If you’re reading this article, there are probably two possible scenarios: either you’re quite new to torrenting and curious about it, or, you’ve been torrenting for a while and are curious what would happen if you stopped torrenting with a VPN. Torrenting has a bad reputation since its use has been linked with piracy of movies, software, games etc. However, torrenting itself is totally legal.
Keep in mind that you’ll only land into trouble if you downloaded unsanctioned copyrighted materials. So if you want to remain anonymous while torrenting, it’s always a good idea to use a VPN while doing so. But exactly how dangerous is torrenting without VPN? We’ll answer this question below.
Dangers of torrenting without VPN
Torrenting refers to downloading/uploading files via the BitTorrent network, which is a decentralized peer-to-peer file transfer protocol. It works by finding users who have files needed by other users on the network, then enabling simultaneous downloading of pieces of the files. If you’re privacy-conscious, you should consider torrenting using a VPN so that your ISP doesn’t track your online activities.
If you happen to get caught torrenting, the penalties you may face vary depending on the country and state you live in. Below are the dangers of torrenting without VPN from mild to severe:
Internet connection disruptions
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can monitor your web activities using a method known as “Deep Packet Inspection”. Using this method, your ISP can know the type of traffic coming from your computer. They can either throttle (slow down) or completely block certain traffic. If the type of traffic coming from your computer is torrent traffic, your ISP will most likely throttle it — regardless of whether it’s a legal or illegal torrent. If you repeatedly download illegal torrents, your ISP could block or suspend your internet connection.
So can VPN hide torrenting? With a VPN, your torrent traffic will fully be encrypted, meaning that your ISP won’t be able to track what you do on the web — including torrenting.
Copyright trolls are an example of a legal risk of torrenting without VPN that you could possibly face. Copyright trolling is often used by lawyers and their firms to look for or “troll” copyright violations of videos, music, images, and games across the web. Normally, copyright owners have the rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and publicly show their work. Lawyers use software to help them look for copyright violations on the web and to monitor blogs, websites, social media, YouTube, etc. for copyright infringements. Once a lawyer identifies a potential copyright violation, they’ll send a notice asking you to prove that your torrent use was licensed, or they’ll ask you to enter into an immediate settlement by paying a certain amount of money.
These cases, however, rarely proceed to litigation. So how can you avoid copyright trolling? Ensure you check your website or social media pages for any copyrighted materials such as videos or images. If you find any, remove them and instead use rights-free ones.
How to protect yourself from the dangers of torrenting
Use a VPN every time you’re torrenting
A VPN is your safest bet when torrenting. Will a VPN hide torrenting from ISP? Yes. A VPN will hide your real IP address from your ISP thus making it hard for anyone to track your online activities. A VPN also encrypts all your traffic data before it leaves your internet device. Since your traffic data is transferred to the VPN’s server first, your ISP won’t be able to tell where that data is going.
So are there any free VPNs for torrenting? There are loads of free VPNs for torrenting, but the majority tend to log your online activities and don’t maintain good enough security and privacy. Keep this in mind when shopping around for VPNs.
If you’re not willing to pay for VPN services, you may consider using Tor. Tor is quite similar to VPN since it also encrypts your browsing data through several volunteer nodes. However, compared to a VPN, Tor is much slower and it’s normally used for simple browsing activities. Apart from Tor, you can also use Usenet. Though it’s paid monthly, Usenet allows you to download files from centralized servers rather than peer-to-peer ones.