Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

Jun 13, 2018

Pretty near all internet users can benefit from using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but for torrent downloaders, a VPN should be considered absolutely essential. The BitTorrent protocol provides a decentralized platform for sharing all kinds of files with other users, but one thing it is not, is private.

A VPN is also handy for unblocking censored torrent sites. Do please note, however, that BestVPN.com does not condone copyright piracy.

Our experts have tested over 150 VPNs over the course of the last 5 years – searching for the best VPNs for torrenting. Let’s take a quick look at our top picks. For more information on the services featured, keep scrolling…

The 5 best VPNs for torrents: Side-by-side analysis

The best VPNs for Torrenting

10.0/10.0

Editor's choice

Editor's choice

NordVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 77% off today!
  • Fantastic mobile and desktop apps
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Good customer care
  • Servers in 62+ countries
CONS:
  • Not much

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.

Try the best Torrenting VPN now!

Visit NordVPN »30-day money-back guarantee

9.2/10.0

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 49% off today!
  • Good privacy - no usage logs
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Supports multiple devices – up to three simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
CONS:
  • 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.

9.0/10.0

CyberGhost Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 77% off 1-year plan!
  • Private: Great logs policy
  • Based in Romania so no government spying!
  • Good looking and easy-to-use software: Five simultaneous connections
  • Friendly 24/7 Live Chat support
CONS:
  • Could be faster

CyberGhost‘s software is easy-to-use while also being veryfully featured. It usesvery strong encryption, and 5 simultaneous connections is generous. Being based in Romania and keeping no meaningful logs is also a big draw.

CyberGhost’s great logging policy, decent local (burst) speeds, and fully featured software are a winning combination. And witha 7-day free premium trial plus 30-day no-quibble money back guarantee, there is zero reason not to give it a whirl.

8.7/10.0

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 29 countries
  • Strong OpenVPN
  • Keeps no logs
CONS:
  • 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.

8.0/10.0

PrivateInternetAccess Homepage
PROS:
  • No logs – proved in court!
  • Cheap
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Client features kill switch and DNS leak protection
CONS:
  • 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.

VPN Torrenting | FAQs

Below we dive into the common questions and misconceptions that we often encounter about using a VPN when torrenting.

Here we discuss the basics of what a torrenting VPN is & how it works, but if you are not sure how a VPN works in general, please check out VPNs for Beginners – What You Need to Know.

Why use a VPN to torrent?

A VPN is an online privacy service that allows you to hide what you get up to on the internet from others, get around blocks and other forms of censorship, and appear to be in another country in order to access services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

It will also protect you from hackers when using public WiFi networks, and, crucially for this article, protect you when P2P filesharing.

Now… just for a moment consider the last two synonyms for torrenting: P2P (peer-to-peer) and filesharing. Downloading via the BitTorrent protocol is, by its very nature, a sociable exercise – you share files on your device with others, and they share files on theirs with you.

In order for this to work, your device connects to every other BitTorrent user who is sharing the same files as you (whether “downloading” or seeding).

qBitTorrent peers

Here in qBitTorrent we can see the IP addresses of every peer who is sharing the same files as me. And if I can see this, then so can copyright holders who monitor downloads of their intellectual property!  If you enjoy giving yourself a scare, try visiting iknowwhatyoudownload.com!

If you would like more information, we take a deeper look into using VPNs with specific Bitorrent clients, just click the links below:

How a torrent VPN protects you

A  P2P VPN protects your privacy when torrenting in the flowing ways:

  • Disguise your activity from ISPs. 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 what you are torrenting, or indeed, that you are torrenting.
  • Prevent others seeing your real IP address. 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.

Some ISPs try to discourage torrenting by throttling BitTorrent traffic (or even the entire internet connection of customers’ they detect torrenting!). These kind of heavy-handed tactics are indiscriminate and usually also affect people who only download legal torrents (which is, of course, something we encourage all our readers to do).

VPN encryption prevents this because what an ISP cannot see, it cannot throttle (or block entirely). Why not check out our 5 Most Secure VPNs list to see which services are at the top of their game when it comes to encryption. If you would like to know more about protecting yourself online, we recommend a visit to our Ultimate Online Privacy Guide for a real in-depth look at staying secure online.

So what makes a “torrent VPN” different?

A “torrent VPN” is a VPN service that allows torrenting! This may sound obvious, but many downloaders assume all VPNs allow torrenting. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Indeed, some of the highest-profile providers in the VPN market do not permit torrenting (or only allow legal torrenting).

If one of these services receives a DMCA complaint or similar, then you may find your subscription terminated. Some providers even go so far as to hand over customers’ details to copyright holders!

Fortunately, there are also many reputable VPN companies that make good businesses out of protecting their P2P-using customers. Just be sure that you pick one of these! All the providers listed above, of course, fall into this category.

Any VPN service that permits torrent downloads undertakes to protect its customers from action by copyright holders. Having said this, I strongly recommend using a no log VPN, anyway. After all, if a VPN service has no logs to hand over in the first place, then even if coerced in some way, it still has no logs to hand over! See our no log VPN guide for more information about VPN logs.

For more choice, why not take a look at our Best VPN Services of 2018? These services all have water tight privacy policies, just be sure that they also allow torrenting!

Is torrenting legal?

It is 100% percent legal to torrent content that is not copyrighted. But, if we’re honest, most people torrent in order to obtain copyrighted content.

In most countries downloading copyrighted content is a civil rather than a criminal offense. This means that downloading content for personal use is not a crime, but being caught may result in punitive measures being imposed by your government or your ISP.

Copyright holders can also take you to court and demand damages for the loss of income your piracy has caused them. A particularly nasty offshoot of this, which is becoming increasingly common, is the tactic known as “speculative invoicing.”

This is typically performed by legal firms known as “copyright trolls.” They specialize in monetizing the prosecution of piracy by sending victims letters demanding a cash settlement in return for avoiding legal prosecution for copyright offences.

If this happens to you, then consult the UK government’s official guidance. Both these both documents relate specifically to the UK, but the advice in them is also broadly useful if you live anywhere in Europe or North America.

I think we all will agree, however, that it is be far better not to get into this situation in the first place! This is why using a VPN for torrenting is so important.

The nuances around the legalities when it comes to torrenting are covered in-depth in our Is Torrenting Illegal guide.

A word on NAT firewalls and port forwarding

Many VPNs use NAT firewalls. This is often presented as a feature that protects users, although it is debatable whether they are really necessary.

If present, then a NAT firewall 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 forwarding, which allows you to route incoming peer connections through the NAT firewall. 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, aim to make life easier by automating the process.

qBitTorrent uPnP

qBittorrent, above, is a lightweight open source BitTorrent client that supports UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding.

Using a free VPN for torrenting

Running a VPN service is a major operation. And expensive. No-one will do this for free. There are free VPN services around, but the more reputable of these offer free plans that are severely limited in various ways. They then hope these will entice you into paying for a premium subscription

These, at least, are transparent about how they monetize their free services. Less reputable providers have been known to spy on users’ data and sell it to the highest bidder, or to steal and sell your bandwidth.

There are almost no free torrent VPNs anyway! Dealing with the hassle of DMCA notices and the like simply isn’t worth it for non-paying customers! Interestingly, though, popular free VPN serve Hotspot Shield does now permit P2P.

Conclusion

Unless you live in Switzerland or somewhere that simply doesn’t care about copyright piracy, you would be bonkers to download torrents without the protection of a top VPN service!