This is why everyone uses a VPN when torrenting
If you’ve ever visited a torrenting website, you’ll no doubt have seen constant reminders to use a torrenting VPN – and no matter what you torrent, that’s certainly advice we can understand.
But why do you need a VPN when sharing P2P, and how does it actually protect you online? Well, here we’ll explain exactly how torrenting works, what risks you run, and what the best VPNs do to help you out.
Of course, we do not condone the use of torrents to download unlicensed or illegal content, and our advice is only intended to help those who legitimately use torrents to download legal content.
What is torrenting?
To understand why you need a VPN when torrenting, you must first understand exactly how torrenting works, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Before you start downloading, you will need a torrent client. These allow you to connect to the network and download the files you need. Every torrent has a torrent file that tells the client what to download from the network, but these are increasingly being replaced by “magnet links”, which don’t require you to download anything before downloading. start torrent download.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing is a decentralized file sharing method. So, rather than a file downloaded from a single source, it is downloaded from a number of individuals around the world through the BitTorrent network. As long as only one user shares (known as “seeding”) the file at any given time, it can be downloaded, and generally the more seeded the faster the download.
This is useful because it relieves the stress of a single server – if a particular file is very popular, downloads could become very slow from a single server, and if that server went down, the file would be unavailable. Larger files are also easier to download and are generally faster to complete via P2P than single-source downloading.
Once you are done downloading a file, you have the option of staying connected to the network to become a seeder yourself. This means that you are part of the network from which other people can download the file.
What risks do you face when torrenting?
Beyond the potential downloading of illegal content, one of the biggest problems with torrenting is the fact that all of your activity can be openly traced back to your IP address.
“Many users don’t realize how public their P2P activities really are,” says cybersecurity expert Mike Williams. “It’s not just top secret movie studio groups that monitor this stuff – sites like I know what you download allow anyone to look at an IP address and perhaps see what they have downloaded recently.
“Anyone who knows your IP – friends, family, work colleagues, whoever – can visit the site and get a list of files. It’s as if your browsing history was permanently open to the public: you don’t have you don’t have to do anything illegal to find it’s just a little disturbing.”
And it’s true – while some users may fear that their history of illegal downloads will be exposed, no one appreciates their privacy being out in the open. The only way to avoid this, no matter what you have waiting to download, is to change your IP address with a VPN.
How Does a VPN Protect You When Torrenting?
There are two main reasons why you should safely use a VPN for torrenting. First, when you use your regular, unencrypted internet connection, your ISP can see exactly what you’re using it for. Unsurprisingly, ISPs don’t like those who use torrents (regardless of what you download) and have been known to limit frequent users.
ISPs are also the agencies that report users downloading pirated content. If you accidentally download something you shouldn’t have, your ISP can see it and report it – resulting in you receiving a DMCA violation notice.
By using a VPN, all of your traffic will be encrypted, meaning your ISP won’t be able to see what you’re doing, whether you’re torrenting all day or just streaming Netflix shows.
Second, when you are connected to a VPN, you will also be using a different IP address, which means that any torrenting activity will only be associated with an IP address linked to a VPN, not your own home. This means that anyone investigating your personal IP address with a tool like the one we linked to above won’t find any history of it. And, as long as your VPN is verified as zero-logging, your activity will also not be able to be linked to the temporary IP address.
What should you look for in a torrent VPN?
Privacy should be your primary concern, so features like strong encryption and a verified no-logs policy are essential. Being based in a country with favorable data protection and retention laws is also a must. If a VPN is based in a country like the US or UK, it may be required by law to collect data about its users (making it do not no-logging), and may be compelled to hand over the data it has collected if the authorities so require.
Beyond privacy, you’ll obviously want a serious Fast VPN to make the most of the high download speeds offered by P2P. VPNs that introduced WireGuard or similar modern protocols like Lightway far outnumber those that still rely on OpenVPN, so keep an eye out for that.
Full P2P support on all servers is a given, and some VPNs offer expert features like port forwarding which, in the right hands, can be beneficial. However, for the majority of users, a simple plug-and-play experience will be more than enough.
Finally, it is worth making sure that the service you have chosen has a good support team that supports you. If anything goes wrong, 24/7 live chat is convenient and the best providers can get you back up and running in minutes.