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How to Torrent Safely with Windscribe VPN

Callum Tennent's profile image

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.

Our Verdict

Both the free and pro versions of Windscribe VPN are safe and reliable for torrenting. Both applications allow torrenting on almost every server, and secure P2P traffic via AES-256 encryption, IP leak protection, and a kill switch. Despite its 10GB monthly data cap, Windscribe Free remains one of the best free torrenting VPNs available.

How to torrent safely with Windscribe

Torrenting without a VPN can expose your public IP address and P2P activity to third parties, including your ISP.

VPNs are therefore essential for safe torrenting, but not all VPN services support P2P traffic, and many that do simply aren’t safe or trustworthy.

Sadly, it’s common for low-quality VPNs to leak your IP address, throttle your torrent speeds, or even to log your download data.

Luckily, Windscribe is one of the better torrenting VPNs we’ve tested. It has a privacy-friendly logging policy, industry-standard AES-256 encryption, and a transparent approach to P2P traffic.

However, some users have expressed concerns about torrenting using Windscribe Free. There have also been anecdotal reports of users receiving DMCA notices for torrenting while using Windscribe VPN.

In this guide to torrenting with Windscribe, we’ll detail the results of our P2P tests and reveal if it’s safe to torrent using Windscribe’s free VPN.

We’ll also explain why Windscribe is a good VPN for torrenting, and give step-by-step instructions on how to use it safely with torrent clients like qBittorrent.

EXPERT ADVICE: Windscribe is a dependable VPN for torrenting, but it can’t match ExpressVPN. It’s one of our top-rated VPNs for torrenting with faster download speeds, higher reliability and a wider server network. Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days.

How to Use Windscribe to Safely Download Torrents

Torrenting anonymously with Windscribe VPN is easy, as long as you follow our simple advice for torrenting safely.

Here’s a video demonstrating how you can use Windscribe to torrent privately and securely. We’ve used qBittorrent, but the steps will be the same no matter which torrenting client you use:

Using Windscribe to torrent safely is a simple process – make sure you connect to a server before downloading any torrent files.

Follow these steps to torrent safely with Windscribe:

  1. Download Windscribe for your chosen device. You can also use Windscribe Free for as long as you want, but it is limited to 11 server locations and has a monthly data cap of 10GB.
  2. Install and open the VPN application on your device.
  3. Before you start torrenting, you must enable the always-on kill switch, called Firewall. Navigate to Preferences > Connection and select Always On under Firewall Mode. Alternatively, you can set the toggle on the home screen next to Firewall to On. Select OK to save your changes.
  4. Connect to your desired server location. We suggest choosing one as close to you as possible – just make sure it allows P2P traffic.
  5. Open your torrent client only once you’ve completed the previous steps. We recommend qBittorrent as the safest torrenting client.
  6. Now you can start downloading and seeding torrents, but make sure the VPN is always turned on whenever the client is open (even if it has been minimized).

Does Windscribe Allow Torrenting on All of Its VPN Servers?

Windscribe is committed to giving users online freedom as much as possible. This includes support for P2P traffic, with only a few servers that are off limits.

The premium version of Windscribe allows torrenting on almost all its servers, and the free version allows torrenting on all 11 available server locations.

Windscribe's servers which cannot be used for torrenting

Windscribe singles out the server locations that cannot be used for torrenting.

Windscribe does not specifically optimize any of its servers for P2P traffic. Instead, it chooses to let users torrent on almost every server in its network – more specifically, on servers in 110 cities and 69 countries.

Windscribe has even published an article explaining how to torrent safely using its VPN.

This isn’t as common as you might think: many VPN services don’t endorse torrenting, and some even ban torrenting outright.

Windscribe’s transparent support of torrenting is a good sign, and it means its P2P policy is unlikely to change any time soon.

Which Windscribe Servers Do Not Allow P2P Traffic?

There is one restriction in place: P2P traffic isn’t allowed on servers in four specific countries. We’ve listed the blocked servers here, along with our suggested alternatives if you live in one of them:

Restricted Server Location
Suggested Alternative
Cambodia, UAE

Latvia, Poland

Finland, Georgia, Latvia

South Africa

Is It Safe to Torrent with Windscribe Pro & Free?

SUMMARY: Windscribe Pro and Windscribe Free are both reliable VPNs that are safe to use for torrenting and P2P file-sharing on most servers. Both versions of the VPN use secure encryption, IP leak protection, and an anonymous logging policy, but they are not as fast as top-rated competitors like ExpressVPN.

Here’s a table explaining the key differences between the two versions of Windscribe when it comes to torrenting:

Windscribe Free
Windscribe Pro
Monthly Price
$5.75/mo over 12 months
P2P Support
# of P2P Servers
Up to 10
Almost 120+
Average Bitrate
Data Cap
10GB per month
Kill Switch
Port Forwarding
SOCKS5 Proxy

The free version of Windscribe used to be the best free VPN for torrenting thanks to its strong security, private logging policy, and generous 10GB monthly data limit.

It remains an very good P2P file sharing free VPN, however its torrenting speeds have slowed down in our recent tests.

If you’re a regular torrenter, though, you’ll know that 10GB probably won’t be enough data for you.

Upgrading to Windscribe Pro removes this data limit, and provides access to every server in the Windscribe network, rather than the maximum of 10 servers available on the free version.

With Windscribe Pro, you’ll also get access to WireGuard, SOCKS5 proxy support, and port forwarding.

Windscribe and qBittorrent running at the same time

Our tests found Windscribe did not significantly slow down our download bitrate while torrenting.

While Windscribe Pro is a safe VPN for torrenting, it isn’t the best torrenting VPN overall. It uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption and has an almost zero-logs privacy policy, but it simply isn’t as fast as its main competitors.

Below is a more in-depth overview of Windscribe’s safety for torrenting:

Does Windscribe Log Your Torrenting Activity?

Windscribe has a trustworthy logging policy that only collects anonymous data for maintenance purposes. Windscribe does not record the files you torrent, nor does it store any information relating to it.

An excerpt from Windscribe VPN's logging policy

Windscribe’s logging policy is safe for torrenters.

Windscribe’s logging policy has not been independently verified, and the company’s Canadian jurisdiction is a poor choice given its strict copyright enforcement laws. However, this is unlikely to be an issue if the VPN has no personally identifiable information to hand over.

While there have been anecdotal reports of Windscribe customers receiving DMCA notices for torrenting, it’s highly unlikely that this is due to the company cooperating with copyright authorities.

If you’re not careful, it’s incredibly easy to reveal your public IP address by simply forgetting to activate your VPN before activating your torrenting client.

AES-256 Encryption, Leak Protection & Additional Security Features

Both the free and paid versions of Windscribe provide the full range of security features you would expect from a torrenting VPN. These include AES-256 encryption, IP and DNS leak protection, and an effective kill switch.

Windscribe actually calls its kill switch ‘Firewall’ because it functions differently to regular VPN kill switches. Windscribe claims that if your connection drops, ‘Firewall’ guarantees that no data will leave your device, which means that your real IP cannot leak.

Windscribe app and Firewall toggle

Windscribe’s Firewall can be quickly toggled on and off from its home screen

256-bit encryption ensures your torrenting traffic is indecipherable to your ISP and other third parties, which means no one can see what you’re downloading.

EXPERT TIP: Always make sure that you disconnect from your VPN after fully closing your torrent client. Otherwise, your IP address could still leak.

Fast Local Torrenting Speeds – but Not the Fastest

We used a fixed-speed local connection to test Windscribe’s average torrenting bitrate when connected to a nearby server. Here are our results:

Average Download Bitrate with No VPN Average Download Bitrate on Local VPN Connection Average Download Bitrate on Long Distance VPN Connection
10MiB/s 7.2MiB/s/s 2.7MiB/s

We measured an average download bitrate of 7.2MiB/s using a local Windscribe server. This isn’t as quick as the fastest torrenting VPNs, but it means your torrents will still download at a respectable speed – less than 30% slower than if you were using no VPN at all.

However, Windscribe’s speeds were significantly slower over long-distance connections, particularly between the US and Europe.

We found the download bitrate on our test connection dropped from 10MiB/s to 2.7MiB/s – that’s almost 75% slower. This is particularly important if you live far away from Windscribe’s torrenting servers.

Your torrenting bitrate will also depend on the number of users seeding the specific file you’re torrenting, as well as the upload speeds of their connections. If a torrent doesn’t have enough seeders, even the fastest VPN can’t make it download any quicker.

Windscribe Pro Includes Port Forwarding

Windscribe Pro has port forwarding, which helps make it a very good VPN for seeding torrent files.

Port forwarding is a rare feature. If used correctly it means you can enjoy faster uploads, and potentially faster downloads, when you torrent.

Port forwarding setup on the Windscribe website

Port forwarding is setup via the Windscribe website – not within the app.

It works by taking a port from your home router to the wider internet and leaving it permanently open. This port will be the same as one used by your Bittorrent client for download and upload traffic. By leaving it open, traffic passes through faster and with fewer interruptions.

If you’re worried about security, don’t be – only one port will be forwarded at a time, and only on the Windscribe server location you choose. All you need to do is tell your Bittorrent client to use the same port and you’re ready to go.

While our testing has found that there are plenty of VPNs without port forwarding which are faster than Windscribe, Windscribe would be slower without it.

EXPERT TIP: Port forwarding with Windscribe isn’t as simple as just clicking a toggle. It requires relatively complex setup first. You can read how to set up port forwarding with Windscribe here.

Windscribe Free Includes a 10GB Data Cap

There is no data cap for Windscribe Pro users, which means you can torrent an unlimited number of files without restrictions. If you’re a paying subscriber, you can download or upload as much data as you like.

However, Windscribe Free users are limited to a 10GB monthly data allowance. That’s a very generous amount for a trustworthy free VPN, but it won’t last long if you do a lot of torrenting.

How to Use Windscribe’s SOCKS5 Proxy for Torrenting

Windscribe also lets you use a SOCKS5 proxy with the VPN, which is a favorite feature amongst torrenters. However, proxies don’t encrypt your torrenting traffic when used alone. If you use SOCKS5, make sure you use it with your VPN connected, too.

If you still want to go ahead, here’s how to set up the SOCKS5 proxy server with Windscribe and uTorrent. uTorrent does have some safety drawbacks, but the process is similar for most other torrenting clients, too.

  1. Open qBittorrent and click the Preferences cog at the top of the window.
  2. Click the Connection option in the left-hand navigation and then scroll down to the Proxy Server section.
  3. Select SOCKS5 from the Type dropdown menu.
  4. Get your SOCKS5 login credentials from Windscribe. You’ll need to be on the paid plan to do this. Windscribe SOCKS5 configuration page
  5. Check the Authentication box, and enter the host address, port, username, and password provided to you by Windscribe. Click OK to save your changes.
  6. Check the box next to Use proxy for peer connections, but leave the one next to Use proxy only for torrents as unchecked.
  7. Click OK to save your changes.

Again, we strongly recommend against torrenting with just the SOCKS5 proxy instead of the VPN. If you’re going to use SOCKS5 for added obfuscation while you torrent, make sure your VPN is also connected.

How to Fix Windscribe Not Working for Torrenting

If you don’t use Windscribe safely, you risk exposing your torrenting IP address, which may put you at risk of legal action.

There have been instances where users have still received copyright infringement warnings from their ISPs when using Windscribe.

However, this is generally due to improper practice while torrenting, and not Windscribe itself.

Here’s how to make sure Windscribe is working properly when torrenting:

  1. Enable Windscribe’s Always-On Firewall. This is a feature that blocks all internet connections unless your VPN is turned on, ensuring all your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel.

    To enable this feature, navigate to Menu > Connection > Firewall Mode > Select Always On

    Windscribe's always on firewall

    Windscribe’s Always On firewall.

  2. Test your Connection for leaks. Use our IP Leak test tool to ensure you are not leaking your IP or DNS information while torrenting.

    If no leaks are detected, you can download and upload torrent files without exposing your true IP address.
  3. Bind Windscribe to your torrenting client. This will ensure torrent files will only download when you’re connected to a Windscribe server, similar to the Always-On Firewall.

    Follow these steps to bind a VPN to your torrenting client:

    1. Open your torrenting client, for this example, we are using qBittorrent.
    2. Select the cog icon at the top of the screen.
    3. Navigate to Advanced on the sidebar.
    4. Click the dropdown list next to Network Interface and take note of the options displayed before clicking cancel.
    5. Open the Windscribe app and connect to a server. We recommend connecting to a server in the country you are located to reduce speed loss.
    6. Return to qBittorrent and repeat the steps listed above. When you click the Network Interface dropdown list, select the option that was not shown before.
    7. Click Apply and Ok
    8. qBittorrent will now be bound to the IP address of the Windscribe server.
  4. Block your torrenting client from opening on startup. Torrenting clients such as qBittorrent may open as soon as your device starts up. This risks exposing your IP address to the entire torrent swarm if you haven’t got a VPN connected.
  5. For this example, we are using qBittorrent on Windows:

    1. Navigate to Tools and the top of the screen
    2. Select Options
    3. Under Desktop, untick Start qBittorrent on Windows startup
    4. Click Apply
  6. Ensure your torrenting client has shut down completely. For most torrenting clients, clicking the ‘X’ only minimizes the tab and does not close the client completely. If you close your torrenting client this way, the client will continue to run in the background.

    Once your file has finished downloading, it will then continue seeding. If you have only minimized the torrenting client and disconnect your VPN prematurely, you will expose your IP address to all the members in the torrent swarm.

    How to close down qBittorrent correctly

    Select Exit to close down qBittorent completely.

    To prevent this from occurring, make sure to properly shut down your client. When using qBittorrent you need to click ‘Exit’ under the File tab.

Safe Alternatives to Windscribe for Torrenting

If you need to torrent one or two files for free, then Windscribe Free is the safest option available. However, if you want the absolute best torrenting experience then there are better VPNs than Windscribe overall.

Here’s how Windscribe’s torrenting performance compared to other top torrenting VPNs:

Here are the safest and most effective alternatives to Windscribe for torrenting, according to our testing:

1. ExpressVPN

qBittorrent running successfully with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN logged quicker speeds in our testing than Windscribe, and has no server restrictions.

Average Torrent Download Bitrate: 9.4MiB/s

ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for torrenting, as well as the best VPN overall according to our testing.

ExpressVPN allows P2P traffic across its entire network of 3,000 servers spanning 94 countries – that’s a lot more than Windscribe. This matters for torrenting because it means congestion on busy servers is less likely, meaning faster download speeds.

Privacy and anonymity should be your number one priority if you’re a torrenter, though, and ExpressVPN is one of the best. Just like Windscribe it has AES-256 encryption, network obfuscation, and reliable kill switch. ExpressVPN’s jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands is a privacy haven, and a safer choice than Windscribe’s Canada.

ExpressVPN also uses its own bespoke protocol called Lightway, which resulted in a download bitrate 30% faster than Windscribe in our testing.

Unlike Windscribe, ExpressVPN doesn’t provide a free service or even a free trial. However, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s more expensive than Windscribe Pro, but our testing shows it’s worth it for torrenters.

Visit ExpressVPN or read our ExpressVPN review to find out more.

2. AirVPN

AirVPN torrenting with qBittorrent

AirVPN isn’t easy to use, but there’s plenty to customize if you’re an experienced torrenter.

Average Torrent Download Bitrate: 9.7MiB/s

If you’re a more confident VPN user and a torrenting veteran then AirVPN might be your best choice.

AirVPN is totally optimized for torrenting from top to bottom – we recorded an average download bitrate of 9.7MiB/s in our most recent testing, which is even faster than ExpressVPN. We worry its small server network may hold it back in the future, but for now speeds are excellent.

While it may be based in Italy, a member of the 14 Eyes coalition, AirVPN’s flawless no-logs policy means that there’s no personal user data to be found on its servers.

In addition to a trustworthy kill switch, it also supports port forwarding on all servers with an easy setup process that only takes a few minutes.

However, that’s about the only thing that AirVPN makes easy. The only thing holding it back is its horrible UI. Apps are complicated and look very dated – we don’t recommend you use it unless you have considerable experience with VPNs.

Visit AirVPN or read our AirVPN review to find out more.

3. Windscribe Free

Torrenting using Windscribe Free

Windscribe free marks out which servers can only be used with a Pro subscription, and also keeps track of your remaining data allowance.

Average Torrent Download Bitrate: 6.4MiB/s

While a handful of paid VPNs may be better for torrenting than Windscribe Pro, our testing has found Windscribe Free to be the best option if you don’t want to pay anything at all.

Its 10GB per month data allowance is one of the most generous offerings available from a free service, and it comes with the same level of security as the paid product.

There are 10 server locations to choose from, with options across North America, Europe, and one in East Asia. You can torrent on all of them with the 10GB data cap your only restriction.

While Windscribe Free recorded a slightly slower download bitrate in our testing compared to the Pro version (6.4MiB/s vs 7.2MiB/s), that’s still one of the fastest free torrenting VPNs on the market.

The only torrenting feature missing from Windscribe Free is that you can’t port forward with it. Still, it’s a good choice if you don’t torrent all that often or if you want to try the product out before paying up for the full package.

Visit Windscribe or read our Windscribe review to find out more.