core mission statement. Despite
being a US company, TorGuard has a formable reputation for protecting the privacy of downloaders.
Key features for torrenters include dedicated torrent servers, SOCKS5 proxies optimised for torrent downloading and port forwarding. It also offers strong OpenVPN encryption for those who want it, and dedicated IPs (optional extra). This handy for those who prefer legal streaming as dedicated IPs are unlikely become blocked.
- 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.
- 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.
Our review of NordVPN found 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.
Best VPNs for Torrents Compared Side-by-side
- Our Score
- Visit Site
How We Picked the Top VPN for Torrenting 2018
Here at BestVPN.com we are fortunate to number some of the VPN industry’s foremost experts as staff members.
Privacy matters. Especially when you’re torrenting. If you aren’t already using a VPN, now’s the time.
And if you’re unsure about which to choose? Don’t forget that all five of our top picks have money-back guarantees or free trials. That means it’s as simple as choosing the one that sounds best to you and taking it for a test drive. If you don’t like it, you can grab a refund and try another option.
Torrent VPNs Guide for 2018
The guide below looks at all aspects of torrenting with a VPN. Simply click the links in the table of contents below to jump to a section relevant to you!
- Our Best VPNs for Torrenting for 2018
- What is a VPN?
- What is BitTorrent?
- Why do I need a VPN when downloading torrent files?
- Do ALL VPNs allow BitTorrenting?
- Torrenting alternatives
- How to choose a VPN for torrenting
- Is torrenting with a VPN safe?
- Is torrenting with a VPN legal?
- How a VPN protects when torrenting
- How to use a VPN when torrenting
- Port forwarding and NAT firewalls
- Best VPN protocols for torrenting
- How to test your VPN is working before you torrent
- Will a proxy protect me when torrenting?
- Will a free VPN protect me when torrenting?
What Is a VPN?
A VPN is a way to securely connect your computer or mobile device to a “VPN server” run by a commercial VPN provider. Your device connects to the internet via this VPN server.
- Using a VPN is arguably the single most effective measure you can take to improve your online privacy and security.
- All data passing between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted. This is sometimes referred to as an “encrypted tunnel.” It means that your data is hidden from your ISP, so that it can’t spy on what you do online.
- VPN providers usually run servers in different locations around the world. This is great for avoiding censorship, as you can simply connect to a server located in a country where there is no such censorship.
- When you connect to the internet via a VPN server, anyone on the internet will see the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the VPN server, not your real IP.
If you’re new to the world of VPNs and would like to know more about what they are and how they work, check out our beginner’s guide to VPNs for a full in depth look.
What Is BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing protocol. Instead of being stored on a centralised server from which you download files, torrented files are shared among many other BitTorrent users. Popular files can easily be shared among hundreds of users in this way.
When you “download” (which is something of a misnomer when it comes to torenting) a file using the BitTorrent protocol, what you are 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. It is considered good form to “seed” (continue sharing) the file for a while after it has been downloaded, in order to help others reach 100% completion.
Why Do I Need a VPN When Torrenting?
BitTorrent content is shared among multiple home computers. This is not good for privacy because 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.
As demonstrated below, I can see the IP addresses of every other person who is downloading the same files as me.
Do I Need a VPN for Switzerland?
Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where it is legal to download copyrighted content for personal use. As such, a VPN for Switzerland is not required if your only concern is copyright enforcement measures – provided that content is for personal use.
Do I Need a VPN for the Netherlands?
For many years, the Netherlands was a renowned hotbed of copyright piracy. This was thanks to the fact that downloading copyrighted material was legal. In theory there were strict limits to this freedom – only movies and music could be downloaded (not computer software), and only if you already owned it.
In practice, however, copyright laws were not enforced, resulting in something of piracy free-for-all.
In order to compensate copyright holders for their loss, from 2003 the Dutch government levied a “personal copy fee” tax on all blank storage media such as CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, and USB thumb drives.
This all changed in 2014, however, when the EU Court of Justice declared the local legislation unlawful. In practice, enforcement of the new laws has so far been unenthusiastic, but this is set to change. Dutch Filmworks (DFW), for example, has announced that it will begin issuing fines to Dutch movie pirates this fall. As such as VPN for Netherlands is now being recommended.
Do ALL VPNs Allow BitTorrenting?
Most VPNs allow legal torrenting, although some may block it on the assumption that you are engaging in copyright piracy.
If you download illegal content using a VPN that only permits legal torrenting, then you can expect to receive a warning or have your subscription cancelled if the VPN receives a legal complaint from a copyright holder.
It’s even possible that the VPN will hand over your details to the copyright holder for further legal action.
When a VPN says it permits P2P file-sharing, however, it usually means that it permits illegal downloads using its servers. VPNs that permit P2P in this way, such as the ones listed above, effectively undertake to protect their customers from action by copyright holders.
BitTorrent-based apps such as Popcorn Time, and devices such as modified Kodi boxes, are often employed by users to watch pirated content. At BestVPN.com, however, we encourage readers to consider legal alternatives instead. Examples include:
- Netflix – this streaming service is one of the main reasons for the decline of torrenting in recent years. After all, why bother illegally pirating content when you can legally watch heaps of content on demand for a very modest monthly fee? Paying Netflix members can often greatly expand the catalog available to them by unblocking regional versions, such as US Netflix.
- Amazon Prime Video – a worthy rival to Netflix, you may already have it if you are member of the Amazon Prime next day delivery service. Amazon’s large range of high quality exclusive originals are available to all Prime members, and you can unblock additional Amazon Prime Video content using a VPN.
- Plex – this funky media server software allows you to watch your own content on any device you own, anywhere in the world. Fined the best VPNs for Plex here.
- BBC iPlayer and All4 – if you live in the UK you can legally watch world-class TV programming for free on these online portals. Viewers outside the UK can use a VPN to unblock these services with the VPNs found on our iPlayer VPN page or All4 VPN page.
How to Choose the best VPN for Torrenting
As already discussed, the most important consideration is choosing a VPN that permits downloading torrent files and will protect you if need be. Because of this angle, many prefer to use VPN services that keep no logs when downloading torrents, as this maximizes the privacy advantages of using a VPN. If in doubt, check out a VPN’s logging policy which can usually be found on their website.
Fast VPNs for Torrenting
A number of factors influence how fast P2P downloads are over a VPN:
The VPN Itself
Some VPN services are simply faster than others. The best use tier 1 servers, work with ISPs that have good peering arrangements, and maybe even run their own Content Distribution Networks (CDNs). Please see our Five Fastest VPNs and our new speed test results for more details.
As a rule of the thumb, the more secure a VPN connection is, the slower it will be. Encrypting and decrypting VPN data takes processing power, which slows everything down. We generally recommend the OpenVPN protocol to VPN users, because, if configured well, this is easily the most secure VPN protocol available.
It is, however, also the slowest. If you have a fast internet connection then it won’t make a big difference, but if you have a slow connection you might want to consider changing to a less secure VPN protocol such as L2TP or even PPTP.
PPTP in particular is very insecure. But it is probably sufficient just for torrenting.
Also as a rule of the thumb, the closer a VPN server is to your location, the faster your internet connection will be. For maximum privacy, it’s a good idea to connect to VPN servers in countries where VPNs aren’t required to keep logs.
How to Choose a VPN Server for Downloading P2P Downloading
Torrenting from the United Kingdom
The Netherlands, Switzerland and Romania are popular server locations for UK torrenters, as these have no data retention laws that apply to VPN services.
Torrenting from the United States and Canada
Thanks to a very hostile copyright environment in both North American countries, many US and Canadian VPNs don’t permit torrenting (sometimes even legal torrenting). Even many services (international or US-based) that do permit torrenting don’t allow it on North American servers.
That said, many VPN services do allow torrenting on US or Canadian servers. Given how far away Europe and other popular VPN sever locations are from North America, it is probably best to just trust that these providers know what they are doing when it comes to protecting your privacy.
Torrenting from India
Over the last year or so, the Indian government has cracked down hard on copyright piracy. Simply visiting a torrent site can land you three years in jail and a fine of fine of Rs 3 lakh (approximately $4,600 USD)!
In addition to this, Indian ISPs are known to throttle BitTorrent traffic – including perfectly legal BitTorrent traffic. Note that this is mainly to reduce the load BitTorrent traffic puts on their servers, rather than from some moral imperative. Indeed, it seems some Indian ISPs have developed rather unorthodox alternative tactics to deal with this issue!
Whatever the reason, torrenters in India may prefer to connect to servers in Hong Kong or Europe.
Is Torrenting with a VPN Safe?
As already discussed, P2P filesharing with a VPN is safe as long as that VPN provider allows torrenting. Do please be careful to check this is the case before using a VPN service to torrent. This information is usually available in a provider’s online FAQ, or you can ask its support staff.
Is Torrenting with a VPN Legal?
There is nothing about the BitTorrent protocol itself that is illegal. It is simply a technology. Indeed, BitTorrent is a fast and resource-efficient way to distribute a wealth of legal content. Do please check out ten good places to find legal torrents for some great examples of this.
BitTorrent does, however, have something of a shady reputation. This is because its distributed nature, which requires no centralized servers, makes it an ideal platform for illegally sharing copyrighted material.
For more information on the legalities around torrenting, check out our Is Torrenting Legal? Guide.
How a VPN for Torrenting Protects You
A VPN protects you while downloading because:
- A VPN will hide your IP address information from other downloaders.
- A VPN encrypts all internet traffic between your computer and the VPN server.
- This means your ISP can’t see what you download.
So as long as P2P is permitted, a VPN is very effective at protecting your privacy while downloading.
For a more in-depth look at how VPNs work, check out our Ultimate Online privacy Guide.
How to Use a VPN When Torrenting
P2P file-sharing with a VPN is very easy.
- Download and install a BitTorrent client.
- Sign-up for a VPN service such as the ones suggested above.
- Download and run its software.
- Ensure that the VPN is running before visiting a BitTorrent website or downloading a torrent. More on this later in the guide.
- Visit a BitTorrent website. (As always, BestVPN.com encourages you to only visit torrent sites that feature legal content).
- When you have found the content you want, simply click on the torrent link or magnet link to begin downloading.
- When the download is 100% completed, enjoy! Some BitTorrent clients have media-players built-in. For those that don’t, VLC will play pretty much any media file you can throw at it.
BitTorrent is a decentralized file-sharing platform. In order for it to work, users share files with other users. This happens while you download a file, but it is considered good form to leave your BitTorrent client open after you have finished downloading a file in order to benefit other users.
This is known as seeding, and it is considered good etiquette to seed to a ratio of at least 1:1 (that is, upload for other users the same amount of data as you download). Most BitTorrent clients will display the seed ratio of downloaded files.
Use a Kill Switch
It is common for downloaders to leave their BitTorrent clients running unattended for long periods of time. This is in order to download large files and seed them for others. This puts torrenters at high risk, however, of their VPN connection dropping while they are away. This can lead to your real IP address being visible to other torrenters for hours or more at a time!
A kill switch solves this problem by preventing your computer from connecting to the internet when a VPN connection is not active.
Firewall-based kill switches block all internet traffic except that which goes through the VPN. Reactive kill switches detect that the VPN has disconnected, then shut down your internet connection (or sometimes individual apps that you specify).
Firewall-based solutions are more secure, but any kill switch is better than none!
Port Forwarding and NAT Firewalls
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. Many VPN providers use NAT firewalls to shield users from incoming traffic from the internet. However, when this incoming traffic includes P2P traffic, it can cause problems.
VPN NAT firewalls can make your downloads slower. They can also slow down the entire P2P network for all users. The solution to this problem is port forwarding. This 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. 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 is a lightweight open source BitTorrent client that supports UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding
Best VPN Protocols for Torrenting
As previously discussed, the stronger the VPN encryption used, the slower your connection will be. I am a big fan of strong encryption, but for torrenting a very secure VPN is not, strictly-speaking, essential.
We generally recommend that you avoid this highly insecure VPN protocol like the plague. If you really do need a little extra speed, however, PPTP is probably sufficient for torrenting. Your ISP is unlikely to bother spending time and resources decrypting even this weak protocol just for some P2P traffic.
Unless you’re worried about the NSA (not a major concern for most torrenters!), L2TP/IPsec should be more than secure enough to protect your VPN traffic. It may therefore make a good compromise for those not willing to trust PPTP for anything.
The most secure protocol available when well configured, OpenVPN is also the slowest. Even so, unless you suffer from very poor internet speeds, I recommend using this protocol. OpenVPN with AES-256 is often touted as the mark of a secure VPN, but the devil is in the detail.
This is also secure (although it has not been tested to the extent that OpenVPN has). It’s a good choice for those who torrent using Andoird and iOS mobile devices and who regularly switch between home WiFi and mobile connections, or who regularly move between WiFi hotspots.
Please see VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide for a full discussion on VPN protocols.
Remember: Whichever VPN protocol you use, your real IP address will be hidden from other downloaders by the VPN server.
How to Test Your VPN is Working Before You Torrent
While connected to your VPN service:
- Visit IPLeak.net. If you can’t see your real IP address or one belonging to your ISP, then you’re protected. If your internet connection supports IPv6, pay particular attention to IPv6 leaks. Some VPNs have yet to patch this issue. Torrent clients are not affected by the Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) leak issue.
You don’t really need to do anything else, but if you’re 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 webpage with your VPN connected, scroll down to “Torrent Address detection,” and add the magnet link to your torrent client.
Again, as long as none of the IPs displayed belongs to either you or your ISP, then you’re fine.
Will a Proxy Protect Me When Torrenting?
Strictly speaking, a VPN server is just a specialised form of proxy server. When most people talk about proxy servers, however, they are referring to HTTP proxies and Socket Secure (SOCKS) proxies. Of these two, only SOCKS proxies can handle BitTorrent traffic.
- Any SOCKS proxy will hide your IP address from other BitTorrent users, but only an encrypted proxy will also give you privacy from your ISP.
- Open (free) proxies tend to be slow and unstable. They are also dangerous to use.
- Encrypted SOCKS proxies from commercial proxy services provide a similar a level of privacy to using a VPN.
There is a reason, however, why these are not as popular as VPN services. For a similar price per month, VPN services are easier to configure, protect your entire internet connection, and usually use stronger encryption. Many (but by no means all) have also established strong reputations as reliable companies that will protect your privacy.
A proxy can protect you while torrenting, but VPNs are simply a better option. For more details please see our Proxy Server guide.
Will a Free VPN Protect Me When Torrenting?
Very few free VPNs permit torrenting in the first place. Dealing with irate legal demands from copyright holders is simply far too much hassle when users aren’t even paying for the service!
Even if you do find a free VPN that allows P2P downloading, please consider how it can afford to run a costly service for free. There is a good chance that it is mining your data to sell to advertisers, stealing your bandwidth, or introducing malware to your system.
I mean… do you really think it’s a good idea to trust a free service to protect your privacy when torrenting?
Best Torrenting VPN: Conclusion
Simply put, using a VPN that permits P2P downloading is a must if you value privacy while torrenting.