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How to Torrent Safely with Surfshark

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

Surfshark is a safe and effective VPN for torrenting. It supports P2P on all its servers with reasonable download speeds, AES-256 encryption, and useful security features including a kill switch and Double VPN. Its privacy-focused logging policy will shield your P2P activity from your ISP and enable anonymous torrenting using clients like BitTorrent, uTorrent, and Vuze.

using Surfshark for torrenting

A secure VPN is vital to protect you when you are torrenting. It masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic so that your ISP and other users in the peer-to-peer (P2P) network cannot record your activity or trace your downloads to target you with malware or copyright claims.

Unfortunately, not every VPN service supports P2P traffic, and many simply do not offer the level of security necessary for safe and anonymous torrenting.

Surfshark claims to be “a torrent-friendly VPN that has everything you need”. We put this to the test by analysing its average torrenting bitrate, logging policy, encryption standards, and server network and comparing it to 68 other VPN services.

We found that Surfshark is a safe and secure choice for torrenting. It supports torrenting across all its servers and works effectively with a wide range of torrenting clients including uTorrent, BitTorrent, and qBittorrent. However, it’s not the best VPN for P2P activity overall. Its speeds could be faster, and it doesn’t support port forwarding.

In this article, we’ll explain everything there is to know about torrenting with Surfshark, including its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll detail how to torrent safely using Surfshark and and suggest some alternatives you should consider.

Surfshark’s Torrenting Performance: At a Glance

Average Bitrate Number of Servers P2P-Optimized Servers Logging Policy Port Forwarding Jurisdiction
8.7MiB/s 3,200 Undisclosed Anonymous Data No British Virgin Islands

EXPERT TIP: Surfshark offers a seven-day free trial on iOS and Android and a 30-day money back guarantee on desktop devices. Torrent safely for 30 days using Surfshark or try the best VPN for torrenting: IPVanish.

How To Safely Torrent with Surfshark

When you use Surfshark with a torrenting client, the most important safety rule is to make sure the VPN is active before you open the torrenting application. Ensure the VPN continues to run even after you’ve finished downloading.

For more advice on secure torrenting practices, read our full guide on how to torrent safely.

To torrent safely with Surfshark, follow these steps:

  1. Subscribe to Surfshark and download the VPN client. If you decide it isn’t for you, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee for you to claim a full refund.
  2. Make sure the kill switch is enabled. On Windows and Android, it’s in the ‘connectivity’ settings. On macOS, it’s in the ‘preferences’ menu.
  3. Switch to the OpenVPN protocol. It’s the recommended protocol for torrenting, and it’s faster than Surfshark’s WireGuard implementation based on our latest tests.
  4. Connect to a VPN server. You can find a P2P-optimized server by searching for ‘P2P’ in Surfshark’s server locations menu. For the fastest speeds, choose a server close to your physical location.
  5. Test for IP address leaks. Use our VPN leak test tool to check that Surfshark is successfully hiding your public IP address.
  6. Open your torrenting client. Based on our testing, QBittorrent is safe to use, but Surfshark also works with BitTorrent, Transmission, Vuze, and uTorrent.
  7. Download your files.
  8. Keep your VPN active. Even when you’ve finished downloading, your torrent client may continue to share pieces with other torrenters. Only turn the VPN off when you are sure you have completely closed your torrenting client.

Is Surfshark Good for Torrenting?

Surfshark is a safe choice for torrenting, but it can’t compete with the best P2P VPNs on the market. It offers strong AES-256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and advanced features including Double VPN and obfuscation. It also supports torrenting on all its servers.

Though it’s not the best for torrenting, it’s a good choice if you’re a casual P2P user looking for an effective all-round VPN. It’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and it works well with international streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer. You can read more about Surfshark’s general performance in our full Surfshark review.

Here’s a table outlining the strengths and weaknesses of Surfshark for torrenting:

PROS CONS
  • Minimal logging policy
  • Large network of 3,200 servers
  • Torrenting supported on all servers
  • Strong encryption and VPN protocols
  • Automatic kill switch
  • No DNS, IPv4, or WebRTC leaks
  • Support for obfuscation, double hop, and split tunneling
  • No support for port forwarding
  • Slower than competing P2P VPNs
  • Not all servers are fully optimized for torrenting
  • Risk of IPv6 leaks

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

Is Surfshark Fast Enough for Torrenting?

Our regular torrenting speed tests have found that Surfshark is fast enough for a good torrenting experience, but it doesn’t match up with the fastest torrenting VPNs on the market.

Here’s a table outlining Surfshark’s latest torrenting speed test results:

Same-Country Average Speed Loss 15%
International Average Speed Loss (UK-US) 41%
Average Torrenting Bitrate 8.7MiB/s

Connecting to a VPN server in the same country, we saw a speed loss of just 15% with the VPN running.

While that’s not the fastest performance we’ve seen, it is still relatively fast. Connecting to a VPN server in your country protects your IP address from being traced without the speed loss of an international VPN connection.

Surfshark’s long-distance speeds are also good. Connecting from the UK to the US, we measured an average speed loss of 41%. Connecting to Australia, the speed loss was 40%.

Surfshark’s Average Torrenting Bitrate

We tested Surfshark’s average torrenting bitrate and compared it to 11 other P2P VPNs. Surfshark measured an average bitrate of 8.7MiB/s, compared to 10MiB/s with Astrill and 9.4MiB/s with ExpressVPN. In total, six torrenting VPNs were faster than Surfshark for torrenting.

EXPERT TIP: The OpenVPN protocol is typically faster than WireGuard when using Surfshark. Though Wireguard is usually faster than OpenVPN, we recommend you use OpenVPN with Surfshark for the fastest torrenting speeds.

Large P2P-Friendly Server Network

Surfshark advertises more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, all of which are P2P-friendly.

However, servers that are specifically-optimized for P2P activity are only available in specific locations. These servers aren’t labelled by default – to find them, type “p2p” into the server list.

Surfshark VPN home screen

You can find P2P-optimized servers in Surfshark’s server menu.

If you use a normal Surfshark server for torrenting, your downloads are likely to be significantly slower.

It’s better to connect directly to a P2P-optimized server. Surfshark does not disclose how many of these there are, but they are available in the following locations:

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US

EXPERT TIP: If you’re experiencing slow torrenting speeds, ask Surfshark’s support team which server is best for you to connect to directly. It’s also worth trying a few different torrents and VPN servers first.

Privacy-Friendly Logging Policy

Surfshark has a safe logging policy that collects absolutely no data about your activities while using the VPN. However, it does record aggregated performance data, unsuccessful connection attempts, and how often you use the VPN.

surfshark's VPN logging policy

Surfshark only records anonymized connection data.

This isn’t a zero-logs policy, but it’s still safe. Surfshark does not store anything sensitive about you, your IP address, or your browsing history.

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a privacy haven that is ideal for hosting a VPN service. There are no data retention requirements in the BVI, and no foreign governments can force Surfshark to store or share user data.

How Strong Is Surfshark’s Encryption?

Surfshark hides your IP address and protects your web traffic with industry-standard encryption. Here’s a quick summary of its security offering:

  • The AES-256-bit encryption cipher is the highest standard of consumer-level encryption. It prevents your ISP, government agencies, and copyright trolls from spying on your activity, and is enabled by default in all of Surfshark’s applications.
  • Surfshark offers the IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols by default. OpenVPN and WireGuard are the safest on the market, though we recommend OpenVPN in this case due to its faster speeds.

We tested Surfshark using our VPN leak test and found no DNS, IPv4, or WebRTC leaks when using the VPN apps.

However, Surfshark does not support IPv6, which means it won’t work with an IPv6 router and it may leak your public IP address if you’re on an IPv6-enabled network. We recommend you disable IPv6 or choose a VPN with IPv6 protection, like ExpressVPN.

EXPERT TIP: Surfshark offers browser extensions, but they only encrypt your activity within the web browser. That means you’ll need the full desktop VPN application to protect your torrenting activity.

No Support for Port Forwarding

Port forwarding enables other torrenters to initiate a connection to your computer so they can download files you are seeding. Without port forwarding, you can only seed files to peers that you initiate a connection to. Some torrenting clients will slow your downloads if you are not seeding enough.

As a result, many users consider port forwarding to be an essential feature for any torrenting VPN.

Surfshark doesn’t support port forwarding due to apparent security risks, which means it isn’t as easy or effective for seeding torrenting files as other top VPNs. In fact, there are some anecdotal reports suggesting that Surfshark doesn’t allow seeding at all.

If you’re looking for a VPN that supports port forwarding, we recommend PrivateVPN, AirVPN, and Astrill VPN. Port forwarding does enable external connections to bypass the firewall, so remember to use it with caution.

Wide Range of Additional Security Features

Despite its other shortcomings, Surfshark is a fully-featured VPN with an extensive suite of additional security features that are useful for torrenting.

Surfshark’s advanced security features include:

  • A kill switch to block your internet connection if the VPN disconnects, protecting your real IP address from leaking. This is considered essential for torrenting.
  • Whitelister, Surfshark’s VPN split tunneling feature. This feature enables you to route some of your web traffic outside the VPN, which means you can use the VPN for torrenting while using your real IP address for other web services.
  • Camouflage Mode (obfuscation) makes your VPN traffic look like normal HTTPS traffic. If you are in a country where VPNs are heavily regulated, obfuscation is essential.
  • CleanWeb blocks ads, trackers, and malware. It helps to protect you from torrent files loaded with malware, but it won’t strip the adverts out of the uTorrent client.
  • MultiHop is a Double VPN feature that sends your traffic through two VPN servers, making it even harder for third parties to track you. MultiHop gives you additional protection if you are torrenting files that are politically sensitive.
  • SOCKS5, a popular proxy connection protocol, is supported by Surfshark. While SOCKS5 proxies are popular in the torrenting community, they don’t use encryption and offer much weaker protection than a full VPN.

These security features can be found on all of Surfshark’s apps for Windows, Android, Mac, iOS devices, and routers.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick and router apps can also be used to stream Kodi extensions that use P2P sharing.

There is also no limit on the number of simultaneous connections you can have on one subscription, which means you can use Surfshark on all of your devices at the same time.

How Does Surfshark Compare to Other P2P VPNs?

Surfshark is a good choice for casual torrenting. It will protect your identity and encrypt your connection with reasonably fast speeds and an all-important kill switch. It’s also an excellent value VPN that is cheaper than many other torrenting VPNs on its cheapest plan.

Overall, there are better VPNs for torrenting, though. Services like IPvanish, ExpressVPN, and AirVPN offer the same features as Surfshark but are faster on average and have additional P2P-specific features. All of these alternative VPNs offer split tunneling, an effective kill switch, and equally strong encryption.

Here’s a table comparing Surfshark to its top torrenting competitors:

VPN Service
Average Bitrate
No. of P2P Servers
Logging Policy
Port Forwarding
Jurisdiction
Cheapest Price
IPVanish
9.9MiB/s
1300
No Logs
No
US
$3.75
ExpressVPN
9.4MiB/s
3000
Anonymous Data
No
British Virgin Islands
$6.67
AirVPN
9.7MiB/s
200
No Logs
Yes
Italy
$3.69
Surfshark
8.7MiB/s
Undisclosed
Anonymous Data
No
British Virgin Islands
$2.49

IPVanish

The top-rated VPN for P2P is IPVanish. It is consistently faster than Surfshark for torrenting and offers more than 1300 optimized servers and 40,000 anonymous IP addresses. Unlike Surfshark, IPVanish also has IPv6 leak protection.

While Surfshark maintains minimal connection logs, IPVanish does not log any of your browsing activity. The only information it records is your email address and payment method.

The IPVanish app for Android

Using the IPVanish application on Android.

The cheapest monthly subscription plan for IPVanish costs $3.75 per month for a one-year subscription. This is more expensive than Surfshark’s cheapest option, but it’s still great value over a shorter subscription term.

Although IPVanish is a better VPN for torrenting, Surfshark is a viable choice if you’re a casual torrenter who is also interested in streaming. IPVanish works to stream Netflix in the US and Japan, but you’ll need to experiment to find a working server. By contrast, Surfshark works with 30 Netflix libraries and also streams BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is an excellent P2P VPN and the top-rated VPN overall. It’s not as fast as IPVanish, but it’s faster than both Surfshark and AirVPN on average. While torrenting with ExpressVPN we measured a download speed loss of just 8% compared to our speeds without a VPN.

A screenshot of ExpressVPN running at the same time as qBittorrent

ExpressVPN being used alongside qBittorent.

The VPN offers the highest number of P2P-optimized servers – more than 3000 compared to 1300 with IPVanish. Surfshark does not disclose the total number of servers in its network.

It has an audited zero-logs policy and a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. However, ExpressVPN is more expensive than Surfshark and the other top-rated torrenting VPNs. Its cheapest price is $6.67 per month on a 15-month subscription.

AirVPN

AirVPN is the best alternative to Surfshark if you need port forwarding for torrenting. However, it’s significantly more complicated to use; while Surfshark has user-friendly applications and settings, AirVPN requires some manual configuration. Surfshark is a better choice for beginners, but AirVPN is recommended for advanced torrenting users with more experience.

Screenshot of AirVPN's desktop application

AirVPN’s menus are complicated for beginners.

AirVPN has been operating much longer than Surfshark and most other commercial VPN services. In all that time, there have been no problems with security breaches, logging, or data sharing at AirVPN. Its privacy policy is vague, but we have been reassured that the VPN does not collect any information that could be used to identify you.

If you’re looking to use a VPN for more than torrenting, AirVPN doesn’t work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer, although Disney+ does work. If you want a VPN to use for streaming alongside torrenting, Surfshark is a better choice.

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