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5 Best VPNs for Transmission in 2017 – Encrypt all Torrent Traffic

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

September 1, 2017

What is Transmission?

Transmission started life as a Mac and Linux-only BitTorrent client, where it built up a formidable reputation. Windows users can now also get in on the act.

Although a very capable BitTorrent client, the main draw of Transmission is its beautiful user interface, complete with Growl notifications for Mac users. It is also lightweight, completely free, and open source. Yay for Transmission!

Quick Links to our best 5 VPNs for Transmission

  1. Buffered
  2. IPVanish
  3. ExpressVPN
  4. AirVPN
  5. PrivateVPN

It’s not all about looking pretty. Transmission features webseed support, BitTorrent protocol encryption, watch directories, tracker editing, global and per-torrent speed limits, and more. It also supports optional add-ons that can expand its feature-set. These include RSS subscription tools and an XMBC/Kodi plugin.

Transmission is 100% free and is available for Windows, Mac OS X/Mac OS, Linux (many distros), FreeBSD, Gentoo, and more.

As always when peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading, it is vital to protect yourself with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using Transmission. For a detailed look at why this is, please check out our article on the Five Best VPNs for Torrenting, P2P, and Filesharing. For a discussion on using Transmission with a VPN and related issues, read on! First, let’s have a quick look at BestVPN.com’s recommended VPNs for the Transmission torrent client.

Best VPNs for Transmission: Summary

BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
Buffered Homepage
PROS:
  • Good privacy - no usage logs
  • Based in Gibraltar
  • Supports multiple devices – up to five simultaneous connections
  • Servers in 35 countries
  • Allows torrenting
CONS:
  • Pricey - but worth it

Buffered is a great VPN for torrenting. It's located in Gibraltar and keeps no usage logs. It uses shared IPs, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to identify the user. It has amazing speeds, earning it the top spot on our experts' list.

Other features include servers in 35 countries, a sweet port discovery feature that gets you onto public WiFi without a password, a generous six simultaneous connections, and compatibility with plenty of platforms - so you can use this VPN to torrent on just about any device you own.

Support is 24/7 , so you can reach them quickly if you run into any problems. A generous 30-day money-back guarantee means there’s no risk to giving it a test run.

Additional features: great compatibility across platforms, accepts Bitcoin.

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Visit Buffered »30 day moneyback guarantee
IPVanish Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Good privacy - no usage logs
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Supports multiple devices – up to three simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
CONS:
  • Minimal connection logs
  • A bit pricey

IPVanish is one of the best VPNs for file-sharing using Transmission. Despite the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, the US 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. 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 Bitcoin.

Additional features: two simultaneous connections, Android app.

Try it now with a seven-day money-back guarantee!

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today!
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Good privacy - no usage logs
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Supports multiple devices – up to three simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
CONS:
  • A bit pricey - but worth it!

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. This means you 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. 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, OS X, iOS, and Android. It operates stealth servers in Hong Kong to defeat not just the Great Firewall of China but internet censorship everywhere.

Additional features: free Smart DNS.

Give it a test drive using that genuinely quibble-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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AirVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Protects your data - no logs
  • VPN through Tor
  • Remote port forwarding for improved P2P performance
  • Torrenting allowed
CONS:
  • More technical than your average VPN
  • Customer support could be better
  • Limited number of locations worldwide

Unfortunately, AirVPN's tech-heavy focus and rather brusque support team alienate 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. AirVPN keeps no logs at all and uses top-notch encryption with perfect forward secrecy. Its VPN through Tor feature allows true anonymity while using the service (although this is not suitable for P2P use due to slow speeds). Transmission users may also appreciate the fact that AirVPN fully supports port forwarding. Additional features: real-time user and server statistics, accepts Bitcoin, very reliable, three-day free trial, three simultaneous connections. Try it free for three days!

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Strong encryption to keep your data safe
  • SOCKS5 proxy gives “double” protection while torrenting
  • Port forwarding
  • Supports up to six devices at once
CONS:
  • Not much!

This Swedish VPN is great for privacy as it keeps no logs at all. It also keeps your data safe with very strong encryption. Transmission users will also find support for Socket Secure (SOCKS5) proxy useful as it provides “double protection” when downloading. As discussed later in this article, support for port forwarding is also a potentially useful feature. Its auto-reconnect and kill switch features are also excellent when torrenting, as is the fact that it offersgreat speeds. PrivateVPN features servers in29 countries around the world and allows you to connect up to six devices at once. With a seven-day money-back guarantee, why not give it go?

Transmission VPN Considerations

A VPN will protect you from punitive action by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and copyright holders when downloading via Transmission.

It can do this because:

  1. The VPN connection between your PC and the VPN server is encrypted. This means that your ISP cannot see what you’re doing on the internet.
  2. You access the internet via the VPN server, so your IP address appears to be that of the VPN server. Everyone else sharing the same file using a BitTorrent client will see the IP address of the VPN server, not your real IP address.

Using a VPN is also useful for accessing torrent sites that your ISP has blocked at the behest of your government or copyright holders.

Transmission for Linux Ubuntu (in Mint)

Do please note that not all VPN providers allow torrenting on their service. Although they might not actively prevent you from doing it, they will cancel your service or even hand over your details if they receive a complaint from copyright holders.

It is therefore important to always use a VPN for Transmission that allows P2P torrent downloading. These services promise to protect you, and they will.

Use a Kill Switch

Unlike with Vuze and qBittorrent, it’s not possible to bind Transmission to your VPN interface. This makes it all the more important to use a kill switch.

A kill switch prevents you from accessing the internet when not connected to a VPN service. This means that you won’t return to your computer after leaving it unattended, only to find that the VPN connection has gone down and you’ve been downloading illegal torrents for hours for all the world to see!

Transmission for windows looks very similar to its more established Mac and Linux siblings. Here we can see the IP addresses of everyone else who is sharing this legal torrent. As you can see, it’s ridiculously easy for copyright holders to catch people who illegally download their content!

Many VPN providers have a kill switch of some kind built into their software. This is sometimes called something obscure such as “network lock” or “secure IP.” Alternatively, you can use a third party solution such as VPNetMon, VPN Check, or VPN Watcher. You can also build your own using firewall rules.

Note that firewall-based solutions are superior to ones that detect whether your VPN connection has dropped before disconnecting your internet, as a firewall solution should block all internet traffic outside the VPN. Any kill switch solution, however, is better than none!

NAT Firewalls and Port Forwarding

Transmission supports NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) port mapping. These technologies help overcome issues related to NAT firewalls by auto-configuring your port forwarding settings.

What Is a NAT Firewall?

Many VPN services use a NAT firewall to prevent incoming connections from the internet. This is generally a good thing, as it protects you against attacks. For P2P, however, it can cause problems, as it prevents all unsolicited incoming connections.

Modern BitTorrent clients are very clever. They can overcome many NAT issues by initiating connections with torrents and other trackers. When another BitTorrent user wishes to download a file (or file piece) that you have, their software will alert your BitTorrent client to the fact, and your BitTorrent client will initiate the connection, thereby bypassing the NAT firewall.

When both parties are behind a NAT firewall, however, this isn’t possible, as neither party can initiate a connection!

This makes the P2P process much less efficient for all users. If the only people holding the file/file pieces that you want are also behind a NAT firewall, then tough cheese. As more people use VPNs to protect themselves while downloading, this problem is likely to get worse.

Port Forwarding

The solution is port forwarding, where the VPN provider opens a port through its NAT firewall in order to allow P2P traffic through. Using a provider with this feature (which usually has to be manually activated) improves your P2P performance and is good P2P practice in general.

Some BitTorrent clients require you to specify an open port on which to listen for incoming connections. Others, such as Transmission, make the job easier by using automation technologies such as the NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) and UPnP port mapping.

It should be noted, though, that port forwarding issues are largely theoretical. I have downloaded torrents at high speeds for years with a VPN connected, and have never needed to use port forwarding.

Because port forwarding is not something that most torrenters need worry about, this feature is not considered important enough to affect the ordering of our list above. I have, however, noted port forwarding as a feature where offered.

Using Transmission with a VPN

Those of you who have used other BitTorrent clients will be able to jump into Transmission straight away. If you’ve never downloaded using the BitTorrent protocol before, here is a quick rundown of how it works:

  1. Download and install Transmission. It’s 100% free!
  2. Ensure you have a VPN running (this is optional but strongly recommended). This will bypass censorship of torrent sites, hide your IP from others you file-share with, and hide your downloads from your ISP.
  3. Visit a BitTorrent website. These websites host links to torrent files. You can browse for content that interests you, or search for something specific. Many websites include user-reviews of torrents, which can help you pick good ones. If torrent sites are blocked by your ISP, a VPN is also handy for unblocking them.
  4. When you’ve found the content you want, simply click on the torrent link or magnet link. Avoid “Direct download” type links, as these almost always connect to commercial services. The torrent will open in your BitTorrent client and begin downloading.
  5. When the download is 100% completed, enjoy! Transmission doesn’t include a built-in media player, but VLC is free, open source, and available on pretty much all platforms. It will play everything you throw at it.
  6. Seed the torrent (optional, but considered polite, as torrenting relies on users seeding in order to work). Basically, just leave Transmission running with the torrent still active. This allows other users to download the torrent from your copy, and is why torrenting is also known as file sharing.

To find out your seed ratio in Transmission, right-click on a torrent in the main window -> Properties -> Information -> Unloaded. Good netiquette requires that you upload to at least 100% (1:1 seed ratio). This means that you have uploaded at least as much of the file as you have downloaded.

Transmission VPN Setup

In order to use a VPN with Transmission, you need only have it running at the same time as Transmission. Use of a kill switch will ensure that Transmission doesn’t download anything except when the VPN is connected.

If you want to check that your VPN is protecting your torrenting sessions, visit IPLeak.net and activate Torrent Address detection.

This IP address belongs to my VPN provider, so my real IP is hidden

This downloads a fake file to your computer via a magnet link, which will then be opened by Transmission and can be tracked by the website. If everything is working correctly, you should see neither your own IP address nor any IP address belonging to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Best VPNs for Transmission: Conclusion

Transmission is a great BitTorrent client. In fact, it is rated second in our Five Best BitTorrent Clients roundup! The perfect partner to any good BitTorrent client is a good VPN service that will keep you safe when downloading.

Best Transmission VPNs: Side-by-Side Comparison

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