Is Proton VPN Good for Torrenting?
SUMMARY: Proton VPN is a good, but not the best, VPN for torrenting. Ultimately, it is a safe and reliable service that protects your file-sharing activity with excellent torrent speeds and no IP address leaks.
Here’s a summary of Proton VPN’s strengths and weaknesses for torrenting:
|BitTorrent traffic allowed on all servers||P2P-optimized servers in just 20 countries|
|More than 190 P2P-optimized servers||Free plan does not support torrenting|
|Port forwarding feature||Port forwarding only available on the Windows app|
|Privacy-friendly jurisdiction & minimal logging policy|
|Kill switch to protect against connection outages|
|Strong encryption & secure VPN protocols|
Proton VPN also offers dedicated P2P-optimized servers, has a minimal logging policy, and comes with a collection of robust security features.
Here is a table comparing the torrenting performance of each Proton VPN subscription plan:
|# of P2P Locations||0||20|
|# of P2P Servers||0||190+|
|Monthly Price (2-year plan)||Free||$4.99/mo over 2 years|
Here are the features that make the premium version of Proton VPN a good choice for P2P file-sharing:
Proton VPN offers high-performance servers specially configured for torrenting and other P2P activities. You can find them by looking for the two-arrow icon in the app’s server list.
These optimized servers are only available in the following 20 locations:
- Hong Kong
If you’re not based somewhere close to these countries, you’ll likely experience some connection slowdowns when connecting to these servers.
Trying to torrent on a non-P2P optimized server may lead to an error message or a P2P VPN redirect. This is because a number of the data centers Proton VPN rents its servers from do not allow P2P traffic.
As a solution, the provider uses a ‘Stateful Firewall’ that identifies P2P traffic and re-routes it to another VPN server that does permit torrenting.
Importantly, Proton VPN assures us that this firewall works without logging any identifiable information or seeing any of the files you’re downloading.
While it is impressive that Proton VPN offers P2P-optimized servers, it is a shame that they are available in a limited number of locations and that you may be blocked from torrenting on Proton VPN’s other servers.
If you’re looking for a safe place to host a VPN service, Proton VPN’s home country of Switzerland is a fantastic location for three main reasons:
- Switzerland has strong privacy laws, so Proton VPN is not required to store data on users.
- Switzerland is outside the EU, so it’s not subject to EU data retention laws.
- Switzerland is not in the 14 Eyes alliance of countries that engage in mass surveillance of internet users.
You can torrent with Proton VPN comforted by the fact that Switzerland is a safe VPN jurisdiction that is unlikely to force a VPN company to record and store customer data.
Very Private Logging Policy
Some VPN services keep logs of user activity. This completely defeats the point of using a VPN for torrenting because it means your activity is still being recorded.
If a VPN collects identifying logs, it will not be recommendeded for P2P — no matter how secure it is.
Thankfully, Proton VPN operates a minimal logging policy. The only thing it stores is a timestamp of when you last logged in, which it uses to protect your account against unauthorized use.
There’s no record of where you signed in from, how long you were logged in, or what you accessed. What’s more, your previous timestamp is overwritten every time you log in for a new session.
This is about as minimal as logging can be.
If a court ever ordered Proton VPN to disclose user information, it simply wouldn’t be able to. There isn’t any recorded data to reveal.
This happened in January 2019, when a Swiss court approved a request from a foreign country asking for user data. “As we do not have any customer IP information, we could not provide the requested information and this was explained to the requesting party,” wrote Proton VPN.
You can also obtain a Proton VPN account anonymously, without providing any personal identifying information, by paying with Bitcoin (instead of credit/debit card or PayPal).
P2P Speed Tests
To test Proton VPN’s file-sharing speed, we downloaded a 1GB torrent file while connected to a nearby Proton VPN server. All testing was carried out on a private torrent tracker and a fixed 10MiB/s broadband connection, to ensure a controlled testing environment.
We timed how long the file took to download and recorded the average bitrate. This test was then repeated multiple times and the bitrates aggregated to reduce the impact of anomalous results.
The Verdict: Proton VPN has an average local bitrate of 9.7MiB/s. This is an excellent result that is only outmatched by a handful of premium torrenting VPNs, like Astrill. As such, Proton VPN is more than fast enough for torrenting on local connections.
It’s important to note that we tested the Proton VPN paid plan to get these results. Torrenting is blocked on Proton VPN Free.
Strong Security Features
Proton VPN has a modern, comprehensive set of security features to protect your data and your privacy, which make it ideal for torrenting. These include:
- Secure protocols: OpenVPN is the most secure VPN protocol and it’s available in all of Proton VPN’s apps. The Android and macOS apps also support IKEv2 as an alternative option. Proton VPN says it doesn’t use PPTP or L2TP/IPSec anywhere, even though they’re cheaper. That’s good news, because both of those protocols offer weaker security than OpenVPN.
- Strong encryption: Proton VPN traffic is encrypted using the AES-256 encryption cipher, the pinnacle of data encryption.
- Perfect Forward Secrecy: Each VPN session uses a different encryption key. If the encryption key is cracked, only the current session is vulnerable. Previous sessions that may have been stored by bad actors and any future sessions yet to come cannot be decrypted with the same key.
- Transparency: Proton VPN is leading the way in transparency. It was one of the first VPN providers to publish the source code for its software, which means that anyone can see how Proton VPN works and check it for security vulnerabilities. The company has also submitted its apps to be audited by an independent third-party.
- Kill switch: If your connection to the VPN drops, there is a risk that your real IP address could be exposed to your ISP or other torrenters in the swarm. To avoid this, Proton VPN includes a built-in kill switch for Windows and macOS, which blocks all network traffic if the VPN fails. There’s also an ‘Always-on’ feature for iOS and Android which automatically re-establishes a connection to the VPN server.
- Port Forwarding: With Proton VPN’s port forwarding functionality, you can bypass your router’s NAT firewall and create a direct connection to your torrenting client. This results in much faster P2P download and upload speeds.
EXPERT ADVICE: Proton VPN does not support Port Forwarding. If you regularly seed torrent files, use PIA’s port forwarding tool, instead.