How to Torrent Safely: Five Essential Tips
1. Use a VPN to Hide Your Torrent IP Address
The best way to torrent safely and anonymously is to use a virtual private network (VPN).
A good VPN hides your true IP address, which stops copyright trolls from identifying you.
VPN software also hides your torrenting traffic from your internet service provider (ISP) and network administrator (at school or work).
You must only use a VPN optimized for secure and private downloads, though. We recommend secure VPNs for torrenting later in this guide.
A P2P-specialized VPN service, like ExpressVPN, records fast download speeds, doesn’t keep internet logs and never leaks your IP address.
In our ExpressVPN P2P tests, the VPN’s high-speed and IP leak-proof servers always masked our identity.
Another reason for using a VPN is to bypass internet blocks imposed by your school, workplace, or ISP on file-sharing websites and trackers for torrents.
A VPN bypasses content filters by routing your connection via a secure server, assigning you a new IP address. You’ll have to connect to a different country to bypass geo-blocks.
Always Have Your VPN Running
Many people get caught out when torrenting by not keeping their VPN running when the torrent client is active.
Torrent clients can start seeding as soon as you launch them. Unless your VPN is already on, your real IP address is exposed when this happens.
For this reason, you must have your VPN on before you launch torrent client and after you close the program.
When you exit from within the client’s menu, make sure the program isn’t still running in your device’s systems tray.
Only disconnect from your VPN when you are absolutely certain that the torrent client has stopped.
It’s essential you configure your VPN correctly, too. For example, ensure your VPN’s kill switch function is enabled to prevent unexpected IP exposures.
What About Using Proxy Services for Torrenting?
Some torrenters choose to use proxy services when torrenting, such as the Shadowsocks SOCKS5 proxy.
A proxy is similar to a VPN in that it changes your IP address, but it doesn’t encrypt your torrenting traffic.
In other words, your ISP can still see you’re torrenting, and can throttle your connection.
We strongly recommend you use a secure torrenting VPN rather than a proxy.
2. Use a Safe Torrent Client
There are many popular torrent clients available, but not all of them are equally secure and private.
It’s important to use a torrent client that is not only easy to use but, crucially, doesn’t contain viruses and protects your privacy.
For instance, the popular uTorrent is full of invasive adverts. The software also contains bloatware.
We’ve tested qBittorrent, uTorrent, Deluge, BitTorrent, Transmission and Vuze. Based on our analysis, qBittorent is the safest torrent client.
Configure Your Torrent Client Properly
A properly configured torrent client can maximize your security and privacy while leeching and seeding files.
In your torrent client, look for an ‘IP binding’ setting. It lets you whitelist IP addresses to torrent from, and blocks any other connections.
In practice, whitelisting works like a VPN kill switch. Be aware, that it will block your connection if your VPN IP address changes.
See detailed instructions for configuring your torrent client later in this article.
3. Only Visit Safe Torrent Websites
There a thousands of websites hosting torrent links around the world. You must be careful which one you use, though.
Sadly, many file-sharing websites host fake links and sometimes links to virus-ridden files.
It’s always best to stick to trusted sources, like the Internet Archive, to avoid nasty surprises. Even then, read through comments to make sure nobody has had a bad experience with a file.
You can also refer to our list of the best torrenting sites for other safe alternatives.
Make sure you have your antivirus is always running, with real-time monitoring enabled, to avoid visiting dangerous websites.
4. Only Download Torrents You Trust
Torrents can contain dangerous contents such as malware, spyware, and ransomware. It’s really important you only download torrents you trust.
Some torrent sites have trusted user icons to mark regular contributors who only post safe torrent and magnet links. This is useful tool to find virus-free torrents.
Look for files with a good number of seeders and leechers, too. Having said that, we generally advise on avoiding the most popular torrents, since these attract copyright trolls.
Always double-check the contents of a downloaded file. If you expected a video file and you get a .exe program, do not open it.
In fact, be wary of file extensions you don’t recognize. If you see an unfamiliar file type, look it up on a search engine before opening it.
4. Install antivirus software on your device
Following from the above advice, you must scan every single file you download using effective antivirus software.
There are several good free antivirus applications, however at Top10VPN.com we primarily use Malwarebytes.
The premium version of Malwarebytes features real-time monitoring and protection.
We recommend you do three things with your antivirus software:
- Scan any torrent file you download
- Set up regular (daily) device scans
- Enable real-time website monitoring to block access to dangerous torrent websites