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Best VPN for Torrenting in 2020

Streaming laptop.
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Finding a fast and secure VPN for torrenting can be difficult, but a reliable VPN is essential if you want to hide your IP address and encrypt your P2P traffic. Some VPN services are insecure or dangerous, and even some of the leading VPN providers aren’t trusted by torrenters.

We tested 69 free and paid VPNs to find the best VPN for torrenting. Here are the five best anonymous torrent VPNs in November 2020:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best overall VPN for torrenting and P2P traffic.
    Read Summary.
  2. PrivateVPN: An affordable VPN with fast speeds and P2P support.
    Read Summary.
  3. NordVPN: A secure, no-logs VPN with user-friendly apps.
    Read Summary.
  4. IPVanish: The best VPN for torrenting on Fire TV Stick or Kodi.
    Read Summary.
  5. AirVPN: A highly configurable VPN perfect for advanced torrenters.
    Read Summary.

Compare these VPNs side-by-side with our tool
All five torrent VPN services have been tested based on their compatibility with popular torrenting clients including uTorrent, Deluge, Bittorrent, and Vuze.

Every VPN we recommend has been scored based on its security, logging policy, speed, jurisdiction, and P2P support. Features like strong encryption, a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection are essential for any good torrenting VPN.

Security you can rely on is vital when just one leaked data packet is enough to expose your identity, IP address, and location to your ISP. A good P2P VPN will not record your IP address or browsing activity and will provide fast upload and download speeds so you can torrent large files smoothly. You can find our full testing criteria later in this article.

If you are looking for a free VPN for torrenting, we explain here why free VPNs are almost always a bad choice for file-sharing and P2P activity.

Keep reading to find out exactly why we scored these five VPN services so highly, or skip straight to our comparison table of the 15 most popular torrenting VPNs.

5 Best VPNs for Torrenting & P2P

  1. 1. ExpressVPN

    The best overall VPN for safe torrenting and P2P file-sharing.

    Ranked #1 out of 69 VPNs for Torrenting
    1. No torrenting restrictions
    2. A benchmark for VPN speed
    3. P2P-friendly privacy policy
    4. Instant setup on all devices
    5. Includes a kill switch on most platforms
    1. No kill switch for iOS
    2. No port forwarding

    Based on our latest test results, the best VPN for torrenting is ExpressVPN. It offers consistently fast download speeds, low latency, and secure applications that keep your P2P traffic safe with absolutely no leaks. In our recent tests it reliably achieved average download speeds of 85Mbps – meaning it reduced our connection speeds by just 11%.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapNone
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch
    IP Addresses3,000+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. routerRouter
    6. iosiOS
    7. amazon_firetvFire TV
    8. androidtvAndroid TV
    9. playstationPlayStation
    10. xboxXbox
    11. chromeChrome
    12. firefoxFirefox
    13. edgeEdge

    A large, fast, and highly secure server network

    ExpressVPN uses a large network of VPN servers in over 160 locations, which means you’ll have a huge selection of privacy-friendly jurisdictions to connect to. In addition, P2P is available with no restrictions on any servers.

    Our most recent speed tests showed it is amongst the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested, and its performance is remarkably consistent whether you’re connecting to a server in your home country or in a distant location.

    These speeds are particularly impressive on long-distance connections, which means it’s a great choice if you’re looking to torrent privately with an international IP address.

    No logging & works with all the best torrent clients

    A screenshot of ExpressVPN running at the same time as qBittorrent

    ExpressVPN is fully compatible with BitTorrent clients

    We tested ExpressVPN with various torrent clients including uTorrent, qBitTorrent, and Vuze. It worked flawlessly without any additional setup. The torrenting policy is also clearly outlined on the website.

    ExpressVPN has a minimal logging policy that doesn’t keep any activity or connection logs, so the company couldn’t sell you out to copyright trolls even if it wanted to. It is based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction far from the influence of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance. Combined with a zero-logs guarantee, this makes it an obvious choice if privacy is your top priority.

    Advanced security features and leak protection

    ExpressVPN also stands out from the competition with the security features it offers. This includes industry-leading AES-256 encryption, perfect forward secrecy and the OpenVPN protocol, which comes standard on all apps. This guarantees that your shared files will remain completely secure.

    Leak protection and an effective kill switch called ‘Network Block’ also keep you anonymous even if your internet connection drops. These features are absolutely essential for torrenting and don’t require any manual configuration whatsoever.

    Advanced security features for Mac and Windows users include IPv6 leak protection and split-tunneling, which allows you to choose the apps and services you want to route through the VPN tunnel. You could protect your torrent client only, for example, and leave normal web browsing unaffected by the VPN.

    Setup is simple, but port forwarding is missing

    There are setup instructions available for routers and every other major platform, which gives you lots of flexibility to torrent from different devices. If you encounter any problems, there’s also 24/7 customer support available via live chat or email.

    Unfortunately ExpressVPN doesn’t support port forwarding, which means you won’t be able to seed torrents for other users. Torrents need as many seeders as possible to survive, which means ExpressVPN isn’t the most conscientious P2P VPN. There is no kill switch on iOS either, although torrenting on an iPhone or iPad is fairly unusual given that there are no BitTorrent apps on the iOS App Store.

    ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than other services, but it’s worth it for the best speeds and security while torrenting. There is no free plan or free trial, but you can try the service out on up to three devices with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    As well as being our top recommendation for torrenting, ExpressVPN is our highest-scoring VPN overall. Whether you’re using it for torrenting, unblocking Netflix, or just basic browsing, it’s a great all-around choice.

  2. 2. PrivateVPN

    A fast, zero-logs, and budget-friendly VPN with P2P support.

    1. P2P allowed on all servers
    2. Fast upload & download speeds
    3. Strict zero-logs policy
    4. Very affordable pricing
    5. Allows port-forwarding
    1. Smaller server network than top rivals

    PrivateVPN has an effective kill switch, a great zero-logs policy, and super-fast speeds. The server network has been designed to get the best results for torrenters with unlimited P2P support – which means you can torrent without restrictions on any server.

    Cheapest Price$1.98/mo over 24 months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

    JurisdictionSweden (14-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    Torrenting FeaturesKill switch, Port forwarding
    IP Addresses7,000+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. routerRouter
    6. iosiOS
    7. amazon_firetvFire TV
    8. androidtvAndroid TV
    9. playstationPlayStation
    10. xboxXbox

    Private VPN is cheap, transparent, and trustworthy

    PrivateVPN is also the most affordable P2P VPN available. The service costs just $1.89 per month on a two-year subscription plan, which is great value for money. There’s also a seven day free trial and a 30 day money-back guarantee, which means you can try the VPN before committing to a subscription.

    Unlike other VPN providers, PrivateVPN is very transparent about its torrenting and logging policy. There’s no DMCA statement and the website clearly states that “[PrivateVPN] doesn’t collect or log any traffic or use of its service”. This is good assurance that the company couldn’t go behind your back and compromise your anonymity even if it was asked to.

    There are no examples of PrivateVPN users being forwarded DMCA requests, either.

    Secure apps, private DNS servers & fast speeds

    All of PrivateVPN’s custom apps come with a VPN kill switch and industry-leading AES-256 encryption. This means you don’t need to worry about your true IP address leaking if the VPN ever disconnects.

    The company also maintains first-party DNS servers, which means there is no third-party responsible for resolving your DNS requests. This is great news for privacy and anonymity.

    Not only is this VPN incredibly secure, it also offers excellent speeds and performance. Our most recent speed tests measured a bitrate of 5.1 MiB/s and an average download speed of 86Mbps – a percentage speed loss of just 7%. This makes PrivateVPN ideal for P2P activity, including Kodi.

    Port forwarding is supported on all 150+ servers

    Unlike ExpressVPN and NordVPN, PrivateVPN also allows port forwarding. While port forwarding isn’t absolutely necessary for downloading torrent files, you do need it to successfully seed torrents. You can learn more about the benefits of port forwarding later in this article.

    Configuring PrivateVPN to get the best torrenting results with port forwarding can be complicated, but the website offers a useful guide that covers the basics. There’s also an option to set up a SOCKS5 proxy, but we recommend you use the full VPN to fully encrypt your data and protect your privacy.

    Screenshot of PrivateVPN's beta server list

    You can torrent on any of PrivateVPN’s worldwide servers

    PrivateVPN’s server network consists of just 59 locations, which makes it much smaller than some leading competitors. However, it’s still a very reliable VPN service with a larger network than many small providers, including AirVPN – our #5 recommendation in this list.

    Overall, PrivateVPN is a safe and secure VPN service that’s well-optimized for torrenting.

  3. 3. NordVPN

    Flawless security, fast speeds, and thousands of P2P-optimized servers.

    1. Torrenting permitted on many servers
    2. Fast same-country speeds
    3. Totally zero-logs policy
    4. Tons of security features
    5. User-friendly apps for all devices
    1. Email support can be slow
    2. No port-forwarding

    NordVPN is a good VPN for torrenting if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to ExpressVPN. It isn’t as cheap as PrivateVPN though, particularly on shorter subscriptions.

    NordVPN is one of the most widely-used VPNs for torrenting, and with good reason. It’s very easy to use, incredibly secure, and offers great download speeds across a huge server network. There’s no port forwarding though, which means you won’t be able to seed torrents.

    Cheapest Price$3.71/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

    JurisdictionPanama (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    Torrenting FeaturesKill switch
    IP Addresses5,394+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. routerRouter
    6. iosiOS
    7. amazon_firetvFire TV
    8. playstationPlayStation
    9. xboxXbox
    10. chromeChrome
    11. firefoxFirefox

    Incredible speeds plus P2P-optimized servers

    We measured average download speeds of around 92Mbps and a bitrate of 9.8 MiB/s in our most recent tests. This makes NordVPN one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested – ideal for downloading large files.

    Most locations in the NordVPN network have P2P-optimized servers that are designed specifically to facilitate fast and secure torrenting. Just make sure you’ve selected a P2P server rather than a normal VPN server or your torrenting client simply won’t work.

    Screenshot of NordVPN speciality servers, including P2P

    NordVPN lets you filter servers by P2P compatibility

    While there are P2P servers available all over the world, we don’t recommend connecting to countries with known copyright trolls. Avoid torrenting from US, UK or Australian servers and connect to a privacy friendly country like Switzerland, Spain, or Romania instead.

    High-end security, kill switch, and double-VPN

    NordVPN is completely zero-logs and uses the top AES-256 cipher combined with a 2048-bit DH key, SHA2-384 authentication, and perfect forward secrecy to encrypt your data, meaning your personal information is protected while you torrent. There are custom VPN apps for a wide range of devices and all of these platforms use OpenVPN and IKEv2, the most secure connection protocols available.

    All of the VPN clients are easy to use and come with an automatic kill switch. Additional features like split-tunneling and “double VPN” servers are also available, which pass your data through two separate servers for extra security.

    If you want to automatically get the best P2P servers with NordVPN you’ll need to change your settings: navigate to Recommended Server > Advanced Options, and then select P2P.

    Great value for money, but no port forwarding

    Pricing is also very reasonable at around $4.99 per month on a two-year subscription. There are four subscription plans available, all of which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Overall, this is fantastic value for money given the quality of NordVPN’s service.

    Unfortunately, because NordVPN doesn’t support port forwarding you won’t be able to seed your torrents. If you want to seed you can always use NordVPN’s SOCKS5 proxy, but this isn’t as secure as the full VPN.

    NordVPN was subject to a hack in March 2018 which involved the exploitation of a local vulnerability in a specific NordVPN server. No user data was compromised and the company has since renewed its commitment to technical data security, but it’s still worth knowing about.

  4. 4. IPVanish

    The best VPN for torrenting with Amazon Fire TV Stick & Kodi.

    1. P2P permitted on all servers
    2. Strict zero-logs policy
    3. Fast speeds and low latency
    4. Huge VPN server network
    5. Simple setup on most devices
    1. Short seven-day refund window
    2. No port forwarding
    3. Past controversy

    IPVanish is an excellent VPN for torrenting. It has all the usability of mainstream VPN providers along with the P2P-specific features of smaller competitors. The VPN offers fast and reliable speeds, and includes a kill switch to prevent your IP address from ever being exposed.

    Cheapest Price$2.91/mo for 12 months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

    JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    Torrenting FeaturesKill switch
    IP Addresses40,000+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. routerRouter
    6. iosiOS

    Fast, safe, and no user logs whatsoever

    When we tested IPVanish for torrenting we measured an average download speed of 93Mbps on nearby servers, which is very good. This works out as a speed loss of less than 10% – one of the best results we’ve seen.

    It’s a true zero-logs VPN service with a ton of security extras including AES-256 encryption, traffic obfuscation, split tunneling, DNS leak protection and the ability to manually configure your DNS settings. Unfortunately IPVanish does not support port forwarding, so you should choose a different provider like PrivateVPN if you’re looking to seed.

    40,000 IP addresses plus a great Fire TV Stick app

    The VPN also operates over 40,000 individual IP addresses, all of which permit torrenting. This means you should have no performance issues due to congestion and no trouble remaining anonymous once connected.

    IPVanish full server list

    IPVanish has servers in six continents

    You can also use IPVanish on all popular devices, including routers. This gives you lots of options when it comes to torrenting: you can download media from your desktop, phone, tablet or even TV. It’s also our top recommendation for torrenting with Kodi on Fire TV Stick or any other platform for that matter.

    IPVanish’s custom VPN apps may not look as nice as those offered by ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but they aren’t much more difficult to use. If you don’t want to use the full VPN, there’s also a SOCKS5 proxy with handy instructions for getting it set up.

    A fair monthly price & 7-day money-back guarantee

    IPVanish is not the cheapest VPN service, but it is reasonably priced given its strong security and the number of features on offer. The best price comes with the annual subscription plan, which costs only $3.25 per month. There’s no free trial, but all of the subscription plans come with a seven-day money-back guarantee.

    Don't let past scandals put you off

    You may also be interested to know that under previous ownership, there was an incident in which IPVanish handed user logs over to authorities. However, the offenses involved had nothing to do with torrenting and the company’s new ownership has worked hard to distance itself from the incident.

    We believe the company’s new management, strong security and clear zero-logging policy more than makes up for the mistakes of its previous ownership.

    IPVanish is a good VPN for torrenting and a great choice for streaming and overall privacy.

  5. 5. AirVPN

    A highly-configurable VPN perfect for advanced torrenters.

    1. Optimized for P2P traffic
    2. Supports torrenting over IPv4 and IPv6
    3. A trusted name in torrenting
    4. Includes a kill switch
    5. Port forwarding allows seeding
    1. Inaccessible design
    2. Complicated server list
    3. Seeding requires manual calibration

    AirVPN’s network of servers is perfect for torrenting, but it isn’t very easy to use.

    The VPN includes a kill switch, port forwarding and a strong privacy policy – everything you need for anonymous seeding and torrenting. However, because it can be complicated to use, we only recommend AirVPN if you’re an advanced user who knows what they’re doing.

    Cheapest Price$3.69/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

    JurisdictionItaly (14-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    Torrenting FeaturesKill switch, Port forwarding
    IP Addresses200+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. routerRouter
    6. iosiOS
    7. amazon_firetvFire TV
    8. playstationPlayStation
    9. xboxXbox

    Totally optimized and unrestricted torrenting

    AirVPN has a data neutrality policy torrenters will be glad to hear:

    “P2P is allowed, as well as any other protocol. Currently P2P is a set of the most efficient protocols to share and access information on the Internet. We do not discriminate against any protocol.”

    This means AirVPN doesn’t restrict P2P activity on any of its servers and users can pick between any of its 22 country locations.

    Screenshot of AirVPN's desktop app showing the percentage load of each VPN server location

    AirVPN’s server select menu isn’t very easy to adapt to

    Strong speeds & port forwarding for great bitrate

    Our speed test results were above average too: we recorded an average download speed of 71Mbps and a bitrate of 9.9 MiB/s. This makes AirVPN more than fast enough for smooth torrenting, but not quite as fast as some of the leading competitors like NordVPN.

    The VPN client includes a kill switch called ‘Network Lock’, which AirVPN claims was the first of its kind. Network Lock goes beyond most kill switches and uses firewall rules to prevent data leaks. It operates while your internet connection is active and will work to protect you even if the software crashes. In short, this means there is no chance your true IP address will be revealed, even momentarily.

    AirVPN also features port forwarding, which allows you to get the best results while seeding and leeching. You don’t need to seed to download a torrent file, but some clients will punish your downloads speeds significantly if you don’t.

    An extremely tricky VPN to use - one for the experts

    AirVPN requires some configuration to set up port forwarding for the best results – you can follow AirVPN’s advice step by step if you use Bittorrent or eMule, but if you use other clients such as Deluge or uTorrent you’ll have to do some of the work yourself.

    AirVPN’s long history also works to its advantage. AirVPN was being used to torrent privately before most other commercial VPNs even existed. It has managed to avoid any controversy around logging, forwarding DMCA requests, or security breaches in all of that time. This means you can be comfortable when trusting the company with your data.

    While secure and trustworthy, AirVPN isn’t the easiest VPN to use – in fact, it is one of the most unintuitive VPNs on the market. If you have the patience to adapt to the software it’s an ideal VPN for torrenting at a very reasonable price, but we don’t recommend it if you’re a beginner or aren’t experienced with VPNs and torrenting in general.

Torrenting VPN Comparison Table

Now that you’ve seen our top five recommendations, we’ve put 15 of the most popular VPNs for torrenting through a bespoke testing process so you can compare how well they perform specifically for torrenting.

Here are our results:

Methodology: How We Test VPNs for Torrenting

To make sure you stay safe and get the best performance possible, there are some key features you should look for in a torrenting VPN. Every VPN we recommend has been scored according to this strict criteria.

A good torrenting VPN should:

  • Protect your internet traffic with OpenVPN and AES-256 encryption
  • Hide your IP address and mask your real location
  • Have a strict no-logging policy
  • Support P2P traffic
  • Protect against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks
  • Include a VPN kill switch
  • Provide fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Have a large server network including privacy-friendly jurisdictions

As well as testing each VPN service for security, privacy, and usability, we’ve also developed a simple method to measure average download bitrate in order to rank and compare each provider.

qBittorrent client

We use qBittorent to get accurate results for torrenting performance

With each VPN, we legally torrent a video file in the public domain using a fresh install of qBittorrent over a standard 100Mbps connection. Once it has finished downloading, we divide the file size by the total time taken to identify the bitrate.

This gives us a strong idea of how each VPN service performs while torrenting in a real-life situation. Combined with our security tests and regular speed test results, we’re able to recommend exactly which VPNs will provide the best privacy and performance.

Here are some of the key features of a good torrenting VPN in more detail:

  1. Strong Security and VPN Kill Switch

    Just one leaked data packet is enough to expose your identity, IP address, and location to your ISP. Strong AES-256 encryption and DNS leak protection are must-haves for any good torrenting VPN.

    A kill switch is also an absolutely necessary feature if you plan to torrent with your VPN.

    This blocks your internet connection and protects your IP address from being exposed if your VPN cuts out.

  2. Zero-Logs policy

    Some VPN providers keep logs of user activity which can be used to trace downloads back to you. A good P2P VPN service will not record your IP address or browsing activity.

    This means that if your provider is ever approached by copyright holders or authorities it will have no information to hand over regarding your usage of the VPN.

  3. Fast Speeds

    Most VPNs are slow when torrenting and P2P file sharing. The VPNs we recommend all provide fast upload and download speeds so you can torrent large files smoothly.

    If speeds are your top priority, you can use our VPN speed testing tool to compare the upload and download speeds of the most popular services on the market.

  4. P2P Support

    Some popular VPNs ban P2P traffic outright and others are much less transparent. We only recommend services that openly permit torrenting on the majority of their servers.

    You should look for a copyright and DMCA policy in your provider’s terms of service. It’s much safer to choose a VPN service with servers optimized for P2P than it is to opt for a provider that’s vague about its torrenting policy.

  5. Large Server Network

    Some countries have aggressive copyright and data retention laws. The best VPNs for torrenting are based in privacy-friendly jurisdictions and have servers in countries without legal penalties for P2P activity, like Romania, Spain, and Switzerland. We’ll talk more about the importance of jurisdictions later on.

    A large network of P2P-friendly servers in multiple countries is also vital to reduce congestion and improve performance.

  6. Unlimited Bandwidth

    Free VPNs often place a limit on the amount of data you can use before upgrading to the premium version. A good P2P VPN will offer unlimited bandwidth so you can torrent without worrying about a data cap.

  7. Shared IP Addresses

    We recommend VPNs that use shared IP addresses for torrenting. This means when you connect to a server you share an IP address with dozens or even hundreds of other people.

    Shared IPs add a significant layer of anonymity that makes it more difficult to trace activity back to you.

    Some VPNs offer dedicated IP addresses, usually at an extra cost. While they may help you more reliably unlock streaming platforms, as well as showing you fewer Captchas when you’re browsing online, it’s a bad idea to have all your torrenting activity tied to a single IP address – even one that’s not truly yours.

Why Do You Need a VPN for Torrenting?

You can torrent files without using a VPN, but we strongly recommend you don’t.

A good VPN will encrypt your P2P traffic, disguise your IP address, and protect your identity while torrenting. This prevents your internet service provider (ISP), government, and any other third party from spying on your activity, and allows you to access content that’s restricted to certain locations.

BitTorrent is a P2P or ‘peer-to-peer’ protocol. This means that every other user downloading the same file is connected in a group called a ‘swarm’. Many BitTorrent clients allow you to view a list of other devices you’re connected to when leeching or seeding files on the network.

Without a VPN, your IP address and identity will be visible to everyone in the torrenting swarm including other users, content owners, and copyright trolls. Your ISP can monitor your traffic and work with authorities to issue legal notices for copyright infringement.

If you’re caught downloading copyrighted material you could face financial penalties or even imprisonment.

Torrenting DMCA

DMCA notices will normally come directly from your ISP

Many countries are ramping up copyright violation laws and enforcement actions, particularly in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. This trend is happening throughout Europe as well, specifically in countries like Germany, Denmark, and Austria.

The US is home to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which can penalize repeat copyright violations with fines of up to $1,000,000. The UK has similar legislation called the Digital Economy Act, which raised the maximum sentence for copyright infringement to up to 10 years.

Large media companies also monitor torrent traffic and collect IP addresses from torrent swarms. Copyright holders often outsource their litigation to law companies called ‘copyright trolls’. These third parties monitor popular torrents for the IP addresses of users that are uploading or downloading files. They then match those IP addresses to the ISP that assigned them, and use ISP to send a request for settlement or copyright violation notice to the user.

While we do not condone copyright violations, we do want to make sure that users stay safe.

To summarize, a VPN will protect you against the following threats:

  1. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

    ISPs use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze your internet traffic. If you don’t encrypt your traffic, your ISP will monitor and record all the files you upload or download through torrenting.

    It may use this information against you by blocking your P2P traffic or restricting the file-sharing websites you’ve visited. If you’ve broken the law, your ISP could send you a DMCA notice, a warning about downloading copyrighted material, or even pass your information to third-parties like content owners and copyright enforcement agencies.

  2. Other Peers in the Torrent Swarm

    All of the devices downloading a torrent file are known as peers, while those uploading are called seeders. Together, all of these devices make up the ‘torrent swarm’.

    In every torrent swarm, the IP addresses of all participants are visible. This means everybody can see your personally identifying information. It’s possible that someone could relate your true IP address to your real life identity and use this information for other scams or harassment.

  3. Third-Parties Monitoring Downloads

    Copyright enforcement organizations infiltrate and monitor torrent swarms to catch torrenters out. Research by the University of Birmingham discovered extensive monitoring of the most popular content available on torrent sites.

    Copyright trolls – who seek violations in order to profit from damages or litigation – have been known to harass even users who do not breach copyright laws with DMCA requests. It’s best to keep your IP address out of public torrents to avoid these.

    In addition, all of your P2P activity is being recorded and published online. Third parties are creating huge databases of torrenting activity – including IP addresses – available for anyone to see. Thanks to websites such as these, it is easier than ever for attorneys and media companies to target users.

    If you’ve been torrenting without a VPN and you don’t believe that third parties can see what you’ve downloaded, take a look at this tool for a snapshot of the latest torrents matched to your public IP address.

It’s clear that masking your IP address is vital for bittorrent users. No matter where you are located, using a good VPN for torrenting and P2P downloading is essential.

You also need to trust the file you’re downloading. A VPN won’t stop you from downloading malicious content – the best way to make sure you get a safe file is to only download torrents from trusted sources with plenty of active peers and seeders. It’s also good practice to scan new files with security software like Windows Defender.

How to Torrent Safely With a VPN

Using a VPN for torrenting is actually very easy. However, you need to be 100% sure that your VPN is running before you open your torrent client – if you don’t then your true IP could be exposed. This is because torrent clients continue to seed files for other users even after they are fully downloaded.

For this reason you should always have your VPN on when torrenting, and make sure you completely stop your torrent client before turning the VPN off to guarantee your IP address does not become public.

You also need to trust the file you’re downloading. A VPN won’t stop you from downloading malicious content – the best way to make sure you get a safe file is to only download torrents from trusted sources with plenty of active peers and seeders. It’s also good practice to scan new files with security software like Windows Defender.

Here’s how to torrent safely with a VPN:

  1. Find a safe VPN that supports torrenting

    You can choose from our list of the best VPNs for torrenting above, or find another service that meets the criteria for a torrent-friendly VPN.

    Once you’re happy with your choice, sign up to the VPN service and download the software onto the device that you’re going to be using. For more detailed setup instructions, see our ‘How To Install a VPN’ guides.

  2. Check the privacy settings

    Once you’ve downloaded the VPN software, launch the application on your device. At this stage, it’s important to check your security settings. Make sure the VPN kill switch is enabled  so your IP address will be protected if the VPN connection drops.

    ExpressVPN advanced security settings

    You can control security options from ExpressVPN’s advanced settings menu

    If there are additional security features such as DNS leak protection, traffic obfuscation or multi-hop servers, enable them as you see fit.

  3. Select your preferred VPN server location

    Once you’ve checked your settings, you’ll need to choose a server location. For torrenting purposes, you should generally connect to a VPN server as close as possible to your physical location to maximize your connection speeds.

    If possible, try to avoid connecting to a VPN server in a country that is hostile to user privacy such as the US, UK, Canada, or Australia.

  4. Connect to the VPN server and launch your BitTorrent client

    Finally, you can connect to the VPN server of your choice. Remember to do this before you launch your BitTorrent client otherwise you risk exposing your real IP address.

    Our preferred torrenting client is qBittorrent, but you can also use other trusted clients, including Deluge, uTorrent, Vuze, and BitTorrent.

Is Torrenting Legal?

Torrenting itself is totally legal and doesn’t pose any inherent risk.

However, torrenting copyrighted material is illegal almost everywhere. Your ISP and copyright trolls are constantly monitoring P2P networks like Bittorrent and uTorrent in order to identify who is downloading and sharing copyrighted files.

Every country has different laws when it comes to privacy, torrenting, and copyright infringement. For this reason, the country in which your VPN is based and the location of the VPN server you’re using is incredibly important. We call this country the VPN jurisdiction.

Some jurisdictions have aggressive copyright laws and data retention laws, while some just block torrenting and piracy websites. Others take a much more relaxed approach.

Ideally, you should choose a VPN based in a country that does not legally require the collection of logs, and you should connect to a server in a country that doesn’t have legal penalties for torrenting.

In the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, downloading or sharing copyrighted content is illegal and often aggressively penalized. In this section, we’ll go through the copyright laws of each of these countries in more detail.

  1. United States

    Downloading and sharing copyrighted material is illegal in the United States. There are two laws that affect torrenting and P2P activity in the US:

    • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is aimed at sites hosting illegal torrents and uploaders of copyrighted works.
    • The No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), which targets users downloading protected content.

    American Internet Service Providers (ISP) monitor and store user download data for months, if not years. For example, Comcast holds it for at least six months while AT&T stores it for at least a year.

    If you’re torrenting illegally, your ISP will send you a warning letter and probably start throttling your connection speeds.

    US ISPs apply a three-warning rule to anyone caught torrenting copyrighted content before content owners start any legal proceedings. After this, anyone found guilty can risk up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

    comcast dmca

    A copyright notice sent to a Comcast customer

    Copyright trolls are also prevalent in the United States. These are third-parties (law firms) that set out to catch copyright violators on behalf of content owners. They can lurk in torrent swarms, even seeding files themselves as bait.

  2. United Kingdom

    Torrenting copyrighted material is illegal in the United Kingdom. In 2010, the UK government passed the Digital Economy Act to help the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) curb illegal torrenting. The act was updated in 2017.

    This law forces major UK ISPs to notify customers caught downloading torrents. The notification comes in the form of a cease and desist order. The legislation also gives UK ISPs the right to throttle speeds and even disconnect users from the internet altogether.

    Over 2,000 domains are blocked by UK ISPs including many popular file-sharing sites like RARBG and YTS. You can find a comprehensive list of blocked domains here.

    If you want to avoid downloading copyright-protected works, there are many sites with free and legal content available through the public domain or creative commons license.

  3. Australia

    Downloading and sharing copyrighted material in Australia is illegal. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill of 2018 allows ISPs to block torrenting sites classified as ‘pirate’ sites as well as any related mirror and proxy sites.

    Australian DMCA claim

    An example of a DMCA claim sent to an Australian user

    Many popular BitTorrent websites like ThePirateBay, Torrentz, and TorrentHound are therefore blocked. Overall, almost 1,000 file-sharing domains are blocked by ISPs like Telstra.

    It’s unclear what the fines for illegal torrenting are, but a case in 2015 highlights the challenge faced by content owners in fining alleged illegal downloaders.

  4. Canada

    Since January 2014, the Copyright Modernization Act has required Canadian ISPs like Bell to send notices to copyright violators using their services. Canadian ISPs are legally entitled to store download and upload data from violating subscribers for at least six months.

    Copyright holders cannot sue copyright violators for more than CAD$5,000 (~$3,500) if copyrighted material is used for non-commercial purposes.

    Canadian law also enables ISPs to throttle file-sharing speeds if a user is found to be torrenting.

Which VPNs Should You Not Use for Torrenting & P2P?

Not all VPNs are suitable for safe and private torrenting. Some VPNs block P2P traffic, and others don’t fully protect your privacy. Out of the 69 VPN services we’ve reviewed, the vast majority just didn’t make the cut.

You should avoid any VPN that doesn’t explicitly say it supports P2P traffic. Look for a clear torrenting policy in the terms of service as well as strict no-logging rules in the privacy policy.

ipvanish dmca policy

As an example, here is IPVanish’s copyright policy

It’s also important to check third-party reviews to make sure the provider has good speeds and no history of forwarding users DMCA requests. These reviews will also be able to tell you how secure the VPN service is in terms of encryption, leaks, and a kill switch.

In short, you should avoid VPNs that :

  • Don’t allow torrenting or P2P activity of any kind.
  • Aren’t fast enough, resulting in slow downloads.
  • Leak your real IP address or lack a VPN kill switch.
  • Keep user logs, including information about your torrenting history.
  • Have bandwidth and data usage restrictions.

Here are some popular VPNs you should avoid using for torrenting:

Torrenting VPN FAQs

What Is the Best VPN for Torrenting?

ExpressVPN is the best VPN we have tested for torrenting. It is easy to use, reliable, and very fast on local and even international P2P connections. Even without port forwarding, it has consistently proved itself as the most convenient and safest VPN for torrenting.

Most importantly, ExpressVPN has a proven record of strong security, an excellent minimal logging policy, and no evidence of mistakes or bad practice in its past. We believe you can 100% put your trust in ExpressVPN.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?

There aren’t many free VPNs we recommend for torrenting. Free VPNs aren’t ideal even in normal circumstances, and it’s especially advisable to avoid using free VPNs for anonymous P2P activity.

While there are lots of free VPNs on the market, most of them are insecure and dangerous to user privacy. It’s not uncommon for free VPNs to throttle speeds, cap data usage, and even collect your data to sell to third parties.

Here are a few of the reasons why free VPNs are a particularly bad choice for torrenting:

  • P2P Support – The majority of free VPNs don’t allow P2P or torrenting traffic at all. Even popular services like Hotspot Shield restrict torrenting to users of its premium plan.
  • Data Caps – To incentivize users to upgrade, most free VPN services come with bandwidth and data caps that limit the number of files you can download.
  • Slow Speeds – Most free VPNs are too slow or unreliable to download large files quickly.
  • Poor Security – It’s much more likely your IP address will leak if you’re using a free service. Our research found that 25% of free Android VPN apps fail to protect user privacy due to DNS and IP leaks. A further 85% featured excessive permissions with the potential for privacy abuses.
  • Tracking & Malware – Free services often include tracking libraries or malware designed to collect your data. One academic study found that almost 40% of Android VPNs included malware. In addition, services like Hola VPN will steal your bandwidth in order to sell it to third parties.
  • Invasive Logging Policies – Running a VPN network is expensive, and free VPNs have to cover this cost without relying on subscription fees. As a result, the vast majority of free services include some form of data logging or advertising, which is dangerous to user privacy.

Essentially, many free VPNs simply aren’t trustworthy. They are more often than not shady businesses which rely on giving your data to advertisers to make a profit. If you’re looking to find a VPN for torrenting, you need to avoid using a service that will record your activity and IP address.

There are some trustworthy free VPNs that will work for occasional torrenting. We recommend Windscribe Free and Hide.Me free, but you can find our full list of the best free VPNs for torrenting here. Windscribe free allows P2P traffic on most servers and offers a generous 10GB data cap along with a clear no-logs policy and VPN kill switch.

Overall, using a free VPN for torrenting is not as safe or secure as a paid service, and paid VPNs have much more to offer. By purchasing a trustworthy VPN, you’re supporting the provider and investing in improved privacy, additional security features, and 24/7 customer support.

If you’re looking to save money, we recommend you choose an affordable premium VPN for torrenting like PrivateVPN, which is currently available for just $1.89 per month on a two-year subscription plan. You can also take a look at VPNs with free trials or the best cheap VPNs.

Which Countries Block Torrenting Websites?

A recent study by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) estimates that at least 42 countries block over 4,000 piracy sites (over 8,000 actual domains) altogether.

Of the 42 countries, 31 are members of the European Union (EU) including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal. It’s estimated over 5,300 torrenting domains are blocked in the EU.

Outside of the EU, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, and Thailand are some of the countries blocking file-sharing websites.

Some of the most popular pirate sites blocked are:

  • 1337x (blocked in 8 countries)
  • LimeTorrents (blocked in 6 countries)
  • RARBG (blocked in 7 countries)
  • ThePirateBay (blocked in 19 countries)
  • Torrentz2 (blocked in 7 countries)
  • YTS (blocked in 8 countries)

What’s the Safest Location for Torrenting & P2P Traffic?

When choosing a VPN server for torrenting it’s recommended you connect to a country that has explicit legal protections for P2P users. Alternatively, you should choose a country that has a relaxed approach to penalising copyright infringement.

Unfortunately most countries – most notably the US, UK and Australia – are very hostile to digital privacy and to P2P activity. You should avoid using VPN providers or VPN servers based in these countries.

However, there are exceptions. Here are a few of the safest locations in the world for torrenting:

  1. Switzerland

    Swiss copyright law allows internet users to legally download all music and movies as long as it’s for personal use and not for profit. Monitoring of P2P downloads by third parties like your ISP is illegal, too.

    In the past, Swiss ISPs weren’t even required to block access to pirating sites. This has changed recently, but torrenting of copyrighted material remains legal. For this reason, Switzerland has long been seen as one of the best countries in the world for torrenting.

  2. Spain

    Copyright laws in Spain are slightly vague. Piracy sites are routinely blocked, but Spanish authorities have stated that torrenting files for personal use is legal. As long as the user isn’t making a profit from this activity, they’re not breaking the law.

    Spanish judges have also stated that personal data linked to an IP address can only be disclosed as part of a criminal investigation or for public safety reasons.

    You can see examples of copyright troll cases being thrown out of the Spanish courts within the last few years.

  3. Romania

    Romania is a very safe country for torrenting privately and a good choice to connect to with your VPN.

    Individuals and organisations running piracy sites have faced legal penalties in Romania, but individuals not making a profit are in a much stronger position.

    Romania is the only European country to have successfully rejected the EU’s data retention laws. There is also a precedent in Romanian law that defines sharing copyrighted material as a victimless crime, which means legal action is rarely pursued if the individual is torrenting for personal use, rather than for a profit.

Is Port Forwarding Necessary for Torrenting?

Your router acts as a gateway between all of your devices and the internet. Every router has a NAT firewall built into it, which blocks unwanted traffic and determines which traffic is meant for which specific device.

The NAT firewall usually does this automatically, but port forwarding allows you to configure it manually. This means you can assign ports to certain functions or devices, which allows your router to create a direct connection between the device and the desired website.

Port forwarding as a VPN feature involves setting your VPN connection to flow through a specific port on your router, bypassing the NAT firewall. You will need to use it if you want to seed torrents effectively, because P2P activity is sometimes blocked by the NAT firewall to protect your device from malicious attacks.

You don’t need port forwarding to download a torrent file, but you will need it if you want to become a peer to help maintain the swarm. Certain torrenting clients also have trackers which will slow your download rate significantly if you don’t also seed.

Being able to seed is important for two reasons:

  • Maintaining the torrent: a torrent swarm needs seeders to survive, and if no one seeds there simply won’t be torrents to download.
  • Getting the best speeds: to maintain the swarm some torrents will penalise peers who do not seed, so boing a leech can negatively impact your experience.

While not all routers will block or slow P2P connections, it’s generally accepted that port forwarding will improve downloading speeds as the connections bypass the firewall.

Based on our extensive testing, we don’t think port forwarding is an absolute requirement for torrenting files when using a VPN, and some of the VPNs we have recommended in this list don’t offer it as a feature at all.

However, if you do want a VPN that includes port forwarding and allows you to seed, you can choose from the list below:

What Is a SOCKS5 Proxy?

SOCKS is a connection protocol that sends packets between a web server and a device using a proxy server. The proxy server generates a random IP address before your traffic reaches its final destination. SOCKS5 is the most recent SOCKS protocol.

This type of proxy connection hides your IP address and uses a protocol designed to handle trackers and P2P connections, which makes it ideal for use while torrenting.

Many torrent clients including Bittorrent and uTorrent allow you to integrate your SOCKS5 proxy directly into the client.

While SOCKS5 proxy connections are fast and good for unblocking websites, they’re not ideal for privacy. They do not encrypt your traffic, which means your ISP can still monitor your browsing and identify your torrenting activity.

In short, SOCKS5 proxies have been a popular choice amongst torrenters for a long time, but they don’t offer the same protection as a full VPN.

It’s also important to avoid using an HTTP proxy when torrenting, which is the most common type of free proxy. HTTP proxies can only carry insecure HTTP traffic and can’t handle peer-to-peer connections.

Most torrent clients ignore HTTP proxy settings when connecting to peers, which means they will be able to see your true IP address.

Is Torrenting the Same As Kodi?

Many readers ask us what’s the difference between Kodi and torrenting.

On its own Kodi is just an open-source multi-platform media hub that allows you to play all your content in one place. But it is highly modifiable, and has an active community who develop add-ons which add all sorts of utility to the software – including some which add content which breaches copyright restrictions.

Many Kodi add-ons operate differently to BitTorrent technology: they use live-streams as opposed to downloading files. These won’t download or upload files onto your device (unless you actively opt in). Streaming does not hold as many risks as torrenting does as you are not actively sharing content or necessarily displaying your IP address publicly.

But not all Kodi add-ons work this way and without a VPN your ISP will still be able to monitor your activity.

Some Kodi add-ons rely on the BitTorrent protocol behind the scenes. This means they upload and download content to your device simultaneously – exposing your identity to all others in the swarm. You would absolutely need a VPN to use these add-ons anonymously.

If you’re looking to use Kodi streaming software, head over to our best VPNs for Kodi guide.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio