Torrenting without a VPN is like going to a B&E without a mask on. Without one, your IP address is visible for all to see, and it’s incredibly easy to track you down. With a VPN, your IP address is hidden, and your data is fully encrypted. P2P file sharing just got a whole lot less stressful – get a VPN to protect your anonymity while torrenting.
Torrenting is a massive file sharing protocol that took the world by storm about ten years ago, and it’s only slightly lost that momentum. In the age of digital everything, many users are asking themselves why they would even bother buying a DVD ever again. Torrenting protocols allows users from all around the world to share files freely, like some sort of seedy digital bazaar.
With BitTorrent, no central servers are needed to run the operation, so everyone with an internet connection is free to participate, and the show goes on as P2P file sharing rages ‘round the world.
Of course, you can’t think of torrenting without thinking of piracy and copyright laws, and though the years have passed largely without any large scale prosecution, it’s still enough to make torrenters sweat in their computer chairs.
The largest problem by far with torrenting is a simple one – that it’s simply way to easy to see who’s doing it. It only takes a tiny bit of investigating to uncover an IP address and track it down to a user, and if yours isn’t concealed, then you’re a sitting duck, my felonious friend.
It’s part of the way the P2P platforms work unfortunately, and copyright owners have learned to monitor these file exchanges to try to track down the thieves passing around their content.
While we’d never advocate for illegal behavior around here, we certainly understand the need for privacy, and no matter what nefarious deeds you may be up to, it’s something we think we’re all entitled to.
Why You Need a VPN for Torrenting
A lot of people don’t even think about others having the ability to track their torrenting online, but without using anything to conceal your IP address, you’re just a sitting duck wearing their name badge for the world to see. Your IP address is visible to everyone when you torrent, and it doesn’t take much to figure out who you are and WHERE you are.
If you’re going to torrent, VPNs are absolutely critical to keeping your identity private (and you out of legal hot water). When you connect to the internet with a VPN, your IP address is hidden, and the one that’s visible isn’t actually linked to you. Your data is then fully encrypted, so nobody can see what you’re doing over public wifi networks.
Comparing Torrenting VPNs
While just about any VPN out there is going to be better than no VPN, it’s important to know what makes one stand out from the rest, so you don’t wind up stuck with a lemon that’s not going to let you download much of anything.
Since torrenting is used to download large files, the most important thing here is connection speed and reliability. The larger the network of servers, typically the faster the connection is going to be, so look for VPNs that have a network large enough to support their user load. There’s only so much bandwidth to go around, and too many users on too small of a network will spell connection problems for you.
Additionally, it’s ideal if the VPN provider you’re looking for isn’t based in the US or the UK. For legal reasons, a lot of times companies in these countries will make it really difficult for users to torrent with their service, and you’re likely to face an uphill battle getting it to work well for you as a result.
So how do you know which ones are going to let torrenting slide? Check their user agreements for a section on P2P file sharing, and that should give you an idea of what you can swing without violating their ToS.
Why Free VPNs Are Bad
Okay, well maybe not suck, because who doesn’t love something free, right? The problem with free VPNs though is that creating a service that allows their users to circumvent the law puts them in entirely too much legal hot water to make it worth their while to host a free service, even at an introductory level.
While free VPNs are excellent for slapping an extra layer of security on your connection on public wifi hotspots, they’re not generally going to allow their users to use their service for torrenting, so expect plenty of pushback and hurdles.
What is Port Forwarding?
Port forwarding is essentially a method of working outside of bypassing firewalls to access P2P file sharing services, and it’s a critical feature for people concerned with torrent download speeds. Without this service, you’ll still be able to download, but speeds are likely to be negatively impacted, and the security designed to protect your privacy will also just be getting in your way.
Port forwarding basically just puts a hole in that firewall for you, so that traffic can come through more freely, making torrenting much faster.
Before you torrent, before you download, before you do ANY kind of P2P file sharing, be smart and download a VPN first. Here are our top picks for the best VPNs for torrenting in 2017.
#1 – ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has always been our top pick for privacy and data security – this VPN works hard, with military grade encryption to keep your data private. With its facilities based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN also protects itself from shutdown over copyright issues, so we suspect this one isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
With a large network of worldwide servers, connections are always fast enough for downloading large files, and you can connect from just about anywhere. Users get unlimited bandwidth, and there are no usage logs to track what you’re up to.
What we really dig about ExpressVPN though is their amazing customer support. With 24/7 staff available to field your questions and help you get the VPN set up, you’ll be up and running in no time. They even have a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee, so if you hate it, you’re not stuck with it.
ExpressVPN works on just about every device, from Mac computers to Windows phones, and is super user-friendly. If you’re a torrenting addict, this VPN is definitely your best bet for ensuring you stay off the radar of copyright cops.
#2 – Buffered
In second place we have Buffered VPN, the ultra-fast and reliable connection that works worldwide on any device. We love Buffered because of its connection speed – it’s another fantastic option for torrenters, and the connection is pretty bulletproof.
Though they do keep some connection logs, it’s not enough to identify users with. Thanks to their using shared IP addresses, your identifying information is never on display, and it’s incredibly hard to see where you’re located.
Buffered also offers 24/7 customer support and a 30 day money back guarantee, and even accepts Bitcoin for anonymous payment from its users. Though we find the software isn’t quite as user-friendly as ExpressVPN’s, Buffered is still a pretty good option for torrenters looking to lay low.
#3 – IPVanish
IPVanish is a US-based option that takes full advantage of the US’s laws not requiring them to store data logs, so your comings and goings on the internet always remain private and anonymous. Of course, the downside to this is, they’re based in the US, and in theory, subject to legal penalties if they’re caught helping users circumvent copyright laws.
IPVanish has software that works across most operating systems, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, and Android, and you can even install it on your router. It’s relatively user friendly, and they have tons of quick-start guides to help you navigate the process.
While their network is in theory, large enough to support a fast connection, we’ve found that IPVanish’s connection speeds are a little less reliable than other VPNs. Some days it may work fine for torrenting, and other days you may not be able to download so much as a JPEG file, so be wary of that.
We really like VPNArea for all of its security bells and whistles. This one does it all, from military grade encryption, to even changing your IP address every five minutes, making you next to impossible to track.
Like ExpressVPN, VPNArea offers an app for just about every operating system out there, from Linux to Android. The service also includes up to six simultaneous connections per account, and at less than $5 a month, it’s crazy affordable for all of its swanky security features.
The only drawbacks with this one is the connection can be a little touch and go, and there’s only a seven day money back guarantee, so if you plan to try before you commit, make sure you make your decision fast.
#5 – AirVPN
AirVPN is a really interesting option in that its actually open-source software. This is good from a technical standpoint, in that the functionality and security is always improving. However, we’ve found from the perspective of the user that this one may be a bit overwhelming for those a little less tech-savvy. The interface isn’t the most user-friendly, and support can be unresponsive and a little unhelpful at times.
However, there’s no denying that AirVPN has it going on in terms of security. The multi-platform-friendly VPN uses military-grade encryption, with options for SSL tunneling for an added layer of privacy.
It may not be the most user-friendly option out there, but AirVPN is an undeniably secure VPN that was made for torrenting.
Torrenting Legality and Copyright Issues
If you’re sweating bullets, worrying about the legality of torrenting and the possibility of getting caught, you need to know two things:
- If you use a reliable VPN, you’re very unlikely to get caught in the first place.
- In most cases, the first offense is just going to warrant a warning letter from your ISP – no big deal.
Though governments and copyright holders certainly go out of their way to make themselves look as scary as possible to file sharers, the reality is that it’s pretty hard to convict someone of digital piracy, especially when they’re using a VPN
How to Know if Your VPN is Working For Torrenting
If you’re wringing your hands and freaking out about your information being visible to others, we have a few handy ways you can put your mind at ease and make sure your VPN is doing it’s job.
Just use this website to see if your IP address is visible. If you can’t see your real IP address, then good news – you’re safe. If you’re really worried about your VPN failing, just be sure to select one that offers a built in “kill switch”, which will actually terminate the connection the moment the VPN disconnects, so that your real IP address is never vulnerable to prying eyes.