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The Best Free & Paid VPNs for Torrenting

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Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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Simon Migliano 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 and more. Read full bio

The best free and premium VPNs for torrenting hide your torrent IP address to ensure anonymous P2P file-sharing.

You should always use a VPN to mask your IP address when torrenting, but you don’t have to necessarily spend money on one.

We’ve put dozens of free and paid VPNs through our torrenting benchmark tests to verify how well they actually perform at P2P file sharing.

Based on our specific P2P tests, the best 100% free VPNs for torrenting are:

  1. Windscribe Free: The overall best free VPN for torrenting.
    Read summary or Visit Windscribe
  2. PrivadoVPN Free: A safe free VPN for torrenting with 10GB of monthly data.
    Read summary or Visit PrivadoVPN
  3. Hide.me Free: A free P2P VPN with a 10GB monthly data cap.
    Read summary or Visit Hide.me

The free P2P VPNs above don’t ask for payment details upfront, so you won’t be charged for using the service. The trade-off is that you won’t get fast P2P speeds and unlimited data.

The best premium torrenting VPNs deliver much faster P2P speeds with no usage caps. They also offer thousands of server locations, and advanced features like VPN port forwarding.

Based on our latest P2P tests, the overall best VPNs for torrenting are:

  1. Private Internet Access: The outright best VPN for secure and anonymous torrenting.
    Read Summary or Visit Private Internet Access
  2. ExpressVPN: A secure and easy-to-use VPN for torrenting.
    Read Summary or Visit ExpressVPN
  3. Astrill: The fastest VPN for torrenting and P2P file sharing.
    Read Summary or Visit Astrill

When you torrent, your IP address is publicly visible and your ISP, copyright trolls and third parties can determine your identity. Every P2P VPN we recommend stops this from happening.

Later in this article, we explain in more detail why you need a VPN for torrenting and how to use a VPN for safe torrenting.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing torrenting VPNs using our extensive testing process to recommend the most suitable free VPN software for torrenting.

Here is an overview of our key P2P VPN testing statistics:

  • Free & Paid P2P VPNs tested: 150
  • Total hours of testing: 30,000+
  • Torrent clients used: qBittorrent, uTorrent, Deluge, BitTorrent & Vuze
  • IP & DNS leak tests performed: 9,500+
  • Weekly speed tests: 3,000+
  • Acceptable download bitrate range: 5.0MiB/s and up

Top Free & Premium Torrenting VPNs Compared

Use the chart below to compare the 10 best torrenting VPNs based on their average bitrate, torrenting policy, logging policy, and other P2P-specific features:

Free & Paid Torrenting VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

Here’s a table summarizing how the best VPNs for torrenting perform in six P2P testing categories:

EXPERT ADVICE: Use our torrent IP leak test tool to check for VPN leaks that could compromise your anonymity, including from your torrenting client. Our tool also works with IPv6 connections.

The 3 Best Free VPNs for Torrenting & P2P in 2022

  1. 1. Windscribe: Best Free Torrent VPN

    Kill switch, DNS leak protection and 10GB monthly data allowance.

    Ranked #1 Free VPN for Torrenting
    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Windscribe

    Pros

    • Torrenting allowed on most servers
    • No speed throttling
    • Reliable P2P speeds
    • VPN kill switch & DNS leak protection
    • Minimal logging policy
    • No payment info required on signup

    Cons

    • 10GB monthly data cap
    • No human live chat

    VPN for Torrenting Rating: 7.0/10

    This rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our P2P testing methodology.

    • 6.46.4/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 88.0/10

    Windscribe is our top-rated free VPN and the best free VPN for torrenting on PC and Mac.

    Its free VPN apps are fully encrypted, use OpenVPN, AES-256 encryption, and have a VPN kill switch to hide your IP if you lose connection.

    Altogether, this makes Windscribe the best free VPN for uTorrent, BitTorrent, and other popular P2P clients.

    Technically you can run it on as many devices as you want, but you’ll quickly run through the data allowance if you do.

    TorrentingPermitted
    Average Bitrate6.3MiB/s
    Data LeaksNo
    Data Cap10GB
    JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch
    IP AddressesUndisclosed
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    Trustworthy P2P servers and a good logging policy

    Windscribe allows torrenting and P2P traffic on almost all its free VPN servers.

    Moreover, it recorded great torrent speeds in our latest round of testing, making it ideal for fast P2P activity.

    Torrenting using Windscribe Free

    Windscribe free marks out which servers can only be used with a Pro subscription, and also keeps track of your remaining data allowance.

    It has a very good logging policy, too. It only keeps logs which cannot be used to identify you or your activity. It’s Canada jurisdiction isn’t ideal, though.

    Port forwarding isn’t offered on the free service. Generally speaking, this means you won’t be able to seed torrents, only download them.

    Good speeds and data allowance

    Windscribe offers 10GB of free data a month which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s more than most free VPNs give you.

    10GB should be enough to download a few movies, a season of a TV show, many .PDFs or music files.

    The VPN’s P2P speed are rather fast, too. We recorded an average bitrate of 6.4MiB/s in our tests, compared to 10.1MiB/s without the VPN running (a 36.6% speed drop).

    Paid VPNs generally reach much faster download speeds, but this is the second best result we’ve seen from a free VPN (second only to Avira Phantom Free).

    Useful online resources but poor automated support

    Windscribe Free doesn’t have human live chat support. You have to interact with an unhelpful chat bot, or send an email to customer support.

    At least there are useful online resources available on Windscribe’s website.

  2. 2. PrivadoVPN Free: Best Free Alternative for P2P

    10GB of data per month, an effective kill switch, and a no-logs policy for anonymous torrenting.

    PrivadoVPN
     0% 
    No user reviews
    Visit PrivadoVPN

    Pros

    • No restrictions on P2P traffic
    • Choice of 12 VPN servers in 9 countries
    • No logs privacy policy
    • Working kill switch & strong encryption
    • No payment details required on signup

    Cons

    • 10GB per month data cap
    • Speeds only a little above average
    • No port forwarding
    • No servers in Africa, Asia, or Oceania

    VPN for Torrenting Rating: 6.6/10

    This rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our P2P testing methodology.

    • 5.75.7/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 66.0/10

    PrivadoVPN Free is a newer service, but in our testing it has proven to be a top choice for free and safe torrenting.

    Its average download bitrate of 5.7MiB/s can’t quite match Windscribe in the position above it, but it’s still one of the fastest free torrenting VPNs we’ve seen.

    It has 12 servers in 9 different countries and a 10GB monthly data allowance, which is as good as it gets from free VPNs that allow torrenting. It also has an effective VPN kill switch and a safe no logs policy that will keep your P2P traffic safe and anonymous.

    TorrentingUnlimited
    Data LeaksNo
    Data Cap10GB
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch
    IP AddressesUndisclosed
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    Torrenting allowed on all 12 free servers

    PrivadoVPN takes a positive stance towards torrenting, even for its free users. The only restriction is the monthly data cap of 10GB, which puts it level with rivals Windscribe Free and Hide.me Free.

    PrivadoVPN free's server selections

    PrivadoVPN’s offers 12 P2P-friendly servers in 9 locations.

    You also get access to 12 servers across nine countries, and you can torrent on all of them. Those nine countries are nicely diversified too, with four US servers covering the East and West Coast.

    Average torrenting speeds, but an effective VPN kill switch

    PrivadoVPN has a very limited selection of advanced features. The free version only has a kill switch, but our tests found that it does work well.

    If your connection to the VPN server drops while you’re torrenting then this feature will sever your internet connection, protecting your anonymity.

    Our testing found PrivadoVPN’s P2P download speeds to be squarely average. We measured speeds of 5.69MiB/s downloading a torrenting test file using qBitTorrent on macOS – that’s a 43% speed loss from the 10MiB/s we recorded with no VPN running.

    At that speed, it will take you just under half an hour to torrent a 10GB file.

    Port forwarding would be a nice addition currently missing from PrivadoVPN, as it could help improve its average download bitrate.

    Excellent Swiss jurisdiction & minimal logging policy

    You don’t need to worry about your data staying private if you torrent using PrivadoVPN Free.

    The company is based in Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union. The country follows its own robust data privacy laws, and isn’t known to cooperate in data-sharing with other governments. It’s a great jurisdiction for torrenting.

    PrivadoVPN Free also records almost nothing about you when you use its service. Your total bandwidth used is the only thing logged.

    That means that even in the event of a server being seized, there would be no way to connect you to your torrenting activity.

  3. 3. Hide.me: Best No Logs Privacy Policy

    DNS & IPv6 leak protection and 10GB data usage per month.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Hide.me

    Pros

    • P2P allowed on three of five free servers
    • DNS & IPv6 leak protection
    • Minimal anonymous data logging
    • No payment details required on signup

    Cons

    • 10GB monthly data cap
    • Only five VPN server locations
    • Kill switch can be unreliable
    • Slow P2P speeds

    VPN for Torrenting Rating: 5.2/10

    This rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our P2P testing methodology.

    • 4.54.5/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 6.56.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10

    The free version of Hide.me is a reliable VPN service for torrenting with the same amount of data as Windscribe, but which doesn’t perform as well.

    TorrentingPermitted
    Data LeaksNo
    Data Cap10GB
    JurisdictionMalaysia (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    IP AddressesNot Disclosed
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    Safe and private apps

    Hide.me maintains a privacy-friendly logging policy and comes with security extras such as a VPN kill switch to keep you safe while torrenting.

    All Hide.me’s custom VPN apps are encrypted with the ‘unbreakable’ AES-256 and use the most secure VPN connection protocol, OpenVPN.

    You can use Hide.me’s free apps on all popular platforms, such as Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and you can even install it on your router, which is rare for a free VPN service.

    Private jurisdiction and logging policy

    Hide.me has a really strong jurisdiction: Malaysia. We consider Malaysia to be a privacy haven, and one of the safest places in the world to use a VPN.

    live chat conversation with Hide.me about torrenting

    A Hide.me support agent confirmed that its free servers permit torrenting traffic.

    It does keep temporary logs of your email address and amount of data used, but these are deleted every few hours. Your IP address and activity are not monitored or logged.

    Generous data allowence but poor performance

    Hide.me’s 10GB of data is generous for a free VPN. If you want to transfer small amounts of data and are based near it’s P2P servers in the Netherlands, Canada, or Singapore, Hide.me is a good choice for torrenting.

    It’s performance isn’t very strong, though. We found a speed drop of 55.5% in our torrenting benchmark test – the slowest result we’ve seen. (We do carry our tests out from London, though, not especially near to any P2P servers).

    You can’t port forward, either, so you won’t be able to seed torrents. Port forwarding is rare amongst free VPNs – if it’s important to you, we recommend looking at a premium torrenting VPN such as PIA.

The Best Paid VPNs for Torrenting

  1. 1. Private Internet Access: The Best VPN for Torrenting Overall

    A fast VPN that includes strong security features and port forwarding functionality.

    Ranked #1 out of 71 VPNs for Torrenting
    Private Internet Access
     86% 
    (29 user reviews)
    Visit PIA VPN

    Pros

    • Extremely secure
    • Private no-logs policy
    • Super fast download bitrate
    • Torrenting allowed on all 17,193 servers
    • Functioning kill switch
    • Port forwarding on all platforms

    Cons

    • US Five Eyes jurisdiction
    • No port forwarding allowed on US servers

    Overall Rating: 9.6/10

    This rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 1010.0/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    Private Internet Access is the best VPN for torrenting according to our testing.

    It’s almost flawless for torrenters, whether you use Windows, Linux, macOS, or Android. Its apps are easy to use, it produces a fantastic 9.6MiB/s download bitrate, and you can trust its verified no-logs privacy policy to keep you anonymous.

    It’s hard to find fault with PIA for torrenting. The only issues are its US jurisdiction and the inability to port forward on US servers.

    TorrentingUnlimited
    Average Bitrate9.6MiB/s
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch, Port Forwarding
    IP Addresses17,193+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    Super-fast torrenting downloads

    PIA logged an average download bitrate of 9.6MiB/s when downloading our dedicated test torrent file. For context, we were only able to download it at 10.0MiB/s with no VPN at all – that’s an impact of just 4% on our torrenting speeds. If you use PIA while torrenting at home we’re confident you won’t notice a difference in how long it takes files to download.

    While Astrill managed to be ever so slightly quicker, PIA is still one of the fastest VPNs for torrenting.

    Port forwarding available plus a flawless kill switch

    When we reviewed PIA we praised it for its excellent suite of security features. These all still apply while torrenting, so you benefit from a fast and secure connection with either the OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, combined with either AES-256 or ChaCha20 encryption.

    What you specifically benefit from when torrenting, though, is its kill switch and port forwarding. We’ve tested PIA’s kill switch and it works to instantly hide your real IP address if your internet connection drops at any point. Everyone else sharing the torrent files you’re downloading will be prevented from seeing your true IP address.

    Using Private Internet Access to download a torrent file

    Your IP address is anonymized when torrenting with PIA.

    Port forwarding can be used to increase your torrenting bitrates as well as help with seeding. It’s available through the PIA app with a single click or tap, which is a welcome change from other VPNs which often complicate the process.

    The only downside here is that port forwarding is not permitted on US servers. Still, in testing we found our torrenting speeds to be fast enough without it.

    A perfect logging policy in a bad jurisdiction

    Private Internet Access’ logging policy is one of the best we’ve seen. It clearly states that it logs no data whatsoever, and this has been verified through regular transparency reports and even real-world court cases.

    Whatever you choose to torrent, PIA will not know the names of any files downloaded nor will it store any information relating to it.

    All of this makes us a lot less worried about its US jurisdiction. The US is famously hostile towards privacy advocates and has many intrusive data surveillance schemes and laws, making is a bad place to base a VPN company. However, PIA’s proven no-logs policy means that its US jurisdiction is not of any real concern for the time being.

    Torrenting allowed on its entire 17,193-server network

    Torrenting with PIA is entirely unlimited. There are no data caps and you can use any server on its global network to keep your torrenting private and encrypted.

    Private Internet Access’ range of servers is the largest and most diverse of any VPN on the market. This means that you should always be able to connect to one close to you, which will grant you faster download speeds as a result.

  2. 2. ExpressVPN: The Easiest-To-Use VPN for Torrenting

    A highly secure VPN with unlimited torrenting and P2P file-sharing capabilities.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,778 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    • No torrenting restrictions
    • A benchmark for VPN speed
    • P2P-friendly privacy policy
    • Kill switch on most apps
    • No IP or DNS address leaks
    • Instant setup on all devices

    Cons

    • No port forwarding (only on router)

    Overall Torrenting Rating: 9.5/10

    This rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.49.4/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 88.0/10

    ExpressVPN offers secure VPN applications with consistently fast download speeds and low latency.

    We tested the VPN with torrent clients like uTorrent, qBitTorrent, and Vuze. It worked flawlessly without any additional setup.

    The VPN protects P2P traffic with no IP leaks, making it an excellent choice for torrenting.

    In our recent benchmark tests, the service recorded an average torrenting bitrate 9.4MiB/s. This is a drop of 6% compared to using no VPN.

    TorrentingUnlimited
    Average Bitrate9.4MiB/s
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch
    IP Addresses3,000+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    A fast average bitrate of 9.4MiB/s

    Our most recent P2P speed tests show ExpressVPN is among the fastest VPNs for torrenting.

    Its speed performance is remarkably consistent, whether you connect to a server in your home country or in a distant location.

    We measured an average bitrate of 9.4 MiB/s. This puts ExpressVPN at the higher end of the VPN speed spectrum.

    The VPN’s speeds are especially quick on long-distance connections. ExpressVPN is therefore ideal if you want to torrent privately using a foreign IP address.

    Advanced security features and leak protection

    ExpressVPN also stands out thanks its security features. These include AES-256 encryption, perfect forward secrecy and secure VPN protocols.

    These security attributes guarantee that your file-sharing remains completely secure.

    ExpressVPN is fully compatible with BitTorrent clients.

    Built-in IP leak protection and an effective kill switch called ‘Network Lock,’ also keep you anonymous at all times while the VPN runs. This is critical for safe torrenting.

    Windows and Mac users also benefit from IPv6 address leak protection, and split-tunneling. The latter lets you assign which clients (e.g. your torrent client) should use the VPN connection, and which ones shouldn’t.

    No-logs and based in a safe jurisdiction

    ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any activity or connection logs on its servers.

    Also, the VPN company is based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction far from the influence of the Five or Fourteen Eyes Alliances.

    In other words, ExpressVPN doesn’t have to hand over any user web data – that it hasn’t got – to copyright agencies.

    P2P-friendly servers in over 160 locations

    ExpressVPN has a large network of 3,000 VPN servers in over 160 global locations.

    P2P traffic is allowed without restrictions on all servers. This means you shuld be able to get a fast P2P connection regardless of which country or city you are located in.

    Great usability, but port forwarding is missing

    ExpressVPN works on the vast majority of devices, and there are detailed setup instructions for most of them. You can even set the VPN on your home router.

    This gives you the flexibility to download torrents from different devices. If you encounter problems, 24/7 customer support available via live chat or email.

    Sadly, ExpressVPN doesn’t support port forwarding, so you might not be able to seed torrents for other users.

    Torrenting on an iPhone or iPad is fairly unusual, though, given there are no BitTorrent apps on the iOS App Store.

    While ExpressVPN is more expensive than other VPN services, it represents great value for speed and security.

    There is no free trial on Windows or Mac, but you can try ExpressVPN risk-free by making the most of its 30-day refund guarantee.

    To dig deeper on why ExpressVPN is a good choice for P2P file-sharing, read our guide to torrenting with ExpressVPN.

  3. 3. Astrill: The Fastest VPN for Torrenting

    A super-fast and secure torrenting VPN

    Astrill mobile screenshots
     0% 
    No user reviews
    Visit Astrill

    Pros

    • Optimized for P2P traffic
    • Supports torrenting over IPv4 and IPv6
    • A trusted name in torrenting
    • Includes a kill switch
    • Port forwarding allows seeding

    Cons

    • Not as user-friendly as other VPNs
    • Complicated server list
    • Seeding requires manual calibration

    Overall Torrenting Rating: 9.4/10

    This rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 1010.0/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 1010.0/10

    Astrill is a slightly lesser-known torrenting and obfuscation focused VPN that excels in both these areas. It uses trusted protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2, and we’ve never seen it leak IP or DNS information.

    It’s also the fastest VPN we’ve tested for torrenting. In fact, we noticed almost zero difference between torrenting with and without Astrill – less than 1%.

    It’s not the cheapest service here, though. For a better price, see AirVPN.

    TorrentingUnlimited
    Average Bitrate10.0MiB/s
    Data LeaksNo
    Data CapUnlimited
    JurisdictionSeychelles (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicySome User Logs
    Torrenting FeaturesKill Switch, Port Forwarding
    IP Addresses110+
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS

    Good logging policy and excellent jurisdiction

    It isn’t the best we’ve seen, but Astrill has a sound logging policy. For the duration of your session, Astrill logs:

    • Connection time
    • IP address
    • Bandwidth used
    • Device type
    • Application version

    These are deleted as soon as you disconnect, though. Of course ideally they wouldn’t be kept at all.

    It’s excellent Seychelles jurisdiction makes up for this. The Seychelles are a privacy haven, which means Astrill cannot be compelled to give up user information to authorities in the country.

    Almost zero slowdown compared to no VPN

    Astrill is remarkably fast when it comes to torrenting and other P2P activity. In our torrenting benchmark test, we found Astrill barely had any effect on bitrate.

    We got a bitrate of 10MiB/s both with and without the VPN. This doesn’t actually mean the download wasn’t slowed down at all by the VPN, only that the amount it was slowed down by was even smaller than the background variation in our test connection.

    We found these results a bit too good to be true, so repeated the test multiple times. We got the same result again, meaning we can confidently say Astrill is the fastest VPN we’ve used for torrenting.

    Includes a kill switch and port forwarding

    Astrill comes with what it calls an “enhanced” version of a kill switch. This sits somewhere between split tunneling and a standard kill switch, and allows you to block certain apps that you don’t want to connect without a VPN.

    Astrill being used to block firefox and qbittorrent if disconnected

    Astrill’s ‘App Guard’ feature allows you to protect specific apps

    It also allows port-forwarding, which can be vital for keeping torrenting as efficient as possible, especially if you want to seed torrents as well as leech.

    P2P servers on five continents

    Astrill has special P2P optimized servers, marked with a star on the server select menu. While their coverage isn’t super comprehensive, you can still torrent on the entirety of the rest of the network.

    P2P server location options include Argentina for South America, Australia, as well as plenty of choices across North America, Europe and Asia.

    There are also some servers optimized for both China and P2P, in case you want to torrent while in the censored region.

P2P Testing Methodology

In order to find the best VPN for torrenting, we assess every VPN by the same criteria.

We test every VPN using qBittorrent, the safest torrent client, to ensure a fair comparison. Competing clients like uTorrent can present some safety risks.

For torrenting specifically, we test for:

  • Average torrenting speeds and bitrate on a local server.
  • OpenVPN functionality and AES-256 encryption.
  • IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection.
  • A strict no-logs privacy policy.
  • Fast P2P servers located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions.
  • Additional features including port-forwarding, customer support, and compatibility.

Here’s a breakdown of how we calculate our ratings for torrenting VPNs:

1. Encryption & Security: 30%

Minimum Requirement: P2P support, leak protection, and a VPN kill switch.
We Recommend: AES-256 encryption, multiple available protocols, leak protection and a VPN kill switch using firewall rules.

A securely encrypted VPN keeps you hidden from malicious third-parties when you torrent. It also stops your ISP from seeing that you are torrenting (and potentially throttling your connection).

A kill switch is a must-have for torrenting. Without one your true IP address could easily be exposed to other users and copyright trolls.

The gold standard for kill switches is to use firewall rules to ensure leaks cannot possibly occur.

2. P2P Speed: 20%

Minimum Requirement: An average bitrate over 5MiB/s
We Recommend: An average bitrate of 6.5MiB/s or better

VPNs can often be slow when it comes to torrenting – especially free ones. A fast VPN can be the difference between waiting minutes or hours for a torrent to download.

We use a bespoke P2P benchmarking test to identify the fastest VPNs for torrenting. We use this test to determine the average bitrate of each VPN when actually torrenting.

Here’s how we test every VPN for torrenting speed:

  1. Set up a private torrent tracker for a 1GB data file.
  2. Host a torrent client on a local server with a fixed connection speed to seed to torrent.
  3. Configure the client not to use DHT or otherwise communicate with any other peers.
  4. While running a VPN, torrent the file on a 100Mbps connection.
  5. Measure the duration of the 1GB download in order to determine average bitrate.

We’ve run this test on every free and paid VPN covered here.

3. Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A clear privacy policy with only anonymized connection logs.
We Recommend: A strict zero-logs policy with absolutely no activity or connection logs.

Some VPN providers keep activity logs of their users’ activity. This fundamentally undermines the privacy of the service. In the case of torrenting, it’s especially important the VPN providers cannot forward DMCA requests to users.

Unfortunately, free VPNs are especially guilty of bad privacy practices.

We analyze the records and policies of free VPNs to make sure they are safe before we recommend them.

4. P2P Servers: 15%

Minimum Requirement: At least one P2P server in your region.
We Recommend: P2P servers in your country.

Some torrenting VPNs allow P2P traffic on their whole network, while others restrict it to special P2P servers.

This means you can end up on a very slow, long distance connection even if your VPN has a large network. Free VPNs are often guilty of this. Longer distance connections will be far too slow for comfortable torrenting and too few P2P servers will result in bottlenecks.

Ideally, you want multiple P2P server choices in your country, but as a bare minimum you need to connect to a server in your region.

5. Additional Features: 15%

Minimum Requirement: The ability to customize security settings in-app.
We Recommend: Multiple additional features including port forwarding, split tunneling, and SOCKS5.

Every VPN comes with a unique selection of tools and advanced features. Some of these features are useful for torrenting, and some are absolutely necessary.

We test every VPN for extra configuration options and additional features, and reward the services that provide the best tools for torrenters.

For example, a good P2P VPN needs unlimited bandwidth, so you can torrent without worrying about data caps.

We also recommend VPNs that use shared IP addresses, which means you’ll share an IP address with dozens or even hundreds of other people. This adds a significant layer of anonymity.

Port forwarding is another feature we reward when testing the best VPNs for torrenting. This allows you to set your VPN connection to flow through a specific port on your router, bypassing the NAT firewall.

You’ll need port forwarding if you want to seed torrents, because P2P activity is sometimes blocked by the NAT firewall.

How to Use a VPN for Torrenting

We show you how to torrent safely with ExpressVPN in less than 60 seconds.

Torrenting safely is very important, and it’s really easy to do with one of the free or paid VPNs we recommend.

Start your VPN before opening any torrents, and fully exit your torrent client before disconnecting from the VPN.

If you don’t, you risk exposing your true IP address. This is because torrent clients continue to seed files for other users even after you’ve fully downloaded them.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to torrent with a safe free or paid VPN:

  1. Use one of the trustworthy free P2P VPNs we recommend.
  2. Run a torrent IP leak test to verify your VPN is masking your IP address.
  3. Make sure your VPN kill switch is switched on to ensure your IP address is not exposed if your VPN disconnects.
  4. Connect to a nearby VPN server for the fastest torrent speeds.
  5. Download a safe torrent client like qBittorent, Transmission, Deluge, etc.
  6. Open a magnet or torrent file with your torrent client.
  7. Once you’ve finished torrenting files, exit your torrent client before disconnecting from the VPN.
  8. Once the torrent client is completely closed, safely disconnect from the VPN.

You also need to trust the file you’re downloading. A VPN won’t stop you from downloading malicious content.

Only download torrents from trusted sources with many active peers and seeders. You should also scan new files with antivirus software like Malwarebytes.

Is Torrenting Legal?

Torrenting is completely legal, but torrenting certain files can breach copyright restrictions. As a general rule you can only legally torrent files if you own them, have permission from the copyright holder, or if they are in the public domain.

You can torrent legally in countries like the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and India, as long as you don’t break other laws while torrenting.

Every country has different laws and punishments when it comes to privacy, torrenting, and copyright infringement. If you’re caught downloading copyrighted material, you could face a small fine or up to 10 years imprisonment, depending on where you live.

Why You Need a VPN for Torrenting

Torrenting without a VPN is really risky. You risk exposing your activity and identity to your ISP, copyright trolls, and other torrenters.

When you torrent you connect directly to other users, rather than to a central server. This means they can see your public IP address.

But if you connect using a VPN, the IP address that other users see will be one associated with the VPN server you are connecting to, not your home network.

A secure VPN therefore allows you to download and upload torrents anonymously, stopping your ISP from seeing your torrenting activity. This is also good because some ISPs throttle your P2P traffic.

Here are the five key reasons why you need to use a VPN while torrenting:

1. Hiding Your Torrenting Activity from Your ISP

ISPs use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze your internet traffic. If you don’t encrypt your traffic, your ISP will see and record all the files you torrent.

An ISP can use this information to block or throttle your P2P traffic. It can also prevent you from accessing file-sharing websites.

If you’ve downloaded copyrighted material, your ISP could send you a DMCA notice.

2. Protection from Other Peers in the Torrent Swarm

BitTorrent is a P2P or ‘peer-to-peer’ protocol. Every other user downloading the same file, who is known as a peer or leech, is connected in a group called a swarm.

Many BitTorrent clients let you view a list of devices you’re connected to when leeching or seeding files on the network.

In every torrent swarm, the IP addresses of all participants are visible. Everybody can see this personal identifier.

Without a running VPN, your IP address and identity is visible to everyone in the torrent swarm. This includes other users, content owners, and copyright trolls.
Therefore, someone could link your real IP address to your identity and use this information for scams or harassment.

3. Avoid Third-Parties Monitoring Downloads

Copyright enforcement organizations infiltrate and monitor torrent swarms to find torrenters of copyright-protected material.

This material can consist of TV series, movies, music, software, and more.

Copyright holders, like movie studios or video game publishers, often outsource their litigation to law companies called copyright trolls.

Copyright trolls monitor popular torrents scanning for the IP addresses of users uploading or downloading files. They then contact the ISP that assigned those IP addresses, and instruct it to send the user a copyright violation notice.

We strongly recommend hiding your IP address while torrenting to avoid being harassed by these copyright trolls.

4. Avoid Your IP Address Being Recorded in P2P Activity Databases

There are websites that publish records of P2P activity and the IP addresses related to it. These databases are available for anyone to see – including lawyers and media companies.

5. Accessing Blocked Torrent Websites Databases

Many ISPs block file-sharing websites: it’s estimated that over 8,000 domains are blocked worldwide.

There’s no more effective measure for unblocking websites than using a VPN. Any one of the VPNs on this page won’t just protect and anonymize your torrenting activity – it will get you access to blocked file-sharing sites, too.

Free VPNs You Shouldn’t Use for Torrenting

Not all free VPN services are safe for torrenting. Below are examples of free VPNs you should not torrent with.

There are many more free VPNs, particularly on the Google Play and iOS App stores, you should stay away from.

Hola Free VPN

Hola Free VPN claims to be a ‘VPN service,’ but it is in fact an insecure peer-to-peer proxy network that doesn’t provide any encryption whatsoever.

Hola is no good for torrenting as it monitors absolutely everything you do online, including all the websites you visit, and has even been known to sell user bandwidth without consent.

Sadly, it’s one of the most popular free VPN services out there, but we advise you to avoid Hola at all costs.

VPN Proxy Master

VPN Proxy Master is an incredibly unsafe free VPN for torrenting as the company has a sketchy history of sending confidential user information across to China.

Not only this, but your IP address is collected and stored for an indefinite amount of time, plus there’s no way of telling how VPN Proxy Master is encrypted.

The apps are full of pop-up ads, too – VPN Proxy Master is definitely a free VPN to stay away from.

Thunder VPN

Thunder VPN is another one of the worst free VPN services you could possibly use for torrenting.

Not to mention it’s only available on Android, Thunder VPN uses an insecure connection protocol, and lacks any security features whatsoever. When we asked for extra information about its security and encryption, we were ignored.

ThunderVPN also claims to be no-logs but actually collects a ton of information, such as your IP address, ISP, server location, and loads more.

Free VPNs That Don’t Allow P2P Traffic

In addition to dangerous free VPNs, many free VPNs simply don’t allow P2P traffic on their networks.

This is because P2P traffic can take up a lot of bandwidth, and be difficult to accommodate without slowing down other users.

Examples of free VPNs you can’t use for torrenting include:

  • ProtonVPN Free
  • ZoogVPN
  • X-VPN Free

FAQs

Are Free VPNs Safe for Torrenting?

A free VPN must hide your IP address while you torrent – there’s no point in using a VPN that can’t do this.

To torrent safely, make sure you choose a free VPN with:

  1. A strong encryption cipher (preferably AES-256)
  2. Secure VPN connection protocols (OpenVPN is our favorite)
  3. A no-logs (or privacy-focused) logging policy
  4. A working VPN kill switch
  5. No IP address or DNS leaks

You also need to make sure your free VPN allows P2P traffic, as several popular free VPNs block P2P traffic.

Can I Get a Paid Torrenting VPN for Free?

By taking advantage of VPN free trials and money-back guarantees, you can try a premium torrenting VPN for free.

For instance, you can trial NordVPN and test ExpressVPN by making the most of their 30-day refund policy.

Is Port Forwarding Necessary for Torrenting?

You don’t need port forwarding to download a torrent file, but you will need it if you want seed files to help maintain the swarm.

Certain torrent clients also use trackers to slow your download rate significantly if you don’t 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 penalize peers who do not seed, so being a “leech” can negatively impact your experience.

All routers have a NAT firewall, which can sometimes block or slow down P2P activity for security reasons.

Port forwarding as a VPN feature involves setting your VPN connection to flow through a specific port on your router, bypassing the NAT firewall.

While not all routers block or slow P2P connections, port forwarding will likely improve download speeds as the connections bypass the firewall.

TorGuard’s port forwarding tool is one we highly recommend.

What Is a SOCKS5 Proxy?

SOCKS is a connection protocol that sends packets between a web server and your 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 version of the 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 let you integrate your SOCKS5 proxy directly into the client.

While SOCKS5 proxy connections are fast and good for unblocking websites, they’re poor for privacy as they do not encrypt your traffic.

You must also 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.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano 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 and more. Read full bio