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How to Torrent Safely and Privately (Updated: October 2021)

Published on: September 23, 2021

How to torrent safely

Because free content is readily available online these days, many people around the world opt to save some money and access the content they crave on the numerous torrent sites available.

The problem is, downloading torrent files can pose many risks to users if they get caught downloading files that are illegal or infected with private trackers or malware.

On top of this, when you use your real IP address to download torrents, everyone else who is downloading the same file will be able to see your IP address.

The smartest way to access torrent downloads is to use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN will allow you to download or share content while hiding your IP addresses from the many people who are on torrents sites alongside you, as well as from your ISP.

When you use a reliable VPN, your activity is sent through an encrypted tunnel, hiding your IP addresses and replacing them with IP addresses that correspond to your VPN server location. So, all of your torrents can be traced back to that server location — not your own location.

If you cannot be identified online by your IP address, you can ensure that you are protected from any legal issues or copyright trolls who are waiting to catch you when you accidentally share content that may not be legal for you to use.

If you’re wondering just how to torrent safely, keep on reading!

*Click on any of the links on our site to get the very best, most up-to-date deals on the best VPNs for your torrent downloads.

In a Hurry? Here’s How to Torrent Safely and Privately in 2021

Follow these quick and easy steps to torrent safely in 2021:

  1. Pick a VPN service that supports P2P sharing, like ExpressVPN.
  2. Download and install your VPN to your device or computer and connect to a server that supports P2P connections.
  3. Go to one of your favorite torrenting sites and start downloading torrents!

Why Torrenting May Be Dangerous

It’s important to learn how to torrent safely, but it is also a smart idea to understand why using torrents sites can be dangerous in the first place.

☑️ Copyright Concerns: As you may already know, copyright issues are a major concern whenever you are visiting torrent sites. Although your intentions might be good, you can very easily find yourself downloading copyrighted materials inadvertently. When you are P2P sharing, your IP addresses are all visible; so if your real IP address is identified, you may earn yourself a punishment if you are caught breaking copyright laws.

☑️ Throttling by your ISP: Any time you are using too much bandwidth, your ISP makes it its mission to throttle your activity. This will adversely impact your speeds and the quality of your torrenting.

☑️ Data Breaches: If you are not protected while using P2P sharing sites, your data may be exposed to prying eyes and third parties online.

☑️ Viruses and Malware: Since the files you are downloading on torrent sites are sometimes not verified files, you may very easily find yourself downloading a virus or spyware instead of the file you were after. Torrent sites are hotbeds for hackers and cybercriminals.

☑️ Vulnerable to Hackers: If you are not protected while using a torrent site, your actual IP address may be easily seen by anyone sharing the same file. Because you are exposed online, hackers can detect your actual location and track your device or activity.

How a VPN Protects Your Torrenting

The very best way to protect yourself on torrent sites is to use a reliable, vetted VPN any time you are downloading torrents.

VPNs send your online torrent traffic through an encrypted tunnel, ensuring that your information is totally indecipherable by anyone who gets their hands on your activity. The most reputable VPN providers use AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, which will keep you safe from hackers, your Internet Service Provider, prying eyes, or authorities on any websites you visit.

On top of this, when using a VPN, your actual IP address, which reveals your location, is concealed, and you are given an IP address, instead, that corresponds to your VPN’s private server location. This IP protection keeps your identity and your activity private and anonymous when you are using torrent sites.

If you are looking to access geo-restricted torrent sites online, you can use your VPN to connect to a server in a country that will grant you access to these blocked files. While this method is very commonly used to unblock geo-restricted streaming services, like Hulu in the US, it is also beneficial for torrenting.

There are tons of cheap VPNs for safe torrenting, but the advantage of using a VPN like ExpressVPN is that you can torrent on any of its 3,000 servers in over 94 countries, thanks to its P2P activity support. This VPN also has a Kill Switch that will kill your Internet connection on any torrent site if your secure VPN connection cuts out suddenly, ensuring that your IP address and torrent traffic are never revealed online.

Why You Should Use a VPN for Torrenting

Without a doubt, the best way to keep yourself protected online while torrenting is to use a VPN.

☑️ VPNs can Bypass Geo-Restrictions: If you are trying to access a torrenting site in a different country, or if the country that you are in restricts access to torrenting sites, using a VPN is the best way to gain access to all the sites you want to visit from anywhere in the world. When you connect to a VPN server in any one of its country locations, your torrent traffic is routed through this server, circumventing any blocks in your country, your place of work, or even at your school.

☑️ VPNs keep your IP address safe: Anytime you are downloading or uploading files by using a torrent client, anyone else accessing that file can see your IP address. When you connect to a VPN, your actual IP address is masked, and the IP address that is visible is the IP that belongs to your secure VPN server. This keeps you safe from online threats, like hackers or cyber-spies.

☑️ VPNs prevent throttling by your ISP: If your IP address is visible to your Internet Service Provider, they can see your Internet traffic and detect when you are torrenting. If they feel that you are doing something illegal, or using too much bandwidth, they can (and will) throttle your Internet connection. Using a VPN, your Internet traffic is not visible by your ISP, so they will never have any reason to throttle your connection.

How to Choose a Safe and Reliable VPN for Torrenting

It is important to realize that, if you want to torrent safely, you need to choose your VPN provider wisely. Make sure any VPN you use for torrenting has:

☑️ Good Speeds: Any time your online traffic goes through an extra step of encryption, this will slow your traffic. A good VPN provider will only slow your connection slightly, so you may not even notice the difference when you are connected. An inadequate provider can cause annoying buffering and lag when online.
☑️ Kill Switch: This is an important feature for safe torrenting. If your VPN connection cuts out suddenly, this switch cuts your Internet connection so that your IP address and unencrypted activity are not revealed.
☑️ No-logs Policy: A verified no-logging policy means that your private session activity and data will not be stored by your VPN and will stay private at all times. If a VPN has a no-logs policy, there will be no information to hand over to the authorities if it is ever requested.
☑️ Unlimited Bandwidth: Since downloading files —  especially large files — on a torrent site uses up a lot of bandwidth, the VPN you choose must offer unlimited data.
☑️ Apps Instead of Browser Extensions: You should make sure to use a VPN that offers a full app —  not just a browser extension. A browser extension will not sufficiently protect any torrent clients —  it will just secure the data that leaves your browser.
☑️ Support for P2P Sharing: Some VPNs support torrenting on all servers; some VPNs support torrenting on only P2P optimized servers; and some do not support P2P file sharing at all. ExpressVPN supports P2P file sharing on all of its 3000 servers in 94 countries.

ExpressVPN is our top VPN choice to download torrents because it supports P2P file-sharing on all of its servers; has a Kill Switch to protect your information and identity; is the fastest VPN on the market; has a strict no-logs policy; offers unlimited bandwidth so you can download even large files with no problem; and offers users a full app — not just a browser extension.

How to Configure Your VPN for the Max Safety

For maximum safety when torrenting, follow these steps to properly configure your VPN:

  1. Download and install your VPN to your device.
  2. Sign in to your VPN account.
  3. Open your VPN settings and check that your settings are configured accordingly:

☑️ Make sure your Kill Switch is enabled.
☑️ DNS and IP leak protection should be enabled.
☑️ Make sure your encryption is set to the highest standard — AES 256-bit encryption.
☑️ Turn on your split tunneling feature if you want to send your torrent traffic through your encrypted tunnel, and your ordinary traffic through your ISP connection.
☑️ Check to ensure that your enabled protocol is a secure choice. OpenVPN is known as the most secure protocol, so that is always a safe choice.

What Else You Can Do to Torrent Safely

Using a reputable VPN is a great place to start if you are trying to download torrents safely, but there are also some other tips that we have for you to ensure safe torrenting:

☑️ Carefully choose torrents: Be discerning when choosing torrent files. First, make sure you are only using torrent sites that are vetted and deemed reliable. Next, choose torrent files with more seeders, as there is less of a chance of these being infected with malware.
☑️ Choose only legal torrent files: Although there is always a chance that you may accidentally download copyrighted material, try your best to only download files that are legal. Look for independent media content, open-source software, and public domain content, as these are less likely to be illegal, and more likely to allow free access.
☑️ Torrent client configuration: To torrent safely, you need to use a reputable torrent client.
☑️ Antivirus software is a must: Since torrent sites are hotbeds for viruses and malware, and torrent files are often found to have viruses, it is important to use anti-virus software to avoid infection. Each torrent client offers different features; Some even offer encryption so that your Internet Service Provider won’t be able to see your torrent traffic.

3 Best VPNs for Torrenting

 1. ExpressVPN

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3000+
Countries: 94
Connections: Up to 5
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days for Mobile
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $6.67/month

ExpressVPN is the best VPN to use whenever you download or share (even the questionably legal) torrents on your torrents sites. Whether you are connecting to a local server or a server around the globe, your Internet privacy — as well as your Internet connection speeds — when using this VPN service will be the very best.

As for privacy, ExpressVPN offers military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, a Kill Switch, and OpenVPN across all platforms, so all of your information will remain private and secure at all times — out of reach of your ISP and everyone else.

It’s also good to note that this VPN service is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, so all of your activity and information will remain out of government reach.

And, of course, with ExpressVPN, you get a strict, verified, no-logs policy, so there really, truly is never any worry that your information is being kept by anyone. Ever.

ExpressVPN has compatibility with all main platforms, including Mac, Windows, Android, and OS; and since most households have many different devices under one roof, it’s good to note that users can connect up to 5 simultaneous devices on just one account.

The one drawback of ExpressVPN is that it is one of the more expensive VPN services, but the few-dollar increase in price for an ExpressVPN subscription is completely worth paying for the most reliable service on the market — especially when dealing with your privacy.

If you are a newbie to the world of VPNs, it’s great to note that ExpressVPN has some of the most responsive, most knowledgeable customer support around. In the end, if for some reason you are not sold on this service, you can get a full refund within 30 days, guaranteed, so you really have nothing to lose.

Pros:

  • Easy to use across platforms
  • 24/7 live-support chat support
  • Top security and privacy features
  • Super-fast speeds
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • More expensive than the other VPNs

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN
Company Location: Panama
Servers: 5200+
Countries: 60
Connections: Up to 6
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $3.71/month

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services to use to download torrents for both newbies and pros. Although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, it offers great features, like fast speeds, top privacy features, and reliable connections.

NordVPN has obfuscated servers that can bypass firewalls and geographic restrictions, and a double VPN that you can enable that will send your traffic through an extra layer of encryption, giving you the most secure connection possible. Using this double-VPN feature is only recommended if you need an added layer of privacy in heavily censored countries, though, because it will slow your traffic.

Nord’s baseline security and privacy features are great, with AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, IP and DNS leak protection, a Kill Switch, and an OpenVPN protocol that will help you stay safe; and its CyberSec feature also provides an extra layer of protection from malware and annoying ads that frequently pop up on torrents sites.

If you are worried about surveillance, it’s good to note that NordVPN is based in Panama, outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, and it also offers a strict zero-logs policy.

This service has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS; and you can use up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single subscription, which means you’ll be able to use a combination of devices all at once.

NordVPN has stellar customer service, like its 24/7 live chat support, that you can use in case any problems arise; and if for some reason you are not happy with this service when you are downloading any torrents, you can get your money back if you take advantage of its 30-day refund guarantee.

Pros:

  • Double VPN and obfuscated server options
  • No-logging policy
  • Fast download speeds
  • Military-grade 256-bit encryption
  • Cheaper price than ExpressVPN
  • 6 user connections on one plan

Cons:

  • Speed can be slower when advanced security is engaged

Devices compatible with Surfshark
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3200+
Countries: 65
Connections: Unlimited
Speed: Good
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days (Mobile Only)
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $2.49/month

Surfshark is a reliable VPN that will help you stay safe when you download any file on any torrenting sites, and it also happens to be one of the most affordable VPNs out there.

Surfshark VPN passes all the tests for security features with its Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, split tunneling, double encryption, Kill Switch, and its special CleanWeb suite, which blocks ads and protects against malware that is rampant on torrents websites.

Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands, outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, and it has a strict no-logging policy, so you should never be worried that your online activity is ever being tracked or kept.

This service is compatible with Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS; and users are able to access their VPN protection on an unlimited number of devices, which is more than VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer, making it ideal for a large family who wants to connect multiple electronics at once, or for a workplace with a large number of employees.

Surfshark also offers great 24/7 live-chat customer support and you can get a refund within 30 days, giving you the chance to try this VPN for plenty of time with no strings attached.

Pros:

  • No-logging policy
  • Unlimited number of device connections
  • 24/7 live-support
  • Good download speeds
  • Top security features
  • Ease of use

Cons:

  • Slightly slower speeds than VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN

About BitTorrent and The Way It Works

BitTorrent is a software that helps users download their torrent files from the web. This peer-to-peer (P2P) networking protocol uses the computers of those who are in a file-sharing network to store files instead of the normal method of using a central server.

These users’ computers break the large files into small pieces that are eventually pieced back together when anyone downloads a file. So, whenever you start downloading files, they are also being uploaded so other torrents users can benefit.

This torrent client reveals your actual IP address to all of the users who download the same torrent file as you. Because there is no way to trust all of the thousands of people who may be seeing your private IP address and activity, downloading a torrent can make you vulnerable to many online threats and attacks.

FAQs

Is torrenting safe with a VPN?
In a nutshell, yes. If you are on a trusted, safe torrenting site, and you are using a VPN, torrenting is safe. Even with these two boxes checked, though, it is vital that you use ad-blocking /malware-blocking software to help keep yourself safe torrenting with even the best VPNs. The privacy and anonymity that a VPN offers can protect you from getting into legal trouble if you download a file that is copyrighted or otherwise not legal.
What happens if you get caught torrenting?
Well, first of all, it is important to remember that torrenting, in and of itself, is not illegal. So, if you are caught torrenting legal files, such as open source software or public domain media, you will not get in trouble. If you are caught torrenting an illegal file, you could find yourself entangled in a lawsuit with copyright holders, and you may earn yourself steep fines or even jail time.
How does my ISP know that I'm torrenting?
There are different ways in which your internet service provider can detect your activity when you start downloading torrent files online.

First, your ISP may be using deep packet inspection (DPI). Your internet provider can also detect that you are torrenting by monitoring your bandwidth usage; A large amount of bandwidth would be a red flag that you could be using a torrenting site. If your internet provider sees this, your ISP can throttle your connection.

Your ISP can also see your IP address, which reveals information about you, like your location. When you use a virtual private network, your IP address is hidden so your ISP will not be able to track your traffic on any torrenting site.

Lastly, copyright trolls — or copyright holders —  sometimes keep tabs on their content to make sure it is not being shared illegally. If copyright owners do this, they can then share or report IP addresses of people torrenting with ISPs, which could lead to legal issues, including lawsuits.

Does torrenting damage your computer?
Torrenting itself will not harm your computer, but you can easily damage your computer if you download a torrent file that has a virus or malware.

To minimize the risk of downloading torrents that contain dangerous infections, make sure you are properly vetting your torrent site; and even if you are on a reputable, safe torrenting site, make sure to check the health of your torrents files, check the number of seeds, and read any user comments before you begin to download any file.

Also, make sure you are using antivirus software and an ad-blocker when downloading torrents!

Again, torrenting itself isn’t what can damage your computer — but the malware or virus that can infect your computer when torrenting can cause great harm.

Does a VPN affect my torrenting speeds?
Well, as I mentioned above, any time you send your torrents traffic through an extra step of VPN encryption, your speed will decrease a bit. The good news is that reputable VPN providers, like ExpressVPN, have fast enough speeds that any slowing should be insignificant, and should not affect how quickly you can download torrents.

That being said, there are other factors that affect your torrenting speed when using a VPN, including your baseline starting speed and your proximity to a VPN server. As a general rule, the closer you are to your VPN server, the faster your speeds.

Conclusion

So, if you’re wondering how to torrent safely, just follow the steps in this article for downloading or sharing torrents safely from anywhere.

Thankfully, the top VPNs on the market, like ExpressVPN, should not cause any noticeable decrease in speed when you are torrenting, and will help ensure that you don’t get in any legal trouble if you inadvertently download any illegal torrents.

If, for some reason, you are not happy with any of the above 3 VPNs when you are downloading a torrent, you have the option to cancel your subscription within 30 days with their 30-day-money-back guarantees.

Click on the links on our site to get the most up-to-date deals on the best VPN for downloading torrents today!

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