Internet users across the globe found themselves in search of VPNs as authorities became more strict when it came to torrenting. Due to the fact that torrenting is often tied to online piracy, even those who use torrents for legitimate purposes found themselves experiencing the ISPs’ wrath.
Well, when we say wrath, we really mean annoying inconveniencing speed throttling. Using torrents is completely legal, as long as you don’t share any copyrighted materials, after all. In other words, there is not much that ISPs can do to you except for annoying you and then denying that they did anything.
However, if you protect yourself with a VPN, they won’t even be able to do that, as they won’t have any idea about what you are doing.
How to choose a good VPN for the job?
VPNs are many, and their numbers are continuing to grow all the time. Considering the number of online threats, surveillance, censorship, geo-restrictions, and other issues there are, VPNs became very popular.
That is what led to a huge surge in their numbers, but the problem lies in the fact that not all of them are good enough to protect you. In fact, the majority are not properly equipped to protect users even during regular browsing, let alone torrenting.
This is why you need to be careful when choosing a VPN, and you need to be strict. A VPN needs to fulfill certain parameters in order to even be considered. It needs to be able to offer features like:
This one is pretty obvious. Torrenting requires speeds, and VPNs tend to slow down your internet as they encrypt your entire traffic. Some reduce your speed more than others, and naturally, it is your goal to use the fastest VPN that you can find, as long as it also meets the rest of the criteria.
This is probably the most important factor, or at least one of the top ones. Fast speeds will mean little if you expose yourself by using a VPN that logs your activity. If it gets forced by the government or law enforcement to provide this data, you will be in big trouble. Prevent this by always choosing a VPN that provides a no-logging guarantee.
Kill switch is a mechanism that gets triggered when the VPN app malfunctions and threatens to expose your data. If this happens even for a moment, you could get in trouble. Fortunately, a kill switch can prevent it by instantly severing your internet connection, which makes it a very useful feature for keeping you safe.
Strong security protocol and encryption
Security protocols and encryption are also among the most important features, as they determine the quality of your protection. Security protocols create a secure tunnel around your data, which protects it from view. Of course, no code is perfect, and your data might leak even if you use the best protocol. This is where encryption comes into play. Basically, even if someone does gather some of your data, it will be unreadable if it is encrypted. The best protocol right now is OpenVPN, while the best encryption is 256-bit AES.
Last, but not least, you should also keep in mind where the VPN you are using is headquartered. Some countries have privacy laws that are much better than those of others. For example, you wouldn’t want your VPN to be based in the US, Canada, the UK, or most other major European countries, with the exception of Switzerland.
The listed nations, as well as some others, are a part of a major international surveillance alliance, called the 14 Eyes Alliance. These countries log all the data they can get, and they share it with one another, and analyze it. It is not unheard of for them to try and force a VPN headquartered within their jurisdiction to provide user data, or even start recording it, even if a VPN has a no-logging policy.
Instead, it is best to use a VPN based in privacy friendlier countries, with some of the best ones being Switzerland, Romania, Panama, the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, and alike.
Which VPN to use?
Since the VPN industry has grown to be quite huge, it can be a massive task to find a service that fits all the mentioned requirements. However, there are VPNs like that, and thanks to their quality and security, they have grown to become some of the best and largest providers in the entire industry.
So, if you want a good quality VPN, we can recommend as many as 5 different providers:
ExpressVPN holds the first spot, and not without reason. It is the British Virgin Islands-based service that is one of the fastest in the industry, and of course, it supports torrenting.
In terms of its server network, it offers over 3,000 servers in more than 94 countries around the world. It also offers excellent security features that will keep your online actions hidden, and a strict no-logging policy, meaning that all of your actions are deleted from its servers as soon as your session ends.
On top of that, you get rather reasonable prices, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee, just in case something ends up not working as you expected. You can request your money back at any time, as long as you are still within the 30 days from the moment of purchase.
NordVPN is a Panama-based service that offers just as much in the way of security features as ExpressVPN. Its server network is somewhat smaller when it comes to coverage, as it only spans through 59 countries. However, it has 5800 servers, which is nearly twice as many as what ExpressVPN offers, so it certainly has an advantage from that side.
The service also has a strict no-logs policy, as well as special servers that are great for torrenting. That way, the user knows which servers to connect to establish the best speeds and the strongest protection.
Also, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you get to receive your money back if you change your mind about using it.
Next up, we have CyberGhost — a Romania-based VPN service that is just as strong as the previous two when it comes to privacy and security. It also offers a zero-logs policy, which works quite well with its privacy-friendly jurisdiction.
However, if you look at it in terms of available servers, this service is nearly unmatched in the entire VPN industry. It offers over 6,400 servers in 90 different countries, which means that with it, you get one of the most powerful server networks in the entire VPN industry.
Not only that, but it features a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is also one of the lengthiest guarantees that you will ever find among VPNs. It is definitely worth a look, so keep it in mind.
Compared to the others, Surfshark is pretty young, but you shouldn’t assume that it is bad or inexperienced. This VPN rose to the top in less than two years, and it now emerges on lists like this, shoulder to shoulder with the best that the industry has to offer.
It is also based in the British Virgin Islands, meaning that it is far away from the infamous 14 Eyes alliance. Its security measures are strong enough to rival the other services on this list with no problem.
As for its server network, it is somewhat smaller, spanning through 63 countries, and offering 1,700 servers in total. However, remember that this is still a growing service and that it is far from done. You also get to enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee, and another of its strengths is the ability to use it on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.
Lastly, we have IPVanish — a service based in the US, which is why we put it as the last one. It is based in one of the original founders of the surveillance alliance, which makes it less safe than the others. However, IPVanish claims that it also sticks to its no-logs policy, and other than the jurisdiction, it is a rather excellent VPN.
Similarly to others, it uses the strongest encryption and security protocols to protect your traffic. Meanwhile, it offers access to around 1,400 servers in 75 different locations, which include around 56 countries.
The service is, of course, very fast and torrent friendly, and one of its greatest strengths is that it lets you use it on as many as 10 devices at the same time. And, it also has a money-back guarantee that lasts for the standard 30 days, so you should have plenty of time to do your tests.
Is a VPN really necessary for torrenting?
By now, you likely know that torrenting without a VPN is not a good idea. After all, we did out best to stress that so far, while you made an effort to try and find the best VPN for torrenting.
Torrenting itself is not illegal. It is simply sharing files, However, you could be sharing files that you may not share legally, which is where the problems could emerge.
In other words, it’s all about the content you share and download. Well, it also matters in which region you live in, and what are the local copyright laws, as well as how strictly they are enforced.
Some regions, like Switzerland and Mexico, are pretty privacy-friendly, and they allow P2P file sharing. This is why it is a good idea to use a VPN based in such regions, or at least to use a VPN that has servers in these locations. Countries that are not good for VPN to be based in them, on the other hand, include China, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, India, Germany, France, and any other member of the 14 Eyes alliance.
However, if you were wondering what dangers are you actually facing when torrenting without a VPN to protect you, we can help you understand that, as well.
If you don’t use a VPN, you are risking:
As mentioned, ISPs will usually deny internet throttling, but tests have shown that they do apply this practice from time to time, and quite often when their users use torrents. Basically, this comes due to the fact that torrenting requires a lot of bandwidth. As such, it is hard on the ISPs’ servers, so they usually tend to discourage it by messing with your speeds.
Your IP address is exposed
When you use a torrent client, your IP address is visible to everyone else who is sharing or downloading the same file. This leaves you vulnerable for hacking attacks which could lead to issues like data theft, Your online address is just as important as your home address, and as such, you shouldn’t give it to just about anyone.
You could get in trouble for torrenting
The problem with torrenting is that you are rarely sure whether or not the file you are getting is copyrighted. If it is, and your ISP or copyright trolls figure out what you are doing, you could get in trouble with the law. Depending on the country you reside in, the consequences could be quite severe. Anything from a mild penalty to several years in prison is possible.
However, this is still a technology with a lot of benefits and nearly unlimited potential for quick and easy file sharing, and as such, it should not be allowed to disappear. Instead, consider protecting yourself with a VPN and using it safely.
The problem with torrenting with a VPN
These days, there are already millions of VPN users around the world, many of which use VPNs for torrenting. However, even though this is the best way to safely download torrents, there are still issues with it.
We mentioned that most good VPNs have a feature known as a kill switch — a mechanism that instantly severs your internet connection, should any aspect of the app threaten to fail.
Of course, that also means that your torrent traffic would get disrupted, at best, or go unencrypted, at worst.
So, how can you handle this issue?
There are actually several things that you can do, including:
One solution is to go through a process called IP Binding, which allows you to configure your torrent client in a way that lets it detect if your downloads are protected by a VPN or not. However, there are different methods for each torrent client, so doing it can be a bit tricky, depending on which client you use.
Set torrent to only work with a VPN
Of course, there is also a way to protect yourself by forcing your torrent to automatically pause any download that is happening while the VPN connection gets disrupted. However, there are only a few torrent clients that provide this option, so once again, it depends on which one you use. One of them is qBittorrent, and you can configure it by following these steps:
1. Open the Control Panel on your PC, and head over to Network and Internet
2. Select Network and Sharing, and then Change Adapter Settings.
3. In the emerging window, you will see network connections, one of which is your VPN.
4. Keep that window open and launch your qBittorrent
5. Within the client, go to Tools, and then Options
6. Select Advance Listing, and find Network Interface
7. Click ‘any interface’ and enter the values of the VPN network you found previously
8. Select Apply, and then close the window by clicking OK.
9. Restart your torrent client, and you will be done.
From that point on, if your VPN connection fails, the torrent client will be immediately disconnected and the download will pause. This should not be the problem for the download, which you can continue after the VPN issue has been handled.
Alternatively, you can just use some third-party software to force your torrent client to only work while VPN is protecting your connection. This is useful for those people who use torrent clients that do not have the setting to only work with VPN connection as qBittorrent does.
Some of the software you can use include:
Are there any alternatives to VPNs?
If you were wondering if there is some other software that you can use to protect yourself apart from VPN, the answer is — yes, there is. Of course, we said that nothing would protect you as good as a VPN, and we still stand by it. But, if you wish to try something else for whatever reason, here is what you can choose from:
Seedbox is a tool that you can use to hide your IP address and use torrent clients through it to download files without exposing yourself. It is a bit faster than a VPN, as VPN encrypts your traffic, while the seedbox doesn’t. Of course, that makes it less safe, and it makes surveillance possible.
Another downside is that you cannot connect to multiple different locations like you can with a VPN. It only offers servers in a location where it is based. It is a good thing for bypassing censorship and geo-restrictions, provided that the seedbox you use is based in the right area.
Another similar alternative is SOCKS5 proxy, which is another tool that masks your IP address. However, like a seedbox, it won’t encrypt your traffic, which makes it less safe than a VPN, but also faster than your typical VPN.
And that’s about it that you need to know about torrenting and your options when it comes to downloading torrents in a safe way. We recommend using a VPN for torrenting because alternatives are simply not safe enough.
To be as safe as possible, you should set up a torrent client in a way that will only work when a VPN connection is available. Other than that, take care to choose a good, strong VPN provider, and you should be all set to torrent in the most secure way possible.