Torrenting files is perhaps the most popular and common means of online file sharing around. If you are not familiar, torrenting is a fast and efficient way of sharing large media and data files with other users which employs a protocol called BitTorrent.
However, it is not without its controversy, especially as many copyright pirates use torrenting as a means to share copyrighted material online.
As a result, many ISPs and regulators frown on its use, which can make it hard for users to torrent content online. But a Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a simple, cost-effective solution to this problem, which is why more and more torrent users have turned to a VPN.
VPNs Keep You Anonymous
The question many of them ask though, is which VPN is the right one for them? When you go and look for a VPN it can all seem very baffling. There are hundreds of VPN providers out there, all of which claim to offer you the best anonymity and security around. But inevitably many offer a less than great service whilst others just don’t work at all.
Which is why we have put together this expert guide to help readers identify the Best VPN for Torrenting. I have been road-testing VPNs for years and there aren’t many on the market I haven’t given a try at one time or another.
Part of my testing always involves downloading a file using torrenting, as I know this is one of the most popular reasons people sign up for a VPN. This makes me uniquely placed to identify which VPNs are best suited to the task, which is that this article is all about.
How we tested
There are plenty of different characteristics which can be used to compare different VPN providers, but not all of them are relevant to those seeking a VPN for the purpose of torrenting. So I have picked out the core criteria which are needed and it is these which have been used as the basis for this article.
Those core criteria are:
- Encryption strength and security
- User logging and privacy policies
- Kill switch capability
- Bandwidth limit
- Connection Speeds
- Number of servers
Based on these five criteria, I have taken a fresh look at all the major VPNs on the market which are suitable for those users wishing to use the BitTorrent protocol to download files. My conclusion is that there are four main providers that fit the above criteria and which can be used with confidence.
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IPVanish is one of the biggest VPN names on the market and offers a service which is ideal for users who want to torrent. Their encryption is top of the range with both L2TP and OpenVPN protocols using 256-bit encryption as standard.
But their security features don’t end there. IPVanish makes use of shared IP Addresses, which means even if a copyright holder could trace you to one of their IP Addresses, it would be impossible to identify which traffic was yours and which was other users. And there is more, as IPVanish also have a built-in feature which allows users to switch IP Addresses periodically, to suit their usage, as well as a kill-switch, which can be set to terminate the connection should the VPN link fail. For someone torrenting, these are very worthwhile tools to have at your disposal.
IPVanish privacy policies are also as good as they get. They keep zero-user logs, and unlike some rivals don’t even generate connection logs for troubleshooting purposes. They are based in the USA, which does not have the most free and open online privacy laws these days, but as things stand they do not have any laws regarding data retention, so using a US VPN is still ok.
IPVanish offers an unlimited bandwidth which is ideal for downloaders. They also allow two simultaneous connections which, while not being as many as some rivals is sufficient for torrenters. Their connection speeds are good and, importantly for torrenters, also consistent meaning your secure downloads will be as fast as your own internet service allows.
IPvanish offers a 7-day money back guarantee which means you have a week to test it risk-free. Please note that Addictive Tips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.
Lastly, they have one of the biggest range of servers of any VPN provider meaning there should always be a server to choose in the country you need. In total, they offer more than 40,000 IP Addresses across 750+ servers in more than 60 countries, which should be more than enough for any user.
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ExpressVPN is also one of the most well-known and well-regarded VPNs on the market. And like IPVanish, it is also a service which is pretty much ideal for users who want to torrent.
Their encryption is the best around, better even than IPVanish, because their entire network SSL secured with 256-bit encryption. And all of their platforms offer a kill switch option as standard, meaning that no matter what type of device you are using to torrent, if the connection drops, your torrenting will stop and there is no risk of any data being transferred while your network is not being encrypted.
Privacy-wise, ExpressVPN challenge IPVanish for the best provider around. They too have a verified no-user-logs policy meaning none of your online activity is recorded by them. And ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has some of the best privacy laws in the world and definitely does not require companies to retain online data.
They too offer unlimited bandwidth and allow up to three simultaneous connections; one more than IPVanish. Connections speeds are certainly reliable, which is a plus, but can vary a little depending on which server you connect to and how far it is from your actual location. They have a lot of servers, located in 145 cities across 90 countries, so if speeds are slow it is no hardship to find another faster one, but it can nonetheless be annoying at times. But in pretty much every regard, ExpressVPN is ahead of its rivals and if you do opt for them to protect you whilst torrenting, you won’t go far wrong!
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NordVPN is one of the oldest VPN providers still in the market and their longevity is a testament to the level of service they provide.
NordVPNs encryption is strong, but not as strong as some of the others on the list. They offer 256-bit encryption on OpenVPN with 2,048-bit Diffie-Hellman keys as standard, which is more than sufficient for users wanting to torrent, but not quite as advanced as ExpressVPN.
However, it is their extra security features which really make them an attractive option for torrenters. They offer a kill switch just like ExpressVPN and also DNS leak protection, but it is their optional double encryption servers (which send your traffic via two servers for additional protection) and their TOR over VPN options (which sends traffic through a VPN and the TOR network) which are of real interest. Both offer enhanced security, but there is a compromise in that speeds on these connections are usually slower.
Privacy-wise, they are definitely on the same level though. Their no logs policy is faultless and they are based in Panama, another country which offers superb privacy laws and no risk of any data retention laws being passed.
NordVPN is another provider offering unlimited bandwidth and also making use of shared IP Addresses as standard which, as with IPVanish, offer enhanced protections too.
Speeds can be NordVPN’s achilles heel as some servers do tend to be slow. But they have plenty of fast ones too, so searching around, it shouldn’t take too long before you come across a fast one. Once you find it, the speeds should also be consistent too.
As for servers, NordVPN offers a total of 799 servers across 57 countries, which is not as many as some rivals but more than enough for even the most adventurous of torrenters to find one that works for them.
NordVPN does have its flaws, but it also offers some great, and unique, plus points as well and for torrenters, it is a strong option and a safe bet.
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The final recommendation I am opting for is StrongVPN. Their encryption levels are also right up there with the very best. Their default protocol is OpenVPN with 256-bit encryption and SHA512, which is again more than sufficient for those users wanting to torrent. They are also one of the few providers on the market which owns their own servers. This adds an extra level of protection to your online traffic which many torrenting users will value.
As for privacy, StrongVPN also operates a no logs policy, and whilst their US location means certain user data is stored, they are not currently subject to any data retention laws which is great news for torrenters.
They are another provider offering unlimited bandwidth and their speeds are both fast and consistent, without being so quick that they will be setting records anytime soon.
On servers, their offering is lower than the other VPNs on this list, with just 475 servers available across 24 countries and 46 different locations. But for most torrent users, this will be more than sufficient for their needs.
StrongVPN offers a good torrenting solution that will do everything you need of it. But it is lacking the bells and whistles of some of the other providers on this list and whilst it is undoubtedly a secure and stable option, there are others that offer more for a similar price.
The issue with torrenting
Torrenting gets a bad press. A quick Google search will throw up a myriad of different articles explaining why torrenting is wrong and how it breaks copyright law, and so on. Much of the coverage torrenting receives is either misleading or completely inaccurate, so it is worth getting the facts straight.
Torrenting is not illegal as such. The BitTorrent protocol, which is what we refer to as torrenting, is actually just a fast and efficient tool for sharing and downloading files. There is nothing illegal in using the BitTorrent protocol.
However, the BitTorrent protocol is very popular with copyright pirates, that is people who copy and offer for download copyrighted content. Uploading and downloading copyrighted content using the BitTorrent protocol is illegal, and of course not something that we would condone here at Addictive Tips.
For those who are considering torrenting online content, it is worth bearing in mind one thing. Torrent downloaders are putting themselves in a great deal of risk. This is because downloading a torrent is not a private act and users who download are opening up their IP Address to being tracked by the copyright holders.
This can lead to users being identified and prosecuted for breaking copyright laws with the very real risk of incurring a fine which could run to many thousands of dollars.
Having said that, the laws on torrenting do vary depending on where in the world you are based. It is, therefore, wise to check the laws locally before deciding if you actually need a VPN to torrent.
In the USA, downloading copyrighted material is illegal and it is fairly common for copyright trolls (professional firms which identify torrenters and then send letters demanding money in compensation) to seek compensation.
In Canada, copyright violators can be sued for up to $5,000, whilst unlimited fines are available in the UK, as well as ISPs being allowed to throttle (deliberately slow down connection speeds) and disconnect torrenting users.
And legal challenges are not the only risk. Downloading any files over an insecure protocol such as BitTorrent also exposes you to hackers, who are capable of hijacking your data and even taking control of your machine.
How a VPN can help
But these risks shouldn’t put you off torrenting altogether because there is a simple tool which you can use to protect yourself online and enable you to torrent files securely and anonymously. As you have probably guessed by now, it is called a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.
A VPN is a tool which channels all of your internet traffic down a secure tunnel and via an external server before it reaches its destination. This protects you in two ways. The encrypted tunnel codifies your data making it impossible for any hackers or other prying eyes to see what you are up to online. It also makes the job off accessing your device significantly harder.
At the same time, diverting your online traffic via an external server renders your internet activity effectively anonymous. When the data passes through the server, it adopts that servers IP Address, which is the data tag which copyright holders use to identify torrenters.
By using the VPN server’s IP Address, which is often shared with other users, it is all but impossible for the copyright holder to track the torrented file back to you.
If you want to make use of the BitTorrent protocol to download content, it is highly advisable to use a VPN to protect yourself when doing so. This is true whether the content you are downloading is copyrighted or not.
The right VPN will offer users a level of anonymity and security which means they can download with confidence. But not all VPNs are up to the job, which is why in this article I have highlighted what I believe are the four best.
All offer top of the range security and privacy features which mean you can be sure that no-one can see what you are doing while online, and certainly not what files you are downloading and from where.
They are all established market names, and that is for a reason. They offer a reliable and fast service that their users can depend on. And if you are thinking to start torrenting, they can do the same for you too.