$6.67/mo over 15 Months
85Mbps same city speed
Based on a 100Mbps test connection
94 countries, 3,000+ servers
Torrenting without a VPN is quite frankly asking for trouble. If you don’t use a VPN:
- Your ISP will store your download information, sharing it with copyright holders
- You won’t be able to access many file-sharing websites (over 8,000 domains are blocked by ISPs worldwide)
- Your IP is visible in the torrent ‘swarms’, therefore to other users
Quite simply, if you want to torrent anonymously you really need to use a VPN.
However, many VPNs are not suitable for torrenting because:
- They’re too slow to handle large downloads
- They leak your true IP address
- They keep logs of your online activity
- Some limit how much data you can use
So, what are the best P2P-friendly VPNs of 2020?
Out of 74 VPNs we reviewed, the five below are ideal (and very safe) for BitTorrent.
Want to know more about torrenting and VPNs? Scroll down to our ‘Popular Questions’ section for useful information and tips.
What Makes a VPN 'P2P-friendly'?
- Torrenting & P2P allowed on all (most) servers
- No user logs & no IP or DNS leaks
- Fast download & upload speeds
- VPN kill switch & DNS leak protection
- Jurisdiction (where is the VPN based?)
- No bandwidth or data caps
Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.
Best VPNs for Safe Torrenting
$3.49/mo over 36 Months
90Mbps same city speed
Based on a 100Mbps test connection
59 countries, 5,300+ servers
$4.12/mo over 12 months
84Mbps same city speed
Based on a 100Mbps test connection
50 countries, 1,300 servers
$2.75/mo over 3 years
87Mbps same city speed
Based on a 100Mbps test connection
89 countries, 6,200+ servers
$1.89/mo over 2 years
86Mbps same city speed
Based on a 100Mbps test connection
59 countries, 150+ servers
Can You Torrent Without a VPN?
You can torrent files without using a VPN (or other privacy tools), but we strongly recommend you don’t do this.
As soon as you open up a torrent client and begin downloading or uploading files without a VPN, you expose your real IP address to:
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
ISPs use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze ALL your Internet traffic. If you don’t hide your torrent IP address, your ISP will monitor and record all the files you download (and/or upload), which it may use against you by:
– Blocking your P2P traffic, or the file sharing websites you’ve visited
– Sending you warnings about downloading copyrighted material
– Passing your information to third-parties like content owners and copyright enforcement agencies
If you don’t believe an ISP can see what you’re downloading, take a look at this tool for a snapshot of the latest torrents matched to your public IP address (assuming you haven’t used a VPN).
Other Peers in the Torrent ‘Swarm’
All devices downloading (peers) or uploading (seeders) a torrent file are known as a ‘torrent swarm,’ and in every swarm the IP addresses of all participants are visible. This means everybody can see your IP address.
Third-parties Monitoring Downloads
It’s no secret that copyright enforcement organisations infiltrate swarms to catch torrenters out. A research by the University of Birmingham (UK) discovered extensive monitoring of the most popular content available on torrent sites.
So, if you don’t want the above parties knowing who you are, then you should use a VPN to hide your torrent IP address. And as long as you use a VPN that doesn’t keep user activity logs, you’ll be able to torrent anonymously.
Can You Use Any VPN for Torrenting?
Clearly, if you’re going to torrent files then a VPN is a must-have. However, not all VPNs are suitable for safe and private torrenting.
Unfortunately, out of the 74 we’ve reviewed, many VPN services just didn’t make the cut.
In short, the problem is that some VPNs:
- Don’t allow torrenting or P2P activity of any kind
- Aren’t fast enough, resulting in slow downloads
- Aren’t secure enough, either leaking your real IP address or missing key security features (e.g. a kill switch)
- Keep user logs, including information about your torrenting history
- Have bandwidth and date usage restrictions, making torrenting almost impossible
You should also avoid using free VPNs to torrent files. Many of these VPNs have restricted data caps in place, limited servers available, and just aren’t fast enough. Not only that, but a scary amount of free VPNs also have security vulnerabilities that will put your privacy at risk.
What's the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?
There aren’t many free VPNs that we recommend for torrenting. In fact, it’s best to avoid using them for anonymous P2P activity. as many of them only allow users to connect to a restricted number of VPN servers.
The main problem with free VPNs is that:
- Some don’t allow torrenting
- Most come with bandwidth and data caps
- Most are two slow to download files quickly
How Do You Use a VPN with Torrent Clients?
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, even if you turn your VPN on before you actually start a download.
Here are three quick steps to use a VPN when torrenting:
Find a safe VPN that supports torrenting
Our five recommendations above will not leave you disappointed, but if you decide to check out another VPN service, make sure it: allows P2P traffic, is fast, doesn’t keep user logs, it won’t leak your torrent IP address, and is ideally based in a privacy-first jurisdiction.
Once you’re happy your chosen VPN ticks all the boxes, sign up to it 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.
Select your preferred VPN server location
For torrenting purposes, you should generally connect to a VPN server as close as possible to your true physical location.
This should get you the fastest possible speeds for quicker downloads and uploads of large files.
Check the privacy settings
Before you connect to the VPN, check its security settings. If it has a VPN kill switch, make sure this is turned on, so your IP address will be protected if the VPN connection drops.
Also, keep an eye out for features such as DNS leak protection and limiting connections to a VPN’s own DNS servers (if they have the option), which means your traffic will never be routed through rented servers.
Launch the VPN
Finally, connect to a VPN server. Remember to do this before you launch your BitTorrent client otherwise you risk exposing your real IP address.
20 Torrent VPNs Compared
Here’s how 20 popular VPN services compare for P2P and torrenting activity:
|VPN Service||Astrill||Avast SecureLine||CyberGhost||ExpressVPN||Hide.me (Paid Version)||HideMyAss||Hotspot Shield (Paid Version)||IPVanish||Mullvad||NordVPN||Private Internet Access||PrivateVPN||ProtonVPN (Paid Version)||Surfshark||TorGuard||TunnelBear (Paid Version)||VPN.ac||VyprVPN||Windscribe (Paid Version)||ZenMate (Paid Version)|
|Logging Policy||Some User Logs||Some User Logs||No Logs||Anonymous Usage Data||Anonymous Usage Data||Some User Logs||Some User Logs||No Logs||Anonymous Usage Data||No Logs||No Logs||No Logs||Anonymous Usage Data||Anonymous Usage Data||No Logs||Anonymous Usage Data||Some User Logs||Anonymous Usage Data||Anonymous Usage Data||No Logs|
|Jurisdiction||Seychelles||Czech Republic (EU Member)||Romania (EU Member)||British Virgin Islands||Malaysia||UK (Five-Eyes Member)||US (Five-Eyes Member)||US (Five-Eyes Member)||Sweden (14-Eyes Member)||Panama||US (Five-Eyes Member)||Sweden (14-Eyes Member)||Switzerland||British Virgin Islands||US (Five-Eyes Member)||Canada (Five-Eyes Member)||Romania (EU Member)||Switzerland||Canada (Five-Eyes Member)||Germany (14-Eyes Member)|
Why Are Kill Switches Important?
When it comes to anonymous torrents, a VPN with a kill switch is a must.
Why? Because a VPN kill switch cuts off your entire internet traffic if your VPN connection drops. This ensures that your real IP address is never exposed, which is extremely important for safe and private P2P activity.
While the best VPNs rarely suffer connection drops, it can happen every now and again. For this reason, we advise you to pick a VPN that comes with a working kill switch (like our VPN recommendations above).
Is Port Forwarding Needed for Torrenting?
The topic of Port Forwarding always comes up in torrenting and VPN conversations. Before we discuss whether you should use it or not, lets explain what it is.
Port Forwarding involves setting your VPN connection to flow through a specific port on your router. The reason for doing this, is because P2P activity is sometimes blocked by your router via the typically built-in NAT firewall (to protect your device from malicious attacks). You can read our detailed definition here.
While not all routers will block (or severely slow down) P2P connections, it’s generally accepted that Port Forwarding will improve downloading speeds as the connections bypass the firewall.
Many VPNs also come with NAT firewalls (e.g. VyprVPN), which can sometimes interfere with torrenting activity.
Based on our extensive testing, we don’t think Port Forwarding is an absolute requirement for torrenting files when using a VPN. The VPNs we recommend in this guide work just fine using the default setup.
However, if you do want to use Port Forwarding with a VPN, the services below allow it:
What's the Safest Torrenting Software?
The most popular torrent site on the current market is qBittorrent, which is totally free to use and doesn’t feature any annoying ads. It’s also encrypted and open-source, which is great news for security.
uTorrent has decreased in popularity since it was discovered to contain a ton of security flaws, the most recent of which allowed hackers to spy on users’ downloads (this has since been fixed).
Is Torrenting Legal or Illegal?
One of the most frequent and hardest questions we receive is whether or not it’s illegal to torrent files.
The answer is simple and complex at the same time: torrenting per se is not illegal BUT in many countries downloading (and sharing) copyrighted material is NOT legal.
For example, in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, downloading and/or sharing copyrighted works is illegal – here’s a summary of the current copyright laws applicable to P2P file-sharing:
Downloading and sharing copyrighted material in Australia is illegal.
The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill of 2018 allows ISPs not only to block torrenting sites classified as ‘pirate’ sites, but also any related mirror and proxy sites.
Many BitTorrent websites like ThePirateBay, Torrentz, 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.
Since January 2014, the Copyright Modernization Act requires ISPs like Bell to send notices to copyright violators using their services. Canadian ISPs are legally entitled to store download and upload data on violating subscribers for at least six months.
Copyright holders cannot sue copyright violators for more than CAD$5,000 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.
As in many other countries, downloading and sharing copyrighted material is also illegal in the United States.
There are two laws that affect torrenting and P2P activity in the US:
- The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), aimed at sites hosting illegal torrents, and uploaders (seeders) of copyrighted works
- The No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), which largely concerns downloaders of protected content (peers)
American ISPs regularly monitor and store your download data for months, if not years. For example, Comcast holds it for at least six months while AT&T for at least a year.
If you’re torrenting illegally, your ISP will send you a warning letter and probably start throttling your torrenting speeds.
Generally, US ISPs apply a three-strike (warnings) rule to anyone caught torrenting copyrighted content, before content owners start any legal proceedings.
Anyone found guilty can risk up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
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 snares.
In 2010, the government passed the Digital Economy Act to help the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) curb illegal torrenting.
This law forces major UK ISPs are required by law to notify subscribers caught downloading torrents. The notification comes in the form of a cease and desist order.
Also, the law gives UK ISPs the right to throttle speeds and even disconnect users.
However, ISPs with no more than 400,000 subscribers are exempt from this law.
Many popular file sharing sites like RARBG and YTS are blocked by major UK ISPs. To date, over 2,000 domains are blocked by ISPs – you can see a comprehensive list here.
Tip: If you want to avoid downloading copyright-protected works, there are many sites with free and legal content available (public domain or creative commons licensed works).
What Countries Block Torrenting Sites?
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, Portugal. It’s estimated over 5,300 domains are blocked in the EU.
Outside of the EU, Australia, 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 Are the Safest Countries for Torrenting?
In our research of copyright laws around the world, we only found one major country which can be considered somewhat safe for torrenting: Switzerland.
Swiss copyright laws allows Swiss internet users to legally download all music and movies, as long as it’s for personal use and not to gain profit.
And, Swiss law states that the monitoring of peer-to-peer downloads by third parties, like ISPs, is illegal.
Differently to many other countries, Swiss ISPs aren’t required to block access to pirate sites.
Copyright laws in Spain are slightly gray, but Spanish authorities have repeatedly stated that torrenting files for personal use is legal. As long as someone isn’t making a profit from this activity, then they’re not breaking the law.
What’s more, Spanish judges have stated that personal data linked to an IP address can only be disclosed as part of a criminal investigation, or for public safety reasons.
Kodi vs Torrents: What’s the Difference?
Many readers ask us what’s the difference between Kodi and torrenting.
In very simple terms, Kodi is a streaming operating system based on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology. Differently to BitTorrent technology, your device running Kodi software live-streams data as opposed to downloading files.
And, because you download any files (unless you actively opt into downloads), your device doesn’t upload any files either.
If you’re looking to use Kodi streaming software, head over to our best VPNs for Kodi guide.
Are There Other Privacy Tools for P2P?
VPN services aren’t the only tool you can use for torrenting files more securely; however they are the best in our opinion.
The two alternatives below are worth considering, although they come with several limitations.
A Socks5 proxy is a proxy connection that uses a more advanced type of protocol which can handle tracker and peer P2P connections.
While Socks5 proxy connections are good for unblocking websites, they’re not for privacy. These proxies are generally faster than VPNs but, crucially, your traffic isn’t encrypted, meaning your ISP can still monitor and record your downloads.
Importantly, you should NEVER use an HTTP proxy (the most common type of ‘free’ proxy). HTTP proxies can only carry insecure HTTP traffic and can’t handle peer connections. This is because peer connections use TCP, which is a different protocol. Most torrent clients ignore HTTP proxy settings when connecting to peers, who will see your true IP address. This defeats the whole purpose of using a proxy.
TOR (The Onion Router)
Tor is a free browser that anonymizes your web browsing.
Despite it being a very good privacy tool, Tor is not recommended for torrenting, because:
- Tor is very slow (usually max. 1-5Mbps)
- It doesn’t support UDP connections, and therefore DHT (Distributed Hash Table) which relies on UDP. Magnet links don’t work without DHT
- It’s not a plug-and-play solution – your torrent client settings will need to be adjusted accordingly
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