- What Is Popcorn Time?
- Why You Need a Popcorn Time VPN
- Using Popcorn Time With an Android or iOS VPN
- Popcorn Time and Free VPN Providers
- The Popcorn Time Invalid Media Error
- How to Whitelist Popcorn Time Within Your Firewall
- A Few Popcorn Time Alternatives
- Final Thoughts
Popcorn Time is a free streaming program dubbed the “Netflix for pirated movies.” It allows you to watch movies and TV shows instantly and hassle-free, but from controversial sources. Its multi-platform BitTorrent client pulls content from torrents and plays it in the built-in media player, so using one of our best VPNs for Popcorn Time picks is a must.
You’ve most likely heard of torrenting, which on its own isn’t illegal, but whether you’ve dipped your toes in the murky waters of piracy is another matter. Torrenting is a form of file sharing, but most of the content found on torrent sites is copyrighted material, and by downloading it, you’re breaking the law.
Now, because Popcorn Time streams movies and shows straight from torrents, it leaves you in a risky position, unless you take precautions. Copyright laws vary in each country, with some being strict only on those who share such content.
The Best VPN for Popcorn Time
How We Chose the Best VPNs for Popcorn Time
You’ll notice that most VPNs pack the same features on paper, but they’re not implemented equally. While one may have fast speeds, it may not be great in the security department. To make sure you’re protected and have the best experience while streaming content through Popcorn Time, the VPN you choose should meet the criteria below.
Strong security is an absolute must when you’re in torrenting territory. It’ll not only keep you safe from online dangers, such as cybercrime, but it will hide your IP address so you can’t be traced. It’s a good idea to choose a VPN that has a kill switch built in, as that will sever your connection completely if the VPN fails, keeping you hidden.
Make sure the provider values privacy, too. Having a strict no-logging policy in place means there won’t be a record of what you’ve been up to online, which is good when it comes to copyright laws.
Bandwidth and P2P Servers
Checking your bandwidth usage while torrenting is like watching a game of Pac-Man. It gets eaten up fast, so it’s understandable that many providers don’t even allow torrenting. Although you’re not directly torrenting, it’s best to make sure the VPN provider allows peer-to-peer traffic and has unlimited bandwidth so you’re not caught short.
The VPN’s speeds will also play a part in Popcorn Time’s watchability. If you choose one with slow speeds, you’ll be lucky to get past the loading screen. Fast speeds will help to load the content and let you watch Popcorn Time at a decent resolution.
Ease of Use
Its ease of use may be something to keep in mind, especially if you have little knowledge of how to use a VPN. There are plenty of VPNs that offer an easy start to your experience, with a fast download and a simple connect button afterward. If you’re looking for more customizability, though, you should still be able to tinker with the settings.
The price may not be the first thing that pops into your head, but it can differ widely. You’ll need to make sure it fits within your budget.
Given that ExpressVPN is a popular choice here at Cloudwards.net, and the fact that it’s our best VPN for streaming, it’s probably no surprise that we’ve given it the top spot for Popcorn Time. It allows torrenting and has excellent security to keep you hidden, along with a kill switch that’s enabled by default. Plus, a strict no-logs policy is in place.
You won’t need to keep an eye on your bandwidth usage, as the allowance is unlimited, and it’s the fastest VPN on the market.
It’s easy to install and use. If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to worry about getting to grips with it, as there’s a large “on” switch for getting connected. Those in the know can tailor it to their own needs, though. You can read more about it in our ExpressVPN review.
ExpressVPN is a pricey package, but it’s well worth the money. To soften the blow, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you time to try it. Also, if piracy isn’t your thing, it works very well with BBC iPlayer.
- Excellent security
- Automatically enabled kill switch
- Unlimited bandwidth
NordVPN is another great choice, particularly because it’s our best VPN for torrenting. It uses top-notch security along with its double-hop servers, which basically add more protection to your connection.
A kill switch is at the ready, and it has a solid no-logging policy. Its service quality is similar to that of ExpressVPN, as you can read in our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison.
It comes with unlimited bandwidth, and its speeds are good, though they can get slow over long distances. It’s easy to use and will get you connected quickly, too. Take a look at our NordVPN review for a better look at the service.
Price-wise, NordVPN may suit you better than our top pick if you’re on a strict budget. It offers good value for your money, but the monthly plan isn’t the best option. Longer plans work out cheaper in the end, and there’s a 30-day refund window in case you don’t like it.
- Top-notch security
- Double-hop encryption
- Unlimited bandwidth
Can be slow
Next up is CyberGhost. It’s a good service that offers decent security to keep you protected. It has a kill switch but, unlike other VPN providers, it’s permanently enabled. On the one hand, that’s great because you don’t have to remember to turn it on, but on the other, it’s a shame there’s no control over it. CyberGhost doesn’t log your online activities, either.
You get unlimited bandwidth, and its speeds are fast. However, like NordVPN, its speeds can be affected by the distance between you and the server. Its updated interface has made the user experience much more enjoyable, and you should have no problem using it. Be sure to read our CyberGhost review for more details.
CyberGhost is inexpensive, but you should choose a long-term plan to see the most value. A seven-day free trial is available on Android and iOS. Unfortunately, desktop users only get a one-day trial. Still, there’s a money-back guarantee to fall back on, no matter what device you’re on.
- Automatic kill switch
- Unlimited bandwidth
Can be slow
We can also recommend Windscribe. It offers a generous free plan, though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its paid plan. You’ll be covered by great security and its built-in kill switch with either plan. However, the kill switch is confusingly called a “firewall,” so be sure to look out for that.
It has numerous privacy features, but some information is logged. That said, the information kept holds nothing of true value and can’t be tied back to you, as you can read in our Windscribe review. Its speeds are good enough for most activities, and it has a no-frills interface to suit both beginners and techies.
The differences between the plans are noticeable especially when it comes to bandwidth. With the paid plan, it’s unlimited, whereas the free plan only gives you a monthly allowance of 2GB, which can be upped to 10GB if you put a valid email in at signup. There are ways to increase the limit, too.
The free plan is nothing to be sniffed at — it even takes the top spot in our best free VPN service comparison — but you’d be better off making sure you have unlimited bandwidth.
For a cheap way of getting that, you can use Windscribe’s “build a plan” option. With that, you can add one server location and unlimited data for just $2 per month.
If you decide to go the whole hog, the paid plan works out better with longer subscriptions. There’s no official refund policy, but you can ask for one within three days of purchase. That may seem tight, especially as there’s no free trial, but you can use the free plan first to make sure you like it.
- Unlimited bandwidth (certain plans)
- Good security
- Easy to use
Full plan is expensive
IPVanish is a fair choice for securely accessing Popcorn Time, though it does come up short in some areas, especially when compared to our top pick (read our ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish piece). Its security is good with different protocol options to choose from, and there’s a kill switch included, as well.
Other than that, IPVanish has good speeds on most servers (though NordVPN beats it) and doesn’t have a bandwidth limit. It’s also easy to set up and use, so you’ll have no problems there. The monthly cost is average, and you can see only small savings on longer plans. There’s a seven-day money-back guarantee in place, though, in case it’s not for you.
- Many protocol options
- Unlimited bandwidth
Our last pick is TunnelBear, which has good security with a solid encryption level, but it’s locked in at that setting, so you can’t change it. It includes a kill switch called “VigilantBear,” and it does have a no-logs policy. TunnelBear collects minimal information, but it is non-identifying and is used to improve the service.
It comes with unlimited bandwidth, and the interface is user-friendly, but you can read more about it in our full TunnelBear review. Speeds vary between different servers, but they should be fine.
TunnelBear does offer a free plan, which isn’t as good as Windscribe’s, but it is still decent. However, you only get 500MB of data per month with it, and that’s going to get eaten up pretty quickly. You can increase the limit with little tasks, such as tweeting about TunnelBear, but it still may not be enough.
With the paid plan being your only option for getting unlimited bandwidth, you can save money by opting for the annual subscription rather than the monthly one. There isn’t a refund window, though. They’re offered on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to get in contact with TunnelBear if you want one. You could use the free plan to try it first, though.
- User-friendly interface
- Strong security by default
- Unlimited bandwidth with the paid plan
- Inconsistent speeds
- Can’t change security settings
What Is Popcorn Time?
Although you might have got the gist from the intro, we’ll clear up exactly what Popcorn Time is. Anyone can download Popcorn Time. It’s a free program that allows you to easily watch movies or TV shows.
The BitTorrent client has an integrated media player, and once you’ve chosen what you want to watch, it pulls the content from torrents and plays it. In doing that, you’re saved the hassle of waiting for the torrent to download and possibly finding out it’s a bad egg. You get to watch it instantly and in HD.
The Popcorn Time free download is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, so you have plenty of choices when it comes to what device to use.
Is Popcorn Time Safe? Why You Need a Popcorn Time VPN
The question of “is Popcorn Time safe” is common. The answer is a bit of yes and no. Because Popcorn Time uses torrents — which mostly contain copyrighted content — using a VPN for protection is a no brainer. Copyright laws vary from country to country, but it’s usually not a good idea to just download or view such content without protection.
By using a VPN, your IP address will be hidden along with any other personal data. Plus, without one, your activities could be logged and traced back to you. If the laws in your country are strict, you could find yourself in some hot water.
In short, a VPN will make sure you stay anonymous and untraceable, leaving you to have as much Popcorn Time as you wish.
Using Popcorn Time With an Android or iOS VPN
Just like major streaming platforms, Popcorn Time has turned its attention to mobile devices. You can download the Popcorn Time app straight to your device and enjoy an experience similar to that of the desktop version.
Keep in mind that it still uses the same process of drawing content from torrents, though. You may want to make sure you’re on a WiFi connection when using it, otherwise you could end up with a hefty data bill.
For iOS users, the initial Popcorn Time app required the device to be jailbroken. Thankfully, that’s no longer needed, giving you much less hassle. For the Popcorn Time Android version, you’d be better off downloading the Popcorn Time APK straight from the official website, as it’s not always available in the Google Play store.
Popcorn Time Mobile and VPNs
If you do decide to use your mobile device for Popcorn Time, you should make sure you have a suitable VPN installed. Many of the VPNs listed above are up to the task, and ExpressVPN is still the best choice for such devices, but our best VPN for mobile piece includes other selections, too.
For example, VyprVPN isn’t on this list, but it has some of the best mobile apps out there — read our VyprVPN review — making it one of our best VPN for Android picks. Private Internet Access is a good choice if you want a decent VPN experience for a low cost, as you can read in our PIA review. You can also take a look at our best VPN for iPhone, too.
Popcorn Time and Free VPN Providers
Because using Popcorn Time online gives you a free way to watch movies and shows for free, you’re probably wondering if you can keep the cost at zero for the VPN, too. There are plenty of free VPNs out there to entice you, and some of them aren’t too bad, but you should definitely keep your guard up if you decide to use a free VPN for Popcorn Time.
For one, the market is riddled with so-called VPNs that don’t really protect you. Some are waiting to pounce on the next victim with malware included in the installer. Others simply just don’t work but will track your information.
The best antivirus software can help with some of the security issues that free VPNs bring, but there are other shortcomings to think about, too. Our worst free VPN guide includes some examples of how bad they can be.
Besides all that, even if you do find a decent free VPN, there are bound to be some sort of restrictions with the service, such as a limit on bandwidth usage. It’s best to go with a reputable service when your security and data is at risk, and a paid VPN means they’re not trying to gain money from you in other ways.
The Popcorn Time Invalid Media Error
Users within the Popcorn Time community have reported getting an error while trying to stream content. It seems that, in some instances, an “invalid media” error is popping up when they try to watch any movie or show. Although we at Cloudwards.net don’t have any personal experience with this, it seems that there can be a few reasons.
The most frequent culprits are antivirus software or firewalls. They can prevent Popcorn Time from accessing the P2P sharing sites that Popcorn Time gets its content from. By simply tweaking the settings, users have been able to carry on with their steaming.
The actual steps you’ll need to take to tweak those settings will depend on which antivirus or firewall you’re using, but it boils down to you either whitelisting Popcorn Time or disabling the software altogether, though we wouldn’t recommend the latter.
How to Whitelist Popcorn Time Within Your Firewall
If your default Windows or macOS firewall is causing the issue, follow the steps below.
Allowing Popcorn Time on Windows 10
- Type “firewall” into the search bar on the taskbar
- Click on “Windows Defender Firewall”
- In the left menu, click on “allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall”
- In the “allowed app” window, click “change settings”
- Check the box next to Popcorn Time
- Click “ok” to save your settings
Allowing Popcorn Time on MacOS X
- From the Apple menu, click “system preferences”
- Click the “security” or “security & privacy” icon
- Choose the firewall tab
- In the preference pane, click the lock icon and enter an administrator name and password
- Click “firewall options”
- Click the “add application” button
- Choose Popcorn Time as the app you want to allow
- Click “add”
- Click “ok” to save your settings
A Few Popcorn Time Alternatives
If Popcorn Time isn’t working out for you, here are a few alternatives.
Paid Streaming Services
If you’d prefer to use a different method for watching shows and movies, then there are a few other options you can choose from.
Paid streaming services have a ton of good content available, hosting some of the most popular, award-winning shows to date. For instance, Netflix has the likes of Stranger Things, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel airs on Amazon Prime Video.
Other streaming services, such as Hulu and HBO Now, have enticing libraries, too, but they’re only available in the U.S. Thankfully, VPNs are great for circumventing geoblocks. If you choose a VPN server within the country where these services are available, it’ll make you look like you’re physically there.
That’s especially good if you’re traveling or have moved, as you’ll be able to carry on with your subscriptions as normal. It’ll also allow you to access content that’s unavailable in your current country. Our best VPN for Hulu and best VPN for HBO Now pieces can help.
Plus, Netflix’s library is different in each country due to copyright and licensing agreements. By using a VPN to spoof your location, you’ll be able to get into other countries’ libraries. Just make sure you choose a VPN that can get past Netflix’s VPN detectors. Our best VPN for Netflix article lists some that are up to the task.
Streaming Content With Kodi
If you’re after a different way of getting some free Popcorn Time, Kodi is a good choice. Kodi is an open-source software that can be used to store and organize media files, but you can also use it to stream movies and TV shows for free. It’s pretty easy to use, and you can use our Kodi guide to get started.
In order to stream movies and shows, you’ll need to install repositories and their add-ons. Those add-ons will give you access to a ton of content, and we have lists for the best Kodi repositories and best Kodi add-ons for you to look at.
We must point out, though, that although Kodi is legal as it stands, some of the add-ons contain illegal content. For example, Covenant is a popular add-on, but it provides access to pirated content, so you can have some Kodi Popcorn Time. We’re not going to tell you what to do, but if you decide to use them, make sure you use a VPN from our best VPN for Kodi list.
Although Popcorn Time sorts all the torrenting business out for you, you might prefer to do it by yourself. There are plenty of torrent sites available, such as The Pirate Bay, and by doing a quick search on them, you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
There are a couple of things to note if you go down this route, though. For one, we can’t stress enough that torrenting copyrighted content is breaking the law, and you could end up in a lot of trouble. Make sure you stay hidden with a VPN, such as our top choice for torrenting, NordVPN.
You also need to remember that torrenting can bring a whole host of online dangers to your doorstep. Files can be riddled with malicious content just waiting to infect your computer.
A VPN can help with that, but it’s in your best interest to install a good antivirus. We recommend using Bitdefender, as it will protect you in real time. Our Bitdefender Antivirus review has more details.
Popcorn Time is a great choice for those who want instant, free access to the latest and greatest films or shows. It’s a simple download away and offers a great alternative to paid options if you’re on a tight budget. That said, there are some risks associated with the service.
If you have experience using Popcorn Time, or you think we’ve missed anything, let us know in the comment section below. Check out our other VPN articles and our entertainment section, too. As always, thank you for reading.