Here’s something you might not know: torrenting is perfectly legal.
People tend to assume that “torrenting” is synonymous with illegally downloading copyrighted material. But torrenting is just a method of downloading files, with plenty of legitimate uses.
So why would you need a VPN for torrenting?
Because your internet service provider (ISP) has a bad habit of tarring every torrent with the same brush.
If you’re caught using a torrenting client like BitTorrent, you might be subject to harsh warnings and even penalties.
Knowing that, using a VPN for torrenting isn’t just a good idea, it’s a no-brainer.
But will it really work? And if it will, which VPN will keep you safest while you torrent?
This review will teach you everything you need to know about finding the best VPN for torrenting.
Is torrenting safe with a VPN?
The short answer: yes.
The long answer: yes, but not always. You need the right VPN, and you need to remember to connect to it.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a network of servers that can conceal your online activity. After subscribing to a VPN service, you can run your connection through a VPN server before moving on to your destination.
If anybody snoops, they’ll only see the VPN server’s IP address, not yours. Without your IP address, it’s harder to connect your identity with anything you do online.
By itself, that’s not enough to stand against today’s surveillance techniques. That’s why VPNs offer another layer of protection: encryption.
VPNs use certain protocols to communicate between clients and servers. If you’ve ever heard of OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard, those are all examples of VPN protocols. Most protocols include encryption as a built-in function — generally AES-256, an encryption cipher complex enough that it would take longer than Earth’s remaining lifespan to crack through brute force.
Putting it all together: if you torrent using a VPN, nobody can tell it’s your IP address torrenting, and nobody can tell what you’re torrenting.
Knowing that, the next logical question is why anybody wouldn’t use a VPN for torrenting.
Torrenting with a VPN is the best way to go, but it leads to two possible problems.
First, torrenting can hurt your speeds if you choose the wrong VPN company. Second, torrenting with the wrong VPN company can be a risk to your privacy.
All VPNs have the potential to slow down browsing, download, and upload speeds. Since your internet connection has to make an extra stop — like changing planes before you reach your destination — everything takes a bit longer.
This delay varies in proportion with how far you are in space from the server you’re connecting to.
However, many VPNs are built well enough to have a significantly lower-than-average impact on your download speeds. If you’re using a nearby server, the impact can be negligible.
Privacy is the greater potential risk. Although you’re concealed from prying eyes when using a VPN, there’s one third party that can still see what you’re doing: the VPN itself.
Certain VPN services take advantage of this access to keep logs of user activity, which they can share with advertisers, your internet service provider, and law enforcement. This is especially problematic if you’re using the VPN for torrenting activity.
The good news: no candidate we’ve listed as one of the best VPNs for torrenting logs user activity.
Almost all VPNs have privacy policies that state they don’t log user data, but our top VPNs are the ones that actually follow through on this promise. Some of them, like ExpressVPN, save user activity on RAM instead of hard drives, meaning it gets erased about once an hour. They couldn’t share your data if they wanted to.
To return to the question we started with: yes, torrenting activity is safe with a VPN, but only if you choose the right one.
How do you do that? We’ll explain in the next section.
How to choose the best VPN for torrenting
Using a VPN is the best choice for safe torrenting, but there are some tradeoffs. A torrent VPN can slow down your internet connection, which drags out P2P sharing. The best ones cost money, but the worst can’t be trusted with your data. And those are far from the only things to keep in mind.
With all that said, finding the right VPN for torrenting doesn’t need to be scary. Just evaluate based on a few questions and you’ll find a keeper in no time.
Does it allow torrenting? This is the most important question. Almost all VPNs are fine with torrenting, but some restrict it in certain ways — for example, requiring you to use BitTorrent, or only torrent through certain servers. If any restrictions will inconvenience you, choose a different VPN provider.
Are there torrent-specific servers? Many VPNs have optimized some of their servers to make torrenting as easy as possible. However, if a VPN doesn’t have torrenting servers, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for torrenting. Some VPNs choose to make all their servers as P2P-friendly as possible, rather than optimizing a subset.
How secure is it? A VPN should use strong, time-tested VPN protocols and encryption ciphers to ensure you don’t get caught torrenting. It should protect against any DNS leak that might expose your activity.
Does it keep logs of user data? VPNs can see your online activity even if nobody else can. A VPN shouldn’t just promise to not do anything with your data; it should have a history that proves it. Before committing to a VPN, do a Google search to see if it’s ever been caught sharing user activity logs.
Where is it based? If you’re going to use it for torrenting, a VPN should be based outside of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes intelligence-sharing agreements. Unsafe countries include the mainlands (but not overseas territories) of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Belgium.
How fast are its download speeds? For safe torrenting not to take forever, a VPN should have as little impact as possible on your download speeds. Use a site like speedtest.net to check your download speeds before and after connecting to the VPN. Try a few different server locations.
How much does it cost? It’s a mistake to default to a free VPN for torrenting since they often make money by selling your activity data to advertisers. Most providers offer long-term deals that let you save a lot per month.
Is it easy to use? A VPN should give some thought to the user experience. You should be able to connect, disconnect, and use all the features without having to strain yourself. There should also be robust customer support to help you out.
What features does it have? Some other features to look for include split tunneling (which lets you use the VPN for torrenting while keeping it switched off for less sensitive online tasks) and a VPN kill switch (which automatically cuts off your internet if you lose your VPN connection).
How many devices can you use at one time? Some VPNs are better for multiple devices than others. There may be a limit on how many devices you can connect at one time.
We’ll use all these questions to evaluate our top VPN choices for torrenting.
Which VPN is best for torrenting?
ExpressVPN is our top choice for a torrenting VPN, due to its excellent speeds, impeccable privacy record, and diverse server network.
ExpressVPN is something of an odd duck on this list because it has very few features explicitly dedicated to torrenting. There aren’t any dedicated P2P VPN servers, and neither the website nor the VPN app discusses torrenting directly (though it’s definitely allowed).
That doesn’t really matter, though, because all of ExpressVPN’s servers and traits contribute to a seamless torrenting experience.
The first thing that comes to mind is speed. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers across the world, and all of them provide some of the fastest VPN torrenting you’ll ever see.
ExpressVPN also has a VPN kill switch, though it’s sometimes called “network lock.” Network lock protects you from exposing your torrent client to onlookers for even a millisecond.
It’s also got split tunneling. While torrenting through the VPN, you can do other innocuous tasks — browsing, gaming, etc. — at faster, unprotected speeds.
Then there’s the user interface, which is one of the cleanest in the VPN space. ExpressVPN is clearly designed for non-technical customers, but at the same time, it doesn’t condescend to the more experienced torrent user.
The main downside is the price. ExpressVPN costs $12.95 per month. The price drops to $9.99 per month if you commit to six months, and $8.32 per month if you commit to a whole year in advance. We think the service earns premium VPN prices, but it might be a barrier for a lot of users.
If you loved everything about ExpressVPN except the price, Surfshark might be the choice for you. It’s about the same price for one month at a time but offers way better long-term deals.
As you can see in this shot from Surfshark’s website, a 6-month plan drops the price to $6.49 per month, while if you can sign up for two years, your monthly fee goes all the way down to $2.49.
The other biggest draw of Surfshark is that, unlike a lot of VPNs, it places no limit on the number of devices that can be connected at one time. You can torrent on one device while using the internet on several others, without having to worry about hitting an arbitrary limit.
Surfshark has no P2P-specific servers, but it openly allows torrenting, and all its servers are good for P2P file sharing. It also has a great privacy record, though it’s only been active since 2018. Like ExpressVPN, it’s based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands.
Surfshark’s biggest drawback is its download speed, which isn’t quite as good as that of either ExpressVPN or NordVPN. However, in the three years it’s been active, Surfshark’s download speeds have improved dramatically, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to do so.
NordVPN is the top VPN on our list with features specifically optimized for torrenting.
NordVPN doesn’t just remove all restrictions on torrenting. It maintains a list of servers actively optimized for P2P traffic. These can be found at the bottom of its app server list.
Of the 60 countries where NordVPN has server locations, 46 of them have dedicated P2P servers.
You already know that a VPN having no P2P servers doesn’t mean you can’t use it for torrenting. In the same way, having P2P servers doesn’t mean you can’t use the VPN’s other servers to download a torrent file. But it’s still good to see a VPN provider looking out for the torrenting experience.
All of NordVPN’s servers offer excellent speeds. As you can see from the screenshot above, its user experience is sleek and friendly, though the giant map means it’s not quite as streamlined as ExpressVPN.
NordVPN’s other biggest draw is its experimental protocol, NordLynx, an in-house version of the industry-leading Wireguard protocol. NordLynx is as secure as OpenVPN, the perennial gold standard, but with a much more streamlined codebase.
NordVPN only comes with two caveats. There’s the price, which is only slightly better than ExpressVPN. Then there are a couple of security breaches on its record.
We want to be clear: NordVPN is as secure and private as any torrenting VPN can be. Neither of the two recent breaches involved weaknesses in the VPN system itself. We just feel it’s important to be totally honest about a product that otherwise has our full endorsement.
Like NordVPN, CyberGhost has torrent-optimized features, including P2P servers. It has servers built for downloading torrents in 64 countries and territories. Each server is labeled with its current load as a percentage, helping you find the fastest each time you log on.
Another CyberGhost feature that will interest torrenters is its NoSpy servers, which are located on Romanian soil and managed entirely by CyberGhost team members. If you’re at all worried about surveillance, these servers will help you breathe a huge sigh of relief. Most VPN servers are safe, but there’s almost no chance of these being snooped on.
Outside its security features, CyberGhost offers one of the best feature sets for any torrenting VPN. It comes with an always-on kill switch, unlimited bandwidth, and seven simultaneous connections.
One of our favorite touches is the Smart Rules control panel. This lets you program certain behaviors into CyberGhost, such as automatically connecting on unsecured Wi-Fi, or always asking you what to do when it discovers a new connection.
It’s not perfect, though. While the UI is fine, the large array of menus and buttons can be off-putting to beginners.
Speed is also an issue, especially with increased distance.
For more information on the pros and cons of this VPN, check out our CyberGhost review.
Rounding out our list is Private Internet Access, also called PIA, which is one of the cheapest high-quality VPNs out there. While it doesn’t have a free VPN plan, we tend to be suspicious of any VPN that does. With a free VPN, you’re usually the product.
Private Internet Access’s 6-month plan is among the best in the business at $7.50 per month, while its two-year plan is even cheaper month-to-month than Surfshark’s two-year option. For that price, you get 3,400 servers, any of which can support a P2P torrenting connection.
Outside of that, however, PIA does suffer a bit from “you get what you pay for” syndrome. Its speeds sometimes suffer, especially on an Apple OS. While it includes a kill switch, there’s no split tunneling available.
The biggest caveat is that PIA is based in the United States, a notoriously backwards jurisdiction when it comes to data privacy. However, PIA has a no-log policy, with no black marks at the time of this writing. If the feds come calling, PIA would have nothing to show them.
In spite of all the hype, torrenting doesn’t have to be frightening. With the right VPN, you can access a safe, legal, convenient method of downloading files.
You can’t go wrong with any of our top five VPNs for torrenting. Each one has a 30-day money-back guarantee (except CyberGhost, which offers 45 days). If you’re not sure which is right for you after reading our list, use the grace period to test how each VPN fits your torrenting needs.
There are also others we didn’t mention but that might be right for you, especially ZenMate.
If you’re still uncertain, check out ExpressVPN (our overall top pick) or NordVPN (our top pick for torrent-optimized features). Good luck, and happy torrenting!