Torrenting is one of the riskier things you can do when you’re online. Not only is P2P filesharing largely throttled by most ISPs, but torrenting clients leave your IP address unprotected.
That means that it’s easy for intruders to intercept your files, steal your personal information, or even inject files with malware or other malicious code. Plus, there’s nothing to say that the file you’re downloading isn’t already infected.
With that in mind, using a torrent-friendly VPN is vital when you’re using P2P networking to share files. Today, we’re going over the best VPN services for torrenting and why torrenting with a VPN is vital to maintaining your privacy.
The Best VPN for Torrenting
NordVPN is one of the best VPN for torrenting because it offers a wide range of highly secure privacy features that keep you safe when you’re torrenting. Not only do they offer AES-256 encryption as standard, but they also support IKEv2, OpenVPN, and their own version of WireGuard, all of which offer superior security over more common VPN protocols.
They’ve also been independently audited multiple times, and each time their strict no-logs policy has been upheld. Plus, they’re based in Panama, which is a great jurisdiction for protecting online privacy.
NordVPN’s P2P dedicated servers also offer incredible speeds when compared to other providers, and all of their apps come with an automatic or easy-activated Kill Switch to prevent your data from leaking. And, if that’s not enough to help you feel secure, they also have a range of Double VPN servers, which effectively doubles the encryption on any incoming and outgoing traffic.
All of these features, coupled with their wide range of servers and great customer support, makes NordVPN our choice for the best torrent VPN.
If you are looking for alternatives, we recommend you to check these VPNs:
Why You Need a VPN for Torrenting
- Improve torrenting speeds
P2P networks are, by design, extremely exposed to third parties. This is how you can get impressive speeds downloading files through these networks but, as you probably already suspect, it opens you up to significant security risks.
First, you should understand the law around torrenting in your country. Some countries, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, allow you to torrent freely provided that you’re only doing so for personal use. In other countries, like the USA and UK, laws around torrenting are stringent.
Because of this, ISPs in some countries legally have to record which users are torrenting via P2P networks, which they often voluntarily hand over to third parties. At the very least, you can expect your ISP to throttle your internet speeds if they find you torrenting. And, in the worst-case scenario, you can end up facing fines for torrenting unless you can prove that what you were torrenting was completely legal.
Not only that, but the rise of torrenting has also led to a rapid rise in the number of bogus law firms or content farms that purposefully leak content for torrenting, track down users that torrent that content, and then sue them for copyright infringement. Because it’s easy to see the IP address of users who are torrenting, it’s also easy for these copyright trolls (as they’re known) to track you down and prove you violated copyright laws – even if you didn’t know the torrent was illegal.
Finally, because your IP address is so visible when you torrent, you can easily open up your network to attackers looking to hijack your system, extract your personal information, or inject malware. Not only can they do this through bogus files with malicious code or programs in them, but they could even attack your network directly.
It’s for all of these reasons that we always recommend VPN and torrenting, as the security and privacy risks aren’t worth taking.
Properties of a Good VPN for Torrenting
- Strict no-logs policy
- Leak protection
- Torrenting friendly
- Good speeds
- Dedicated torrenting servers
- Split tunneling
- Port forwarding
Unfortunately, not every VPN is good for torrenting. Many VPNs, and particularly free VPNs, tend to be too slow for P2P file sharing, and often don’t have good leak protections in place to make sure that your data isn’t exposed to third parties.
Surprisingly, some VPNs also have policies in place that don’t allow torrenting. Others may also hold logs of user activity, even if they claim to have no-logging policies, particularly if they’re based in countries with mandatory data retention laws.
With that in mind, here are the key things you need to look out for when you’re trying to find the best VPNs for torrenting.
When you’re using a P2P network to torrent, your data packets can easily be intercepted by other parties using that network. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, ISPs are all too willing to throttle your speeds or even cut your service if they suspect you’re using P2P networks – even if you’re sharing files under fair use laws.
The best VPNs for P2P networking offer AES-256 encryption, along with powerful hashing and salting protection so the only thing that third parties can see is that you’re sending and receiving encrypted data. Some take this one step further with protocols that automatically generate new encryption keys every hour, so even if a third party does crack your key, they can only see a limited window of activity.
A good VPN for torrenting will also offer shared IP addresses to its users, which further secures privacy while torrenting. As hundreds of users could be using this IP address at any given time, this makes it even more difficult to trace any activity from that IP back to you.
Strict No-Logging Policy
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to take a VPN provider’s claim of not holding logs as gospel truth. While VPNs based in jurisdictions with mandatory data retention laws have ways to get around this – usually through zero-access encryption and RAM servers – we’d urge caution with providers in these jurisdictions.
Plus, you’ll want to check a VPN provider’s website to see if they’ve had any third-party security audits of their service and what the results of that audit were. NordVPN and ExpressVPN have both been audited multiple times, all of which verified that they hold no user logs. However, while Surfshark has been audited, only the browser extensions were covered, and little information was revealed about whether the company keeps logs.
As you’re looking to protect your data while you’re torrenting, you’ll need to find a VPN for torrenting that actively protects any data leaks. While many providers claim that they have secure leak protection, we recommend reading reviews in which these services are tested for DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks.
The best VPN torrenting services also come with additional features that actively prevent data leaks.
Autoconnect is a popular feature both with new VPN users and privacy-focused individuals. With this feature, you can either set your VPN to automatically connect to a preset server when you turn on your device, connect to the internet, or start up your torrenting software. So, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn on your VPN, and you don’t risk sending or receiving unencrypted data.
Kill switches are also becoming an expected feature, particularly when you need a VPN for torrents. A kill switch will automatically cut your Internet connection if you ever lose connection to your VPN server, effectively preventing your data from leaking in case of a service outage. While this will stop you from downloading or sharing any files when you’re torrenting, it makes sure that your privacy is protected and your personal data is concealed if your VPN should stop working.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many VPN providers don’t allow torrenting. Others may say that they’re fine with torrenting, but you’ll find that your speeds are throttled, or you may even risk being banned from their network. The biggest reason for this is that allowing torrenting leads to greater bandwidth demands, which of course, leads to greater costs. Plus, VPN providers want to avoid the legal headache of their users torrenting illegally.
Torrenting demands a lot of bandwidth, which as you’d expect, can be a significant drain on a VPN server’s resources. So, even if you’re using the most torrent-friendly VPN, if their servers aren’t able to handle the heavy bandwidth drain, it’ll take significantly more time to download a file than if you weren’t using a VPN.
Once again, you need to read reviews that include real-world speed tests to make sure that your chosen torrenting VPN performs as well as they claim to. And, while you’ll always notice some speed drop when you use a VPN, particularly if you’re connecting to a server overseas, some P2P VPNs have a significantly smaller speed drop than others.
Dedicated Torrenting Servers
Because torrenting has such a high bandwidth demand, some torrenting VPNs offer dedicated servers for P2P connections. These servers are often designed to be more powerful than their standard servers, so they can handle a higher load without suffering speed drops or ping increases.
It’s worth noting that torrenting-friendly VPN providers may not always have dedicated torrenting servers, and we don’t consider this to be a vital feature of the best VPN for torrents. However, we know that many users like to use dedicated servers because they know those servers are built to handle the bandwidth load of torrenting. So, if that’s important to you, it’s worth looking out for.
Split tunnelling isn’t necessarily a vital feature when you’re looking for the best torrenting VPN, however, it is a useful feature if you want to torrent while you’re using your devices for other tasks.
This feature allows you to direct some of your traffic through your VPN while leaving other data streams unencrypted. So, for instance, you could torrent using your VPN, but you could have Netflix in another browser window at the same time. The main benefit of this is that it allows you to torrent without slowing down your other web traffic.
With that being said, there are security risks with split tunnelling, as it exposes the data you’re not sending through your VPN to third parties. However, many users don’t mind this if they’re playing video games, doing general Internet browsing, or using streaming services. So, it’s up to you if you consider split tunnelling a necessary feature or not.
Port forwarding is a great feature for increasing torrent speeds, but it can also open serious security vulnerabilities, which is why not all VPNs offer this feature.
A port is, in essence, a tollbooth on each stream of data entering and leaving your router, as it identifies and verifies incoming traffic before sending it to its destination. Usually, incoming traffic has to wait to be identified and directed through the specific port. However, by port forwarding, you’re directing that traffic straight to a specific port so it doesn’t have to wait in line.
The main problem with this is that ports that are manually configured are permanently open until you manually close them. So, instead of there being a tollbooth on that lane of traffic, the barrier is lifted and anything can get through. This can be a major security risk, which is why we don’t recommend using port forwarding unless you’re an experienced VPN user well-versed in device security.
Why You Shouldn’t Trust a Free VPN for Torrenting
If you’re looking for the best free VPN for torrenting, we’ve got bad news for you.
Every for-profit business has to make money to survive. With paid VPNs, you know their revenue is coming from the license that you purchase, as well as any add-ons that you buy. However, when you use a free VPN, it’s harder to know where their revenue is coming from. You might assume that a free VPN earns a profit through advertising and limiting their costs elsewhere, but that’s not always the case.
There’s a common saying that if a service is free, then you are the product. We also know that colossal free services – such as social networking platforms – sell the data of their users to third parties, and that’s a major part of their revenue. It’s no different for free VPNs, and while almost all of them log your activity, many will go on to sell this activity to third parties.
Even VPNs that generate revenue through advertising alone aren’t to be trusted, because this advertising is often intrusive, uses marketing and tracking cookies, or even hosts malware code or links to phishing scams.
All of this is assuming that you can find a free VPN that allows torrenting, many free VPNs will ban users who are found to be using P2P networks for file sharing. That’s because not only do they want to avoid the legal costs associated with users conducting illegal torrenting, but it also costs too much to maintain servers with the bandwidth needed for torrenting.
Unfortunately, free versions of paid VPNs aren’t much better. TunnelBear doesn’t allow for torrenting, even for paid users, and Windscribe has restrictive monthly data caps.
In short, we wouldn’t trust a free P2P VPN for even general day-to-day browsing, let alone with torrenting. Free torrenting VPNs simply aren’t worth risking your privacy and security for.
Torrenting With VPN vs. Without VPN
If you’ve got a limited budget and you were hoping that you’d be able to find a good free VPN for torrenting, then you might now be wondering if torrenting without VPN is as risky as we’re making it out to be. So, let’s go over what happens when you torrent with a VPN, and how that compares to when you don’t use a VPN.
Torrenting Without VPN
When you download a file with the BitTorrent protocol, your IP address is instantly made public to all of the other users who are accessing that file. So, it’s remarkably easy for those users to not only find your approximate location but also which ISP you’re using. If you’re using a torrenting site that only hosts strictly legal files for torrenting, then this is the most you have to worry about.
However, general torrenting sites often contain a mix of legal and illegal torrents, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. Because copyright holders want to defend their intellectual property, they often hire external law firms to monitor for their content on torrent sites. When an illegal torrent is discovered, these law firms will log every IP address that’s downloading that file or seeding it to other users. They’ll either notify your ISP that you’re torrenting illegal content, or they’ll sue you directly.
And, because your IP address is exposed the entirety of the time that you’re downloading the file, and for even longer if you’re seeding it to other users, you’re continuously putting yourself at risk from other third parties snooping around your data.
While you might think that you’re safe until you’re caught, you should be aware that being caught is now a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’. With modern torrenting detection technology being extremely accurate, it’s only a matter of time until your ISP finds out you’re torrenting.
Torrenting With VPN
When you use a VPN, torrenters within the same ‘swarm’ as you can still see the IP address you’re torrenting from. However, because you’re routing your traffic through a VPN server, your true IP address is hidden behind the one you’re given by your VPN provider. So, not only will other users not be able to find your location or ISP, but they also won’t be able to use that information to track your activity.
This makes it nearly impossible for copyright trolls and other third parties to identify you when you’re torrenting. While this by itself doesn’t guarantee that you’re completely safe, as true privacy also relies on your VPN provider not holding logs and being secure against data leaks, it gives you unparalleled protection against interference from third parties.
Plus, because you’re encrypting your traffic and only you hold the key to decrypt it, all your ISP can see from your data packets is that you’re transmitting encrypted data. They can’t see the contents of that data packet, nor can they decrypt it without either brute force – which is next to impossible with AES-256 encryption – or stealing your encryption key.
That means that your ISP has no idea that you’re torrenting, so your data won’t be stored on any logs of torrenting information if they’re legally required to keep them. It also means that your information won’t be given to copyright holders by your ISP, protecting you against potential legal action.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a torrenting VPN, let’s dive into the best VPNs for torrenting that are currently on the market.
As we mentioned earlier, NordVPN is our top pick when it comes to VPNs for torrenting. NordVPN has a no-logging policy that’s been proven through multiple independent audits, and it’s widely trusted to be one of the most private and secure VPN providers on the market.
If you’re looking for unparalleled privacy, then NordVPN offers one of the best security suites we’ve seen with a VPN provider. As you might expect, your data is encrypted with AES-256 encryption protocols, making it next to impossible for third parties to access your information. Not only that but given that NordVPN is based in Panama, the company is under no obligation to either store user logs or hand over information to third parties, so your data is completely safe with them.
NordVPN also offers a wide range of Double VPN servers, allowing you to route traffic through a series of VPN servers to further obfuscate your identity. Plus, they’re one of the few VPN providers that support Onion over VPN, so you can route your traffic through the Onion network without needing the Tor browser.
NordVPN also has its own version of the highly secure and fast WireGuard VPN protocol, so you can stay secure while enjoying high torrenting speeds. Not only that, but you also get access to the SOCKS5 proxy through NordVPN, which gives you even greater privacy and can even increase your torrenting speeds. But, if you’d rather stick with more well-known protocols, they also support IKEv2 and OpenVPN, both of which are highly secure.
They also offer popular leak protection features like a Kill Switch and auto-connect, but even without these features turned on, we didn’t find any of our data leaked while we were using NordVPN. Unlike some other providers, their Kill Switch is also highly customizable, so you can set it to only kill your BitTorrent connection if your VPN connection drops, or keep it as a traditional all-or-nothing setting.
One of the biggest drawbacks of NordVPN for torrent is that, unfortunately, P2P isn’t supported throughout their entire network. Instead, they have a series of dedicated P2P servers, all of which have been configured to offer some of the best VPN torrenting speeds currently available.
Saying that, NordVPN is still a fantastic P2P VPN, and given that it’s one of the cheapest VPNs for torrenting, the number of features it offers means it offers incredible value versus some of its competitors. And, if you’re not happy with the service you get, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is one of the other big names in the VPN world, and for very good reason. Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN offers an extensive suite of privacy and security features, but it’s often less popular because it’s more expensive than most of its competitors.
However, the major benefit ExpressVPN has is that its entire server network is P2P enabled, meaning that you can use any of their 3000+ servers for torrenting. Despite there not being dedicated servers for torrenting, ExpressVPN’s servers still offer impressive speeds that put it ahead of most other P2P VPNs.
ExpressVPN is also based in the British Virgin Islands, which despite being a British Overseas Territory, has no mandatory data retention laws and impressive protections for online privacy. They also have a strict no-logging policy which has recently been confirmed by an extensive third-party audit.
Despite not offering the same privacy features as NordVPN, ExpressVPN is still a solid competitor given their use of split tunnelling protocols. They’re also one of the few VPN providers that offer perfect forward secrecy, meaning that your encryption key is randomly generated every time you connect and every 60 minutes afterwards. While this might sound like overkill for the casual VPN user, it offers fantastic peace of mind for torrenters who are often at greater risk of being hacked or having their data intercepted by third parties. Plus, given that they support the highly secure OpenVPN protocol, ExpressVPN torrenting is one of the safest options available.
While they don’t offer the same range of features as some other VPN providers, and they are one of the most expensive options in this review, ExpressVPN for torrent is still a great choice.
Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs for torrenting and offers a surprisingly wide range of features for a relatively low cost.
Surfshark is also based in the British Virgin Islands, making it a great choice for maintaining your privacy, both online and with your VPN provider. They also have a no-logging policy, but it’s worth noting that their only independent audit covered their browser extensions and not their VPN service as a whole. However, they passed their independent audit with only two minor security issues regarding unencrypted HTTP download links.
As with other torrenting VPNs, your data is covered by AES-256 encryption, and Surfshark supports the popular OpenVPN protocol. Not only that, but you can also use SOCKS5 proxies to further obfuscate your identity.
One significant advantage of Surfshark is that all of their servers are optimized for P2P use, meaning that their torrenting speeds are impressive when compared to other providers. Their MultiHop feature, which allows you to connect to multiple locations at once, does slow down your speed slightly, but in return, you get significantly strengthened privacy.
Not only that, but Surfshark is the best VPN on the market for torrenting in restricted countries like China. Their NoBorders feature is one of the strongest anti-geo blocking VPN features available, making it great for accessing country-specific torrenting libraries as well as hiding your tracks in a heavily censored country.
If you’re looking for the best torrenting VPN on a budget, then we recommend using Surfshark.
If you’re here because you’re new to VPNs and torrenting, then we recommend taking a look at CyberGhost. It’s got some of the most user-friendly and intuitive apps, making it a great choice if you’re still learning what a VPN can do.
Saying that, there are significant limitations that come with using CyberGhost. Like NordVPN, not all of CyberGhost’s servers support P2P, and there are only a handful of these servers in each supported location. These still offered good speeds, however, we noticed a greater speed drop with these servers compared to when we tested other VPN providers in this article.
CyberGhost do, however, use AES-256 encryption, and they support the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, so you can be sure you’re using top-of-the-line security features. They also have strong DNS and IPv6 leak protection built into their service, but if that’s not enough, they also offer a Kill Switch. Unfortunately, this is difficult to find on the mobile apps available for CyberGhost.
Plus, they offer a specific torrenting profile, which will automatically connect you to the best available P2P server. However, due to legal pressure, CyberGhost actively blocks BitTorrent traffic on servers in the USA and Russia, so you’re more limited for choice when you’re looking for an available P2P server. It’s also worth noting that you can only torrent on desktop, not mobile, which some users might find limiting.
We’ve talked about the free version of ProtonVPN before, but one key thing to remember is that you can’t use the free account for torrenting. P2P is only unlocked on ProtonVPN Basic plans and above. However, the Basic plan is still extremely limited, so if you’re torrenting, we recommend looking at the Plus plan, which unlocks more features, faster servers, and even Onion over VPN.
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which is one of the best countries for online privacy laws. Not only that, but their critical Secure Core servers are housed in secure underground bunkers, and their location is only known to ProtonVPN. So, you can be safe in the knowledge that no-one has tampered with the servers on a hardware level.
ProtonVPN’s entire network is P2P friendly, so you’re not limited to only using dedicated servers. It’s worth noting however that Basic plans only unlock a small number of these servers in each location, so if you’re looking for the best performance, you can expect to pay prices similar to NordVPN.
With the Basic plan and above, you get access to DNS leak protection, Kill Switches for all of your apps, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and AES-256 encryption. The Plus plan comes with an additional range of features, including significantly higher speeds, Secure Core multi-hop VPN, and Onion over VPN.
In short, ProtonVPN is a decent choice if you don’t get on with our recommended VPN providers. However, it’s not the best P2P VPN on the market, and given that it has similar prices to some of the best torrent VPNs, we’d recommend looking at those first.
Private Internet Access
If you’re on a budget, Private Internet Access is a good cheap alternative to the bigger torrenting VPNs. But, because their apps aren’t as polished as some of their competitors, we recommend looking at PIA if you’re already experienced with VPNs.
One of the biggest advantages of using PIA is that it offers port forwarding, which isn’t a standard feature even with the biggest torrenting VPNs. We only recommend using port forwarding if you’re experienced with VPNs and online security, because aside from the vast speed increases, it can introduce new security issues.
PIA’s entire network is torrenting friendly, and they also have a handful of dedicated torrenting servers that offer increased speeds. However, those speeds weren’t as high as we expected, particularly when compared to dedicated servers from other VPN providers.
It’s also worth noting that PIA is based in the USA, which as you’re probably aware, has some of the worst protections for online privacy of any country. While PIA claims that they don’t keep any logs, they’ve also not been independently audited. Saying that, the government has demanded information from PIA in the past, and in both instances, the company didn’t have any information about users to provide.
PrivateVPN is a Swedish-based no-logs VPN with some strong torrenting features, like dedicated torrenting servers, port forwarding, reliably fast speeds, and leak protection.
While their port forwarding support is a useful feature, it requires manual set-up in the VPN settings which can be tricky for people who are unfamiliar with VPNs or router settings. So, we’d recommend only looking at PrivateVPN if the other recommended torrenting VPNs we’ve talked about earlier don’t work for you.
You’re also protected from data leaks with DNS/IPv6 leak protection software and an optional kill switch, and your VPN sessions are covered with perfect forward secrecy protocols.
However, the biggest downside with PrivateVPN is that their range of servers is extremely limited when compared to their competitors. While all of their servers support torrenting, only a handful have port forwarding enabled, so if this is a key feature for you, you might find yourself limited by your options with PrivateVPN.
It also supports IKEv2 and OpenVPN, both of which are decent VPN protocols for torrenting. However, unlike some of their competitors, they’re yet to adopt WireGuard.
If you’re familiar with VPNs, then IPVanish may not be a provider you’d consider, particularly given that its zero-logs policy didn’t stop it from giving user logs in 2016. Since then, it’s been bought out by another company. However, because it’s still based in the USA, users looking for ultimate privacy when torrenting may want to consider another provider.
Saying that, IPVanish is a good choice for torrenting, as the entire network of servers is P2P friendly. You also get AES-256 encryption and access to the SOCKS5 proxy, and even WiFi protection so you can torrent on public WiFi networks. IPVanish also allows users to switch their VPN IP addresses periodically, so you can further strengthen your online privacy.
As with other VPNs, you also get DNS leak protection, and the desktop IPVanish apps have Kill Switch features. Unfortunately, you can’t access a Kill Switch on their Linux or mobile OS apps, which greatly limits its usefulness for torrenting on the go.
It’s for these reasons that we only recommend IPVanish if you’ve struggled with other VPN providers, particularly because their pricing structure is similar to that of NordVPN.
Windscribe is a Canadian VPN provider that’s well known for its generous free VPN plans, and its Pro plan is a great choice for torrenting. It’s a P2P friendly network, however, it only allows torrenting in 60 out of 63 locations.
Not only do they support the secure OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, but they’ve recently added WireGuard to their offering, which is widely considered to be the most secure protocol currently available. As with most other VPNs, they offer AES-256 encryption as standard, but they also use perfect forward secrecy to maintain your online privacy.
They’re also one of the few VPN providers that support port forwarding, making it a great choice for advanced torrenting. Plus, with split tunnelling double VPN, Kill Switch, and WebRTC/DNS/IPv6 leak protection, the Pro plan appears to have been built with torrenting in mind.
However, the biggest letdown with Windscribe is the server speeds, even before you use any speed-limiting features like double VPN. Of all of the VPNs we’ve reviewed for this article, Windscribe’s speeds were the slowest and least reliable. It still offers good value for money for the price, but if you need guaranteed high speeds, we recommend looking at NordVPN.