Protecting your identity is crucial online, especially during the torrent. This is exactly what a VPN does (as well as unlocking geolocated content and protects you on public Wifi). For a thorough review of vendors, read the rest of the article, but here’s a quick TL, DR for anyone who wants a quick response.
Best VPN for Torrenting, P2P, Filesharing
Torrent names, “upload”, P2P (peer-to-peer) and file sharing are basically the same thing. Namely, get content via the BitTorrent protocol. How the BitTorrent protocol works, however, means that VPNs for the torrent are essential if you want to protect yourself during the download.
BitTorrent is a very efficient way to download files and the fact that no centralized server is required ensures its popularity among those who are not concerned with copyright issues. Unfortunately, copyright holders are concerned about these problems. And this is where the BitTorrent protocol can be a responsibility for its users
As the last two synonyms I listed above (P2P and file sharing) suggest, when you “upload” a torrent file, you actually share parts of that file with someone else who downloads or shares that file .
A potentially unpleasant side effect is that all these “peers” can see your IP address (and you can see it).
VPN for torrents
Here in Vuze, I can easily see the IP address of all others who share the same file as me
This should not be a surprise to anyone, while copyright holders regularly monitor P2P downloads of their intellectual property (IP) in order to catch “pirates”. The good news is that if you have a torrent with a VPN, this will protect you, as long as the provider allows P2P. All do not!
Check out our list of the best VPN torrent services below, then read on for a full discussion on this topic.
Torrenting considerations and P2P VPN
How do VPNs for the torrent protect me?
Using a VPN creates an encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server running by a VPN provider. This VPN server acts as proxy, sitting between you and the Internet. For a full discussion of the benefits offered, check out my VPN guide for beginners. Regarding P2P, however, the key points are:
Your ISP can not see what you get on the internet because all the data transmitted between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted. This means that your ISP can not see that you are torrent, or even what you are torrent.
Anyone who watches from the Internet (for example, copyright owners who monitor the IP addresses of torrent users who download their content) will see the IP address of the VPN server and not your actual IP address. In other words, using a VPN hides your actual IP address. Of course, this means that VPN providers end up coping with the heat of copyright holders instead of you …
By connecting to VPN servers in countries that do not censor copyrighted websites, you can access torrent sites that are typically blocked.
Choosing a Good Torrent VPN
In terms of technology, almost any VPN service can do a good job of protecting against copyright holders. Many, however, do not.
This may be for ethical reasons or (more commonly) because the legal situation where they are based is too hostile to copyright infringement to allow P2Ps from their servers to be worth it. It is for a similar reason, in fact, that some VPN providers allow torrenting on some of their servers, but not others (often servers located in the United States or the UK).
It is worth noting that the free VPNs for the torrent are not basically existing (with one exception that I know of). Coping with irregular legal demands from copyright holders is simply too much of a hassle to deal with when users do not even pay for the service!
Many paid VPN providers, however, are doing very good business in protecting their customers using P2P. And if a VPN provider allows the torrent to use its service, its commercial reputation is based on its ability to do so.
So if a provider allows P2P, you are safe. Be sure to check first. If it does not, it can pass the DMCA and similar warnings to your ISP (which will then send you nasty letters). He could even give you your information directly to the lawyers of the right holders …
The Vuze BitTorrent client allows you to link Vuze to your VPN interface so that it will only download (and create) when your VPN connection is enabled. See here for instructions on how to do this
Speculative billing and other disadvantages
Countries such as the United Kingdom and India are more severe for copyright offenses online (at least on paper), but in most cases, piracy remains a civil rather than a criminal offense. Although this means that it will not end up in prison if caught, it does not mean you can walk around without a scot.
The most common penalty is warning letters from your ISP. If you ignore too many of you, you may find your service blocked, or even canceled. In theory, you can also be brought to justice for civil damages by copyright holders and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in compensation.
In reality, getting such convictions is not easy. Thus, copyright owners often use “copyright trolls” to monetize the piracy of their intellectual property. This is done through the “speculative billing” tactic – threatening victims charged with copyright infringements with full legal proceedings (and associated court costs) if they do not pay a reduced cash settlement outside Of the courts.
If this happens to you, consult the official advice of the British Government and (much more useful in my opinion) TorrentFreak Speculative Billing Manual. These two documents are for the United Kingdom, but the advice given here is also very useful if you live in Europe or North America.
If you use a VPN for the torrent, this should never be a problem.
How to check that your VPN for the torrent protect you
While connected to your VPN service:
Visit IPLeak.net. If you can not see your actual IP address or that belonging to your ISP, you are protected.
You do not really need to do anything else, but if you’re an Android paranoid, you can test if your BitTorrent client is losing its own IP address. To do this:
While on the IPLeak.net page and with your connected VPN, scroll down to “Torrent Address Detection” and add the magnetic link to your torrent client.
IPleak.net will monitor the IP address of anyone who shares their uniquely generated test torrent file (ie, You). After a few minutes, the IPleak.net web page will start displaying the results
Torrent address detection
Again, as long as none of the IP addresses belong to you or your ISP, then you are good
Note that you should always use a switch to kill of some sort when downloading things. If you do not, VPN dropouts can cause the appearance of your IP for everyone to see. Often for hours at a time, if you leave your downloads unattended!
Some P2P VPNs support port forwarding. This is (at least in theory) ideal for file-sharing, because it can overcome the problems associated with using NAT firewalls. Most VPN providers use NAT firewalls to protect users from incoming Internet traffic. But when this incoming traffic includes P2P traffic, this can cause problems.
NAT VPN firewalls can affect not only you, the individual user, by making your downloads slower, but can slow down the entire P2P network for all users. The solution to this problem is port forwarding, which allows you to open a port in the NAT firewall to allow P2P traffic.
This should improve your personal download speed and help make the entire P2P network more efficient. In order to get the most out of port forwarding, your torrent client needs to know which port is open. It can then listen to incoming connections.
On some clients, this must be configured manually, while others support technologies such as NAT-PMP and UPnP port mapping. These are intended to facilitate your work by automating the process.
QBittorrent is a lightweight open source BitTorrent client that supports UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding
Best Torrent VPN Summary
In Switzerland, the downloading of copyrighted content for personal purposes is legal. And in many places outside Europe or the English-speaking world, no one really cares. If you live somewhere that is concerned about copyright piracy, you are sincerely crazy about P2P without the protection of a VPN.