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ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers P2P networking and has extensive documentation about how to get your ultimate VPN torrent setup going in just minutes. Follow this handy quick-start guide, and you will be up and running in a few minutes, safe and secure while downloading from torrents.

ExpressVPN offers a fair amount of geographical options for users, with over 148 different server locations around the world in 94 countries. ExpressVPN has apps for all popular platforms and offers unlimited bandwidth for its VPN torrenting service. ExpressVPN keeps no logs, so your online activity is not recorded, keeping your online business strictly private.

Encryption is delivered via a 256-bit AES – best-in-class cipher – which is sure to keep your data protected whenever you connect to the internet. ExpressVPN also offers a kill switch feature that disables all internet traffic in the unfortunate event of a VPN failure. This will protect your identity by ceasing all unencrypted traffic over your internet connection until the VPN is back up and running again. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their product. Their pricing structure is $12.95 per month on a month-to-month basis, $9.99 per month for a 6-month deal, and $6.67 per month for an 18-month package, of which 3 months are free. Check here to open your own ExpressVPN account.

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NordVPN

NordVPN is a company that is based out in Panama, so they do not fall under the normal scrutiny that US-based companies do. This is partially what allows NordVPN to operate as privately as they do, knowing that they can offer anonymity and security to their clients while giving them an extremely polished VPN service. NordVPN does not keep any logs either, so you know that your activity online is kept private at all times.

NordVPN offers P2P support, and torrents download very easily on this platform. They have over 3300 servers spread across 60 countries but have left out P2P support on servers within countries that have strict laws dictating how these services must be managed. NordVPN offers updated advice about how their torrenting works within their VPN network, so you can always be kept up to date. The pricing structure of NordVPN is $11.95 per month on a month-to-month basis, $7 per month on a 6-month basis, and $5.75 a month for an annual contract.

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IPVanish

IPVanish has over 1000 servers in 60+ countries, and they offer P2P and torrent support. It’s worth noting that they have quite a stringent Acceptable Usage Policy to read through. They support OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec. Users can connect up to 5 devices on the same account simultaneously, and they have a 24/7 customer support team that is on hand to help you with any issues that you might have. As well as offering torrent support, the company also keeps no logs, which means that your private business online will stay between you and your VPN.

All of the most common platforms are supported, including Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Android, and iOS. There are apps for each platform as well, so if your device doesn’t have a manual VPN setup menu, then you can easily download and install the app from one of the app stores. Using the app or setting up a manual VPN on your mobile devices is also an excellent way to protect yourself whenever you to connect to private wifi. Pricing starts at $10.00 per month for a month-to-month plan, $6.49 per month on an annual plan, and $3.33 for a 2-year plan.

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PureVPN

PureVPN takes a slightly different approach to their app, with 5 different modes that can be selected one at a time instead of just a blanketed VPN implementation. The modes are Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, Dedicated IP, and the one that we’re interested in the most, File-Sharing. When this latter mode is activated, users are able to connect to their favorite torrent client and start downloading whatever legal content they desire. The service keeps no logs, so your privacy is guaranteed.

Help is available 24/7, and technical support can be reached by email or online chat if you have any issues connecting to the VPN service. Downloading torrents has never been easier, or more secure, thanks to PureVPN, but if you are in a country that does not allow P2P downloads then you might have an issue connecting anonymously to such a service. Check the support document outlining some of the limitations that are currently affecting PureVPN with regard to P2P file-sharing services. PureVPN offers one of the cheapest 2 year VPN packages in our roundup, with a slim price tag of $2.87 per month. A 1-year package will set you back $4.91, and a month-to-month setup is  $10.95. Full pricing details can be found here.

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Best VPNs for Torrenting

Torrenting is a file sharing method that enables users to share and download legal files such as movies, games, music, and applications over the internet – all for free. Each torrent file contains information about the files and folders that are contained within the data that is being shared and downloaded. Additional information contained in the file includes network paths and connections that help the torrents stay updated with the swarm, and provides data about how many clients are downloading (leeching) off of a particular file, and how many people are sharing it (seeding). All of this information is contained within a small torrent file, which then opens inside of a popular torrent application such as BitTorrent or uTorrent.

Generally, internet providers don’t want their customers using services like BitTorrent because these downloads can overwhelm their bandwidth, they prefer a more moderate use of download capacity. Using a VPN helps to mask your traffic from your internet provider, allowing you to use your internet connection to its full potential, without throttling or restrictions. Great examples of torrent friendly VPNs are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and IPVanish.

How to choose a VPN for torrenting

The first thing that you need to establish with a potential VPN provider is if it is P2P tolerant and whether or not it permits the use of P2P torrenting. This is important to check before you pick a VPN, as not all VPNs allow this traffic on their network. The next thing that your VPN provider must have is a kill switch. A kill switch is a software that detects when your VPN tunnel is offline and then kills, or disconnects, all traffic to the internet. This is extremely important, as your computer may try to connect back to the torrent service by itself if the kill switch isn’t in place. If your PC manages to connect to the torrenting service without your VPN, then your IP address will be revealed, which will open you up to potential security threats.

Next, find out how many servers your virtual private network provider has provisioned specifically for torrenting. You want this number to be as high as possible, because torrenting takes up a lot of bandwidth on a VPN server, especially if the server is densely populated with users that are all torrenting at the same time. The more torrent-specific servers your VPN provider has, the more bandwidth can be spread around and allocated to your torrent downloads and uploads, giving you a better overall experience.

Server location

Server locations also need to be taken into consideration if you are to enjoy the full torrenting experience. A VPN is inherently slower than a traditional internet connection because of the additional encryption and routing that your data has to undergo when sending and receiving securely over the VPN. This means that a server’s location is very important if speed is not to be reduced any further. Finding local servers in your geographical location really helps when torrenting, so be sure your VPN provider offers these so you get full use out of your torrenting software. If there are no local servers in your particular country, then find out where the closest torrent-enabled server is so that you can verify how your torrent speeds could be affected.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling is another useful service that your VPN provider should offer you, especially if you are torrenting content. Split tunneling is where data is divided between your VPN and your normal internet connection, making only torrent traffic go through the VPN – while browsing, gaming, and social media get routed through your standard internet connection. This is useful because services like internet banking and other geo-dependent services need to see your data coming from your country’s internal internet connection, and if your entire internet connection was connected and routed through the VPN, then you would appear to be accessing your local accounts from outside of the country. This could affect your logins if, for example, your bank flags your account for suspicious behavior. Split tunneling prevents this by automatically routing traffic between the internet and the VPN.

Port Forwarding

Sometimes you might want to set up your VPN so that your router establishes the connection and maintains it. However, sometimes your devices need help connecting to the various VPN protocols and thus need something to direct the appropriate traffic to the correct service. Port forwarding helps to achieve this by sending data to devices on your network that have been configured to receive these data streams. For example, if you have three devices on your network, and each one needs to connect to a separate protocol, you could set up your port forwarding so that Device A receives all PPTP traffic on TCP Port 1723, Device B receives all OpenVPN traffic on UDP Port 1194, and Device C receives all IPSec traffic via UDP Port 500, UDP 4500. Once this is done, all of the correct routings of VPN traffic will occur on your network, and your devices will be able to connect to their separate VPN services. (This is possible only if concurrent, multi-protocol connections are permitted by your provider)

Getting started with torrenting

Torrenting has gotten a bad reputation over the years as being a tool used exclusively by software and movie pirates. When torrenting first became popular as a means of downloading large files, it was very difficult for users to be tracked, and this made it an obvious choice for illegal downloads.

Many Linux distributions release their latest versions of the OS with options to download via torrent, and this is perfectly legal. The issue of legality only comes into the equation when users seek out and download copyrighted material, which is illegal. Debian Linux explains the reasoning behind offering a torrent version of their operating system here.

BitTorrent is a peer to peer download system optimized for large numbers of downloaders. It puts minimal load on our servers because BitTorrent clients upload pieces of files to others while downloading, thus spreading the load across the network and making blazing fast downloads possible.”

Let’s take a closer look at how a VPN can be useful for torrenting and the benefits it can offer.

Benefits of using a VPN for torrents

  • A VPN protects all of your online activities, including your torrenting. A VPN creates a virtual tunnel that connects you to the internet and hides all data that you are sending and receiving through the VPN, making your activities anonymous. Your internet service provider can only see that you are connected to an encrypted VPN, and they cannot see what you are doing, what websites you are connected to, or what torrents you are downloading.
  • Torrenting is about more than the legalities of what you are downloading, it also has a lot to do with acceptable usage and monitoring by your internet service provider (ISP). Sometimes, your ISP might decide that your torrents are consuming too much bandwidth at peak hours, so they might lower your line’s priority, essentially dropping your torrent speeds and bringing your download speeds down to a crawl. To prevent this, you can use a VPN service, which masks your connection and shows your ISP only that you are connected to a VPN. Your VPN can then consume as much bandwidth as it needs to, allowing you to get your money’s worth out of your internet connection when torrenting.
  • Another benefit of using a VPN to perform all of your torrenting activities is that your activities are also masked from the rest of the swarm. A swarm is essentially a distribution group that coordinates the data transfer of your torrent download in the most efficient manner, creating a streamlined download that can be paused and resumed – and tracked – unless you are using a VPN. By connecting to your torrents via a VPN, you appear as a completely different individual, connecting from another country or continent. This means that you cannot be identified by the IP address that you are connected to the session with, as it only ties back to your VPN company.

Your VPN provider must have a No Logging policy in place so that if they are ever asked to furnish the authorities with any details about your online activities, they will not be able to oblige as they keep no records about their user’s activities online. Even with this protection, it goes without saying: do not download copyrighted material that you do not own. Rather, do the right thing and pay for content legally and allow the creators of such products to continue to create the applications, movies, and TV shows that you know and love.

Free VPNs and Torrenting

Many people are under the impression that a free VPN service is just as good as a paid premium VPN service, and in some cases, this might feel like the truth. This is because most free VPN services offer a client that can be downloaded, a website login that provides VPN access, or a browser plugin to complete the connection. Some free VPN services might even perform similarly to a paid provider, although in practice this is almost always not the case. It is more likely that users of free VPN services will end up with a much slower connection to their favorite online services and will also have their activities monitored, logged, and stored. The final nail in the coffin of a free VPN is that fact that they simply do not support torrent downloads.

  • Some of the less questionable free VPNs will simply block torrents’  P2P protocols, and the service will be useless for that purpose. This is primarily because torrents are so efficient at collecting data and streaming the packets into fast and efficient downloads that they end up saturating the connections that they are established through. This creates headaches for VPN services that offer their connections for free, as they do not have the overhead to cater for users to download via torrents. So in order to avoid disappointment and degraded user experience, the better free VPNs will simply not offer torrenting or P2P download services.
  • The worst “free” VPNs are ones that masquerade as a VPN service but actually log your data, steal your free bandwidth, or use your connection to launch DoS attacks on targets over the internet. This was the shocking claim made against the popular Chrome extension, Hola. Similarly, Hotspot Shield recently came under fire for “spying” on its users by injecting JavaScript code so that their clients could be tracked by creepy advertisers. When it comes to trustworthy VPNs, free ones are clearly not the answer.

 Torrenting and the law

  • USA: Using torrent technology to download torrents for material for which you own the copyright, or for which the content being torrented has no active copyright, is perfectly legal. However, standard copyright laws come into play if the content that you are downloading is protected under copyright acts, and as such, you would be breaking the law and liable to a fine or imprisonment.
  • UK: The UK began blocking torrent-affiliated services and websites as far back ago as 2010, and as such, it is illegal to download copyrighted material via torrents and other peer-to-peer platforms, as described. As a result, using a VPN in the UK is seen as the best way to connect to torrent services to access content.
  • Canada: Using a torrent client to download non-copyrighted content is perfectly legal in Canada. However, if you choose to download copyrighted content, you will be on the receiving end of stiff penalties as per Canada’s Copyright Law. Another interesting legal barrier includes the Copyright Modernization Act, which seeks to update the way in which offenders can be caught, tried, and punished for infringing on copyright laws in that country.
  • Australia: As with most other countries, torrenting in and of itself is not illegal in Australia. It is only when copyrighted material is torrented that the user will find themselves on the receiving end of a fine.
  • Germany: Germany imposes fines on people that use torrents to download copyrighted material, but the use of torrents for normal downloads is generally acceptable.

As can be seen by the above examples, ISPs are able to track unencrypted data and make determinations about whether the content that is being accessed is illegal or not, which raises concerns about just how private your connection to the internet really is. Using a VPN can greatly increase your privacy, even if you have no intention of downloading copyrighted material. Using a VPN is the smart choice to protect your privacy.

FAQs: VPNs for Torrenting

What is a torrent?

A torrent is a file type that contains information about a file such as a compressed archive, an image of an optical media file, an executable program, or any other form of data that can be downloaded over the internet. This information is then used by your peer-to-peer torrenting application to coordinate the swarm, which allows individual clients to download small sections of the same file from a multitude of different sources. This results in very fast downloads that can usually be paused and resumed with good data integrity.

Is torrenting illegal?

No, torrenting is not illegal. Torrents are used by software companies that wish to give their customers access to fast internet downloads by using peer-to-peer formats. Torrenting is just like downloading a file from the internet, which is not illegal to do unless you are downloading copyrighted content.

Is an antivirus enough to protect me?

An antivirus will protect your computer from malware and viruses, but an antivirus cannot protect your online identity, nor can it keep your data safe from your ISP. A VPN is the only way to protect yourself and your information from the rest of the internet.

How much will a VPN slow down my download?

Your download will be affected by many factors when using a VPN, so it is important to look at your VPN’s product offerings before you make a decision. The most important factor to consider for torrent downloads via VPN is the geographical location of the VPN server that you intend on using for your VPN torrents. The closer the server, in theory, the faster your VPN torrents will be.

Another factor is how many peer-to-peer servers your VPN has at their disposal. The fewer servers a VPN provider has, the more congested it will become with users, and the less bandwidth will be left for you to use. VPNs also need to encrypt data and take more hops for your packets of data to reach their final destination, and then come back to you. All of these factors combined will determine how fast your internet connection will be when using a VPN to download torrents.

What is the best way to protect myself from legal issues when downloading torrents?

Simply put, the easiest way to avoid any such issues would be to not download copyrighted material that you do not own the rights to in the first place. However, there are situations where users can inadvertently download copyrighted material that is bundled with legitimate downloads, creating a problem for the individual. The best course of action in these cases is for the user to read through the torrent file listing first before starting the torrent download. For the ultimate in peace of mind while downloading torrents, it is always advisable that you use a VPN service that supports torrent downloads.

Conclusion

The price that you pay for a VPN is minimal, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t protect yourself from prying eyes, regardless of what you decide to do with your internet connection. Using a torrent-enabled VPN will improve your security and your overall internet experience. Using a VPN is the ultimate in privacy and internet security, and probably the best internet security decision that you could make in 2018, in terms of features, cost and safety.

Written by: Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics, security, and software. When not building networks and researching the latest software trends, he enjoys writing technical articles and blog posts.

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