vpn- torrenting

The best VPNs for torrenting

Use a VPN to protect your privacy when you torrent, P2P or file share from as little as $4 per month.

Torrenting is a practice hotly contested in Australia. In 2016, the government passed the contentious Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 demanding that Australian ISPs block a number of websites known for facilitating piracy, and the mere mention of torrents has been tarnished ever since.

Whether you need to torrent or peer-to-peer share legitimate files or are attempting to access copyrighted entertainment, using a VPN will conceal your activities from prying eyes and prevent your ISP from seeing what you are uploading or downloading. Finding the best VPN for torrenting requires targeted research to ensure that the provider you choose is able to meet the technical requirements to transfer significant volumes of data at speed.

We’ve compared some of the best VPN services for torrenting below.

There are plenty of legitimate uses for VPNs. Here at finder, we don’t condone browsing or download activity that falls on the wrong side of the law – we only aim to compare the range of services available to Australians.

How does torrenting with a VPN work?

A VPN hides your true IP address from any entity which would normally be able to view it, including your ISP and any computer you are sharing files with via a torrenting service. Under normal circumstances when you are torrenting a file, your IP address is visible to all the other peers. For obvious reasons, this is particularly problematic if you’re downloading or uploading copyrighted content – you’ve instantly exposed your activities, along with a unique identifying address, to law enforcement. With a VPN, your ISP can see how much data you are using, but it comes across as encrypted and impossible to read.

Choosing a good torrent VPN

Choosing a good VPN for torrenting can mean the difference between uploading/downloading in peace or running the risk of exposing your IP address. That’s not necessarily a problem if you’re downloading material legally, but if you’re using the VPN to download copyrighted material, revealing your IP address could lead to unwanted attention.

Here’s a closer look at what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a VPN for torrenting.

What to look for:

  • No log files: Log files say where you’ve been on the Internet and what data you’ve accessed. If a VPN does not keep these on record, you are truly anonymous in what you do and what you download.
  • Speed: If you’re torrenting, you’re usually downloading large files that can eat up bandwidth like nobody’s business. If the VPN doesn’t give you a good rate of speed, it will make torrenting an endless chore.
  • Killswitch: A killswitch is a default that will sever your connection to the Internet if your VPN fails. In ordinary circumstances, if your VPN crashed your device would switch to a normal Internet connection. The killswitch keeps that from happening so there is no exposure of your data or IP address.

What to avoid:

  • Free VPNs: Free VPNs generally either have low bandwidth capability or they have adware built in. Low bandwidth will minimise your ability to torrent the files you want while adware means you’re having your browsing information collected and used to generate custom advertising, compromising your privacy.
  • Few physical locations: The fewer physical locations a VPN has, the more users per VPN there are. Particularly when travelling, it is favourable to have physical locations close to your current one to minimise the distance your data must cover.

Why should I consider using a VPN for torrenting, P2P or file sharing?

When you share information from one computer to another, you run the risk of other parties seeing personal information or your IP address. Using a VPN if not foolproof, but goes a long way to maximising the security of both your IP address and the information you are uploading or downloading. Without a VPN, any party using the same torrenting, P2P or file sharing software can see what files you are downloading and what your IP address is.

Can my ISP tell that I’m torrenting if I use a VPN?

Your ISP may be able to tell that you are torrenting while you are using a VPN because torrenting leaves a different digital footprint compared to something like streaming video on Hulu or Netflix, or simply surfing the Internet. But it cannot see what you are uploading or downloading while torrenting. When you are using a VPN, all data sent to and from your computer is encrypted, and thus unreadable by your ISP or anyone else.

Is torrenting legal in Australia?

The process of torrenting itself in Australia is legal – downloading and distributing copyrighted material is not. There are millions of files uploaded and downloaded every day that are not in violation of copyright laws. But when people use torrents to move music, movies and other forms of media that are copyright protected, you start to veer into legally questionable territory.

Image: Shutterstock

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