Torrenting (P2P; file sharing) is used to transfer large files – such as video and audio files, applications and more – over the internet. The BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol makes this possible by enabling a group of computers (a “swarm”) to transfer data between each other, without the need for a central server.
Torrenting has become a favorite way for users to share files. Torrenting itself is perfectly legal, with game companies such as Blizzard distributing content via P2P file sharing.
However, some users torrent copyrighted material that might not otherwise be free to download, such as movies, music and games. For this reason, torrenting is often equated to pirating, even though there are numerous legal reasons for torrenting.
Despite the many legal reasons for torrenting, many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) frown upon the practice and may limit bandwidth for such activities. They may even simply block it out of hand.
Thankfully, there’s a way of getting around such roadblocks: a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encases your internet connection in a tunnel of encryption, protecting your online activities from monitoring. An interested observer may be able to tell that you are connected to the internet, but they won’t be able to tell that you’re torrenting files.
Because it won’t know what you’re doing, an ISP can’t throttle your connection’s speed or block your torrenting activity.
In this article, I go over the 5 best VPNs to use for torrenting.
How to Use Your VPN for P2P File Sharing
To protect your torrenting activities with a VPN, do the following:
- Subscribe to your VPN provider of choice. I recommend ExpressVPN.
- Install the app for your device.
- Log into your VPN provider.
- Connect to a VPN server.
- Fire up your torrenting app of choice.
- Share files to your heart’s content.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
I ran a large number of top VPN providers through a series of testing hoops, and the 5 providers listed below performed the best while sharing files via P2P file sharing.
- ExpressVPN: My #1 choice for protecting my P2P sessions thanks to its allowance of P2P action on all of its servers, its fast connections and its excellent security and privacy offerings.
- NordVPN: This provider delivers plenty of download speed, making it an excellent option for P2P file transfers. While NordVPN does limit torrenting to a select number of servers, their security and privacy protections are optimal, and for a budget price.
- CyberGhost: A great option for users who torrent large files. CyberGhost provides the fastest download speeds in this roundup, protects you with top-notch privacy and security, and allows torrenting on many of their servers.
- IPVanish: Allows P2P file sharing on all of its servers and protects your activity from being exposed to prying eyes with its excellent encryption and kill switch protection. Keeps no logs whatsoever of your online activities.
- PrivateVPN: Well-encrypted, speedy downstream connections and a willingness to allow torrenting on all of its servers make this up-and-coming provider a good choice for file-sharing types.
I evaluated and ranked the top file-sharing VPNs using the following criteria:
- Allows torrenting
- Provides excellent security and privacy
- Delivers fast connections, with unlimited bandwidth and no data caps
- Offers top-notch customer support
- Uses shared IP addresses
What are shared IP addresses?
An IP address identifies your device while connected to a network, be it your local Wi-Fi network or the internet. When you’re connected to a VPN server, it gives you a new IP address, hiding your true location.
Many providers’ servers make use of shared IPs, meaning multiple devices use the same IP address. Since multiple users are using the same IP address, it adds a further layer of anonymity to their internet usage, since the address can’t be traced back to a single user.
Here are my top 5 picks for the best VPNs to use when engaging in P2P file sharing.
ExpressVPN is the top option for protecting your peer-to-peer file-sharing activities from being observed by outsiders. The provider offers optimal protection for keeping your P2P activities undercover.
ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all of its 3,000+ servers, which are located in 94 countries. (Many VPN providers either don’t allow torrenting at all, or only allow it on some of their servers.) The provider uses shared IPs, which add an additional layer of anonymity to your connection.
This provider’s connections are well suited for torrenting, as they boast military-grade 256-bit encryption and are kill switch-protected. Your privacy is equally protected thanks to the British Virgin Islands-based VPN’s strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option.
ExpressVPN’s connection speeds are fast, and the provider will never throttle your download speeds, restrict your bandwidth or place data caps on your usage.
Customer support is well represented at ExpressVPN, offering 24/7 live support chat, responsive email support, a trouble ticket submission system and an easy-to-search troubleshooting and support library.
ExpressVPN has the most popular torrenting platforms covered, with support for macOS, Windows and Linux, and it also covers iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and others.
The provider allows up to 3 concurrent connections, and it offers excellent router compatibility if you need to protect additional devices.
- Allows P2P file sharing activity on all servers
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Customer support among the best
- Shared IPs offer added anonymity
- Speedy connections
- Only 3 concurrent connections allowed
BEST VPN FOR P2P FILE SHARING:ExpressVPN is the best VPN option for keeping your file sharing activities undercover thanks to its allowance of P2P activity on all of its servers, its well-encrypted connections and its kill switch protection. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is a low-priced VPN provider that offers a high level of service and protection, making it a valid option for P2P participants.
The provider has 5,200+ servers in 60 countries around the globe. While NordVPN does allow P2P traffic, it’s limited to a select number of servers. (No matter which server you connect to, if the provider detects P2P traffic, it will route your connection to VPN servers in Canada or the Netherlands).
The provider uses shared IPs on their servers, delivering an extra layer of anonymity.
NordVPN provides plenty of protection for your torrenting activities by using high-level 256-bit encryption and providing a kill switch option. Privacy violations are not an issue thanks to the provider’s no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option.
NordVPN’s connections can easily handle your torrenting needs. The provider places no data caps on your usage and never throttles your connection.
NordVPN has always operated mostly trouble-free for me, but it’s good to know that if I do have issues, the provider’s 24/7 support chat, email support and searchable knowledge base are there for me.
Apps are available for all popular platforms, and up to 6 devices at a time can connect using a single account. If you need more connections, you can make use of the provider’s excellent router compatibility.
- Allows P2P traffic on a select number of servers
- Excellent privacy and security protections
- Shared IPs for better anonymity
- Kill switch protection is enabled on an app-by-app basis
BUDGET-FRIENDLY P2P VPN:NordVPN’s low price means an excellent return on investment when you consider their high level of service, which includes fast connections and excellent privacy and security protections. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is the best VPN for P2P file-sharing top guns that feel the need – the need for speed.
CyberGhost has over 3,700 servers, stationed in 60 countries around the globe. The provider limits P2P traffic to a select number of servers (in about 25 countries). Shared IPs are the rule on CyberGhost servers, offering additional anonymity.
The provider protects its connections with military-grade encryption, as well as kill switch protection. Privacy is no issue when using CyberGhost thanks to its no-logs policy and acceptance of Bitcoin.
CyberGhost is the speed king on this list of 5, with plenty of download speed for those large files you covet. The provider will never limit your downloading binges by throttling your speeds or putting a data cap on your usage.
In the unlikely event you have an issue with the service, CyberGhost offers an easy-to-search support library, a trouble ticket tracking system, and last but certainly not least, a live support chat function.
CyberGhost provides apps for most popular device platforms and allows a generous 7 concurrent connections. If that doesn’t get it done for you, additional devices can be protected with the VPN’s extensive router compatibility.
- Excellent connection encryption
- High-speed connections
- Top-notch privacy protections
- Allows P2P traffic on certain servers
- Missing manual options present in other providers’ apps
BEST VPN FOR LARGE DOWNLOADS:CyberGhost delivers the fastest speeds on this list, making it perfect for fast sharing of large files. Even though the provider limits P2P activity to certain servers, its performance makes up for it. 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish is a good choice for peer-to-peer file sharing users who worry about too many outsiders having access to their information. The provider’s self-owned and -operated server farms remove third-party operators from the security equation.
IPVanish allows P2P file-sharing on all 1,300+ servers, located in over 50 countries. The provider’s servers use shared IP addresses, which add another layer of anonymity to your file sharing.
IPVanish’s security protections are some of the best in the VPN industry, protecting your connection with military-level encryption and a kill switch.
Privacy is a bit less optimal, although the provider does offer a layer of protection not available from most VPN services.
While IPVanish doesn’t keep any user logs, the service doesn’t offer a cryptocurrency payment option. However, it owns and operates its server farms, meaning no third-party server operators have access to any user information.
While IPVanish doesn’t supply the fastest connections in the business, they are up to the needs of most users when it comes to file sharing, streaming and more. The provider never imposes any data caps or bandwidth limitations.
The provider protects their users well in the customer support department, with email support, 24/7 live support chat and a searchable support knowledge base.
IPVanish offers native app support for the iOS, Android, macOS, Linux, Windows and Amazon Fire TV platforms. Native router support is also available, if 10 simultaneous connections isn’t sufficient for your needs.
- Owns and operates its server farms
- Generous 10 concurrent connection allowance
- P2P file sharing allowed on all servers
- No browser extensions
- No cryptocurrency payment options
HIGHLY SECURE:IPVanish offers P2P users additional protection via their self-owned and -operated servers. The provider’s well-encrypted connections deliver enough oomph to quickly download and share files. IPVanish’s 7-day money-back guarantee is a bit short, but should still be sufficient.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
PrivateVPN rounds out the top 5 list thanks to its reliable and fast connections, as well as its strong privacy and security protections.
While 150+ servers is admittedly not a lot of servers, PrivateVPN has them well spread out among 60 countries, offering pretty decent global server coverage. P2P activity is allowed on all of the provider’s servers.
PrivateVPN offers military-grade encryption for its connections, along with a Stealth VPN option, but lacks a kill switch option for their macOS app.
However, that app does provide an option to automatically reconnect to the provider’s servers in case of connection failure, so your exposure should be limited to a small number of seconds at the worst.
Your privacy is well protected, with no logs whatsoever being kept of PrivateVPN’s customers’ online antics. Plus, your payment info is kept undercover thanks to a Bitcoin payment option.
PrivateVPN’s connection speeds are well up to the needs of most P2P users, with some of the speediest connections in the industry.
This provider’s customer support is average. Although live chat support is available, it’s not available 24 hours per day. Its FAQ is not searchable, but a “Contact Us” form is available to submit questions.
PrivateVPN’s app support is a bit thin, with apps available only for the iOS, Android, Windows and macOS platforms. However, the service’s router support does allow protecting all of your other devices. Up to 6 devices can access the service at once using the same login.
- P2P-friendly connection speeds
- Allows up to 6 simultaneous connections
- P2P file sharing on all servers
- Server numbers are the lowest I’ve seen
- Customer support needs improvement
GOOD FOR EXPERIENCED VPN AND P2P USERS:PrivateVPN is an attractive option for experienced VPN users, as it offers plenty of advanced options for hiding P2P usage. Fast speeds are the rule here, although customer support is a bit lacking. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
Is Torrenting Illegal?
The act of torrenting files itself is not illegal. Many businesses use peer-to-peer file sharing technology to share files amongst their employees.
However, torrenting becomes illegal when users take advantage of the technology to share copyrighted content, such as music, videos and apps.
Concern about illegal sharing of copyrighted content is the reason why many Internet Service Providers block P2P activity from their networks altogether, even if a user is sharing files legally.
That’s why using a VPN to keep your activities with uTorrent and other torrenting apps undercover is so strongly recommended.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option to Protect My P2P Torrenting?
A “free” VPN isn’t a good option to protect any online activity, but it’s particularly ill-suited for file torrenting.
Gratis VPNs do a lousy job of protecting your online privacy, and they usually offer slower connections speeds than their paid-for brethren. Both of these factors make a freebie VPN a bad choice for P2P activities.
Many VPN providers that skip the part about charging you make their money by keeping track of your online activities and then selling your info to advertisers and other interested parties.
Some “free” VPN providers will inject unwanted advertisements and tracking cookies into your browsing sessions. None of this adds up to “private.”
Many of the VPNs that fall into the “free” category don’t supply what you would call “P2P-friendly connections.”
First of all, some VPNs of this ilk will herd their users into a waiting pen, where they are forced to wait to connect to a VPN server. Then, once they’re allowed to connect, their server selections are quite limited – if they’re allowed any choice in server at all.
Once connected, “free” VPN users may find that their download speeds are much slower than paid alternatives, or that their access is restricted due to bandwidth restrictions or a monthly data cap.
While a free VPN might save you a few bucks up front, you’ll end up paying more in terms of lost privacy and time. Stick with a paid service.
Users who are looking to protect their P2P file sharing activities from prying eyes will find that a Virtual Private Network is an excellent addition to their online arsenal.
A VPN keeps your file transfers undercover and protects your other online activities from being monitored, while opening up access to a world of other types of content.
BitTorrent lovers will find that ExpressVPN is the absolute best VPN provider for protecting their online file sharing activities. The provider’s P2P-friendly connections provide optimal security for all of your online activities.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.