qBittorrent offers a lot of functionality that you won’t find in other torrent clients. What you’ll see, however, are the same privacy leaks that can potentially compromise your whole torrenting history. Luckily, we can address these security concerns.
In this qBittorrent VPN guide, I’ll show you how to use qBittorrent with a VPN or Proxy and, of course, how to download and upload on qBittorrent with the highest degree of security.
I’ll also showcase the best VPN service to use with qBittorrent and how to verify that your IP address is entirely untraceable. But first, here’s a short, two-sentence answer:
To use the qBittorrent with a VPN, proxy, or both, first download a solid VPN, a SOCKS5 Proxy, or both and install the VPN, and connect to one of the VPN’s P2P-friendly servers. Setup the proxy and test the connection. You can now safely download torrents using qBittorrent.
What you’ll Need to Use qBittorrent with a VPN or Proxy
1. A VPN
The first step is simply downloading a reliable VPN service and watching it do all the work for you. Note, however, that not all VPN services are created equal, and some won’t be optimized for torrenting at all.
I recommend one of the following VPNs:
If you’ve read about VPNs before, you’ve probably read about NordVPN. What’s not to like? It has one of the best (and most audited) no-logging policies in the market, plenty of P2P-ready servers, and unparalleled privacy measures.
Aside from the military-grade AES-256 encryption, you get an extensive range of Double VPN servers, which enable you to route your internet traffic through several VPN servers to make you almost 100% untraceable.
Not all the servers on NordVPN are indeed P2P-compatible, but the ones we tried were stable and gave us respectable torrenting speeds at all times.
NordVPN comes with a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a shot.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is well regarded for its cheap subscription. You probably won’t find any other service that offers the same features at the same price point as PIA. Sure, the interface isn’t as clean as some of its competitors, but we’re looking at the sheer value here.
First of all, PIA comes with port forwarding capabilities, which we don’t see in many VPNs. It can be a powerful tool for you to use. However, we don’t recommend getting into port forwarding if you’re new to VPNs since it can cause some security issues that you’re not aware of.
However, once you subscribe to its paid plan, you’ll be treated with excellent features, blazing fast servers, and secure encryption.
Proton VPN’s origin is in Switzerland, where it enjoys some of the best online privacy laws in the world. Their fortified Secure Core servers are located underground, in secure bunkers. No one knows where they are, except ProtonVPN’s high management.
All servers are P2P-friendly, with different locations worldwide and consistently high speeds. All the top security features are implemented, too. You also get to enjoy MultiHop, which enables you to connect to more than one server at once.
You can’t go wrong with any of our above-listed torrent-friendly VPNs; they’ve all been thoroughly tested by our staff and can guarantee you stress-free torrenting.
However, if you decide to go with another VPN, just make sure to carefully read their terms and conditions, ask around for its reputation, and constantly check your traffic is being hidden.
The second option doesn’t require you to use a VPN, but I strongly recommend having a VPN active anyway to ensure optimum results.
The most important thing is never to download a free proxy service from the internet. This is for various reasons, including:
- They’ll still record your torrenting history and keep logs
- They might not work at all
- They’re usually incredibly slow
- They typically block torrent ports until you subscribe to a paid plan
- They can use intrusive marketing techniques to make a profit
- They can inject malware to hack your devices
SOCKS proxies don’t offer the same encryption that you get from VPNs, which could be both a gift and a curse. Unencrypted data can be intercepted and recorded, but the lack of encryption will often give you significantly higher download speeds.
You should be aware that using a SOCKS proxy inside your torrent client won’t change the IP address on your browser. The only thing that it will hide is your torrenting activity.
Finally, magnet links may not work correctly with proxy servers. We’re not sure why exactly, but you’ll have to download the .torrent file on your system and open it using qBittorrent.
Both VPN and SOCKS5 Proxy
Installing a VPN service and using a SOCKS5 proxy simultaneously is the ultimate form of security.
Imagine this, your activity on the web is almost impossible to trace, your web browser runs on a different IP address, and qBittorrent downloads the files using another unique IP address.
This way, your ISP won’t even know you’re browsing torrent websites and downloading torrents. You’ll be wholly concealed from anyone, and all of your activity will be strongly encrypted, too.
While this sounds like the best approach to using qBittorrent, it’s unnecessary. Using a VPN should be more than enough to give you the extra layer of protection you need.
If you’re especially concerned about your privacy, it won’t hurt to have both options enabled.
How to Use qBittorrent with a VPN
Using qBittorrent with a VPN is probably the easiest way to make your torrenting private. All you have to do is sign up for a non-logging VPN service, install the VPN, and connect to one of the VPN’s P2P-friendly servers.
There are, however, two things to keep in mind. The first is your VPN’s kill switch feature, which detects when changes in network traffic occur and immediately ceases your internet activity.
Some VPN servers crash, and not having the kill switch feature enabled will expose your IP address.
The second thing is IPv6 and DNS leak protection. If your IP address is hidden, but your DNS is exposed, they can still trace your IP address. Make sure you have both options enabled in your VPN.
How to Use qBittorrent with a SOCKS5 Proxy
Before you set up your client, you need to be aware that you’ll be torrenting with a different IP address, but your data will still be unencrypted. This means that your ISP can still detect that you’re torrenting and throttle your download speeds.
Please make sure not to use HTTP(s) proxies. Your qBittorrent client will simply ignore the proxy server and expose your actual IP address.
That said, let’s go over the steps of setting up a SOCKS5 proxy.
1. Go to Your Connection Tab
Open your qBittorrent client and go to Tools -> Options -> Connection. You can press “Alt+O” to go to the options menu right away.
Inside the connection tab, you’ll see three items: Listening Port, Connections Limits, and Proxy Server. We’ll leave the Connection Limits tab as it is.
2. Configure the Listening Port
The Listening Port is where your client will look for new peer connections. First, we need to set the “Port Number for Incoming Connections.” You can choose any random port or click the “random” button to generate one.
Next, check the box titled “Use UPnP/NAT PMP.” This will enable your client to automatically forward the assigned port through your router.
The final option is “Use a Different Port on Each Startup.” Keep that option checked to ensure optimal privacy. If you run into issues while torrenting, turn it off.
3. Configure Proxy Settings
Now, we come to the most critical thing: configuring the proxy server.
You’ll have to check with the VPN service you chose for its credentials here. Every VPN has different credentials and port numbers, but they’re straightforward to find. They’ll either be listed on your VPN software or the website’s forum.
The first thing you’ll find under Proxy Settings is the host address and port number. Then you’ll have a checkbox titled Authentication. Check if your VPN has a username and password for setting up the proxy server.
Finally, enter the username and password assigned by your VPN software. After you’re done, your torrents won’t download using your actual IP address.
Please note that most routers have UPnP, or NAT port mapping enabled. If both aren’t enabled, you’ll need to set the port forwarding options on your router as well. It’ll still work fine if you don’t, but you won’t get good peer connections.
Should I Use Both Methods Simultaneously?
Using both a proxy service and a VPN will give you three significant advantages:
- You’ll have two different IP addresses, one for qBittorrent and one for your browser.
- Both of these IP addresses will be different from your real one.
- Your browser activity will be encrypted, so the ISP doesn’t see you downloading torrents.
Using both methods simultaneously will give you complete privacy over your network. However, if your ISP isn’t known for throttling torrenting speeds, then it’s not necessary.
If you’ve decided to use both services together, look for VPN services that offer a proxy service without extra charge. All VPN services we mentioned come with a free proxy service and are relatively inexpensive.
However, before you start torrenting, you’ll need to go through the following steps in order. First, you need to ensure the qBittorrent client is closed and not running in the background.
This is important because connecting your VPN while qBittorrent is active with the configured proxy will cause a proxy server error. This error comes up when the proxy server detects a change in the IP address.
Secondly, open your VPN and connect to the remote server. Once your VPN is connected, you can now start up qBittorrent without running into any trouble.
How to Know Your VPN Is Working with qBittorrent
The easiest way to test if your VPN is working is to check your IP address. If it’s different from your real one, it’s working perfectly.
This won’t work if you’re using a proxy server, though. Regardless, you can still verify your IP is hidden using the following methods.
ipMagnet gives you a magnet link carrying a dummy torrent download. This torrent will start downloading on your qBittorrent client, and you should immediately see the IP address downloading the file on the same webpage.
Testing the Kill Switch
VPNs come with all sorts of privacy features, but almost all have a kill switch feature.
Since some VPN providers advertise for features, they don’t have or features that don’t work correctly, you can quickly put your VPN’s kill switch to the test. This is done by connecting to your VPN, starting up your qBittorrent client, waiting until it starts downloading, and then disconnecting your VPN.
If your qBittorrent client doesn’t immediately cease downloading torrents, then your kill switch isn’t working.
Why Should I Use a VPN with qBittorrent?
You’re probably aware that qBittorrent, like any other torrent client, doesn’t hide your IP address and uses weak encryption methods to protect your traffic.
Using a VPN can help you protect your privacy and, in the case of NordVPN, offer superior encryption, but there’s another important reason why VPNs are essential while torrenting.
Your ISP probably doesn’t like it when you torrent, especially if you’re on an unlimited data plan. Since your downloads aren’t properly encrypted, your ISP can detect your torrent downloads and throttle your speeds.
Of course, your ISP isn’t the only company that can monitor your traffic; 3rd party companies can also record your online activities for various reasons. Some may even use it against you!
One website even uses the same monitoring methods and lists all your torrenting history for anyone to view. Scary stuff!
That being said, you can see why it’s essential to use a VPN to hide your torrenting activities. Now, let’s get into how you can use qBittorrent safely and privately.
Can I Just Turn on qBittorrent’s Encryption Instead?
If you’re considering not using a VPN and opting for qBittorrent’s built-in encryption, you should know this isn’t the most optimal solution.
There are several reasons why this isn’t a good idea. The first, of course, is because it will still expose your IP address. The second is that qBittorrent’s encryption uses RC4 instead of the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption found on most VPNs.
This encryption can prevent your ISP from throttling your speed, but it won’t be as impenetrable as AES encryption. However, the biggest reason you shouldn’t use RC4 encryption is that it’ll dramatically decrease your download speed.
This happens because the RC4 encryption reduces the number of available speeds (peer availability) and can cause your download speeds to be significantly reduced.
Using a VPN remains the optimal solution. Although, you can use a proxy server for the qBittorrent client with RC4 encryption and still enjoy an acceptable level of privacy.
How Can I Further Enhance qBittorrent Privacy?
Is there anything else you can do to improve qBittorent’s privacy, apart from utilizing a VPN and proxy? Let’s find out.
Bind qBittorrent to the VPN’s Network Interface
The answer is yes. We strongly recommend this feature as it’s an additional kill switch embedded in your client.
Sure, you can choose a VPN service that has its kill-switch feature, but it’s an extra layer of protection and only takes a few minutes to set up.
The idea is that when you start using a VPN service, it’ll create its own virtual network adapter to route your traffic. You can easily view your active network adapter from Control Panel -> Network & Internet -> Network Connections.
qBittorrent has a feature called “Bind to Network Interface.” It forces the client only to use the selected network adapter. So if your active internet connection is anything other than the VPN’s network adapter, your client won’t have peer connections to download/upload anything.
How to Enable “Bind to Network Interface”
First, make sure your VPN service is up and running. Then, go to your Network Connections and look for the active network interface.
All other adapter networks should be inactive (greyed out), and you can quickly tell it’s your VPN adapter by going to its properties and looking at the duration of it being active.
Next, we need to go to our qBittorrent client and go to Menu -> Tools -> Options -> Advanced. You’ll find an option called Network Interface (requires restart) and a selected network adapter next to it. Select the VPN’s network adapter and restart your client.
Another nifty feature from qBittorrent is “Anonymous Mode.” This feature can offer a layer of security on its own but won’t work effectively without having a VPN or proxy service enabled.
The idea behind “Anonymous Mode” is to conceal some minor details that can potentially be used to expose your data. These include hiding your metadata and other identifying elements from all peers and trackers.
Once you enable “Anonymous Mode,” it will:
- Keep your qBittorrent fingerprint wholly hidden from the peer-ID
- Remove your IP address data (even VPNs) from all trackers.
- Replace the “User-Agent” with the word “Null.”
How to Enable “Anonymous Mode”
The first step is to go to Tools -> Options -> Bittorrent. There, you’ll find an option called “Enable Anonymous Mode.”
Remember, this feature is labeled by qBittorrent as ‘Experimental,’ so don’t count on it alone to hide your data. With this feature enabled and no VPN, your peers can still see your IP address, and your data is still at risk.
Use IP Filtering with VPN
Before telling you about IP filtering, please know that using this method is almost entirely useless without a VPN. Your IP is still visible, your data is traceable, and your activity logs are still being stored.
IP filtering is an additional security feature in qBittorrent that enables you to import peers or trackers that are known for malicious activities and block them entirely.
You can use IP filtering in two ways. The first is going to options and manually inserting the IP addresses you wish to block. The second is going to a 3rd-party website with a massive database of blocklists and importing the IP addresses to qBittorrent.
Conclusion qBittorrent + VPN or Proxy
If you’ve followed our guide closely, you now know how to use qBittorrent with the highest degree of privacy. The most important step is signing up for a well-known and respectable VPN. If you fail on this first step, your torrenting may attract unwanted eyes on you and expose you to copyright litigation.