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Best VPNs for torrenting in 2022

Best VPNs for torrenting in 2022


BitTorrent is an easy way to transfer large files over the Internet by sharing the burden between peers. However, its reputation as a go-to hacking tool has caused quite a few VPNs to torrent kibosh on their platforms. We take a look at the best VPN services that explicitly allow BitTorrenting and let you know which is the best.

What is meant by torrent anyway?

BitTorrent (the technology that allows one to “torrent”) has a bad reputation, and it’s unfair and well deserved. At its best, BitTorrent addresses the predicament created when too many people try to download large files from one source at a time – whether it’s illegal TV shows, hot music tracks, DRM-free books, or terabytes of cat photos.

BitTorrent turns a file’s popularity into a benefit, rather than a bottleneck, by having everyone who downloads distribute portions of the file to every other downloader. The entire system is designed to be decentralized, with no master server to throttle under the load of traffic. It’s a great idea but its decentralized nature also makes it ideal for illegally sharing copyrighted content online as well.

Due to its reputation, some ISPs and network administrators block BitTorrent traffic completely. To bypass these barriers, and to protect your privacy when torrenting, using a VPN is a reasonable option. With a virtual private network, or VPN, all of your internet traffic is encrypted to ensure that no one can see what you’re going to do – even when torrenting. The catch is that every VPN service does not allow torrenting on their servers.

Using a VPN can help improve your privacy by preventing your ISP from monitoring your traffic, which makes it more difficult for advertisers to track you online. But when it comes to security, we often say that it is best to think of tools like VPNs as increasing the amount of work required to successfully attack you. If someone is willing to invest time and money specifically targeting you, such as a record company or law enforcement, they will eventually get what they seek.

A VPN should be part of a multi-layered approach to security and cannot replace important tools, such as good antivirus software, a password manager, and multi-factor authentication enabled where possible.

Everything is free now

We often receive emails asking about the interaction between VPNs and BitTorrent. Some have included admissions of hacking, and even provide justifications for it. One reader lamented the difficulty of finding legal avenues for items not available for sale in a particular region. We sympathize. The state of the public domain has unfortunately been neglected, leaving countless businesses entangled in complex (but lucrative) distribution deals.

But no matter how fair the logic may be, the law (however problematic) is the law. Sometimes ISPs and other technology companies have to answer when rights holders come up with a list of infractions committed against their infrastructure.

If you are going to use BitTorrent for any reason, good luck to you. If you are going to use a VPN, get more power. But make sure you take the time to read the VPN’s terms of service before you begin. Be aware of local laws and potential penalties as well – however much you wish to comply with them. “I didn’t know the law” or “I don’t agree with the law” won’t count as defenses in court, so make sure you can live with any potential penalties, should you choose to do something legally questionable.

Will a VPN hide my torrenting from my ISP or the police?

The short answer is, yes, a VPN can protect your online activities from your ISP. It should also make it very difficult for someone outside to identify certain traffic as yours. This is a good thing, not only if you have legally questionable torrenting habits, but also because it generally protects your privacy.

However, there are always exceptions. Time and time again, user error and efforts by law enforcement have undermined the protection offered by services like Tor or VPN. Timing attacks, for example, can associate packet traffic on a VPN server with activity on your private network, thus linking you to online activities.

In some cases, the problem might be the VPN itself. If a VPN company keeps abundant records about a user’s activity (specifically, who the user is, which server they connected to, and when) this information can be obtained by law enforcement. In our reviews, we always ask VPN services what information they collect and how they react to law enforcement requests for information.

Can I use BitTorrent on my VPN?

Most VPN services are quite suitable for you to use BitTorrent or P2P services while using their products. None of the top rated VPN services block file sharing.

Even services that allow torrenting often have restrictions. Some may, for example, require BitTorrent to be used only when connected to certain VPN servers. NordVPN rates the servers on which torrenting is allowed. On the other hand, TorGuard VPN does not make any discrimination regarding user traffic, so you can torrent to your heart’s content. Note that every VPN service that allows torrenting explicitly prevents copyright infringement or misuse of the service.

Some VPNs have tools that are especially useful for torrenting. Many companies offer static IP addresses for purchase, which may be desirable in some circumstances. New technologies, such as WireGuard, may provide better speeds than older VPN protocols. Our VPN reviews cover the available features in depth, so you’ll find something that works for you.

What about speeds?

When you use a VPN, your web traffic usually travels through more fibers and more devices. You should expect slower upload and download speeds and higher latency no matter which VPN you choose. For large torrents, this may mean waiting longer before getting the completed file.

In the last test round, we score the average from 10 tests with the VPN on and without it, then find the percentage change between the two. To measure speeds, we use Ookla’s speed test tool. In the past, we tested all the VPNs we reviewed at the same time. This year, COVID-19 restrictions limited our access to PCMag Labs, so we’ve chosen a rolling testing model where we test new products throughout the year. The latest results are shown in the graph below.

(Editor’s note: Ookla is owned by PCMag publisher Ziff Davis.)

Networking is tough stuff, and we don’t claim our work is the everything and the end of all VPN speed tests. Instead, this is a quick glimpse of how a particular service will perform on a given day. We also don’t think speeds should be the only metric used to rate a VPN, but this is clearly something BitTorrent users are concerned about.

To make this list, we looked at the best download results across the services we’ve tested so far. The VPN services in the graph at the top of this story are the ten services that had the least impact on your download speed test results. We’ve arranged them in descending order, which means that the leftmost VPN has the least impact on download speeds.

However, note that not all of them outperform the average loading and response time test results. Bitdefender VPN, Hotspot Shield VPN, IVPN, and Mozilla VPN all had results that were above average for downloads, latency, or both.

VPN reliability and accessibility issues

The pauses, the extra runs of your data, and the distance that VPNs provide can make for a fairly normal browsing experience. Suddenly, losing connection during a VPN reset is somewhat annoying in everyday life, but we can see how these interruptions can slow down or even stop a big BitTorrent download.

If you plan to use a VPN while torrenting, consider the repercussions of a Kill Switch. This feature, which is found in most VPN services, prevents apps from sending data over the Internet when the VPN connection is disconnected. The idea is that it prevents any information from being transmitted in the clear. An avid BitTorrent downloader needs to decide if it wants complete and complete protection or prefers no download interruption.

Location, location, location

While VPN services have servers all over the world, every company should be based somewhere on the planet. And somewhere there may be data retention laws that require the VPN company to collect and preserve user data for a specified period.

It can be difficult to know what kind of information a VPN service collects and how long it is kept. To get the answer, you may have to wade through endless FAQ pages and vague terms of service written in vague legal language. If the VPN company you’re considering can’t clearly explain what information it collects and how long it’s kept, it’s probably not a great service.

When we review VPNs, we focus on asking service reps about the efforts they make to secure customer privacy. We also read these huge service volumes (you’re welcome). You can read our full reviews to find out their answers.

Note that national and international law as it relates to data storage and whether this data can be handed over to law enforcement authorities is complex and constantly changing. They may opt for good service today or have to change their policies tomorrow, so be aware of any updates to their Terms of Service.

Encrypt your torrent traffic

You will probably decide that all that effort is not worth it to only secure your BitTorrent downloads. But still, you should keep in mind that a VPN is still an easy way to improve your privacy. Whether you decide to go for a premium account, are looking for a cheap VPN, or you want to indulge in a free VPN, it’s time to start living the encrypted lifestyle.

Looking for more information about Torrenting and how to get started? You can read our story on how to use bitTorrent.

(Editors’ note: Although they may not appear in this story, IPVanish and StrongVPN are owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s parent company.)

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