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How to Safely Torrent with ExpressVPN

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

Our Verdict

ExpressVPN is a great VPN for torrenting. Its fast download speeds, unrestricted P2P support, and high encryption strength are ideal to download torrents safely. It's one of the best VPNs for P2P activity, although the general lack of port forwarding may put off seeders.

a character uses a tennis racket with the ExpressVPN logo to protect an array of torrenting activity of

Torrenting without IP address protection puts your privacy and security at risk.

Unless you use a VPN, anyone on the peer-to-peer (P2P) network can see your IP address and track your activity. This could leave you open to financial or legal penalties if you are caught downloading copyrighted material.

However, not all VPNs are suitable for torrenting. Some VPN services throttle speeds for P2P traffic, or even prohibit it altogether. Others lack the security and privacy features needed to download torrents safely and anonymously.

After testing over 68 VPN services, we found that ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for torrenting. It allows P2P traffic on all its servers, delivers excellent security and speed, and is easy to set up on all devices.

This guide will cover everything there is to know about torrenting with ExpressVPN, including how to torrent using ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. Try ExpressVPN for 30 days to enjoy fast and anonymous torrenting.

For our advice on the most secure torrenting practices, please read our guide on how to download torrents safely.

See where ExpressVPN ranks in our list of the best VPNs for torrenting

How to Torrent with ExpressVPN

Torrenting with ExpressVPN is very easy and requires no special skills. You can connect to any VPN server within the huge global network and start safely downloading torrents from a client of your choice.

The most important thing to do is make sure your VPN is running before you start torrenting.

QUICK OVERVIEW: How to Use ExpressVPN to Torrent

  1. Select a torrent client: We prefer qBittorrent, µTorrent, or BitTorrent.
  2. Download and set up ExpressVPN: The cheapest price is $6.67 per month.
  3. Turn on Network Lock & Leak Protection: You should also switch to the OpenVPN protocol.
  4. Connect to a VPN server: ExpressVPN’s Smart Location feature chooses the most suitable one.
  5. Confirm the VPN is working: Run a quick torrent IP leak test to make sure your identity is hidden.

1. Choose a torrent client

Your computer cannot use torrent files on its own. Before you can start torrenting, you need to choose a reliable client.

We recommend qBittorrent for security, but there are dozens to choose from. Other popular clients include µTorrent, BitTorrent, and Vuze. Be sure to download your chosen client from its official website, as other sites may contain adware.

2. Open an ExpressVPN account

Don’t start torrenting until your VPN is up and running. Visit ExpressVPN.com, and click the ‘Get ExpressVPN’ button on the homepage.

Choose your preferred subscription plan and enter a payment method. We recommend the 15-month plan because it works out the cheapest. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an activation code by email.

EXPERT TIP: There’s a way to use ExpressVPN for free for up to a month. Read our ExpressVPN free trial guide to find out how.

3. Set up ExpressVPN correctly

Open the ExpressVPN app and enter your activation code. Before connecting to a server, click on the hamburger menu in the app and select ‘Preferences’.

In the ‘Protocol’ tab, select either TCP or UDP. Then look for the ‘Network Lock’ section in the ‘General’ tab and make sure both checkboxes are enabled.

Finally, in the ‘Advanced’ tab, make sure DNS and IPv6 leak protection are turned on. All these settings should be enabled by default, but it’s always a good idea to double-check.

4. Choose a server to connect to

ExpressVPN allows unrestricted torrenting on all of its servers, but you’ll still need to select a server before you start torrenting.

The ‘Smart Location’ feature offers the easiest and most efficient way to connect. It selects a suitable server for you based on physical location and load.

EXPERT TIP: Wherever possible, connect to a server in a privacy-friendly country for P2P activity. However, be aware that the further away the VPN server is from your physical location, the slower your connection speeds will be.

5. Verify your IP address

As a final precaution, you should verify that you’re properly connected to the VPN by checking that your IP address is being successfully masked.

Use our free Torrent IP Leak Test tool to ensure you’re not leaking any IP or DNS information that may leave your identity exposed.

If there are no leaks, you’re ready to start downloading torrents safely and securely.

Is ExpressVPN Good for Torrenting?

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs we’ve tested when it comes to torrenting. It doesn’t throttle download speeds and you can torrent using any server in the network.

The VPN is also very fast and has an impressive suite of security features, including OpenVPN and AES-256 encryption, effective leak protection, and a reliable kill switch.

The main issue we found when testing ExpressVPN for torrenting was that it doesn’t allow port forwarding on its computer (or mobile) apps. This means that uploading, or ‘seeding’, files is extremely slow.

PROS CONS
  • P2P traffic supported on all servers
  • Excellent connection speeds
  • Verified zero-logs privacy policy
  • Kill switch included on most devices
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
  • Industry-leading encryption
  • Simple setup & intuitive app design
  • Very limited port forwarding
  • No kill switch on iOS
ExpressVPN running at the same time as qBittorrent

ExpressVPN is fully compatible with BitTorrent clients

Here’s an in-depth look at torrenting with ExpressVPN:

Does ExpressVPN allow torrenting?

ExpressVPN allows unrestricted torrenting and P2P file-sharing across all of its servers. That means you don’t need to choose a specific server – you can simply connect to any server and start downloading torrents without restrictions.

The company’s website openly endorses P2P activity, however they did recently take down a page that gave users explicit instructions on how to use the VPN with uTorrent (here’s an archived version).

We’ve seen no indication yet that this represents a general move away from supporting torrenting, but we’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will update this page if anything changes.

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer any P2P-optimized servers, like a number of competitors do. But this isn’t an issue given that ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries – server congestion has never been a problem for us.

EXPERT TIP: Connect to the VPN server nearest to your location to enjoy the fastest download speeds.

Are there data caps or bandwidth restrictions?

ExpressVPN doesn’t impose a monthly data limit or restrict your bandwidth in any way. In our tests, we enjoyed unlimited torrenting with no limits on speed.

Many VPN services, especially the free ones, restrict the amount of data you can use each month. This makes them unsuitable for torrenting since P2P traffic tends to require a lot of data usage.

Other VPNs will throttle their users’ speeds, particularly if they are engaging in bandwidth-heavy activity like P2P file-sharing. For the best torrenting experience, you need a VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth like ExpressVPN.

Be aware, though, that your ISP might start asking questions if you’re downloading hundreds of gigabytes per month.

How strong is ExpressVPN’s encryption?

ExpressVPN uses the leading VPN protocol OpenVPN, and the extremely secure AES-256 encryption cipher to protect your data. The US Department of Defense protects sensitive information with the same encryption technology, so you know you’re in safe hands. With 1077 possible combinations, it’s simply not feasible that this level of security can be broken.

Most torrent clients, such as BitTorrent and µTorrent, use their own encryption to protect user privacy and prevent throttling and blocking from ISPs. However, this doesn’t encrypt the actual files included in the torrent you’re downloading, which means a third party may be able to find out what you’re downloading.

That’s why ExpressVPN’s ultra-secure encryption is so great for torrenting. It will keep your activity completely hidden from onlookers so that you can torrent anonymously.

Learn more about VPN encryption in our beginner’s introduction to how VPNs work

What additional security features does ExpressVPN offer?

As well as securely encrypting your data and effectively hiding your IP address, ExpressVPN provides an impressive suite of additional security features that help to keep you safe and private online. Here’s a few of the most useful for torrenting:

  • Kill Switch: ExpressVPN uses a kill switch, known as ‘Network Lock’, that automatically blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection is lost. This is an essential tool for torrenting as it prevents your IP address from being leaked if there is an issue with the VPN. Unfortunately, Network Lock is not available on iOS.
  • VPN Split Tunneling: This feature lets you control which traffic you route through the VPN server and which you don’t. This is great for protecting your privacy when torrenting while still keeping access to local network devices open.
  • Leak Protection: If your VPN is leaking IP or DNS information, then it is useless for torrenting. ExpressVPN protects your privacy by keeping your DNS queries obscured even in situations where they might otherwise leak. This prevents eavesdroppers from seeing which websites you’re visiting.
ExpressVPN advanced security settings

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

One downside to using ExpressVPN for torrenting is that it provides very limited port forwarding. We discuss this in greater detail below.

Is ExpressVPN fast enough for torrenting?

You need fast connection speeds to download torrents effectively and ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services we’ve tested.

All VPNs reduce performance to some degree because data has a longer round-trip to complete when it’s being routed through a remote server. However, with the right VPN service, the difference is mostly unnoticeable.

We found that ExpressVPN has an average speed reduction of only 11% when connecting to a local server. This means that if your standard internet connection speed is 100Mbps, you can expect a speed of 89Mbps when torrenting.

This makes ExpressVPN one of the fastest VPNs on the market. As you can see from our speed test tool, it’s consistently one of the best performing torrenting VPNs on local, same-country connections.

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

ExpressVPN provides servers in 94 countries and territories, so you should always be able to find a nearby server that will deliver a fast connection for torrenting.

Does ExpressVPN Support Port Forwarding?

The only major issue we found was that ExpressVPN does not support port forwarding on its main apps. That means uploading, or ‘seeding’, torrent files is extremely slow.

ExpressVPN only allows port forwarding on its router app. Unless you already have an ExpressVPN router, this is a complicated and potentially expensive solution.

For a good-quality P2P VPN with the ability to port forward, read our PrivateVPN review.

How privacy-friendly is ExpressVPN?

The main reason for torrenting with a VPN is to protect your privacy and anonymity from third parties such as ISPs and copyright trolls.

However, some VPN services track and log your activity themselves, which negates the reason for using them in the first place.

An excerpt from ExpressVPN's logging policy

ExpressVPN makes it perfectly clear what information it does and does not log

Fortunately, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logging policy. It doesn’t retain any records of which websites you visit or which torrents you download. It also keeps your DNS queries safe with leak protection.

The only information ExpressVPN records is:

  • The date you connect to the VPN
  • The location of the server you connect to
  • The total amount of data that gets transferred in the session

None of this information is personally identifiable. It’s only collected to provide technical support and troubleshoot any issues across the network.

ExpressVPN’s zero-logs policy has even been independently verified by two separate third-party audits.

In 2018 and 2019, both PwC and Cure53 tested the VPN service and confirmed that its logging claims were trustworthy.

ExpressVPN is also based in the British Virgin Islands, which is known globally for being a privacy haven. It is far away from international surveillance operations such as the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance and the country doesn’t enforce any data-retention laws. This means ExpressVPN isn’t legally required to retain an archive of its users’ information.

Infographic showing the five eyes countries.

Why Do You Need a VPN for Torrenting?

illustration of a character protecting torrent files using a seatbelt

Torrenting is better with a VPN. It protects your personal identity and online activity from onlookers so that you can download music, torrent movies and TV shows, and access free software safely and securely.

You can torrent without a VPN, but we don’t recommend it. Here’s why:

A VPN hides your identity while you torrent

Without a VPN, your IP address and online identity will be visible to everyone else in the torrent swarm. This may include your ISP, copyright trolls or the content owners themselves.

Connecting through a VPN hides your real IP address and replaces it with one belonging to the VPN server. It also encrypts your traffic so that snooping third-parties cannot see what you’re downloading.

A VPN helps you protect yourself against legal action

Many countries continue to ramp up their efforts to enforce copyright law. We don’t condone copyright violations, but it’s easy to slip up unintentionally, especially if you’re sharing your local network with family or roommates.

Using a VPN makes it much harder for authorities to track you down and take legal action against you should you make a mistake. Just be sure to use a good-quality service that uses strong encryption and won’t leak your information.

Using a VPN avoids connection throttling and site blocks

Some ISPs try to prevent torrenting entirely, despite it being a perfectly legal way to download and share files. They have been known to throttle connection speeds, block P2P websites, or work with copyright owners to issue DMCA notices.

Thankfully, ExpressVPN effectively encrypts your traffic so that ISPs are unable to see that you’re torrenting and so cannot take action. This also means you can access online streaming services and other sites which might normally be inaccessible or restricted in your country or region.

SUMMARY

By encrypting your data and masking your IP address, a VPN hides your torrenting activity from ISPs, copyright trolls, and other torrenters in the swarm.

Bottom Line

With P2P file-sharing websites being monitored more closely than ever, we strongly recommend connecting to a dependable VPN service before you begin torrenting.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for torrenting we’ve tested. It’s safe, secure, fast, and very P2P-friendly.

The only significant drawback we found was that it doesn’t allow port forwarding, unless you’re using ExpressVPN’s router app.

ExpressVPN Torrenting FAQs

Is torrenting legal?

Torrenting is not illegal. It’s a popular and legitimate way to share files, especially very large ones. However, downloading copyrighted material is illegal and penalties can be severe.

In most countries, governments and regulatory bodies collaborate with ISPs to catch people who distribute copyrighted content. That’s why many people choose to use a VPN to hide their torrenting activity and online identity.

What is the best free VPN for torrenting?

We don’t recommend using a free VPN for torrenting. They almost always lack sufficient privacy and security measures. They also tend to enforce data caps and/or bandwidth restrictions, making them entirely unsuitable for downloading large files.

Some even prevent P2P activities like torrenting altogether.

For occasional torrenting, we’ve found just a handful of trustworthy free VPNs. Our top pick is Windscribe Free. You can read more about it in our guide to the best free VPNs for torrenting.

Which devices and operating systems support ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. It even has apps designed for use directly on the router, which can be used to protect your entire home network.

ExpressVPN also supports other devices, such as smart TVs and games consoles. Finally, there are browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox, but we don’t recommend using these for P2P traffic unless you’re using a browser-based torrent client.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    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