BitTorrent and P2P (Peer-to-Peer) technologies have been popular all around the world for more than a decade now. Often torrents get a bad reputation, because they are seen as an infringement of the law. But, for whatever reason you use a VPN when it comes to torrenting, we’re here to show you the five best options to use.
After careful considerations of several VPN services, we firmly believe ExpressVPN is the best choice for most users.
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First of all, any issues of legality are derived from a nation’s specific laws, which vary from country to country. Torrenting is not illegal everywhere. For example, the EU has different laws and regulations surrounding copyright infringement and copyright enforcement, than the U.S. and other nations.
In many countries around the world, it is perfectly legal to download torrents, as long as they are for personal use only. However, using them to pirate media with the intent to sell and distribute the downloaded files is a completely different story. But please understand that not all of the files and media available for download via P2P technologies are inherently illegal. The fact is that P2P technology remains a legitimate and effective way to distribute a wealth of information.
Just take Linux distributions, for example. There are many Linux platforms that are available for download using BitTorrent clients, and there’s nothing illegal about them. In short, it’s not about the tool, but what it’s used for.
The Benefits of P2P Torrents vs Usenet
P2P has several advantages over direct server downloads, such as Usenet. One of the problems with Usenet is that files are hosted on a server with finite storage capacity. That’s actually why Usenet needs to cycle out the files they host at set intervals of time.With P2P technologies, however, no such constraints exist.
As long as the torrent can be found, it can be downloaded. This is due to the nature of P2P, whereby a network of users (called seeders) host files for other peers to download. This facet of the technology is both a blessing and a curse, though.
See, once a user finds the file they’re looking for, but there is only one seeder, it is likely going to take a very long time to download that file. But everything depends on the size of the file and the respective upload and download speeds of the seeder and the leecher. Still, P2P tech offers a better alternative to Usenet, where downloaders might not even find a link to the file they want to download. Yet another perk to using a BitTorrent client for downloads is the fact that you can download content for free.
There are, admittedly, paid torrent hosting sites, but by and large users can usually find what they are looking for free of charge. Usenet, on the other hand, almost always charges a monthly subscription fee (restricted by monthly data limits).
There are three main security issues which plague the majority of BitTorrent users. The first problem is being able to trust the integrity of a download. It isn’t as large of a problem when P2P technologies first started becoming mainstream, but there are still a multitude of files hosted on P2P platforms that carry unwanted viruses, malware and adware.
The best solution to this problem is to scan every – and I mean every – file that you download with security software before you open it. In addition to viruses and similar threats, P2P users also need to be concerned with their privacy when downloading a file. There’s no telling where another user is located in the world or what their intentions might be, and the real problem arises from the fact that others can see your IP address. As a file downloads from BitTorrent, a download could take fragmented pieces of data from tens (if not thousands) of different users.
I don’t think anyone would want to knowingly advertise their IP address to so many strangers online. Fortunately, all one needs to do to combat this issue is use a VPN tunnel to mask their IP address. Doing so will make it nigh on impossible for other users to trace your real IP address. The third security concern is government agencies, the RIAA, and similar institutions. If other downloaders can see your IP address, these types of agencies can undoubtedly trace an IP address as well. If a BitTorrent user only downloads files that are legal within their geographic region, there is nothing to fear, though.
And don’t get me wrong, I certainly advocate full compliance with the law. Having said that, in some countries it is 100% acceptable to download copyrighted materials for personal use, but the RIAA may still try to trace your IP address, regardless of whether or not the download is legal.
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How the Best VPNs for Torrents Protect Downloads
Though P2P technologies are rife with security concerns, a VPN tunnel will clear up all of these issues (with the exception of viruses contained in files). There are three main benefits to using a VPN tunnel when downloading torrents.
- Firstly, ISPs and network admins won’t be able to see what type of traffic or files you’re downloading.
- Secondly, a VPN will also hide your traffic from copyright associations and governments, as it is in transit through the tunnel.
- Thirdly, a VPN tunnel will provide a layer of anonymity as the download completes.
Because a VPN masks your IP address with one from the VPN server; other users, copyright organizations, and governments won’t be able to see the real IP address of your computer. The only way to see that information would be to look at the connection meta-data from the VPN server. A great benefit of using a VPN tunnel when downloading torrents is the fact that it masks IP addresses.
This is extremely important, because many ISPs disallow the use of P2P technologies for security and resource reasons. It is inadvisable to expose your real IP address to so many strangers as a file download is in progress. There isn’t any way of knowing beforehand how many people might connect to your computer over the course of the download. Security and anonymity are essential, not optional, for users who want to download files using BitTorrent.
The Importance of Using a Kill-Switch
When downloading files via BitTorrent, every user should make good use of a feature called a VPN killswitch. Some providers offer this as part of their VPN service package, but other providers do not. If your VPN provider lacks this feature, it’s possible to create your own with firewall configurations or third-party software. Essentially, a VPN killswitch will halt all downloads in the event a VPN disconnects.
If a VPN tunnel is disconnected while files are being downloaded, all of the traffic from the download will then resume outside of the tunnel, which is bad for several reasons. Torrent downloads can take many hours to complete, and users don’t constantly monitor or supervise their downloads. As the download resumes without a VPN connection, all of that data will be routed through your ISP’s network without encryption. And everyone else downloading the same file will be able to see your real IP address.
Instead of risking exposing all of that information, using a killswitch will ensure that your IP address and P2P activities aren’t accessible by others if the VPN connection drops. With all the basics cleared up, let’s take an in-depth look at the best VPNs for torrents in 2017.
One of the best VPNs around at the moment, ExpressVPN is both fast and secure, and can unblock Netflix, among other streaming services. ExpressVPN is one of those VPN services that gets everything so right; you’re left looking for things to criticize.
If there’s something worth throwing shade at the VPN for, it’s the rather expensive plans (comparatively speaking) and the fact that it only allows three simultaneous device connections. But otherwise, the service is essentially perfect for torrenting, thanks to its rock solid anonymity architecture and the unlimited speeds users get to enjoy.
As a matter of fact, ExpressVPN is so good at keeping user location and IP addresses hidden; it’s a viable option for people who need the services of a VPN in countries like China, Saudia, Pakistan, and Iran. However, it’s not all total cloak and daggers; the service does collect some non-identifiable metadata for its own purposes, which include login details such as username and passwords, plus dates.
Other Reasons Why We Like ExpressVPN
With over 136 servers, spread across 94 countries, and a blazing fast service that combines security with no bandwidth throttling, ExpressVPN is a service that does live up to its name. Speaking of security, the service provides the following tunneling protocols:
Of course, your data flowing through these tunnels is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.
- Servers in 94 countries
- SmartDNS & Network Lock
- Great mobile & desktop apps
- Collects meta-data
- Connects only 3 devices
- Rather expensive
BolehVPN does everything well, including P2P torrenting, and supports VPN over Tor for genuine anonymity. BolehVPN is a clear choice for users who want to download files via P2P networks like BitTorrent. The service has many attractive features, which are comparable to VyprVPN.
For example, BolehVPN has a no-logs policy and supports P2P on their servers. And they have VPN killswitch and DNS leak prevention, too. Interestingly enough, their service also has a private torrent tracker called IPTorrents, which sets them apart from other providers.
In addition, they have a feature called xCloak obfuscation technology, which adds an extra layer of anonymity to downloads and makes them impossible to trace. However, there are a few drawbacks such as the allowance of only two simultaneous connections per account and they only have servers in 11 countries.
Other Reasons Why We Like BolehVPN
BolehVPN combines a fully featured desktop client, that supports privacy and censorship technologies, making it a clear winner for lovers of torrenting.
Specifically, the company’s xCloak obfuscation technology is the ace that keeps users hidden from ISPs who are not friendly towards file sharing. Better yet, the VPN doesn’t compromise when it comes to speed either, so it won’t sacrifice speed for anonymity.
- Killswitch & DNS leak prevention
- Private BitTorrent tracker (IPTorrents)
- Cloak obfuscation technology
- 2 simultaneous connections per account
- Only has servers in 11 countries
- No 24/7 customer support
NordVPN has a no-fuss installation process for its apps, which are available on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Next we have NordVPN, which offers fantastic security with AES-256 encryption. However, their approach to P2P downloads is a little different than other providers. Yes, they do allow P2P downloads on their servers, but only in countries where it is legal to do so.
We think this is fantastic for two reasons. First of all, it means they are compliant with the law – which is a huge plus.
Secondly, because they are compliant, it is highly unlikely that they would attract any unwanted attention from other governments, the RIAA, or regulatory bodies. As an added perk, they are located in Panama. NordVPN has a wealth of attractive features such as a 30-day money back guarantee and the allowance for six simultaneous connections per account.
Other Reasons Why We Like NordVPN
NordVPN has it all. Great cloaking tech, a system designed to allow torrenting in countries where it is explicitly legal and a private DNS server option too. Plus, users can opt to pay anonymously via Bitcoin. Outside of torrenting, NordVPN is also a great option for getting into geo-restricted sites like Hulu, the BBC iPlayer service and even the almighty Netflix.
- Allows P2P downloads
- Kill-switch feature
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Not very fast
- No native Linux app
- Manual setup for Linux & routers
The free trial does not support P2P, but the premium plus plan does. As an added bonus, they have a no-log policy. Though they do log meta-data such as the time a user logs into their service, they don’t keep any logs regarding what websites a user visits or what traffic flows through their servers. This reason alone makes them one of the best VPNs around.
Other Reasons Why We Like CyberGhost
Login times and connection data is deleted after 24 hours, because they only need to keep statistical information to help plan for capacity needs. Furthermore, they are based out of Romania, so no there’s need to worry about interference from the U.S. government.
- 5 simultaneous connections
- P2P traffic (on premium servers)
- No-logs policy
- Free service lacks P2P
- More expensive than alternatives
- Desktop client is rubbish
Private Internet Access VPN
PIA VPN offers a perfect combination of speed and price, which is great for torrents that need to be downloaded in a hurry, without breaking the bank. PIA VPN is our last pick for people who want to secure their P2P downloads, and the service has many enticing features.
To begin with, they have 3,100 servers in 24 countries around the world, so there are plenty of connection options. With a 1-year subscription, you can get their service for as little as $3.33 per month. Divide that by five devices, and you’re only paying about $0.67 cents per month, per device, with an annual subscription. And despite being based in the U.S., they do allow P2P downloads.
Other Reasons Why We Like PIA VPN
Two reasons why people fall in love with this service is due to the fact that they allow five simultaneous connections per account.
And secondly, they’re one of the lowest cost providers in the market. Also, like many other providers, they offer features such as DNS leak protection and a VPN killswitch.
- Allows P2P connections
- DNS leak protection
- VPN killswitch features
- Based in the U.S.
- 7 day money back guarantee
- Doesn’t work with Netflix
By now you should have a good understanding of the potential security problems when downloading files with P2P technologies, such as BitTorrent.
Remember, anti-virus and anti-malware software needs to be used in addition to a VPN tunnel to protect yourself completely. Without a VPN tunnel, there’s no telling who might see your IP address.
You should always use a VPN service with a killswitch feature, or ISPs and the government will be able to see what you are downloading.
While we don’t advocate illegal activities, we do believe that everyone has a right to privacy. To avoid attacks from other downloaders and to prevent ISPs and organizations from seeing your online activities and downloads, remember to use a decent VPN service.