Users who value their online security and privacy should know that using virtual private network (VPN) services has become essential, especially when torrenting.
One of the most popular ways to download and consume premium digital content without paying a dime is P2P (or peer-to-peer). 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.
This is why we at Security Gladiators consider virtual private network services as 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 virtual private network service is the cheapest and most efficient way to protect yourself.
A VPN service, a good one that is, provides online customers with complete privacy by hiding their activities from third-party entities such as government surveillance agencies, internet service providers and hackers. VPNs are especially beneficial for torrenting users because it protects their data from being exposed to other users who are also using file-sharing services.
You just never know who is going to try to steal your private information.
Choosing the Best VPN for Torrenting: What to Look For
There is 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:
- Even some good virtual private network services 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 torrenting.
- To torrent effectively, you need speed. So you should sign up for a VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth along with unlimited downloads.
- You need advanced security features such as a kill switch. This feature comes in handy when the user’s 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.
Based on these important factors, we have compiled this guide to help you select the best VPN for torrenting.
Let’s take a look at our list.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
#1 NordVPN (#1 VPN for Torrenting)
- Advanced security features such as double-encryption
- Great performance
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Huger server network
- Does not offer a live chat support feature
With NordVPN, you can have access to over 5,600 servers in nearly 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 virtual private network 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 such as L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec.
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.
Along with that, NordVPN also offers online customers with 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 does not support P2P transfers on some of its servers.
You’ll have to look at the complete VPN server list on NordVPN’s website (linked below) to get an idea of which servers support P2P and which do not.
With that said, NordVPN offers too much advanced security features to get held back by not having all VPN servers support P2P transfers.
The company ensures its coverage area is as wide as possible. It also comes with an automatic kill-switch feature, an absolute must if you want to guarantee that you will not leak data in the case of a dropped VPN or internet connection.
For pricing, NordVPN is a very competitive VPN service. It gives heavy discounts to customers who show support by signing up for annual plans.
The one-month plan is not the cheapest in the world, so a long-term plan would be the most cost-effective in the long fun.
#2 IPVanish (Former #1 VPN for Torrenting)
- Zero logs policy
- Uses shared IP addresses, making it impossible for internet service providers and government agencies to identify any users
- VPN servers located in over 61 countries
- Unlimited torrenting
- Live chat support is available
- Customer support is not the best
- The company is based in the United States, where the likes of the NSA can come knocking on your door at any time
IPVanish is one of the top three VPNs for torrenting.
Note: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 little 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:
- 75+ server locations
- 1,300+ servers total
- 40,000+ IP addresses
- 10 simultaneous connections
- 60 Mbit/s server speed on average
- Supports all major platforms and operating systems
This VPN service also offers additional bonus features such as a dedicated robust Android app and several simultaneous connections per account. And IPVanish is so confident about its virtual private network service that it offers all customers a seven-day money-back guarantee.
- Very intuitive to use
- Allows payment in Bitcoin
- Can connect automatically
- Does not have enough levels of support
If you’re looking for a simple but effective Virtual Private Network service 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 has support for 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:
- Have access to over 5,700 servers
- Have access to over 110 server locations
- Use 7 devices simultaneously
This means you can just sit back and relax while your torrent client downloads your files for you anonymously. The CyberGhost VPN app also comes with a button labeled Torrent Anonymously, which takes care of all the settings you need for torrenting. With some less user-friendly VPN apps, you constantly have to adjust different settings each time you connect to the internet through a VPN server.
Another lesser-known feature of the CyberGhost VPN app is that it doesn’t force HTTPS requests when it detects that some download managers are not 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 pay $88.56 and $104.50, respectively.
For customers who require an extra amount of privacy and anonymity, CyberGhost VPN allows payment in Bitcoin.
- Offers servers in over 94 countries
- Excellent customer support
- Users can connect multiple devices with a single account
- Users are free to have three 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 is a bit pricey.
- Server coverage in over 90 countries
- 1,800+ servers overall
- 30,000+ different IP addresses
- 5 simultaneous connections per account
- 63 Mbit/s VPN server average speed (assuming you have a 75 Mbps connection)
- All major platforms supported
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 also has 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 is not a true zero-log VPN company—it does keep 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.
- Very economical
- Allows payments via Bitcoin
- Zero logs
- Comes with some advanced security features such as 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 Acess (or PIA) is a VPN provider based in the United States.
As we mentioned above, 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 VPN kill switch along with port forwarding and DNS leak protection.
Overall, Private Internet Access offers:
- 29+ VPN server locations
- 3,200+ servers overall
- 10 simultaneous device connections with each account
- 50 Mbit/s VPN speed on average
- 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.
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 downloaded 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 and 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 torrent file.
In torrenting, a user has successfully downloaded a file once the user has “downloaded” all of the file’s pieces. 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.
Warning:There is 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 a private one.
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 given user that is sharing and/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 is 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 down all the IP addresses connected to that file. Then they can go to their internet service provider to move and 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 virtual private network service installed on your system and it is running, then your internet service provider will have no idea what you are 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.
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 is not careful enough, they could possibly see their real IP address.
But with a VPN, third parties can only see the IP address of the VPN server. So the user’s real IP address would 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 in order 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.
Note: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 is completely legal to download copyright-free torrents. But let’s talk honestly here: The majority of torrenting users want to access premium content that is copyrighted.
Since downloading content via torrents is a relatively new phenomenon, most countries don’t consider it as a criminal offense. In fact, some consider the act of downloading copyrighted content on the internet without prior permission as a civil offense.
What does that mean for the end user?
Note:If a user downloads copyrighted content but only does so for personal use, then it is 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 that 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 is 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 United Kingdom.)
So, what’s the best way to avoid all this mess? Use a VPN service. As you would probably know by now, 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.
But some argue that such a setup is not 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 own 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 is a pretty big operation. You are not likely to find a for-profit company that is willing to go through all the processes to offer a VPN service that is completely free.
With that said, there are many free VPNs for torrenting in the market. The catch is, most of these free service providers are not reputable.
Moreover, their free plans are not great. They come with a healthy dose of limitations. They’ll often offer a highly restricted free account, so that the user is forced to buy their premium service to access any of the features.
After that, it is all a matter of enticing the user with enough advertisements so that they eventually pay up for the company’s premium subscription package. Because of this lack of transparency, it’s unclear how they actually make their money.
Also, free services will often use their customer’s data in order 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 DMC takedown notices.
That is why people running genuine virtual private network services often decide against offering free torrent VPNs because those customers are simply not worth it for them.
That said, all of the services 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.
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.