Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting can be risky. From unwittingly downloading malware to accidentally downloading copyrighted material, you could risk infecting your computer with viruses, having your connection throttled by your ISP or even facing fines.
The key to safe torrenting is anonymity and security, and luckily we have a solution that covers both of these – using a reliable VPN. The best VPNs keep your data safe and hide your online activity, as well as offering other great features that will help you torrent.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about how to protect your data and stay anonymous while torrenting.
Quick guide on how to download torrents safely
Downloading torrents is as easy as a few clicks. But to be certain you’re downloading safely, you’ll want to be using a VPN, too. Here’s how to torrent safely with a VPN in a few simple steps.
- Choose a VPN that’s reliable and ideal for torrenting. We recommend NordVPN.
- Download and install a VPN. Make sure you choose a VPN that is compatible with your device.
- Connect to a server. Make sure you connect to a P2P-optimized server.
- Optimize your VPN’s security settings.This will help you keep your data secure.
- Visit a reputable torrent site and start downloading.
How to torrent safely – a detailed guide
We’ve shown you how to connect to a VPN and start torrenting safely in a few simple steps. Read on to find out more about the various factors that can ensure your torrenting is safe and hidden. Here is a more detailed look at some of the factors to consider when you’re downloading torrents online.
1. Use a good VPN
The first thing to do before you start torrenting is get your VPN set up and installed. But with so many VPNs to choose from, it can be difficult deciding which one to go for. For safe torrenting, you should pick a top VPN that’s reliable, fast, secure, and primed for torrenting.
By using a premium VPN, you’ll be able to connect to fast servers all over the world. This way, you can completely hide your IP address, and even make it seem like you’re in a completely different country.
You’ll also find servers that are optimized specifically for torrenting, so they’ll be fast and secure to ensure your torrents download as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, torrenting can be risky for a number of reasons – malware being one of them. When you download torrents, you open your device up to the source of the torrent downloads, and this can sometimes lead to malware and other digital undesirables sneaking in.
Thankfully, the best VPNs also have strong security features to keep you safe. For instance, NordVPN includes a tool called CyberSec that blocks malware, phishing attempts, cyberattacks like DDoS, and even irritating pop-up ads.
Remember, since VPNs hide your real IP address, you’ll also be able to access any torrent site you like, even sites that have been banned in your country.
2. Choose the right torrent site
There are plenty of sites that offer torrents as downloads on the internet. From specialized torrent listing sites to forums and blogs, you can find torrent links all over the web.
However, whenever you download anything onto your computer, you should be certain that the source is genuine, otherwise you risk downloading a fake file, something other than what you wanted, or even dangerous malware.
For these reasons, it’s important you download torrents from reputable websites. Top torrent sites will often have clear systems in place which will show you that a torrent has been verified as genuine. This means, it will be exactly what it says it is and free from any sneaky surprises.
The Pirate Bay is one of the most well-known torrent sites in the world, and it has a huge selection of torrents available to download. The Pirate Bay also has handy symbols next to each torrent so you can see if they’ve been verified as genuine.
Torrent sites that require membership via sign-ups, such as TorrentLeech, are also a great choice. They will usually verify every torrent on the site, so you can be sure that whatever you’re downloading is safe.
Annoyingly, a lot of the best torrent sites with the most verified torrents are blocked by ISPs around the world. But an easy solution to get around this is simply to use a VPN. Then you can hide your IP address and visit whichever site you want from wherever you are.
3. Choose the right torrent client
To download a torrent, you will also need a specific application known as a torrent client. You can’t just download torrents straight to your computer because torrent files are actually sent in many tiny parts from many different locations. The torrent client manages all these ‘bits’ and puts them together for you so you get the complete file once the download is finished.
There are lots of torrent clients to choose from, and they all have different features, ease of use, and functions. Ideally, you want a torrent client that won’t take up much space on your device, is easy to use, and has good features, including security.
We recommend the following torrent clients:
- Vuze – Vuze is a slick torrent client with the best looking interface out of all the P2P clients. It’s easy to use, intuitive, and has features including chat, forums, remote control, and magnet link support. If you opt for the paid version, you’ll even get protection from viruses and no ads.
- qBittorrent – qBittorrent is an excellent all-rounder. It’s easy to use and completely free, with no ads on the app. It also has some great features including a torrent search engine built into the app and secure, encrypted transfers.
- BitTorrent – BitTorrent is ideal for people who are new to torrenting. It’s very simple to use and has some handy features, such as commenting, so you can see how previous users have got on with certain torrents.
- uTorrent – one of the most well-known and popular torrent clients, uTorrent is fast, lightweight, and easy to use with a clean and simple layout. However, you will have to deal with seeing ads within the client.
4. Choose the right torrents
So you’ve got your VPN set up, you’ve downloaded a torrent client, and you’ve found a great torrent site – next, it’s time to download some torrents. As we touched upon earlier, you always need to be wary when you’re downloading any sort of file from the internet. This is especially the case with torrents, as there are many cybercriminals and hackers out there who are trying to take advantage of people by tricking them into downloading bad torrents.
So you need to be really sure that the torrent you’ve chosen is legit and free from malware. One way to do this is to only download verified torrents from a big, well-known torrent site you know you can trust.
You should also look out for torrents and downloads that seem suspicious. For instance, say you find a torrent for a program or video you know has not been released yet, this is likely to be a fake.
Similarly, perhaps, the torrent is claiming to be a high-quality HD file but the actual torrent size is very small – this is likely to be fake.
Common sense goes a long way with downloading files from the internet. If the site you’re downloading from does not seem legit, or the torrent is too good to be true, it’s best to avoid or you may find you’ve got a folder full of malware instead of the file you want.
A good way of vetting your torrent is by using a VPN that has built-in malware blockers. This will instantly alert you if you’ve accidentally downloaded malware in a torrent.
5. Get good antivirus software
You should always have good antivirus software on your computer to protect yourself from malware, hacks, and cyberattacks. This is even more important if you’re going to be downloading torrents, as you’ll be opening up your device to other connections – and some of these may have bad intentions.
Brands such as Norton and McAfee have been making top-tier antivirus solutions for years. If you have a good antivirus product in place on your device, it will monitor and scan any files you download and immediately let you know if there’s any malware. Good antivirus software will usually also then remove or isolate the malware before it has a chance to do any damage, so you can torrent safely.
However, some types of viruses and malware find a way of sneaking through, so a good idea could be to double up your protection by installing a VPN that has robust security features too. If you have a VPN that’s blocking malware as well as an antivirus program set up, you should be well protected from bad torrents.
Why is a VPN necessary for safe torrenting?
Torrenting can be risky, but with a VPN installed and set up on your device, you’ll be protected from most if not all of the risks that are involved with torrenting files online.
Here are some of the main benefits of torrenting with a VPN:
1. Avoid ISP throttling
With an unprotected internet connection, everything you do online will be visible to your ISP. If torrenting large files is frowned upon by your ISP (as is the case with many ISPs), it may throttle your connection. This means your speeds and bandwidth will be reduced drastically.
When you use a VPN, all your online activity, data and traffic is completely hidden from your ISP. So it will have no reason to throttle your connection, even if you are downloading torrents. A VPN is how you download torrents without your ISP knowing.
2. Access restricted content
Many ISPs block access to well-known torrenting sites, as do many employers, schools, and colleges. If you want to access a torrent site but find you’re blocked from doing so, a simple way around any sort of content restriction is simply to use a VPN.
VPNs change your IP address and hide all your activity, so no one can see what you’re doing online. You can also connect to a completely new server in a new country – one that doesn’t have any restrictions on it.
3. Keep your IP address safe
If you’re downloading torrents onto your computer with a torrent client, your identity, location, and IP address will be on display to anyone who’s connected to the torrent file. This opens you up to potential hacks, cyberattacks, and malware.
You can make sure you remain completely anonymous while torrenting by using a VPN. The VPN will hide all your personal details, mask your IP address and encrypt your data, so you’ll be safe and secure.
How to configure a VPN for safe torrenting
To make sure you’re as safe as possible with torrenting, you should not only download a VPN, but you should make sure it’s properly configured to protect you from online threats.
You can do this by first installing the VPN, and then heading to the settings section to make sure all the important security settings are activated.
Here are the settings to look out for:
- Turn on the kill switch – sometimes this is switched off in default settings, so turn it on.
- Set the highest encryption – Make sure your VPN is set to 256-bit AES encryption so that all your data is as secure as possible.
- Use a secure protocol – it’s best to use a OpenVPN protocol, and not PPTP, which is older and not as secure.
- Enable leak protection – switch both IP and DNS leak protection on.
- Utilize split tunneling – This keeps some of your online traffic, like torrenting, encrypted with the VPN, and leaves other sites on your regular IP address. It is useful when you need to keep some sites on your normal IP, such as delivery services and online banking.
What are the dangers of torrents?
Torrenting is a great way of downloading the files you need, but it’s not without its risks. From unwittingly downloading malware to opening yourself up to hackers, there are a selection of dangers associated with torrents.
You can protect yourself from a lot of these dangers by using a VPN, but it’s important to know what you’re protecting yourself from.
Let’s take a look at some of the main risks that can come with downloading torrents.
- Malware – unfortunately, torrent files are rife with malware. Cybercriminals often use tempting torrents as a trojan horse with malware loaded into the download. All it takes is for you to make one wrong download and your device can be infected with all sorts of dangerous malware, including spyware, viruses, and ransomware.
- Copyright problems – some people also use torrents to transfer copyrighted material. Sometimes torrent can be mislabelled, and if you accidentally download something that’s technically been stolen, you could face some problems. Your ISP could reveal your data to the copyright holder, which could lead to fines, or even worse, if you are found guilty of breaking copyright laws.
- Throttling – a less severe but extremely frustrating consequence of torrenting is when your ISP throttles your internet connection. Torrents can often be large file sizes, and they take a lot of bandwidth to download. If your ISP notices you are torrenting, it could drastically slow down your internet speed and reduce your bandwidth. This means your downloads and browsing will be very slow.
- Hackers – when you download torrent files, your IP address is opened up to the various sources that are sharing the files. This means you’re exposed to hackers who can quite easily steal your data, install malware on your device, spy on your online activity and more.
- Data protection – since your device is exposed when you’re sharing files and downloading torrents, this means your personal info and data is easily accessible to cybercriminals and hackers.
If you fall victim to any of the above issues, it could have a serious impact on your life. Luckily, VPNs solve all of these issues. From hiding your IP address to concealing your online activity from your ISP to shoring up your security, with a VPN, you really can torrent safely.
VPNs we recommend for safe torrenting
Now that you’ve seen just how useful VPNs can be when you’re torrenting, which VPN should you use? We’ve tested out a number of VPNs and have put together a handy shortlist of the top three VPNs for torrenting.
NordVPN is our ultimate choice for torrenting. It’s very fast, has over 5,000 servers to choose from in 60 different countries as well as the robust security features you need to stay safe.
NordVPN offers servers that are completely dedicated to torrenting, which means your downloads will always be optimized for speed and safety.
NordVPN’s privacy and security features are perfect for torrenting. With 256-bit AES encryption keeping your data safe as well as DNS protection concealing your identity, you can torrent knowing your personal details are completely shrouded from hackers and your ISP.
The jewel in the crown is NordVPN’s CyberSec security suite. You get a range of features, including anti-malware, ad blocker, botnet control and trackers. This comprehensive selection of features will put a wall of protection up when you’re torrenting. And NordVPN boasts two kill switches that automatically kick in if your connection cuts out.
NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and 24/7 live chat support.
Surfshark is another strong VPN that’s ideal for keeping yourself safe when torrenting.
With over 3,200 servers in 65 different countries, Surfshark has the variety you need to gain access to any site and keep your IP address hidden. All of Surfshark’s servers are optimized for torrenting, too. So whichever you pick, you’ll always get fast downloads and smooth streaming.
Surfshark has an array of security settings to keep you safe online. Its CleanWeb feature protects you from malware and blocks annoying pop-up ads. And Camouflage Mode makes sure your ISP will never be able to tell that you’re using a VPN.
You also get MultiHop and AES-256 encryption, split tunneling, and a kill switch. With all of these features in place, you’ll always be able to torrent safely and securely.
Surfshark also has apps for the majority of devices, from desktop computers to smartphones. Its intuitive interface is easy to use, even for tech newbies.
With live chat on hand 24/7, if you ever need help with setting up your VPN and optimizing it for torrents, you can reach out for help.
Surfshark is one of the cheaper premium VPNs and it represents great value for money. And just so you can be sure, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN rounds up the top three and it’s another excellent VPN option. Their fleet consists of 3,000 servers running in 90 different countries, so you will always be able to connect to a top speed server near you wherever you are in the world.
Fast and secure, ExpressVPN’s TrustedSever no-log policy means none of your activity or data is ever recorded. Not even ExpressVPN can see what you’re doing online, and neither can your ISP, or anyone else for that matter. ExpressVPN’s privacy options are fantastic.
It’s very secure too, with 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection keeping your data protected from cybercriminals.
User friendly and intuitive, anyone will find ExpressVPN easy to use, and you can connect 5 devices with your account. That’s helpful since ExpressVPN’s apps are available on a range of platforms, so you can have it on your tablet, laptop, router, and more.
Like the other top VPNs on this list, ExpressVPN also offers 24/7 live chat to help you with any problems or queries, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try the product out and see if it suits your needs.
If you’d like to read a more detailed guide with in-depth comparisons of the best VPNs for safe torrenting, visit our guide.
The final word
Torrenting is a great way of downloading files from the internet quickly and efficiently, you just need to make sure you’re doing it right. Only download torrents from reputable websites, make sure the actual torrents you’re using are legit, use a good P2P client, avoid going for copyrighted material and, most importantly, get a VPN.
With a recommended VPN on your device, all of the risks associated with torrenting are hugely reduced. You’ll be completely hidden from hackers, your ISP, cybercriminals, and copyright owners. Malware will be blocked from infecting your devices, and you won’t have to put up with distracting pop-up ads.
VPNs are easy to use, good value for money, and highly effective. A VPN will also help you log on to sites that might be blocked or geo-restricted in your location. If you want to torrent safely, hidden from your ISP, and optimized at the best speeds – you need a VPN.
Is torrenting legal?
Yes, torrenting is completely legal – it’s simply a method of transferring and sharing files online. But if you download a file that is copyright protected, your ISP may warn you, throttle your connection or alert the authorities. With a VPN, you can hide your online activity from your ISP, so no one can see what you’re downloading.
Do I need to hide my IP address when downloading torrents?
Hiding your IP address when torrenting is highly recommended, as this will prevent your ISP from discovering what you’ve been downloading and uploading. The best way to hide your IP address is by using a VPN. With a VPN, you can torrent as much as you like, and your IP address will stay hidden.
Will a VPN protect me while torrenting?
Not only does a VPN completely hide your location, your IP address, and encrypt your data, but the best VPNs also come with a range of security features. You can use the VPN to protect yourself from cyberattacks, annoying pop-ups, and malware, so it’s the best way to stay safe while torrenting.
Can you get caught torrenting if you use a VPN?
If you’re using a VPN while you’re torrenting, it’s virtually impossible to get caught. This is because your IP address is completely hidden. Your personal data will be encrypted, and not even your own ISP will be able to tell that you’re torrenting.