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VPN services are very popular among frequent bittorrent/p2p users. Here’s why: A VPN is the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to hide your IP address while torrenting and keep your download history private. Discover the best VPNs for torrenting, and how to use them effectively.
A 2011 study found that 15% of all file-sharers worldwide were using a VPN (or similar) service to hide their IP. 5 years later, that number has likely tripled. The reason? It just plain works.
- Why not all VPNs can be used for torrents (Hint: you want a no-log VPN service)
- Extra VPN features you’ll want from your torrent VPN
- Our recommended ‘Zero-Log’ VPNs
- How to use your VPN for torrenting
- How to verify your torrents are anonymous
The most important feature your Torrent VPN needs…
The one thing you should always make sure your torrent VPN offers is: ‘A zero-log policy’.
This means they don’t keep any logs of your online activity, and they also don’t keep any metadata logs showing which VPN server you connected to, which IP address you were assigned, how much data you transferred etc.
Choosing a Zero-log VPN is essential for maximum privacy.
That’s why every VPN featured in this article has a zero-log policy (and specifically allows torrents/p2p)
If you search ‘best vpn for torrents’ (or similar) in google, you will get dozens of results, but be aware:
Many of those sites are promoting VPNs that DO keep logs (sometimes extensively). Always choose a non-logging VPN. Period.
In other words, if you see a site promoting: Hidemyass, ExpressVPN, Buffered as a VPN for p2p/torrents, run the other way.
Some extra VPN features you may want
Most VPNs these days have their own custom VPN software that runs on all major platforms (Windows, Mac, and mobile). This lets them build some really cool extra security features to make your VPN even more powerful.
Useful features for torrenting include:
- A Kill-Switch: A VPN Kill-switch (or Internet Kill-switch) is an option in your VPN software that (when activated) will instantly kill all internet access to your computer if the VPN disconnects by accident. This will prevent your True IP address from leaking to torrent peers. Learn more about kill-switches…
- Torrent on all servers: Most VPNs will restrict torrents to specific server locations (if they allow them at all). A select few will let you download torrents from any server location you want.
- Socks5 Proxy Included: You can use a proxy inside your torrent client (with or without the VPN activated). This allows you to change your torrent IP address without affecting the rest of your computer. A proxy is slightly faster than a VPN, but doesn’t give you any encryption. Several VPN services include SOCKS5 proxy also.
- Stealth Mode: Some network firewalls (like schools or in-flight wifi) try to block VPN traffic. A stealth VPN will disguise your VPN data and let you slip the the firewall unblocked and undetected.
The REAL ‘Best VPNs for Torrents/p2p’ (Intro)
In the next section, you’ll be introduced to our favorite torrent-friendly VPN providers. We also list the pricing for each, standout features (like whether it includes a Socks5 proxy), and software screenshots.
Note: Every VPN featured in this section has a zero-log policy (for maximum privacy).
- Read our reviews of each VPN to get a feel for their software and features
- If you subscribe to a VPN, the 1-year plan offers a big discount vs. monthly
- Take advantage of the 100% refund policy most VPNs offer (if you’re unhappy).
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is widely considered the most torrent-friendly VPN in the world. They were also one of the 1st VPNs in the world to offer a zero-log guarantee. Maybe that’s why they have over 1 million subscribers (our best estimate).
Or maybe it’s the price. PIA costs only $3.33/month (1 year subscription) and includes unlimited bandwidth/speeds.
- No Logs. Period.
- Socks5 proxy included (works with all major torrent clients)
- Connect 5 devices simultaneously
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Adjustable Encryption Strength
- Torrents allowed on ALL servers
PIA has a custom VPN client available for Windows, Mac, iOS & Android devices. It gives you full access to all 20+ countries, as well as added security features like a kill-switch and triple IP-leak protection.
The software runs from your system tray (unobtrusive) and allows you to connect to any of their VPN servers in 1 click. You can even adjust the encryption strength to make your VPN faster (or more secure).
IPVanish is already well-known as one of the fastest VPN providers available. They’re now make a strong case for themselves as one of the best p2p/torrent VPNs as well.
- No Logs. Period.
- Socks5 proxy included
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Incredibly fast speeds
- Connect 3 devices simultaneously
- Torrents allowed on ALL servers
IPVanish’s software has come a long way, and it is now one of the best custom VPN clients available. It includes a ton of impressive features like:
- ‘Smart’ server selection – (for your intended usage)
- ‘Favorite Servers’ – save frequent locations for easy access
- Stealth Mode – Built in VPN ‘obfuscation’ lets you evade vpn-blocking technology.
Torguard is a zero-log VPN provider that specializes in serving customers that download torrents. Their servers are quite fast (not too crowded) and they offer both VPN & Socks5 proxy service.
They even offer their own proxy-installer software which will instantly configure your favorite torrent client with the correct proxy settings (works with uTorrent, Deluge, Vuze).
Read: Torguard Review
Torguard does have two downsides vs. PIA and IPvanish:
- The Socks5 proxy is sold separately (not included w/ VPN, but you can buy a discounted bundle)
- Torrents are only allowed in specific server locations (but they are speed optimized).
If you can live with these two limitations, then Torguard is a good option.
Torguard’s software is lightweight, snappy, and functional.
It includes full access to all 40+ server locations, as well as helpful security features like triple IP-leak protection (DNS, IPv6 & Disconnect).
Their software also has some pretty unique features that few (if any) VPNs offer, such as:
- The ability to execute custom scripts (advanced users)
- App-level kill-switch (kill specific programs if VPN fails)
- Connect to the VPN through a proxy (or Tor)
- Stealth Mode
3 VPNs you should Never use for torrents
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best, here are the rest. Not all VPNs allow torrenting at all, and some of those keep pretty substantial logs on top of that.
If you frequently download torrents, you should avoid the VPN services listed below:
Hotspot shield was one of the first companies to bring VPN service to the masses, but don’t try to use it for torrenting. Not only does Hotspot shield keep metadata connection logs, but they flat out forbid p2p usage of their servers.
They even go as far as trying to block p2p traffic entirely, and you risk getting banned permanently if you attempt to do so.
I hate to pick on Hidemyass like the rest of the world (I actually like their software and service overall). But the reality is this:
Hidemyass is not a good choice as a torrent/p2p VPN
Beyond that, there have been complaints on Reddit from users having their accounts cancelled by HMA after downloading one too many torrent files.
If you haven’t heard of HolaVPN yet, be glad. It’s too be avoided at all costs. Sure, it’s ‘Free’ but when it was discovered that Hola was selling your own personal internet connection to be used for any purpose (including botnet attacks), their popularity plummeted.
Oh, and just in case you still see ‘Free’ and are ready to try it anyway (botnets be damned), Hola doesn’t work with torrents. The reason? It’s a browser only VPN, so your torrent client will be unprotected.
How to use your VPN for torrenting
Ok, so you’ve selected one of our recommended VPNs, now that? Don’t worry, setup is incredibly easy and you’ll be downloading torrents anonymously in no time.
Just follow these simple steps to maximize your privacy.
Download & Install the VPN Software
Each of our top VPN services comes with their own proprietary VPN software. This makes it extremely easy to start a VPN connection.
As soon as you sign up, you will be sent and email with your login/password information, and a link to download the software.
Simply run the installer, and sign into the software using your login credentials. It’s that easy.
Now you’re ready to start a VPN connection.
Connect to a good server location
Many VPNs restrict their users’ torrent activity to specific servers in torrent-friendly locations like The Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, etc. Make sure to stick to those guidelines if your provider has restrictions.
PIA has an especially unique solution. They reroute all torrent to torrent-friendly locations behind the scenes, regardless of which server location you choose. This technology targets p2p traffic exclusively, so your web-browser and all other traffic will flow through the VPN server you choose.
Enable the kill-switch
From time-to-time, you may experience accidental VPN disconnects. This may happen if your wifi drops briefly, or there is some sort of VPN error.
Ordinarily, your computer will just reconnect to the internet through your normal connection (unencrypted and non-anonymous).
If you’re torrenting, you’d probably prefer your IP address doesn’t leak out if the VPN fails. To prevent this, enable your provider’s kill-switch option (most torrent-friendly VPNs offer this feature nowadays).
The kill switch will instantly stop your internet connection until the VPN is reconnected, making sure that your computer can’t accidentally transmit your personal IP address or information outside the VPN tunnel.
Check that your setup is actually working
Once you’ve got your VPN installed and connected, you may want to check that your setup is working properly. To do this, we simply need to verify that your IP address has changed.
There are two places you can check (just to be safe)
- The IP of your web browser
- The IP of your torrent client (uTorrent, Vuze, Deluge, etc)
How to check your IP address in your web browser
Go to iplocation.net and you’ll see something like this:
Don’t worry if it’s showing the wrong country. Sometimes an IP address will register as belonging to the wrong country or state. What’s important is that your new web browser IP is different that it is when you aren’t connected to the VPN.
If you disconnect from the VPN to double-check your normal IP address, make sure to hit Ctrl+F5 (Command + F5 for mac) to refresh the page with the updated IP address.
Check your Torrent IP / Torrent client IP address
If you’re using a Socks5 proxy (or you’re just extra cautious), you’ll want to check the IP address assigned to your torrent software.
This is the IP address that will be visible to other peers in your torrent swarms.
To do this, we’ll need a nifty free tool from CheckmyTorrentIP
It will allow you to download a unique magnet link that you can open up in your favorite torrent software.
Don’t worry if both IP addresses shown in the tool are identical. If you’re using a VPN (no proxy) then your web browser and torrent client will have the same IP address.
They will only be different if you’re using a Socks5 proxy inside your torrent client.
Best Torrent VPNs: Summary
Whether you’ve read the whole article so far (or just skipped to the good parts) — here’s the important stuff you need to know:
Tip #1 – Always use a ‘no-log’ VPN when torrenting
Logless VPNs are much more anonymous, since they don’t keep any connection or ip address data about you or your VPN history. They also tend to be the most torrent-friendly.
Excellent options are:
Tip #2 – You can also use a Socks5 proxy for torrents
You can add a proxy to anonymize your torrent client directly. This can be down with or without an active VPN connection. If you don’t use the VPN, however, your connection won’t be encrypted, but your IP will still be anonymous.
All 3 of the VPNs listed above also sell socks5 proxy service (IPvanish and PIA include it free)
Tip #3 – Verify your anonymity
Use the checkip tool to make sure your VPN is working properly, and your torrent peers can only see your anonymous IP address.
Using a VPN will make massive difference in your torrent privacy. The percentage of bittorent users who use an anonymization tool continues to rise. Soon there will be more torrenters with VPN subscriptions than without. Which would you rather be?
If you have any questions about VPN providers, torrent setup instructions (or anything at all really), then please leave a question or comment below.
Please Note: We will do our best to answer all questions, however we will not answer any questions about illegal uses of p2p technology, nor do we condone such use. Please use this information responsibly.