One of the most popular ways to download and consume premium digital content without paying a dime is the peer-to-peer method or P2P. This is the protocol used on file-sharing services and websites. The only problem is that the content you’re downloading may be copyright-protected.
Users who value their online security and privacy should know that using a virtual private network or VPN has become essential, especially when torrenting. This is why we at Security Gladiators consider VPNs a vital purchase.
Users who want to maintain their absolute privacy and anonymity while torrenting must sign up for a good VPN service.
But why a VPN? Why not just use a friend’s computer? Put simply, a VPN is the cheapest and most efficient way to protect yourself.
Checking Your IP Address...
The tool above is a simple IP Address locator, your ISP or anyone monitoring torrent activity can easily track your location and then see what you are torrenting. If you want your torrents kept private then you need to use a VPN.
This in-depth guide will show you the best VPNs for torrenting. Read on to learn more.
Choosing the Best VPN for Torrenting: What to Look For
There’s a wide variety of VPN service providers available to consumers. Here are some things you need to keep in mind while searching for the best VPN for torrenting:
- Some of the best VPNs don’t allow customers to engage in torrenting, so if you want to use a VPN for that purpose, you need to make sure the provider supports P2P torrenting.
- To torrent effectively you need speed. You should sign up for a VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth and unlimited downloads.
- You need advanced security features like a kill switch. This feature comes in handy if the VPN connection suddenly and unexpectedly drops. With a kill switch, your VPN app will still protect you even without an internet connection.
- It’s very important to find a VPN provider with a zero logs policy. A VPN service that keeps no logs basically has no idea who you are and what you do online. This is very important if you want to hide your identity and activity.
- For added speed, look for VPNs that offer Socks5 as a feature. Then you can configure your torrent client to use that.
Based on these important factors, we’ve compiled this guide to help you select the best VPN for torrenting. Let’s take a look at our list.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
Simultaneous Connections: Six
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
- Torrent friendly
- Super fast
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Kill switch
- Socks5 Proxy
- Zero logs policy
- Doesn't offer a live chat support feature
With NordVPN, you’ll have access to over 5,600 servers in 60+ countries worldwide. You can also use the app with six devices simultaneously.
NordVPN has made its name in the VPN industry for one reason: security. There are hardly any VPN services that offer more security than NordVPN for the same amount of money.
NordVPN provides all of its customers with a hyper-secure and private internet connection. It supports all major VPN protocols including L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec. It even has Socks5 Proxy for fast, private torrenting.
The feature that allows NordVPN to offer customers more security than almost any other VPN is its Double VPN feature. The Double VPN feature refers to servers that are able to pass the user’s online traffic through two different VPN servers. This provides an extra layer of security that can prove critical in sensitive regions of the world with a lot of government-imposed censorship such as China, Russia and Iran.
Additionally, NordVPN also offers the Onion over VPN feature, which adds even more layers to the user’s privacy.
As far as the negatives are concerned, we’ve noted that NordVPN doesn’t support P2P transfers on some of its servers. You’ll have to look at the complete VPN server list on NordVPN’s website to get an idea of which servers support P2P. With that said, NordVPN offers too many advanced security features to get held back by not having all VPN servers support P2P transfers.
For pricing, NordVPN is very competitive. It gives heavy discounts to customers who show support by signing up for annual plans. The one-month plan isn’t the cheapest in the world, so a long-term plan would be the most cost-effective in the long run and with our exclusive link, you’ll get a huge 68% discount with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Our Score: 9.8/10
Simultaneous Connections: Ten
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
- Zero logs policy
- Shared IP addresses
- 60+ servers
- Unlimited torrenting
- Socks5 Proxy
- Customer support isn't the best
- The company is based in the U.S., where the NSA can come knocking on your door at any time
One thing to note right off the bat: The company operates out of the U.S., meaning it has to deal with mass-surveillance programs from the likes of the National Security Agency. However, the company doesn’t have to worry about mandatory data retention laws in the U.S., at least for now.
This is the reason why IPVanish has few qualms about offering customers a zero logs premium VPN service.
IPVanish is the most torrent-friendly VPN service on the market today. It also offers:
- 60+ server locations
- 1,300+ servers total
- 40,000+ IP addresses
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Support for all major platforms and operating systems
It also offers additional bonus features like a dedicated robust Android app. It’s so confident about its VPN service that it offers all customers a seven-day money-back guarantee.
Our Score: 9.0/10
Simultaneous Connections: Seven
Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days
- Very intuitive to use
- Allows payment in Bitcoin
- Can connect automatically
- Doesn't have enough levels of support
If you’re looking for a simple but effective VPN for torrenting, then look no further than CyberGhost VPN. This service is close to being the best option for beginner torrent users because it makes the process easy for those who aren’t familiar with how P2P and non-P2P VPN servers work.
The app includes a feature that automatically forms a connection with a server that supports P2P file transfers. It’s also advanced enough to apply the most favorable options to the VPN connection in order to speed things up. All the while, CyberGhost VPN protects the security of your downloads and data.
With CyberGhost VPN, customers can:
- Access over 5,700 servers
- Access over 110 server locations
- Protect seven devices simultaneously
CyberGhost can also launch your favorite torrent client once you’ve connected to the internet through a secure VPN server. This means you can just sit back and relax while your torrent client downloads your files for you anonymously.
Another lesser-known feature of the CyberGhost VPN app is that it doesn’t force HTTPS requests when it detects that some download managers aren’t compatible with the available protocol. The company also enforces a zero-logs policy.
CyberGhost offers Android and iOS apps for users who don’t like to torrent on their desktop or laptop.
One major complaint we’ve seen about CyberGhost VPN is that it has poor live support features. Pricing is $12.99 for one month. For the 24-month and 38-month plans, you’ll pay $88.56 and $104.50, respectively. For customers who require an extra amount of privacy and anonymity, CyberGhost VPN allows payment in Bitcoin.
Our Score: 9.3/10
Simultaneous Connections: Five
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
- Offers servers in over 90 countries
- Excellent customer support
- Five simultaneous connections per account
- On the expensive side
One main draw for ExpressVPN is its fast servers and easy-to-use interface.
The company also offers great customer service and a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is important if you want to try out the app before committing long-term, as it’s a bit pricey.
- Server coverage in over 90 countries
- 1,800+ servers
- 30,000+ different IP addresses
- Five simultaneous connections per account
- 63 Mbps average VPN server speed
- Support for all major platforms
ExpressVPN has dedicated applications for all major platforms such as Android, iOS, Linux (via the command line utility), macOS, Windows and routers, even ones with custom firmware. The company has also installed stealth servers in Hong Kong, which lets users get around the Great Firewall of China.
The only problem we see with ExpressVPN is that it’s not a true zero logs VPN company—it keeps limited connection logs.
The company operates out of the British Virgin Islands, meaning it doesn’t have to worry about any obstacles or legal retribution for providing customers with tools to hide their identity online. Companies outside of the British Virgin Islands have to abide by stricter policies.
Our Score: 8.9/10
Simultaneous Connections: 10
Money-Back Guarantee: 30
About Private Internet Access
- Very economical
- Allows payments via Bitcoin
- Zero logs policy
- Comes with some advanced security features including DNS leak protection and a kill switch
- Reportedly, Apple users have a worse experience than others
- The company is based in the U.S.
Private Internet Access or PIA is a VPN provider based in the U.S. As we mentioned earlier, because of its surveillance programs and data-sharing policies, the U.S. isn’t an ideal home country for a company that provides tools to protect users’ privacy and anonymity. With that said, the company says it stores absolutely zero logs.
As far as security goes, PIA is a first-rate VPN provider, though that security does come as an optional feature.
The company has dedicated desktop apps that support several advanced security features. PIA also offers a kill switch along with port forwarding and DNS leak protection.
Overall, PIA offers:
- 29+ VPN server locations
- 3,200+ servers overall
- 10 simultaneous device connections with each account
- 50 Mbps average VPN speed
- Support for all major platforms
With a subscription, PIA lets you have up to 10 simultaneous device connections per account. PIA also has a dedicated Android client that offers as much as the desktop client. In the VPN world, this is a rarity.
PIA also has excellent connection speeds, and it allows unlimited torrenting and P2P on all of its servers. It sets itself apart from other VPN services by offering torrenting on a number of servers that are based in the U.S.
Our Score: 7.6/10
Why Should You Use a VPN for Torrenting?
Put simply, the best way to protect your identity and security while torrenting from the comfort of your own home is to use a VPN. We’ll explain more by telling you how the process of torrenting works.
Peer-to-peer file-sharing technology has changed the way people download content online. Instead of storing files on one huge central server, files are stored and shared among the individual users themselves.
Popular torrent files could have hundreds or even thousands of users accessing and downloading them. If a user downloads a file through the BitTorrent protocol, for example, they’re taking small pieces of the given file and sharing it with the rest of the torrent users who are also trying to download the same file.
In torrenting, a user has successfully downloaded a file once all of the pieces have been downloaded. Users need to have 100% of the pieces of the file so that the BitTorrent technology can work its magic and reassemble the pieces to make it whole again. The BitTorrent setup offers users a decentralized method of sharing content online.
Important:There’s a flip side as well, though. When a user shares files with tens, dozens or hundreds of strangers over the internet, the process itself is hardly private.
If these strangers know how to use the right kind of software (and it isn’t that difficult to find the right software since many torrenting clients themselves offer such tools), it’s simple to observe and record the IP address of any user that’s sharing or downloading the same torrent file.
This is a huge problem for your privacy. If other torrent downloaders can easily see your IP address, then no one can guarantee that some copyright holder or copyright group won’t use the same software application to monitor who’s illegally downloading premium content without prior permission from the creators of the copyrighted work.
After a copyright holder has spotted users downloading a copyrighted file, they may note all the IP addresses connected to that file. Then they can go to their internet service provider to take action against the user. Copyright-holding groups also have enough resources to take action against torrent downloaders on their own.
If this is enough to concern you, check out data on your IP address at iknowwhatyoudownload.com. This will give you an idea of just how valuable a public IP address is to people who want access to your identity and location.
This is important: This is why having a VPN is vital for torrenting. It will protect you from these scenarios.
How Does a VPN Protect You While Torrenting?
Any VPN service that you can describe as a P2P VPN or proxy for torrenting protects the user’s privacy in several ways while they’re busy downloading files.
VPNs hide your activity from your internet service provider
If you have a VPN installed on your system and it’s running, then your internet service provider will have no idea what you’re doing on the internet. It does this by forcing your data to pass between the VPN service’s server and your computer through an encrypted tunnel.
In other words, your internet service provider can never know if you’re just surfing the web or torrenting. With strong encryption, the ISP won’t know what you’re downloading or if you’re downloading anything at all.
VPNs block other users from seeing your real IP address
Torrent users should know that there are a lot of people who are trying to watch their activities over the internet. Copyright groups now have the means to monitor any IP address of any torrent user who might be downloading their premium content. If the user isn’t careful enough, they could possibly see their real IP address.
However, with a VPN, third parties can only see the IP address of the VPN server. So the user’s real IP address will remain safe no matter if you’re browsing from Australia, the U.K., the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.
The best VPN for torrenting will provide you with a private internet connection anywhere on the planet.
This is also important because internet service providers often limit and discourage users from torrenting by throttling their BitTorrent traffic. Sometimes, ISPs can even throttle the user’s entire internet connection if they see that the user is engaging in torrenting. You don’t want that to happen to you.
Internet service providers use these heavy-handed strategies and tactics to indiscriminately affect different people. What they don’t understand is that there are many legal files you can download by torrenting. So if you do use BitTorrent technology, it’s best to use it to download legal content that’s copyright-free.
The VPN service providers that we mentioned in the list above are always at the top of their game when it comes to protecting users through advanced encryption. If you want to know more about strong encryption, click here to read our guide on how VPN services work.
Is It Legal To Use a VPN While Torrenting?
It’s completely legal to download copyright-free torrents. But let’s talk honestly here: the majority of torrenting users want to access premium content that’s copyrighted.
Since downloading content via torrents is a relatively new phenomenon, most countries don’t consider it a criminal offense. In fact, some consider the act of downloading copyrighted content on the internet without prior permission a civil offense. What does that mean for the end-user?
Pro Tip:If a user downloads copyrighted content but only does so for personal use, then it’s not a crime in most jurisdictions. If they get caught, though, they may have to go through punitive measures. It basically depends on the stance of your government and your internet service provider.
As mentioned before, copyright-holding groups now have enough resources to take anyone to court for downloading illegal content. They may ask for damages their clients may have suffered for lost revenue. So if a user is involved in a lot of piracy, then the copyright group may ask for a lot of money. This is the standard procedure.
But copyright holder groups also use much less civil tactics, including speculative invoicing.
Often referred to as “copyright trolls,” these less-friendly specialists are in the business of monetizing the actual prosecution of online piracy.
They’ll send the perpetrator a letter demanding a settlement in the form of cash. Once the offender has paid the cash, the copyright trolls return the favor by stopping all legal prosecution for all of the offender’s copyright offenses. It’s common enough that the U.K. government has an official guide on the subject for users to consult. Remember that the guide is only for situations related to the U.K.
So, what’s the best way to avoid all this mess? Use a VPN service. As you can probably guess, there are a lot of nuances surrounding all the legalities of piracy and copyrighted content.
Port Forwarding and NAT Firewalls
A number of VPN service providers make use of NAT firewalls as part of their product. The use of NAT firewalls as a security feature is still a relatively debatable issue. Some think NAT firewalls aren’t necessary, while others believe they provide some benefit.
If a VPN service is using NAT firewalls, they can leverage it to block or allow incoming connections from all the other torrent peers. However, some argue that such a setup isn’t likely to comprehensively block users from engaging in torrenting. NAT firewalls might cause slower than normal downloads, though.
Port forwarding could be a solution to this. It enables users to take incoming peer connections and route them via the NAT firewall.
This method should enhance the user’s download speeds and help to make the whole P2P network faster and more efficient. To gain the maximum benefit of port forwarding, let your torrent client know which of the related ports are open. Then it can start the process of listening to all incoming connections.
Some BitTorrent clients require the user to configure these settings manually, but other good clients have little trouble in supporting technologies like UPnP port mapping and NAT-PMP or NAT Port Mapping Protocol. This helps to automate the entire process.
What About Free VPNs for Torrenting?
To run a VPN business, you need to have a lot of money because it’s a pretty big operation. You’re not likely to find a for-profit company that’s willing to go through all the processes to offer a VPN service that’s completely free.
With that said, there are many free VPNs for torrenting in the market. The catch is that most of these free service providers aren’t reputable.
Moreover, their free plans aren’t great and come with a healthy dose of limitations. They’ll often offer a highly restricted free account, so the user is forced to buy their premium service to access any of the features.
After that, it’s all a matter of enticing the user with enough advertisements that they’ll eventually pay up for the company’s premium subscription package. Due to this lack of transparency, it’s unclear how they actually make their money.
Also, free services will often use their customer’s data to sell it to marketing agencies. Sometimes they can steal your bandwidth as well. In any case, we don’t know of a single free torrent-friendly VPN that’s worth our recommendation.
The fact is, even paid VPN services have a hard time dealing with all the stress and the hassle that comes with DMCA takedown notices. That’s why people running genuine VPN services often decide against offering free torrent VPNs because those customers are simply not worth it for them.
That said, all of the VPNs we listed above offer support for torrenting. The money you pay to keep their server network running is well worth the price of protecting your privacy and security online.
We’ve already mentioned that you should stay away from using a free VPN for torrenting. Apart from the fact that free VPNs generally don’t have the infrastructure to support VPN torrenting, they also don’t allow high bandwidth levels. Then there’s the problem of a VPN for P2P not having enough security features.
The one golden rule of internet products that consumers should always keep in mind s that there’s always something fishy going on if you’re getting something for nothing.
Running VPN services not only requires technical expertise and business experience but also infrastructure. There’s no way a free service can maintain its servers and improve its privacy features while not making any sort of money in return.
With that said, we’re aware of the fact that there are some premium VPN services that offer users free tiers so they can test the service out or keep using their service with some restrictions. These are generally better and more private than free VPNs. Some of the best services that offer free packages include Hide.me, Windscribe and TunnelBear. Another good VPN for any purpose is ProtonVPN which is free but doesn’t support P2P downloads on its free tier.
Then there are other VPN services that are good in terms of offering lots of servers and privacy features such as PureVPN, Hotspot, and VyprVPN. But these don’t have the best logging policies. Similarly, many VPNs are unsuitable for torrenting because they can’t give you the required performance. Some VPNs can not only decrease the speed of your internet connection to a significant degree but can also make you less private.
But how is that possible? Isn’t the sole reason that a VPN exists is that it has to protect your privacy? While that’s true, VPNs that keep logs on their customers are, most of the time, also the ones using user data to show customers advertisements and installing cookies on their machines. Some can even infect your machine with malware.
The prime example to quote here is that of Hola. You can use Hola as much as you want to unblock websites and streaming services. But behind the scenes, it turns out that Hola isn’t much of a VPN service at all.
Pro Tip:It doesn’t take care of customer data and not only records their activities, but it also sells that data to third-party marketing companies. The service is free and that’s probably why it attracted so many VPN users. Also, Hola, at one point, used its customer’s internet bandwidth and sold it to others.
Some have compared the Hola service to a botnet where it turns each user into a node and instead of using its own servers it makes the customer the host of its VPN servers.
It’s another fact that Hola now forbids users to engage in torrenting. Given the fact that it doesn’t have good encryption or any other security features, it’s better to just stay away from it.
There are some other VPNs that you shouldn’t use for torrenting. They are:
ExpatSurfer is a VPN in name only. First, it’s not free and second, it isn’t very user friendly. If you use its customer support you won’t be getting a response any time soon. All the while, you’ll have to work fairly hard to get the server addresses you need to get a connection going.
Another VPN that most people don’t realize isn’t a good VPN service at all. While this VPN service is free, it doesn’t do anything to protect your data or privacy. Judging by the ratings it has and the number of people who have downloaded this VPN app, you would think it must be a top-notch provider, but it isn’t. It can even spread malware on your device.
Even if you uninstall Betternet from your system, it’ll still leave behind some files to keep tabs on you. The provider, as always, claims that it doesn’t keep any logs but that’s not true and in reality, they do keep connection logs.
Can a VPN Increase Your Torrenting Speeds?
To some extent, yes it can. And you don’t even need to sign up for the fastest VPN for torrenting to get that benefit. There’s no doubt that your internet service provider will do everything it can to monitor and record any activity that seems like torrenting.
Not that there’s anything illegal about the technology itself. Internet service providers usually do so because they want their customers to limit their internet use. If you start to get closer to your monthly limit, internet service providers will almost always throttle your connection. Generally speaking, it doesn’t really matter if you take part in P2P sharing or not. If you’re consuming too much data, your ISP will take action. But it’s also true that most internet users who get close to their monthly cap are the ones that do torrenting.
Due to throttling, you can experience slower speeds while you do certain things on the internet. As mentioned earlier, ISPs don’t just throttle the connections of people who torrent a lot. They also throttle bandwidth for people who do lots of online gaming and video streaming.
Most of us think that throttling is just about experiencing a slower internet connection, but that’s not true. ISPs can also disconnect your internet connection from time to time without giving you any reason for it. The way the best VPN for torrent activities would mitigate such issues is by hiding your activity. Now, from there, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that if your ISP is unable to see what you’re doing on the internet, it wouldn’t move to the next stage where it throttles your internet connection.
In practical terms though, if you see that whenever you start downloading something your internet connection suddenly starts giving up on you then it’s likely that your internet service provider is throttling you. Using a VPN you can increase your torrent speeds and stop your ISP from throttling your connection.
Best Locations for Torrenting With a VPN
We’ve seen quite a few discussions on the internet regarding the best location for torrenting. Some say that since VPNs try to offer users the fastest servers in regions such as Australia, the U.S .and the U.K., the servers located in these regions must offer the best torrenting experience. That does make sense from a speed perspective but not so much from a privacy perspective.
Besides, you also have to take into account your real location’s distance from the location of the server that you’ve connected to as that can greatly impact the final download speeds you get while torrenting. The other problem is that of legality. We’ve discussed this in a previous section how some countries have moved to not allow P2P traffic of any sort in order to discourage people from distributing copyrighted content.
As a result, we think you should avoid connecting to servers that are located in these countries:
- South Africa
To get the best torrenting experience with the same provider you should always look towards countries that recognize the benefits of P2P activities in quickly distributing open-source software and software updates to a large number of people at the same time. Use the following countries for your server connection to get the best experience possible:
On that note, we should mention that there’s no single best location for torrenting. Any server location will do as long as the laws for P2P activities are lax and it’s relatively close to your physical location.
While torrenting, the best way to protect your privacy and guard your identity is to use a VPN. VPN services are great at encrypting your traffic and hiding your real IP address so you never get into any legal trouble. Your ISP will also not be able to throttle your connection.
With that said though, keep in mind that many VPNs discourage people from torrenting. A good number of them don’t allow it. Some have extra features for making torrenting easier while remaining anonymous. Any service you use for torrenting must offer specialized torrenting servers with fast connection speeds and top-of-the-line security features.
Use the comments section below to let us know which service has worked for you if it’s different from the ones that we’ve mentioned above.
DISCLAIMER: Security Gladiators in no way encourages or condones any kind of copyright violation or circumvention of restrictions. That includes torrenting or downloading illegal content. Torrenting is a great way to access and share all kinds of content on the internet and there are plenty of opportunities there to engage in legal and safe online torrenting. You need to do your own research to see if these services and torrents are legal in your own country. We suggest to always use a VPN while torrenting.