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Best VPNs for torrenting safely in 2021

Best VPN for torrenting

Contrary to popular belief, torrenting refers to a technology rather than something inherently illegal. Yet, it’s also true that many people use torrents to download copyrighted TV series or music albums.

However, even if you’re only downloading abandonware, Linux ISOs, and movies that are in the public domain, you’re not immune to trouble. And if you’re torrenting something you shouldn’t be, you should definitely always use a VPN, and thus we’ll give you a short list of the Best VPNs for torrenting.

Best VPNs for torrenting – quick list:

  1. NordVPN – best VPN for safe torrent downloads
  2. Surfshark – the cheapest VPN for torrenting
  3. ExpressVPN – best for fast torrent downloads
  4. Private Internet Access – the most customizable VPN for torrenting
  5. Mullvad – best torrenting VPN for full anonymity

VPNs for torrenting – our detailed list

All VPNs claim to hide your identity, but not all will work with P2P networks. This makes finding a good VPN for torrenting a head-scratcher. Then, there’s the balancing of speeds, safety, and server selection – only all of them combined will get you a good level of user experience and security.

We’ve hand-picked the VPN providers that make the best match with torrenting clients. With them, you can be sure to download torrents quickly and safely, no matter your platform of choice.

1. NordVPN – best VPN for safe torrent downloads

Nordvpn thumbnail
Based in:Panama
SOCKS5 proxy:Yes
Logging:No logs
P2P servers:Yes

NordVPN has P2P support on their specialized servers. They are optimized for bandwidth-intensive downloads, so you’ll get the best ratio for performance and safety.

Speaking of which, all their clients have a kill switch that will shut down your Internet connection to prevent unwanted IP leaks. One such mistake could reveal your identity and put you on your ISP’s blacklist.

With more than 5000+ servers in 59 countries, you’ll have plenty of countries to choose from. Whichever is your home country, you’re bound to find a fast server nearby to connect to.

If you need a VPN for torrenting-only, there’s no need to encrypt your full connection. Add your torrenting client to a split tunneling list, and only your P2P traffic will be encrypted. There’s also a SOCKS5 proxy for those who don’t care about the encryption and favor better speeds.

This VPN provider also has a strict no-logs policy, so whatever you do with your VPN will stay with you. Although most services promise the same, most of NordVPN’s servers don’t have mechanical hard drives and are running on RAM-only. Plus, their privacy policy was audited twice by PwC (one of the largest accounting agencies). Hence, you don’t have to trust the provider’s word blindly. The results speak for themselves.

All of this makes NordVPN a superb choice for torrents. Not only will your identity be hidden with strong encryption, but you also won’t be slashing performance, especially with additions like the next-gen NordLynx tunneling protocol. In our tests, it was one of the fastest.

Pros

  • SOCKS5 proxy
  • Specialized P2P servers
  • Split tunneling for apps/webpages
  • Audited no-logs policy

Cons

  • Discounts are only for longer subscriptions

2. Surfshark – the cheapest VPN for torrenting

surfshark thumbnail
Based in:British Virgin Islands
SOCKS5 proxy:No
Logging:No logs
P2P servers:Yes

Surfshark allows torrenting on any of their servers, the ports won’t be closed. They also have dedicated P2P servers, which are optimized specifically for torrents. So, if you find that your downloads are taking too long, this can be a solution.

With that said, this VPN service is one of the fastest we’ve tested, so the speeds shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, they have added a WireGuard tunneling protocol, with which you’ll barely even notice that you’re using a VPN.

The provider doesn’t overlook safety measures, either. Surfshark has a kill switch that turns off your connection as soon as the link between your device and VPN servers is disrupted. They even allow switching between AES-256-GCM and Chacha20Poly1305 encryption ciphers, unbreakable even with the most powerful modern hardware.

They also apply the same quality standards to their server fleet, so they’re not using any hard drives. All of their servers run on RAM-only memory, which means that no logs can be saved to be retrieved later. So, your identity is as safe as it can be.

You can choose from their fleet of 3000+ servers across 65 countries. This provides enough variety for different use cases.

If you need a VPN only for torrenting, there’s a Whitelister feature. With it, you can use a VPN connection only for torrenting websites and apps. That way, the rest of your traffic gets untouched.

Finally, it’s one of the most affordable options, with steep discounts for longer plans. With unlimited simultaneous devices, its value is unparalleled.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Dedicated P2P servers
  • Split tunneling
  • Customisable encryption methods

Cons

  • No SOCKS5 proxy

3. ExpressVPN – best for fast torrent downloads

expressvpn thumbnail
Based in:British Virgin Islands
SOCKS5 proxy:No
Logging:No logs
P2P servers:Yes

Although ExpressVPN doesn’t have specialized P2P servers, it doesn’t mean that you can’t torrent with this service. You can download torrents on any server that you want to. There are no restrictions. Plus, there’s a built-in speed test tool, so it’ll be easy to pick the fastest.

Safety is as important for a quality VPN, and ExpressVPN doesn’t disappoint. It has a Network Lock feature that stops all outgoing Internet traffic in cases when VPN unexpectedly disconnects. This makes sure that no unfortunate accident will leak your IP for everyone to see.

You can be calm that no data of what you downloaded will be stored even after you log out. ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which is coupled with their TrustedServer technology fleet. This means that not only do they promise not to keep any tabs on you, but it would also be impossible be design as they’re running on RAM-only.

Their fleet consists of 3000+ physical servers in 90+ countries, so it’s good coverage. The service has an especially high number of European and the Asia Pacific countries available. If you’re from there, it will be easy to find a neighboring server to connect to.

Even both Windows and macOS have split tunneling, so you’ll be able to use the service specifically for your torrent client. Few macOS apps have split tunneling, so it’s an achievement in itself.

It’s worth mentioning that ExpressVPN doesn’t include a SOCKS5 proxy, which could make your downloads even faster. Also, the subscription price is quite steep even when selecting longer subscription plans.

Pros

  • Fast speeds
  • All servers are P2P-compatible
  • TrustedServer technology
  • Split tunneling on Windows and macOS

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No SOCKS5

4. PIA – the most customizable VPN for torrenting

private internet access thumbnail
Based in:United States
SOCKS5 proxy:Yes
Logging:No logs
P2P servers:Allows P2P on all servers

PIA is one of the biggest providers on the market, with 29,000+ VPN and Proxy servers. Once you become their subscriber, you can connect to any one of them, as they all support torrenting. Those are numbers that no service can match.

Be aware that some of their servers are located in some not very torrenting-friendly countries like the United States. So, although there are plenty of options to choose from, be smart about which country you’re choosing for your torrenting traffic.

They added several safeguards to make sure that your experience goes smoothly and safely. If you’re worried that your IP will be revealed if one of their servers goes down, there’s a kill switch. It shuts down your Internet until the link to a VPN server is resolved.

There’s quite a lot of other parameters that you can configure to suit your needs. You can modify connection types and configuration methods for your encryption. It’s even possible to enable port forwarding to boost your seeding speeds as it allows more peers to connect. It’s also a relevant feature for private trackers.

SOCKS5 and split tunneling are also there, so whether you want to use a simple proxy or the VPN with only the torrent client, it’s simple to set up. Overall, PIA provides a lot of usability for torrenters, for a much lower price than most competitors.

Pros

  • Huge server fleet
  • Port forwarding
  • SOCKS5 split tunneling
  • Customizable connection types

Cons

  • Based in the US

5. Mullvad VPN – best for anonymous torrenting

mullvad vpn thumbnail
Based in:Sweden
SOCKS5 proxy:Yes
Logging:No logs
P2P servers:Allows P2P on all servers

Mullvad VPN may not be as known as the other options on this list, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s a truly anonymous VPN service, which is exactly what torrenters are looking for.

Even when you’re creating an account, their approach is a bit unconventional: you will be assigned a randomly generated 16-digit code. You don’t even have to provide an email address, so there are no traces back to you. If you want, you can even pay in cash.

The service allows P2P traffic on all of their servers, so you can pick whichever is the closest to get the best speeds. We detected no speed throttling during our tests, so it will be fine even for larger downloads.

SOCKS5 is included in your subscription, so you can set it up directly on your torrent client. That way, you’ll be trading privacy for speed, but if that’s the route you want to take, you can.

Mullvad also supports split tunneling on its Android and Linux applications. With it, it’s possible to add an exclusion for your browser if you want to get the local version of websites when you’re torrenting.

That said, their server selection is a bit on the lighter side. So, depending on where you live, it may be a bit harder to find a fast server nearby.

Mullvad’s pricing doesn’t offer any flexibility either, so whether you’re subscribing for a lifetime or a month – it will always be €5 a month, which isn’t that cheap.

Pros

  • Anonymous account
  • SOCKS5 proxy
  • Split tunneling
  • Open-sourced service

Cons

  • Few countries to choose from

How we selected and tested

When choosing the best VPN for torrenting, we prioritized specific features that are the most relevant for P2P downloads. So, if a VPN service is ranked higher, it’s because the service excels in these key areas:

  • Stance on torrenting. P2P connections consume plenty of bandwidth by design, which can be pretty hard to maintain if you have a large pool of users. If every one of them decided to download something simultaneously, this could quickly bring the infrastructure to its knees. So, many providers don’t allow torrenting traffic at all. I chose only services that don’t restrict P2P traffic.
  • Security. When downloading torrents, you’re making your IP address available for everyone to see. Which puts it out there for cybercriminals, tempted to test your home network’s strength, or the government. The better security a service has, the better are your chances of remaining anonymous.
  • Performance. The whole premise of torrenting is the ability to exchange files rapidly. So, the faster your VPN is, the better download speeds you can expect. Better performing services get ranked higher.
  • Logging. All VPN service providers claim to be anonymous, but you have to take their word for it most times. If a service has been tested “in the wild” or went through a third-party audit, it’s much easier to trust. It also means that your privacy will be respected no matter what.
  • Value. Most top-shelf VPNs offer a very comparable level of quality. If a service charges above the average price tag but isn’t offering that much, it’s a hard pass from me. Always look for a healthy balance between the price and the features you get.

VPNs we do not recommend for torrenting

Many services that we didn’t include in this list can still be used for torrenting. However, that doesn’t apply to those VPNs with severe loopholes. They can be both free and paid so you should be cautious.

Hola VPN – is one of the worst options you could pick. It uses P2P networks to establish a connection. Encryption is added only for premium users, and there are no countermeasures against IP leaks. To make matters worse, their privacy policy states that they’re collecting user logs.

Betternet – another poor choice for torrenting. This VPN is priced quite steeply but lacks essential security features. You won’t get a kill switch, meaning that your anonymity will depend on Betternet’s server fleet always working without issues. Even then, their server network is too small to consider this option for consitently great download speeds.

SuperVPN – recently our editorial team discovered that users of this provider had their credentials leaked and sold on the dark web. However, on Google Play, the service has more than one hundred million installs. It seems that the service provider was logging data despite their privacy policy stating otherwise.

This shows that not all VPNs are made equal, and you should always do your research before committing to a long-term service.

Why should I use a VPN when downloading torrents?

Torrenting is associated with many threats, Copyright Infringement Notices being only one example of how it could go wrong. Here are a couple of examples, which might make you consider whether you should use torrent clients without a VPN.

The connection itself. When you’re downloading files via a torrent client, you’re downloading from another user’s computer rather than a server. This puts your IP address in the public domain. Everyone who checks who is seeding/leeching a torrent file can find your real IP address. Which is almost like disclosing your home address.

Copyrighted materials. It may not be your intention to steal from some musician, but files in torrent websites won’t always be adequately named. Most likely, copyright holders and your ISP won’t care about the circumstances and treat you as just another pirate. A VPN will help you to avoid such situations by keeping you anonymous.

Social engineering attacks. Scammers can be impersonating copyright holders to make a profit for themselves. Since your P2P connection reveals quite a lot of data, this could be a starting point to gather intel on you. Using various web tools and your IP, it’s pretty easy to write a convincing email asking to pay a fine.

What is the best free VPN for torrenting?

Most free VPNs that would be safe enough for regular usage don’t allow you to torrent. As I’ve said, P2P connections can use up a lot of bandwidth, making other user experience worse. For this reason, it’s usually treated as a premium feature and reserved for paid users.

However, it’s not unheard of to find a free VPN that works with torrenting connections. In such cases, you should tread carefully. Torrenting is a resource-intensive task, especially in cases when it’s offered for free. So, it’s possible that your data is being logged and sold. If some offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Always double-check whether the software that you’re installing is safe.

Best locations for torrenting and P2P traffic

Some countries have looser laws concerning Internet downloads. Naturally, those will be the countries that are great for torrenting.

Switzerland

In general, Switzerland is one of the most privacy-friendly locations. Your right to privacy is protected, limiting what your ISP can monitor about you. Moreover, downloading copyrighted materials for personal use is legal as long as you don’t intend to sell them. However, it is illegal to share content if you don’t own copyright rights. So, as long as you’re downloading, you’re in the clear, but seeding is another thing.

Spain

Spain is a torrenter’s safe heaven because their law emphasizes the intent to profit over breaching copyright laws. There, you can share any data that you want as long as you don’t intend to make a profit. This means that torrenting for your own use is perfectly fine. Like in Switzerland, it’s still illegal to share copyrighted materials, so if you’re uploading, you’re committing a crime.

Poland

In Poland, downloading copyrighted materials is neither legal nor illegal. Generally, without permission, you cannot use copyrighted works. However, there are some exceptions, like private use cases, which fall outside of copyright law. You can write this off as a loophole in their judicial system, but it doesn’t make Poland a new Tortuga for digital pirates.

What other dangers are associated with torrenting?

A VPN is an excellent way to protect yourself from dangers associated with a non-private connection. Still, you must also make sure that every component of your setup is safe. This includes the torrent tracker your using and your torrent app.

For example, version 3.4.2 of uTorrent, one of the most popular torrent clients, drastically slowed down users’ devices. It was later reported that this version installed Bitcoin mining software that was acting without consent. Even the current version of uTorrent prompts you to install quite a lot of adware.

If you want safer alternatives, there’s Deluge and qBittorrent. Both are open-sourced and much safer options. Coupled with a reliable VPN, this leaves no gaps from the technical standpoint. Think before clicking on links, and you should be safe.

Bottom line

Whatever you’re planning to download through torrents, don’t forget to exercise caution. Although it may seem harmless, if you’re not careful, you can end up in more trouble than you could have ever imagined. This ranges from legal attention to the files themselves, which are often a source of malware.

A VPN can minimize the number of potential risks, but it should be a service you can trust. Otherwise, you’re just going out of the frying pan into the fire. So do your research and pick a service that will protect you.

More VPN guides from CyberNews:

Best VPNs for Netflix: access Netflix content from anywhere

Best VPNs for Hulu: fastest streaming in 2021

Best VPNs for Roobet: play from US & other countries

FAQ

Is torrenting legal?

Yes. The technology is legal, but what you do with it might not be. If you’re sharing a movie that is in the public domain, it’s perfectly legal. However, if you’re sharing a video of the latest Ryan Gosling flick that you filmed on your phone, it’s against the law. Some things seem legal fall in the grey area, so it’s not always apparent which items are legal or not to share.

Can you be caught torrenting with a VPN?

If your VPN’s kill switch is faulty, your IP address can leak. This could be enough to build a case against you. The sanctions vary, but you could expect everything from connection throttling to fines.

Is torrenting safe without a VPN?

No. When you’re torrenting without a VPN, you’re taking a risk. You might get lucky and never get into any trouble, or you could face the consequences. Depending on your country, you could get a pretty huge fine for such behavior.

Can you go to jail for torrenting?

It depends on your country and other details. If you download a song, that won’t land you in jail. However, if you’re supervising one of the biggest public torrent trackers, that’s a punishable offense (as Peter Sunde and other founders of The Pirate Bay learned in 2009).

Can using a VPN increase your torrenting speed?

If you have slow Internet, it’s unlikely that the speeds will somehow skyrocket with a VPN. A VPN adds an additional stop in your connection’s bus route, plus, encryption and decryption takes time. The only way a VPN can increase your torrenting speed is if your ISP is using speed throttling to limit you.

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Comments 14
  1. Kacey Simeon says:

    Hey. Can i torrent in TOR with VPN on ? Both TOR and VPN are for privacy and anonymity and it seems like an ultra secure decision. Especially If I use something like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Tor isn’t capable of supporting bandwidth-intensive applications. So, downloading the files over Tor isn’t really viable. However, getting magnet links and other meta-info files is possible.

  2. marie gerald says:

    I can see that torrenting with free vpn could be problematic but I’m keen to try. How do I check that VPN is safe if it’s free? What features should I look into to recognize if it’s good to use? To know if VPN provider is not selling data etc?TY!

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      You could read their privacy policy and how the free VPN will handle your data. Then, you should check if a service has any published transparency reports. Maybe there were any scandals? Look int those as well.
      Though there were many documented examples when a service’s privacy policy page claimed no logs, and after it was hacked, it was revealed that they kept logs. So, don’t blindly trust any provider’s words – verify.

  3. Adele says:

    I don’t have a computer , so can you torrent on mobile with a vpn ? my phone has a built-in vpn, however I didn’t try it yet. I can’t find any programs for torrenting like utorrent in iOS app store.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      You can’t find them because Apple doesn’t allow torrent clients on their App Store. There are unofficial clients like iTransmission, but to actually install them, you’ll have to jailbreak your phone or find the app on alternative libraries.

  4. Adam says:

    It is surprising that Switzerland is the best country to connect VPN to when torrenting. I thought that the most secure and best option would be something out of Europe : Mexico, Panama and so on. Also didn’t know, that Poland is also in a friendly list. However, if you use a VPN , (secure one) does it matter which country you are connected to? ISP still wouldn’t manage to track you.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      It matters to some extent. First of all, those countries in which torrenting isn’t outlawed will most likely have VPN servers with all of the necessary ports opened. So, you can skip filtering through various lists and stick to those countries, saving time.
      The second part of the argument, that it just makes more sense to connect to countries where torrenting is legal, as you’re far less likely to attract unwanted attention. Even though your ISP wouldn’t see what you’re doing online in either case, it’s just an extra measure to have ease of mind.

  5. Mao says:

    Does avast vpn allow torrenting? It is a very cheap (compared to many others) vpn, and I’m very interested in purchasing it. I will use it for torrenting mainly and have found that avast does restrict torrenting to specifically designated servers

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Yes, they have P2P-compatible servers. Though we haven’t checked them in this regard, so I cannot comment on performance.

  6. Davis Robinson says:

    Is VPN enough for torrenting for example in Germany, where torrenting is forbidden in general. For example someone wants to download a movie for free, will your isp instantly notice the usage of a vpn and report police?

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Your ISP will see that you’re using a VPN, but they have no idea what kind of traffic is exchanged. Using a VPN doesn’t necessarily mean “committing illegal acts”, so there’s not much to report.
      However, in this particular case, you’d be circumventing the law, which still means that you’re committing a crime. It’s just that you’re less likely to get caught with a VPN than without it.

  7. james says:

    I want protection from people (ISP, movie publishers, RIAA, etc) seeing the things i download via torrents. I don’t have much of a use for needing a different location or even hiding my browser data in the least. What would be cheaper and more efficient vpn or proxy for torrenting?

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      When you’re using a proxy, your ISP can still see the contents of the data packets. It only helps to disguise your IP against other seeders.
      A VPN encrypts the whole connection, so neither ISP nor other seeders see what you’re downloading.

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