If you’re a torrent user, you know it’s wise to have a VPN. This helps protect your identity, mask your IP address, and prevent your internet service provider from monitoring your torrenting activity.
While paid VPN services tend to be relatively cheap, you may want to experiment with a free VPN first to check out the benefits they bring.
However, not all free VPNs are worthwhile. Most fail to provide the encryption and protection you need, while others actively log your data and sell it to third parties.
Read on to learn which truly free VPNs are worth downloading and why you should be vigilant to avoid the sketchy ones.
What is a free VPN for torrenting?
The term VPN stands for “virtual private network”. While many companies offer this service, there are only a handful of truly free VPN options.
A VPN service encrypts data and hides your IP address. It does this by sending your activity data through a secure chain to different servers in various locations. Doing this gives the impression that your computer has a direct connection to the VPN company’s private network.
Its purpose is to provide extra security and hide your identity when downloading torrents. Currently, 68% of U.S. internet users have some form of free or paid VPN.
The problem is that nothing is really free in this world.
While you may not have to fork over hard cash to pay for a subscription to a free VPN service, you’ll pay in other ways. Often, a free VPN provider collects user information and online activity data and sells this to third parties.
In this sense, it’s usually wise to pay a small monthly fee for a more reliable paid-for VPN service. Not only do you benefit from faster connections and bigger data allowances, but you also get much better security and privacy.
The 2 types of free VPNs
There are two types of free VPNs available on the market.
Unlimited: Unlimited VPNs give you unlimited access to the functionality of a VPN service, which usually means unlimited data allowance, access to all servers, and fast connections. In return, these companies usually monetize the user by selling data.
Limited: A limited VPN is based on the freemium model, where a VPN provider gives you access to a limited version of its product in the hopes that you upgrade to the paid edition. You’ll be able to use the VPN for free, but your speed, data allowance, and server locations will be limited. Sometimes you’ll only be able to use the product for a limited time as a free trial.
What to look for in a free VPN for torrenting
While free VPNs have the advantage of being free, they often come with restrictions.
If you’re considering using a free VPN service, here are some factors you should consider.
1. Number of servers
Lots of free VPNs limit the number of servers you can connect to.
Not only does this determine how easy it’ll be for you to make a connection, but it’ll also influence how stable your VPN connection is and how fast it’ll run.
2. Server location
Free VPNs tend to limit the locations of the servers you can access.
When trying to access specific content, you may want to pick a server outside your local area to bypass restrictions and censorship. Alternatively, you may be using a VPN to access content that’s only available in other geographical locations.
If the locations of your servers are limited, access to external content and your ability to bypass local censorship will be limited.
One of the ways that free VPNs operate is to sell your private data to third parties. However, they’re not always transparent about this practice.
If they’re not forthcoming with this information, beware.
4. Data limits
If you’re looking for a free torrenting VPN, data limits are a huge weakness. In fact, some free VPNs limit data so much that they’re virtually unusable.
Make sure you check out data allowances. Otherwise, you may not be able to use your free VPN for torrenting. For example, if your data allowance is limited to 500 MB a month, you won’t even be able to download one movie torrent file.
While some VPN companies offer services that work with your PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android devices, others will limit the number and type of device you can use.
Consider how the VPN provider aligns with your personal needs. Perhaps you don’t care about privacy, but you’re really concerned with speed. Maybe speed isn’t your main issue, but you’re a real stickler for strong encryption.
Check the qualities to make sure they meet your requirements on:
With a high data allowance and support for all platforms, Hide.Me is a top free VPN for torrenting.
The platform is free of ads to prevent data leaks through advertising, and it encrypts all traffic going through torrents.
Bear in mind that you’ll want to change the protocol to SoftEtherVPN, as it’s safer and faster. You’ll also need to remember to switch off sleeping mode, or the service eats all the data.
Unfortunately, you’re limited to only a handful of server locations. Plus, the free service is significantly slower than the paid plans.
Pros of Hide.Me:
10GB monthly data allowance
Supports all major platforms
Encrypts all traffic through torrents for extra security
No ads to prevent data leaks
No need to give card details on signup
Cons of Hide.Me:
Free version only supports up to four locations
iOS has limited functionality
Low speeds in all locations for the free version
The cons of free VPN services – why some free VPNs can’t be trusted
The benefit of free VPNs is that you don’t have to pay upfront fees each month. However, this does come at a pretty substantial cost. Free VPNs can’t always be trusted.
Here are some of the main reasons why you shouldn’t trust a free VPN.
1. IP address sharing
Many free VPNs share your IP address with other users.
For example, Hola is a free VPN service where free users must let other users pass through their connections. This is how the service operates for free.
The problem with this is that illegal activity performed by someone else can ultimately get traced back to your IP address.
2. Malware and spyware
Another big problem with free VPNs is malware and spyware.
Lots of free VPNs are vulnerable to people installing tracking codes in the software. While you get to use a torrenting VPN for free on the surface, you’re now at risk of someone hacking your device through the VPN.
3. Data collection and usage
Some companies will collect private information and usage data to sell to third parties. This can include private contact data, usernames, passwords, and payment details.
Not all companies are transparent about how they do this and to whom they sell this information. Many of them also don’t tell you how long they hold your data for.
4. Targeted advertising
Targeted advertising is another downfall of free torrent VPN services.
The free VPN will inject targeted ads and spam into your browser without you realizing it, causing annoying pop-ups and tailoring the advertising you see.
5. Poor encryption and security issues
If you’re looking for a secure VPN, you should steer clear of free services. Often, the encryption on free VPNs is weaker than paid products. It could turn out that you’re not that well protected, negating the whole point of anonymous torrenting.
You’ll also find that many free VPN providers don’t have solid DNS leak protection. This is a major security flaw that allows DNS requests to be seen by ISP DNS servers. If you’re experiencing a DNS leak, your data isn’t protected, and your anonymity is at risk.
6. Data restrictions
If you’re a frequent torrent user, you’ll need unlimited bandwidth to cope with demand.
However, free VPN services limit your monthly data allowance. While some of the top free services offer up to 10GB per month, this still isn’t enough if you’re torrenting regularly.
Plus, if you accidentally leave your torrent site running overnight, you’re likely to eat up all of your data in one go.
7. Server limitations
Not only will a free VPN app limit the number of servers you can access, but it’ll also restrict the locations in which you can access servers.
If you’re trying to bypass censorship and geographical restrictions, you may have difficulty if you’re not using a paid VPN.
Plus, you’ll also find that servers in particular locations run more slowly than others. When using a free VPN, you might only have access to the slower-running servers.
2 top VPNs for torrenting with free trials
Free VPNs come with a myriad of downfalls, including lax security and data tracking. Instead, why not try free VPN trials.
You won’t have to pay upfront, and you get to try out some of the most prestigious premium VPN services for free.
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN around. Not only is it extremely easy to switch between its 3,000+ servers across 94 countries, but ExpressVPN’s service is also the fastest in every single one of these locations. It’s also highly P2P-friendly, making it ideal for torrenting.
Because ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, it has to adhere to some of the strictest privacy laws on the planet. The service has a stringent no-log data policy that includes all traffic destinations, browsing history, DNS queries, and data content.
In terms of security, ExpressVPN is highly secure, using AES 256-bit standard encryption. This is the same encryption used by the U.S. government to protect classified data.
Enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee and top-notch customer support for as little as $6.95 per month.