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The Best VPNs for Torrenting 2019 - Download torrents safely in UK, USA and more

The idea of torrenting without a VPN is, quite frankly, bonkers. Even if no action is taken against you immediately, you could end up on a list which could haunt you in the future. A VPN provides almost complete peace of mind when P2P downloading by making you anonymous to other torrenters. In this guide, we take a look at the best VPN for torrents and other P2P activities. 

What are the Best VPN for Torrents?

If you want a quick answer here are the best VPNs for torrenting. Click here or scroll down for more detailed summaries or check out our full VPN reviews.

  1. NordVPN - this privacy-focused VPN service is ideal for torrenting on up to six devices and is very pocket-friendly.
  2. CyberGhost - is another great torrent VPN choice with split tunneling and a super-generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
  3. PrivateVPN - in addition to living up to its name in terms protecting your privacy when torrenting, PrivateVPN offers port forwarding for improved P2P performance.
  4. ExpressVPN - this industry stalwart is an exemplary all-round VPN service, ideal for torrenting with.
  5. Ivacy - this blazing fast VPN service offers split tunneling. By default, it uses no NAT firewall, or you can purchase one as an add-on with port forwarding included. Either way, you’ll get great P2P speeds.
  6. Windscribe - easily the best free VPN for torrenting.

  1. CyberGhost - is another great torrent VPN choice with split tunneling and a super-generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN - this privacy-focused VPN service is ideal for torrenting on up to six devices and is very pocket-friendly.
  3. PrivateVPN - in addition to living up to its name in terms protecting your privacy when torrenting, PrivateVPN offers port forwarding for improved P2P performance.
  4. ExpressVPN - this industry stalwart is an exemplary all-round VPN service, ideal for torrenting with.
  5. Ivacy - this blazing fast VPN service offers split tunneling. By default, it uses no NAT firewall, or you can purchase one as an add-on with port forwarding included. Either way, you’ll get great P2P speeds.
  6. Windscribe - easily the best free VPN for torrenting.

The best VPNs for torrenting: Detailed Analysis

The list below takes a deeper look at our favorite VPNs for torrenting, so you can get an idea of what to expect with each service. 

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is a great torrent VPN for privacy

  • Pricing

    From $3.49 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Torrenting
    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

NordVPN is a no logs VPN service based in Panama. Because it keeps no logs it is unable to identify torrent users to copyright holders, even if it wanted to or was somehow forced to. 

Which is unlikely. Panama takes fairly blasé attitude to copyright piracy, putting NordVPN users safely out of the reach of legal action from US and other rights holders. Torrenting is permitted on all servers, although NordVPN offers speciality P2P servers which are optimized for the task.

NordVPN for torrenting

NordVPN is also notable for the fact that its Windows and Mac apps feature both a system kill switch and a per-app kill switch. This means you can have double-protection against VPN dropouts on your BitTorrent client (not that you should need it), or can opt to only protect your torrent client. It’s up to you! 

NordVPN’s speed performance continues to lag a little behind some of its competitors, but this is unlikely to have any noticeable impact on P2P performance. 

In more general terms, being based in Panama places NordVPN outside the direct influence of the NSA and its Five Eyes mass surveillance partners. It offers servers in over 60 countries and is one of the few VPN services that continues to reliably unblock popular streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, iPlayer - and many more.

NordVPN allows up to six devices to connect at once, has a slick user interface, clients for all platforms, and implements strong encryption on all clients by default. It also offers a lot of high-end privacy features such as VPN over Tor, double-hop encryption, and XOR obfuscated servers.

Key P2P Features: NO LOGS | SYSTEM KILL SWITCH | PER APP KILL SWITCH

2. CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers 45-days to test its torrenting muscle out!

  • Pricing

    From $2.75 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Torrenting
    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

This Romanian VPN service combines ultra-low pricing with a fully-featured and privacy-friendly VPN service. Unlike most European countries, Romania has no mandatory data retention laws, a situation CyberGhost takes full advantage of by keeping no logs which might compromise its users’ privacy.

CyberGhost permits torrenting on many of its servers, although not in the United States or Canada due to their very hostile copyright environments. North Americans can still P2P download using European servers, however. CyberGhost provides a special list of P2P-optimiszed servers.

cyberghost vpn for torrenting

A feature that may be of particular interest to torrenters is “App Protection,” which allows you to specify that only certain apps are protected by the VPN. Such as your BitTorrent app! This is also known as split-tunneling.

Torrenters will also appreciate kill switches baked into (and enabled by default!) both CyberGhost’s Windows and macOS apps. 

CyberGhost runs servers in 58 countries around the world, and is notable for allowing a whopping 7 simultaneous connections. This is generous, and makes the service perfect for larger families with multiple devices in their home.

Customer service is available 24/7 via both email and live chat, which is available on its website in English, French, and German. And with an industry-beating 45-day money back guarantee, torrenters can get a lot of downloading done before committing to the service! 

Key P2P Features: NO LOGS | KILL SWITCH | SPLIT TUNNELING

3. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN offers pocket-friendly port forwarding!

  • Pricing

    From $1.89 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Torrenting
    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

PrivateVPN is a zero-logs Swedish provider with 80+ servers in 52 countries around the world. Torrenting is allowed on all PrivateVPN servers, although servers listed “dedicated IP/Torrenting” provide superior P2P performance.

Of particular interest to torrenters is that PrivateVPN supports forwarding through its NAT firewall. We discuss this feature at greater length later in this article, but the tl:dr version is that it can greatly improve torrent download speeds.

privateVPN for torrenting

Sweden is also a good location for a torrent VPN to be located. Although the country at large suffers from some government surveillance issues, VPN providers in Sweden are not required by law to keep any logs. Which is great for torrenters. 

Windows P2P users will appreciate both a system kill switch and per-app kill switch, perfect for protecting just your torrent sessions. Sadly, the macOS client doesn't have a kill switch built in, although Mac users can always use the Tunnelblick client instead. Which does. 

HTTPS SOCKS5 proxies are a nice bonus, as they allow you to secure just your torrent sessons (much like split tunneling does). 

PrivateVPN allows users to connect up to six devices at once, operates servers in 56 countries, uses strong OpenVPN encryption settings, handles all DNS requests via its own servers, and offers a “stealth VPN” mode to overcome censorship. But what really impresses us is official support for local versions Netflix in a whopping 17 countries!

PrivateVPN’s high level of customer service is also impressive, which even offers remote installation for technophobes! With a 30-day no-quibble money back guarantee there is little reason not to give this service a try.

Key P2P Features: NO LOGS | PORT FORWARDING | HTTPS SOCKS5 PROXIES

4. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a great all-round VPN service which is fast and allows torrenting

  • Pricing

    From $6.67 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Torrenting
    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

ExpressVPN pioneered many of the features that have now become standard for tier 1 VPN services. These include keeping no logs which compromise users’ privacy, offering a 30-day money back guarantee, and providing24/7 live chat support using operators who actually know what they are doing. 

expressvpn for torrenting

P2P is permitted on all servers, although ExpressVPN understandably prefers to maintain a low profile about this. Both the Windows and macOS client feature good kill switches. Torrenters will also appreciate the fact that ExpressVPN is a very fast service, and its top-notch encryption will please everyone. 

It may not be as useful to those of us who torrent as it is to other VPN users, but the full smart DNS service which ExpressVPN throws in with all VPN subscriptions effectively doubles the value of this service. Similarly, the fact that ExpressVPN flawlessly unblocks streaming services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer will be appreciated by most.

Key P2P Features: NO LOGS | KILL SWITCH

5. Ivacy

Ivacy is a blazing fast VPN with lots of torrent-friendly bells and whistles

  • Pricing

    From $1.33 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

Although it has been around for ages, this recently rejuvenated Singapore-based VPN service has raised eyebrows by offering an impressively fully-featured VPN service that permits torrenting on all servers.

Unlike many VPN services, Ivacy does not use a NAT firewall by default, making port forwarding unnecessary for torrenters. Alternatively, it is possible to purchase NAT firewall protection as a bolt-on extra, which automatically comes with port forwarding included. 

Ivacy VPN for torrenting

So either way, torrents will download at full speed when using Ivacy. And given Ivacy’s low initial buy-in cost, we appreciate the flexibility this approach provides. The Windows client (and Android app) features a kill switch, but sadly the macOS one does not. 

Also of interest to Windows (but, again. not Mac) torrenters is Ivacy’s split tunneling feature that lets you choose which programs use the VPN tunnel (for example just your BitTorrent client), and to exclude the rest. 

Singapore suffers from a repressive political atmosphere, but ISPs (and presumably VPN providers also) are not legally required to log users’ internet activity. And so Ivacy doesn’t. Which is great news for torrenters, as it would be unable to identify them to copyright holders even in the unlikely event that it wanted to.

In other news, Ivacy is a very fast service with servers in over 50 countries. It uses strong encryption and offers highly robust technical security.

Key P2P Features: NO LOGS | NO NAT FIREWALL / OR PORT FORWARDING | SPLIT TUNNELING (WINDOWS)

6. Windscribe

Windscribe is a great free VPN that allows P2P filesharing

  • Pricing

    From $3.70 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Torrenting
    • Netflix
    • Livechat
    • Money-back Guarantee

Canada-based Windscribe proves that not all free VPN services are rubbish. It’s a rare free torrent VPN at all, but the 10GB monthly data allowance is generous enough to actually be useful for downloading stuff.

Thanks largely to its membership in the Five Eyes spying alliance, being based Canada does introduce some privacy concerns. Windscribe nevertheless has a very good privacy policy, where logs are deleted three minutes after a session ends.

Although arguably something of an edge-case, we think this poses such a minimal threat to users’ privacy that we are comfortable describing the service as a ”no logs VPN.”

windscribe VPN client

Windscribe offers SOCKS5 proxies for per-app protection, but itself reports that these are currently blocked by most popular torrent trackers and there is little it can do about it. Although only available using the paid VPN, we should note that Windscribe offers port forwarding for static IPs. 

These static IPs cost extra each month, but users have to option to purchase data center static IPs or residential IPs (which are very unlikely to be blocked). All users benefit from strong encryption and can enable customizable DNS filtering to help protect their systems from a variety of threats. If you need unlimited bandwidth however, you will need to choose one of the VPNs above.

Key P2P Features: Free | 10GB PER MONTH | SOCK PROXY | PORT FORWARDING (NOT FREE)

What makes the best VPNs for torrenting? 

The most important thing is that a VPN provider actually allows torrenting! Most do, these days, but by no means all.

A VPN that allows torrenting undertakes to protect you when it receives a DMCA letters and the like, but if you torrent on a service which doesn’t allow P2P then you can expect no such protection. But, just to be sure, we recommend using a good no logs VPN makes it impossible to hand over information it simply doesn’t have! 

After that, the most important thing is having a good kill switch. This ensures you can’t torrent without the VPN connected. Do make sure that the provider’s apps feature a kill switch for the platform you torrent on (although Android v7+ itself has one built-in).

Port forwarding is a controversial feature as it improves P2P download speeds but can introduce security risks. We discuss port forwarding later in this article, or you can find a detailed look at the topic in our ultimate guide to port forwarding

New to VPNS or torrenting? Our handy guides will help you get up to speed:

Should I use a VPN when torrenting?

Yes. 

Torrenting is also called P2P (person-to-person) and filesharing, which should give you a clue as to why using a VPN is so important when torrenting.

One of the greatest strengths of the BitTorrent protocol is that it is decentralized. Instead of downloading files from a centralized server which can be shut down, you share files with other torrent users (called peers). 

How a torrent VPN works

In order for this to work, your peers need to know who you are (or more specifically, know your unique internet (IP) address which can be traced straight back to you).

Torrent client peers

And here is where the problem lies, as peers are not necessarily fellow download enthusiasts. They can be copyright enforcers who monitoring the IPs of people who download their intellectual property without permission and who then take action against them. Using a VPN protects you against this.

Is it safe to download a torrent with a VPN?

Again, short answer: yes. Long answer: when using a VPN your device connects to the internet via a VPN server run by a VPN service. Most VPN services operate VPN servers located in various countries around the world (including countries with relaxed views on copyright infringement). The connection between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. So…

  • Peers cannot see your real IP address, as it is hidden by the VPN server. They see the IP address of the VPN server instead. This is the most important protection a VPN provides to torrenters.
  • Your ISP cannot see that you have visited torrent sites because everything you do on the internet beyond connecting to the VPN server is blocked to it. And what it cannot see, it cannot block. If ISPs in your country block torrent sites then connecting to a VPN server somewhere they are not blocked unblocks them. 
  • Your ISP cannot see your data (such as files you have torrented) because all data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted.

VPN tunnel when torrenting

Using a VPN, therefore, makes very torrenting very safe (as long as the VPN service allows it). However, even the best VPN connection can fail occasionally, which is why using a kill switch is so important.

What happens if I torrent without a VPN?

Copyright holders’ first response when they detect that your IP address has been involved in downloading their content is usually to send a DMCA notice to your ISP.

This is basically a cease and desist letter. A true DMCA letter is only legally valid in the US, but they are widely respected by ISPs everywhere. Most countries also have similar legally-binding instruments, which are commonly (if inaccurately) referred to simply as DMCA notices.

What happens next depends very much on your ISP, who can easily map the IP address and the time it was used to your customer account. A typical first response (maybe after receiving two or more notices linked to your IP address) is to send you a warning letter.

Depending on your ISP this may be “educational” in tone or quite aggressive.

Notice of copyright infringement

If its warnings are ignored or your ISP is a strong supporter of copyright enforcement from the get-go, it could simply hand over your account details to the copyright holder.

Copyright holders can (and sometimes do) take offenders direct to court, demanding, often huge sums of money in compensation. Even if they don’t win, the court costs alone can be crippling to defendants.

More often, though, copyright holders employ legal firms popularly known as “copyright trolls” to exptort smaller amounts of money from offenders for them. In a dubious tactic known as “speculative invoicing,” victims typically receive a letter demanding a cash settlement out of court if they wish to avoid a potentially ruinous full-court summons.

Copyright Troll Notice

The best advice on what to do if you receive such a letter is (a little surprisingly!) from the UK government, but which is also useful in most North American and European countries. But if you use a VPN, this nightmare situation should never happen to you…

How do I torrent with a VPN?

Torrenting with a VPN is easy, simply:

  1. Run your VPN app and connect to an allowed server.
  2. Ensure a kill switch is enabled.
  3. Start torrenting as usual.

Some VPN services only allow torrenting on selected servers located in countries with relaxed copyright laws, while others allow you to torrent on any of their servers. 

What is a Kill switch? Why do I need one?

A “kill switch” prevents internet connections when the VPN is not running, thus ensuring against accidental exposure of your IP when torrenting in the event of a VPN drop-out, software crash, when switching between networks. It is, therefore, a vital tool for torrent users.

Do make sure that your chosen VPN service offers a kill switch for the platforms you torrent on. Most providers support kill switches in Windows these days, but not necessarily in macOS, and even less so in mobile apps.

Android v7+ users are in luck, however, as the OS now includes a VPN kill switch which works with any installed VPN app. Users of older Android devices can use the third-party OpenVPN for Android app instead of their provider’s custom app, as it can be configured to work as a kill switch. Tunnelblick for macOS also includes a kill switch.

Port forwarding

Many (but not all) VPN services use a NAT firewall to protect their users from unsolicited incoming connections. Unfortunately, this impedes your ability to seed files to each other, which has a negative impact on your download speeds.

VPN port forwarding solves this problem by letting incoming connections through the NAT firewall so that you can seed as normal. Done properly, port forwarding poses minimal risk to users, but many VPN services quite understandably do not support it because of concerns over security.

So, just to stress: port forwarding is not required to torrent when using a VPN (assuming a NAT firewall is used in the first place). But it does make torrenting faster. Please check out our Ultimate Guide to VPN Port Forwarding for a detailed look at this subject.

How to test your torrent VPN is working?

To test your VPN is ready to use for torrenting, 

  1. Go to ipleak.net without your VPN running and make a note of all IPv4 and IPv6 addresses you see. Turn on your VPN and visit ipleak.net again, but this time on Private /Incognito mode to prevent caching issues from polluting the result. If you see your real IPv4 or IPv6 address that you noted above, then the VPN will not protect you when torrenting.

Note that WebRTC and DNS leaks are not a danger when just torrenting, but assuming you use the VPN for browsing too, then if ipleak.net detects these then consult our Complete Guide to IP Leak Protection.

  1. Simply checking that you have no IP leaks using ipleak.net as described above is sufficient to show that your VPN is working properly. If you are of a more paranoid disposition, however then you can double-check specifically for torrenting using the ipMagnet tool

ip Magnet

Open the Magnet tracker link in your BitTorrent client. A few seconds later you should see the IP address trying to download the dummy torrent file on the ipMagnet web page. This IP should belong to your VPN service and not be your real IP address!

Does a VPN slow down torrenting?

The VPN server acts as an extra leg to the journey that data must travel, and encrypting and decrypting data requires processor cycles. So in theory, a VPN slows down any VPN connection to some extent. 

When it comes to torrenting, though, NAT firewall/port forwarding issues aside, we can’t say the difference has ever been noticeable to us. 

Can a VPN speed up torrenting?

Many ISPs, notably in the United States, discriminate against torrent traffic. Called “traffic management” or "traffic shaping” by ISPs, this is more commonly referred to as “throttling".

IPS do this because they consider torrent traffic to be a nuisance which uses up bandwidth and/or they believe in supporting the rights of copyright holders. 

If your ISP does this, then using a VPN will indeed speed up your torrenting. The VPN encryption prevents your ISP from seeing that your data includes P2P traffic, and what it can’t see it can’t block. 

Is torrenting illegal?

People who run torrent sites are often breaking the law and can get into big trouble when caught. With some exceptions (noted below), however, simply downloading torrents is considered a civil, rather than a criminal offense. So you might get sued to hell and back, but you (probably) won’t go to jail.

CountryLegalityPunishmentMore info
UKIllegalUp to 10 years of jail timeFurther reading
CanadaIllegalFines up to $5000 CADFurther reading
IndiaIllegalUp to 3 years of jail timeFurther reading
AustraliaIllegalFines up to $200AUD*Further reading
USIllegalFines up to $250K & 5 years in jail** Further reading
GermanyIllegalFines up to €2000*Further reading
SwitzerlandLegalN/AFurther reading
* per infringement
** criminal case

Is torrenting illegal in the UK?

In accordance with Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, UK ISPs are among the most aggressive at blocking torrent sites in the world. This includes The Pirate bay, Kickass, and 1337x, and many many more. 

As indicated by the table above, on paper, UK citizens can face up to 10 years in jail for downloading a single torrent. The government has stated that the legislation is aimed at those who illegally distribute copyrighted content for profit, but the fact that this is not made clear by the letter of the law is frankly scary. 

Is torrenting illegal in the USA?

In the US torrenting for personal use is not a criminal act, although offenders are liable for civil action. Indeed, US citizens are more likely to find themselves sued over copyright offenses than just about anywhere else in the world and copyright trolling is becoming an endemic problem. 

Is torrenting safe?

Torrenting without a VPN is most emphatically not safe. Torrenting with a VPN, on the hand, as long as you use a VPN which permits torrenting and a kill switch, is very safe.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

14 Comments

  1. Louis Coleman

    on July 17, 2018
    Reply

    Hi thanks for sharing this. I think all that you said are correct. But just to add up, if you'd like to save money, we can also use some other free VPNs from playstore. I am using VPN FREE for several years now and i can say that it's great and safe.

    1. Xiang replied to Louis Coleman

      on February 12, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks for the article, I enjoyed reading it. I have a follow-up question. If I do use a VPN for torrenting, will my ISP see that I am using all their bandwidth resources and I am connected to a VPN server and all they see are encrypted codes? ISPs aren't stupid either. Over time, it will still draw suspicion on me. Is my concern valid?

      1. douglas replied to Xiang

        on April 5, 2019
        Reply

        Hi Xiang, Yes - your ISP can see how much data you are using, but in today's world of HD Netflix streaming there is nothing noteworthy about this.

    2. Johnny replied to Louis Coleman

      on December 8, 2018
      Reply

      A free VPN must be as safe as facebook privacy.

  2. dude

    on June 30, 2018
    Reply

    Just started using PIA... and in the first week got a little copyright infringement letter. wouldnt recommend them at all.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to dude

      on July 2, 2018
      Reply

      Hi dude, Ouch! I must say that I'm surprised. PIA has a good reputation for protecting its customers.

  3. Manny

    on May 25, 2018
    Reply

    Any reviews on privateinternetaccess?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Manny

      on May 25, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Manny, Private Internet Access Review :).

  4. chris

    on April 9, 2018
    Reply

    how come you have not reviewed Torrent Privacy in your list?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to chris

      on April 16, 2018
      Reply

      Hi chris, We simply haven't got round to reviewing TorrentPrivacy yet (there are a lot of new VPN services out there!). I am therefore not familiar with its service, so have no idea whether it would qualify for this 5 best list - but it would be up against well established and highly professional competition.

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