Since Napster made torrenting accessible to all web users in the late 1990s, file-sharing has caused an online storm. While many traditional media producers have lobbied against the practice, it has transformed the entertainment industry irreversibly. Today, 95% of downloaded music is obtained through torrents, alongside 42% of software.
Popular torrenting sites include:
- The Pirate Bay
- Kickass Torrents
The move to file sharing forced media outlets to rethink their release strategies. It took the monopoly from conventional labels, channels, and production houses, and gave rise to a culture of streaming and instant downloads. It forced artists to find new ways to engage with their audience and share their art.
A testimony to this is the fact that Game of Thrones – one of the most popular series still not on Netflix or Amazon Prime – has seen the highest number of illegal downloads for six years running. However, legal authorities and copyright holders are still attempting to quell the torrenting revolution.
The Problem with Torrenting
Many are under the impression that P2P filesharing is illegal – this is not true!
It breaches no law to own and use a torrenting client; the problem arises with the content you chose to share. Copyright law allows producers to keep control of their art. When you download popular films and movies, you are breaching copyright, as you haven’t paid for a ‘license to view.’
Because of this, torrenting without a VPN could land you in serious trouble. Across the globe, law enforcement is heightening their watch on P2P sharing, and prosecutions are increasing. In 2015, a UK resident was arrested for uploading thousands of hours of media onto torrent sites.
Thus far, it only seems to be those who engage in ‘seeding’ – the re-sharing of media once downloaded – who are falling foul with the law, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe. If enough resources are pooled into targeting copyright, anyone with a torrent client is at risk.
How to Protect Yourself While Torrenting
Once you know how to use a VPN for torrenting, this issue is easily resolvable. In 2012, figures arose claiming that the federal agency logged your IP address a mere three hours after downloading an illegal file. However, if you install a VPN, then you can fabricate your IP code and avoid detection!
How a VPN Works
VPNs divert your traffic via a secondary server located elsewhere. Once you hit the web, any logs will display the new IP address, guaranteeing you anonymity online. The initial connection is also encrypted to ensure no data is visible. Alongside safe torrenting, other benefits of using a VPN include:
- Protection from government snooping
- Safety on public Wi-Fi networks
- Ability to access foreign media catalogs (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
Use a VPN with Torrent Clients
Torrent clients allow users to download files with ease. Some of the most popular services include:
The problem with these clients is that, once you have downloaded your file, it automatically seeds for other people. So far, it has been this activity specifically that has led to arrests. Fortunately, using a VPN can help. Whenever you want to download, simply connect to a proxy server before you open your torrent client, and your activity will remain hidden.
It’s important to find a high-quality VPN with configuration options that will guarantee you anonymity when you download.
Best VPN for Torrenting
Some providers lack proficiency in essential aspects, threatening your privacy while torrenting. Similarly, a few VPN companies have banned file-sharing due to the legal ambiguity. To ensure you are completely protected, the software must be:
- Reliable – with as little downtime as possible, so your real IP isn’t exposed.
- Fast – to ensure a download speed that allows for torrenting.
- P2P compatibility – so file-sharing is supported on your VPN client.
- Contingency features – to prevent your data from becoming visible if the VPN drops out for any reason.
We tested popular VPN providers to determine the best VPN for torrenting.
#1 ExpressVPN – The Ultra Fast VPN Service
ExpressVPN ranked as the best VPN for p2p thanks to its reliable and trusted service. It is the fastest provider that we tested, with consistently high speeds, and boasts almost no downtime. The company also runs instant live chat support so that any problems can be resolved quickly and efficiently.
Additional features: Their network lock feature ensures your web connection cuts out if your VPN fails, so you’ll never be caught out unaware! Plus, there’s a detailed guide on how to configure the software for a torrent client, on the ExpressVPN website.
- $12.95 a month
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Save 49% with an annual subscription – plus, enjoy three free months and an extended money-back period of 45 days.
For more information on ExpressVPN features, read our extensive ExpressVPN review.
#2 NordVPN – Optimal Speed and Security Mix
NordVPN is another torrent friendly VPN service that is impressively optimized for file-sharing. Known for their incredible range of additional security features, they offer more advanced privacy settings than most providers.
Additional features: The dedicated NordVPN P2P servers are shared by numerous users, and you can use the Onion or DoubleVPN options to split your traffic through multiple connection points. The company even offers DNS leak protection, which – although not ubiquitous – lessens the chances of data spills.
- $11.95 per month
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Save 52% with an annual subscription
For more information on NordVPN features, read our extensive NordVPN review.
#3 PureVPN – Helpful P2P features
PureVPN is a top provider who allows torrenting but only on certain server locations – which are specified on the website. Alternatively, on configuration, there is an option to connect for ‘purpose.’
Additional features:You can select P2P, and it chooses the optimal servers for the job. Alongside this, several of the additional security features increase safety while torrenting. For example, StealthVPN disguises your VPN data as other web traffic types, to avoid detection by government authorities – this will become increasingly useful as more countries begin to make arrests for file-sharing. Similarly, the multi-port option improves service reliability, although its only available on Windows.
- $10.95 per month
- $2.95pm with 2-year subscription
- 7-day money-back guarantee
For more information on PureVPN features, read our extensive PureVPN review.
#4 VyprVPN – Value for Money
While VyprVPN is not the top choice for torrenting, it offers a few features that support the practice. It’s easy-to-use, showed relatively good speeds and is highly customizable for the best service possible. Instead of providing DNS leak protection, the company offers VyprDNS – a locally owned DNS provider that keeps no connection logs.
Additional Features: The Chameleon protocol is a fantastic addiction that disguises your VPN data as regular web traffic – unfortunately, it’s only available on the Premium price plan. It is worth noting that VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, so the company must retain data logs for 30 days and is subject to DMCA takedown issues.
- $5 per month
- $6.67pm for Premium service
- 3-day free trial
For more information on VyprVPN features, read our extensive VyprVPN review.
#5 Cyberghost Pro – Fair Priced, P2P limited
CyberGhost is another VPN provider that only supports P2P sharing on certain networks. However, its ‘Torrent Anonymously’ option makes it easy to connect. You can add your download client to the VPN launch options, and the software will automatically use an optimized server.
Additional Features: You can still choose your connection manually, but you must stick to countries where torrenting is legal. CyberGhost is also known for their vocal protection of digital privacy, even going to court to protect customer rights. This active role in the global legal battle for online privacy gives users added peace of mind!
- $10.99 a month.
- $4.99pm with an annual subscription.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
For more information on IPVanish features, read our extensive CyberGhost review.
Get a Fast VPN Today
Whether you’re into gaming, want to watch your favorite TV shows, or need to stream top movies, having the fastest VPN service matters. Delays and buffer time in downloads and streaming are irritating and interfere with a smooth browsing experience, so there’s no reason not to choose a VPN that delivers both speed and security.
Which is Better – VPN or Proxy
Proxy services are often marketed and used for torrenting anonymously. Like a VPN, they replace the IP address of the user. However, proxies provide a considerably reduced service, lacking any encryption or additional privacy features. Similarly, a proxy service only works for a specific piece of software, whereas VPNs disguise all web traffic.
Other benefits of using a VPN over a proxy service include:
- VPN Protocol Encryption. VPNs use military-grade encryption to secure the initial data tunnel. Proxies, on the other hand, leave this connection visible to onlookers.
- Downtime Contingencies. Unlike proxies, VPN providers offer automatic features that kill any web activity that slips through the encryption.
- Comprehensive Cover. VPNs protect your browser, torrent client, email and any other third-party apps.
- Government & ISP Protection. Although proxies hide your IP address, snooping authorities can still see your traffic and identify file-sharing activity. VPN encryption stops the issue, and many providers offer additional features to disguise the VPN traffic, for further security!
Can I Torrent with a Free VPN?
You have been tempted to use a free VPN for torrenting. While the low price tag may seem attractive, it actually poses a whole host of risks. Free providers can’t invest as much in development, which often leaves them lacking in the crucial areas.
Free VPNs often drop their connection and fail to provide consistent speeds. Some also have a bandwidth and time limits, so you could reach your usability allowance before your download is complete. Furthermore, free VPN providers are known for collecting and selling customer logs to advertising companies, to generate revenue for the company.
If you don’t want to commit to a paid subscription, we recommend taking advantage of the money-back guarantees and free trials offered by premium services.
Get Additional Protection When Torrenting
We’ve already covered how a VPN can provide provider security while torrenting. However, it doesn’t stamp out every threat you face when file-sharing. Often torrent files are infected with malware, which infiltrates your computer once downloaded.
For example, several torrent sites have recently installed cryptocurrency miners into their domains, which put users’ computers to work when they have downloaded a file. This latest revelation is just one in a long history of P2P-spread malware.
To avoid falling victim to threats of this kind, always use a high-quality antivirus service to flag and resolve problems before they cause serious damage.
Torrent Safely with a VPN
Torrenting has afforded web users around the world the ability to enjoy more content than ever, for lower prices. The popular practice has changed the world of media distribution, but its future is under threat!
As an increasing number of government bodies and copyright enforcement agencies continue to crack down and prosecute P2P file-sharers, web users must take extra caution.
Using a VPN when torrenting is essential to ensure your safety and privacy while downloading your favorite media. We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN torrenting, due to its unmatched speeds and reliability.