To determine the best free VPNs for torrenting, we’ve created a stringent testing methodology.
Our methodology is based on five key testing categories which all contribute to an overall torrenting rating.
We’ve outlined the categories and their respective weightings in the chart below:
We’ve assessed every free VPN on how well they perform in the above categories and then ranked them accordingly.
In the sections below, we’ll detail exactly how we calculate a VPN’s rating for each torrenting testing category.
1. File-Sharing Bitrate: 30%
To test file-sharing bitrate, we always use:
- qBittorrent v4.5.5 Client
- Fixed 10MiB/s connection
- Bespoke 1GB Torrent File
- Windows 10 Virtual Machine
A fast bitrate is important for quickly downloading large torrent files, such as movies or video games. As such, we test every VPN’s torrenting speeds, record its average bitrate, and then calculate a speed score.
To determine the average bitrate of a VPN, we use a bespoke P2P speed test:
- Set up a private tracker for a 1GB data file on a Windows virtual machine.
- Configure the client not to use DHT or otherwise communicate with any other peers.
- While connected to a nearby VPN server, torrent the 1GB file on a fixed 10MiB/s connection.
- Measure the duration of the 1GB download to determine the average bitrate.
This value, on a scale of 0 to 10, is then divided by 3.33 to account for its 30% weighting.
2. Security & Technical Features: 20%
To test security & technical features, we always use:
- Bespoke IP, WebRTC & DNS leak test tool
- In-house kill switch tool
- Wireshark network analyzer
Strong VPN encryption is essential for hiding your torrenting activity from malicious third-parties. It also conceals your torrenting activity from your ISP and safeguards against bandwidth throttling.
Connecting to a remote VPN server also conceals your real IP address from other peers and copyright trolls.
To test for this, we run every VPN through our proprietary security tools and third-party software like Wireshark.
To calculate this rating, we take it directly from the Security & Technical Features section of the VPN review. We then divide it by 5 to reflect its 20% weighting.
3. Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%
To test privacy & logging policy, we always use:
- Custom-built logging policy calculator
A VPN’s logging policy determines how much of your data is monitored and stored by the service. For torrenting, it’s essential to choose a VPN service that doesn’t log enough user activity to generate a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request.
We also take into account the VPN’s jurisdiction and any additional measures implemented by the service to protect your privacy, such as diskless servers.
To calculate this rating, we take it from the Privacy & Logging Policy section of the VPN review. We then divide it by five to accommodate its 20% weighting.
4. P2P Servers: 20%
VPN services vary in their policy towards P2P traffic. VPNs can block all P2P connections, limit it to specific regions, or impose no restrictions whatsoever.
Too few P2P servers can result in slow torrenting speeds due to server congestion, lack of nearby servers, or both.
Ideally, a VPN will have multiple P2P servers in your country, but as a minimum you need to be able to connect to a server in your region.
To account for a range of torrenting policies, we assign a rating from 0.0 to 10:
- Rating of 10: All servers permit P2P traffic.
- Rating of 7.5: P2P servers in almost every country.
- Rating of 5.0: Only regional P2P servers, e.g. one or two servers for the entirety of Asia.
- Rating below 2.5: Few P2P servers across the network, or an absence of servers in a particular region, e.g. Europe.
We then divide its rating by five to accommodate its 20% weighting.
5. Additional Torrenting Features: 10%
A kill switch blocks your internet in the event of a sudden VPN disconnection, preventing you from torrenting until your VPN connection resumes.
As a result, your real IP address remains concealed from other users in the torrent swarm, as well as those looking to file a DMCA request.
Port forwarding is another feature we look for when testing the best free VPNs for torrenting. This feature allows you to direct inbound traffic to your torrenting client, thereby increasing your torrenting speed.
A VPN can score up to 10 points in this category depending on the availability of features:
- Rating of 10: VPN provides both a kill switch and port forwarding.
- Rating of 5: VPN offers one of the two features.
- Rating of 0: VPN lacks both a kill switch and port forwarding.
We then divide its rating by 10 to account for its 10% weighting.