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How to Safely Torrent with Mullvad VPN

Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

Our Verdict

Mullvad is an excellent VPN that can be trusted to hide torrenting activity from your ISP. You can port forward on all 833 of its P2P-optimized servers, and traffic is encrypted using AES-256 or ChaCha20. The only major downside is Mullvad’s inconsistent speed performance, but you can fix this by switching between nearby servers.

When you torrent without a VPN, anyone can see the files you’ve been downloading from your IP address. This includes your ISP, law enforcement, and any other third parties.

To torrent safely, you need a VPN. By connecting to a VPN server, you’ll share an IP address with hundreds of other users. This prevents your P2P activity from being linked to you.

A good VPN service will also secure your traffic using trusted encryption ciphers, DNS leak protection, and a reliable kill switch.

We found that Mullvad is an excellent VPN for torrenting. It comes with port forwarding to speed up connections, a private logging policy to anonymize your activity, and a malware blocker to protect you on unsafe torrent sites.

However, Mullvad is not the very best VPN for torrenting. Its speeds are slow on some servers and its advanced features are difficult to set up.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to use Mullvad for torrenting. We’ll explain how to configure the VPN to maximize its security and speed.

We detail the pros and cons of using Mullvad for torrenting, as well as suggest some alternative VPN services.

Mullvad’s Torrenting Performance: At a Glance

Torrenting Rating
Average Torrenting Bitrate
P2P Servers
Port Forwarding
Logging Policy
Jurisdiction
9.3
9.8MiB/s
833
Yes
Anonymous Server Data
Sweden

EXPERT ADVICE:
For easier-to-use apps, a more private logging policy, and more consistent speeds, try Private Internet Access.

The VPN comes with a 30-day refund guarantee, so you can use PIA for 30-days risk-free.

How to Torrent with Mullvad

Setting up a VPN for torrenting involves more than just a standard server connection. If you don’t configure Mullvad properly, you still risk leaking your IP and revealing your P2P activity.

In the steps below, we’ll tell you exactly how to configure Mullvad to maximize the VPN’s speed, security, and privacy.

Quick Guide: How To Use Mullvad for Torrenting

  1. Download a safe torrent client: We recommend qBittorrent.
  2. Sign up for Mullvad and download the app onto your device.
  3. Configure the Mullvad app for maximum security: Turn on its ad blocker, kill switch, and IPv6.
  4. Set up port forwarding.
  5. Bind Mullvad to your torrent client.
  6. Check for IP and DNS leaks.

1Choose a safe torrent client

No operating system comes with a built-in P2P client. You’ll have to install third party software.

We strongly recommend qBittorrent as the best torrent client. It’s open-source, safe, and doesn’t include ads. It also allows network binding, for added security.

Other popular options include Vuze, Deluge, uTorrent, and BitTorrent. Whichever you choose, make sure to download it from its official website

2Download the Mullvad VPN app

Download Mullvad on the device you’ll be torrenting on. If you don’t already have an account, you can subscribe to Mullvad for $5.50 a month. Mullvad doesn’t offer any discounts for longer-term plans.

For greater privacy, we suggest paying via cash or cryptocurrency. This way, it’s not possible to link your Mullvad account back to you.

3Enable all Mullvad security settings

Before connecting to a server, make sure Mullvad is set up with maximum security.

Thankfully, Mullvad doesn’t allow the kill switch to be turned off. A kill switch is the most important security feature for torrenting, but there are still some essential features that are not enabled by default.

To change the VPN’s security settings, open the Mullvad app and click the settings cog icon in the top right.

We recommend you enable the following Mullvad security settings:

  • Block ads, trackers, malware: Untrustworthy torrent websites often have lots of ads and sometimes contain malware. Enable this setting to prevent viruses and malware being installed on your computer.
  • IPv6: If your network supports IPv6, it’s possible it can leak and expose your IP address. With this setting turned on, your IPv6 address will be replaced with one from the VPN server. This drastically reduces the risk of accidental leaks.
  • Always require VPN: This setting prevents your computer from establishing an internet connection until you connect to Mullvad. This guarantees that your torrenting activity is protected, especially if you’re someone who forgets to turn the VPN on each time.
Mullvad's advanced security settings

Mullvad includes many security settings well-suited for torrenting.

4Set up port forwarding

Mullvad is one of only a few VPNs that support port forwarding. By setting it up, you can download your torrent files faster and improve your seeding time.

Before starting, you will have to turn off recurring payments if you subscribe to Mullvad via credit card or PayPal.

As a privacy precaution, port forwarding is not allowed on any Mullvad account with an active subscription. You’ll still be able to use the VPN until the end of your billing period. Once that’s up, you’ll have to resubscribe again.

Scroll down to see our step-by-step instructions, or watch the video below to see exactly how we set up port forwarding with Mullvad.

Here’s how to set up Mullvad for port forwarding:

  1. Open the Mullvad app. Click Settings > Advanced > WireGuard Settings > WireGuard key > Manage keys.
  2. On the Mullvad webpage, click the Select a city drop-down menu and choose the server location you will use for torrenting. We recommend you make this the city closest to you for optimal speeds.
  3. Press Select a key and choose No key (only OpenVPN) and press Add port.
  4. Copy the five-digit number listed after the country code. For example, from the port label gb-mnc-54934, copy 54934.
  5. Open your torrent client’s settings. In the Port used for incoming connections field, paste the five-digit number. Disable uPnP and click Apply.
  6. Launch the Mullvad app and select OpenVPN as the Tunnel protocol. Our tests have found it to be the faster choice for torrenting. Then, connect to the server location you’ve set up for port forwarding.
  7. To verify you’ve set up port forwarding correctly, paste the five-digit number into Mullvad’s port check tool. Make sure you see Port is reachable. If you see the Port is unreachable error message, re-do these steps.

Note: Enabling port forwarding will prevent you from using the SOCKS5 proxy. As Mullvad’s VPN connection is already very secure, we strongly recommend you use port forwarding instead of SOCKS5.

5Bind Mullvad to your torrenting client

For additional security, bind Mullvad to your torrenting client. By enabling this, torrent files will only download when you’re connected to a Mullvad VPN server.

In practice, this works similarly to a kill switch. If the connection to the VPN drops or you accidentally disconnect, your torrent file will stop downloading and your true IP address will remain hidden.

Watch the video below to see how we set this up. We used qbittorrent, but the process is the same for most popular torrenting clients.

Here’s how to bind Mullvad to your torrenting client:

  1. Open qBittorrent. Click the settings cog icon at the top right.
  2. Select Advanced from the left-hand sidebar. Click the dropdown list next to Network Interface and make a note of all the options listed. Then, click Cancel.
  3. Open the Mullvad app and connect to the server you want to torrent from.
  4. Return to qBittorrent and click the settings cog icon. Click the Network Interface dropdown list again. Look for an option that was not there previously. Then, select it.
  5. Press Apply, then Ok.
  6. Your torrent client is now bound to the IP address of the Mullvad server.

6Test your connection for leaks

The final step is to ensure your VPN and torrent client is set up correctly.

To do this, use our torrent IP leak test tool. It’ll check that you’re not accidentally leaking any IP or DNS information through the VPN tunnel.

If the tool doesn’t detect any leaks, you’re ready to download torrent files as you usually do.

Is Mullvad Good for Torrenting?

Out of all the 71 VPNs we tested, we rank Mullvad as the fourth-best for safe torrenting.

Mullvad uses strong AES-256 or ChaCha20 encryption, it doesn’t collect any user or activity logs, and it downloads torrent files extremely fast.

To compete with the very best torrenting VPNs, Mullvad needs to improve the reliability of its speeds. We also wish it was easier to set up some of the advanced torrenting features, like port forwarding.

Here’s a summary of Mullvad’s strengths and weaknesses at torrenting:

Pros
Cons
  • P2P traffic supported on all servers
  • Fast torrenting speeds in most locations
  • Strong kill switch and other security features
  • Uses best-in-class protocols and encryption
  • Doesn’t log any activity data
  • Accepts cash payments
  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • Port forwarding is complicated to set up
  • Port forwarding not allowed on accounts with active subscription
  • SOCKS5 proxy can’t be used with port forwarding

Mullvad qBittorrent Test

Mullvad downloads torrent files fast and safely.

In the section below, we’ll explain in-depth the features that make Mullvad good and bad for P2P file-sharing.

Mullvad is fast enough for torrenting

Most popular torrent files, like movies, usually have an extremely large file size. A fast VPN can make the difference between waiting minutes or hours for a file to download.

Speed is the main area where Mullvad excels. When using it, we could download torrent files almost as quickly as with no VPN.

While using its Manchester server, our speed dropped from 10MiB/s to 9.8MiB/s. This is one of the fastest results we’ve ever recorded.

The only issue is that Mullvad’s torrent speeds change depending on the server you use. When connected to its London location, our download bitrate dropped to 2.1MiB/s. This meant our files took almost five times as long to download.

Here are our results when testing Mullvad’s torrenting bitrate when connected to nearby servers:

Mullvad Server
Download Bitrate
Time To Download 50GB Torrent File
No VPN
10MiB/s
1 hour 19 minutes
Manchester Server
9.8MiB/s
1 hour 21 minutes
London Server
2.1MiB/s
6 hours 18 minutes

Because of the variance in performance, we strongly recommend trying multiple Mullvad servers and sticking to the one that gives you the fastest speeds. Otherwise, you might be waiting longer than you need for your files to download.

With that said, Mullvad’s speed performance is very impressive on the vast majority of servers. It’s even faster than most top torrenting VPNs, like ExpressVPN and PIA.

Mullvad is one of the most trustworthy VPNs

Mullvad can be trusted to keep your torrenting activity hidden from your ISP and other third parties.

Here’s what makes Mullvad one of the most private VPNs for torrenting:

  • Doesn’t collect any activity logs. Mullvad doesn’t retain your IP address, traffic, or anything that can be used to identify you from your web activity.
  • Open-sourced apps. Anyone can view the source code for Mullvad’s apps, ensuring there are no hidden security vulnerabilities in the app.
  • No email required and accepts cash and cryptocurrency payments. Mullvad is one of the only VPNs that allow you to use its service totally anonymously without providing any personal information.
  • No controversies since its launch in 2009. Unlike many other VPN services, Mullvad has never been involved in any scandals. It’s never handed over user data and has always protected its users’ privacy and security.

The one downside is Mullvad’s base in Sweden. Sweden is part of the 14 Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, as well as the EU. As a result, Sweden shares surveillance data with other countries.

However, this isn’t a major concern as Mullvad doesn’t log personally-identifiable data. Mullvad doesn’t have any information to provide if it’s ever requested.

In fact, Mullvad’s privacy protections are so strong that it has not been able to provide any user data when requested by a court of law.

Although not publicly known, a representative from Mullvad told us that “since we do not have any VPN activity logs […] we have no information that could help their investigation.”

Real-world tests like this are the best way to assess a VPN’s trustworthiness. You can be sure that Mullvad will protect your sensitive P2P activity.

Strong encryption and security features

Mullvad includes all the security settings you’d expect from a top torrenting VPN.

It supports the AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption ciphers, depending on whether you use OpenVPN or WireGuard. The app also includes a system-wide kill switch, IP leak protection, and a malware blocker. We explain the necessity of these in the instructions section of this page.

Mullvad’s server infrastructure and apps have also been audited by a third party. No privacy-compromising information was discovered during the audit. However, the latest of these was in 2021, which is not as recent as we’d like.

To check how well Mullvad encrypts traffic, we tested it ourselves using Wireshark. We inspected packets of data to ensure nothing was viewable in plain text.

Mullvad successfully encrypted our DNS, HTTP, TCP, and UCP requests. All information within the VPN tunnel was obfuscated.

Testing Mullvad's encryption using Wireshark

Mullvad encrypted all of our internet traffic.

Unlimited torrenting on every server

Mullvad allows you to torrent on all 833 of its servers. All of its servers are optimized for P2P file-sharing and have unlimited bandwidth.

As well, Mullvad supports port forwarding in all 38 countries. Some other VPNs we tested, like PIA, prevent you from port forwarding in certain regions.

Mullvad's server list

Torrenting is supported on every Mullvad server.

Mullvad is also impressively transparent with its server network. For added security, you can view its server list to make sure you’re connected to a server wholly owned by Mullvad.

Port forwarding is difficult to set up

We were disappointed with aspects of Mullvad’s port forwarding feature.

Primarily, it is much more difficult to set up than with some other VPNs. For example, PIA and Proton VPN allow you to configure port forwarding by simply ticking a box in the app’s settings.

With Mullvad, you can’t set it up from within the app and you’ll have to go through a multi-step setup process. You need to do this every time you switch to a different server location, too, which happens often given its poor P2P speeds on certain servers.

Secondly, port forwarding is not allowed on any account with an active subscription. You have to remove your payment information by canceling your subscription.

Mullvad's error message when trying to enable port forwarding on an active account

Mullvad prevents port forwarding on active accounts.

After contracting Mullvad, we were told this is to protect user privacy. As Mullvad only allows five open ports per account, each port is tied to the account ID. If there’s payment information attached to the account, your torrenting activity could theoretically be linked back to you.

Although we’re glad Mullvad has taken steps to block a potential privacy issue, it only exists because of Mullvad’s five port limitation.

We’d like to see Mullvad, like some other VPNs, allow users to configure an unlimited number of ports. That way, there would be no need for the ports to be linked to the account ID.

How Does Mullvad Compare to Other Torrenting VPNs?

Although Mullvad is one of the top VPNs we’ve used for torrenting, there are still better options available.

Other VPN services allow you to download torrent files faster, log less data, and are easier to use.

Here’s Mullvad’s torrenting performance compared to the best paid and free VPNs for torrenting:

Attribute
Mullvad
PIA
Windscribe Free
Speed & Reliability Rating
9.3
9.6
7.0
Cheapest Monthly Price
$5.50
$2.19
Free
Data Cap
Unlimited
Unlimited
10GB
Port Forwarding
Yes
Yes
No
Torrenting Bitrate
9.8MiB/s
9.6MiB/s
6.3MiB/s
P2P Servers
833
17,193
110
Logging Policy
Anonymous Server Data
No Logs
Anonymous Server Data

Mullvad is almost the perfect VPN for torrenting. However, PIA’s no-logs policy and simpler interface make it the better option for most users.

Windscribe is a decent option if you want a free option, but Mullvad beats it in every metric. We’ll detail both alternatives in the following sections.

Private Internet Access: The Best Overall VPN for Torrenting

Using Private Internet Access to download a torrent file

PIA is the fastest no-logs VPN you can get.

Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN for safe torrenting. It’s fast, its privacy policy is superb, and it’s available for cheap on long-term plans.

PIA is much easier to use than Mullvad. Its port forwarding functionality can be enabled in the app. In contrast, Mullvad’s same feature is not available in the app. Plus, it’s not intuitive and requires multiple steps.

PIA allows P2P traffic on all 17,193 of its servers across 84 countries. Mullvad has just 833 servers in 38 countries. With PIA, you’re more likely to have a server nearby, plus server congestion is less likely. Both these factors mean faster and more reliable torrenting downloads.

However, PIA doesn’t allow you to port forward on any US servers. It’s also more expensive than Mullvad if you pay month-by-month. PIA is our favorite VPN for torrenting, but Mullvad is still a good choice if you’re based in the US or pay monthly.

Windscribe: The Best Free VPN for Torrenting

Using Windscribe to hide our tormenting activity

Windscribe Free is much slower than Mullvad.

Windscribe is a decent alternative to Mullvad if you don’t want to pay for a VPN subscription. As you’d expect from a free service, though, it’s worse than Mullvad in every way.

The VPN comes with a 10GB monthly data cap. In our experience, this often wasn’t enough to download a movie in high resolution. It’s only usable for torrenting movies in a lower resolution, individual episodes of TV shows, or music.

The VPN protection will stop as soon as you use up the 10GB allowance, so make sure to activate the kill switch in the app’s settings. Otherwise, your true IP address will leak.

It’s also 36% slower than Mullvad for torrenting. Using it, we recorded an average bitrate of 6.3MiB/s. This result is fine for a free service, but it doesn’t come close to Mullvad or PIA’s speeds.

Overall, there’s no reason to choose Windscribe over Mullvad unless you prioritize value above all else.

Additional research by Luke Williams

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio