The Ultimate Guide to Torrenting 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 an excellent VPN for torrenting. Its fast connection speeds, unrestricted P2P support, and industry-leading encryption strength let you safely and easily download torrents. We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for P2P activity, although its lack of port forwarding may put off some users.

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

Torrenting without protection can put 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 providers throttle speeds for P2P traffic or even prohibit it altogether. Others lack the security and privacy measures needed to download torrents safely and anonymously.

After exhaustively testing over 70 VPN services, we found that ExpressVPN is the best VPN for torrenting. It allows P2P traffic on all of 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. Alternatively, you can read our full ExpressVPN review.

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. In fact, ExpressVPN openly endorses torrenting and even produces its own guides on how to torrent safely.

Many of the VPN services we test, such as Hola VPN, don’t allow torrenting at all. They block all P2P traffic on their servers. Others allow torrenting but place limits on your bandwidth, so it can take much longer to download or upload files.

Free VPNs, like Windscribe and TunnelBear, often impose monthly data caps which restrict how much you can download.

SUMMARY

ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all of its servers and doesn’t restrict P2P traffic in any way.

Is ExpressVPN Good for Torrenting?

ExpressVPN is the best VPN we’ve tested when it comes to torrenting. It doesn’t throttle download speeds and you can torrent using any server in the network. It’s also extremely 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. This means that uploading, or ‘seeding’, files is extremely slow, which might be a dealbreaker for you.

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
  • No port forwarding
  • No kill switch on iOS
A screenshot of 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:

Is P2P traffic allowed on all servers?

ExpressVPN permits P2P traffic across its entire server network. This is the first thing we look at when evaluating VPNs for torrenting, because many providers will block P2P activity on some or all of their servers in order to limit bandwidth consumption or prevent users from downloading copyrighted content.

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer any P2P-optimized servers, like NordVPN or CyberGhost 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.

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 doesn’t offer port forwarding. We discuss this in greater detail in the next section.

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 roundtrip to complete when it’s being routed through a remote server. However, with the right VPN provider, 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.

The only major issue we found when torrenting with ExpressVPN is that it doesn’t support port forwarding. That means uploading, or ‘seeding’, files is extremely slow. Since P2P file-sharing depends on the participation of everyone on the network, this doesn’t make you much of a team player.

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 providers 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 seperate 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.

How to Torrent with ExpressVPN

Torrenting with ExpressVPN is extremely 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.

1. Choose a torrent client

Your computer won’t recognize torrent files by default. Before you can start torrenting, you’ll need to choose a reliable client.

We recommend qBittorrent, 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

You shouldn’t start torrenting until you have your VPN 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. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an activation code by email.

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 ‘Options’.

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.

Wherever possible, you should connect to a server in a privacy-friendly country. However, be aware that the further away the country 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.

Visit ipleak.org to make sure your IP address has changed. If your ISP or home IP address appears in the results, you’re leaking DNS requests. This means either your VPN isn’t switched on or it’s not working correctly.

If it shows a new and unfamiliar IP address, you’re ready to start downloading torrents safely and securely. To learn more about data leaks, check out our complete VPN leaks guide.

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 super secure, delivers extremely fast speeds with a large server network, and is very P2P-friendly.

The only significant drawback we found was that it doesn’t allow port forwarding. Users hoping to seed files should consider using PrivateVPN instead.

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 three trustworthy free VPNs: Windscribe Free, Hide.me, and TunnelBear Free. You can read more about them 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