Is it safe to torrent without a VPN?

Torrent without a VPN
Written by: Per-Erik Eriksson

Torrenting is the downloading and uploading of different content with BitTorrent, a communication network for P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing. All you need to be able to torrent is torrenting software, which can be found online and downloaded for free.

The whole concept of torrenting is rather symbiotic. Torrenting files are not downloaded onto a centralized server for everybody to download from. Instead, torrenting is driven by users. Users download files through other devices on the network. At the same time, users upload files from their own devices for other users to download. 

These users are called peers. The peers downloading a file from a user who has already downloaded it are called leeches. The users who already have the file are called seeds. Once a leech has completed downloading, they become a seed and allow others to ’leech onto’ and download the same file.

Is Torrenting Illegal?

Although torrenting is associated with piracy, it is not, in itself, illegal. However, downloading copyrighted material is. Some sites offer legal torrenting where you can only download files approved for public sharing. On the other hand, some sites allow access to copyrighted material free of charge and operate in the legal gray area.

It is sometimes difficult to determine who will be held legally responsible for sharing and downloading copyrighted files. Trackers argue that they are not illegally hosting any content, thus shifting the blame over to users. Even though the prosecution of individual torrenters is rare, it does happen. Copyright trolls – companies that track illegal torrent users – use different tactics to scare people into paying a fine rather than taking them to court.

How Does a VPN Increase Your Safety?

VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, is a service designed with two things in mind. First, it obscures your IP address and renders you untraceable to others. It also encrypts the content of your online traffic so that, should it fall into the wrong hands, nobody can decode and understand it.

There are many legitimate reasons why you might want to keep your identity and content private. For example, hiding your online activity from your ISP, who collects your information and sells it to third parties. Another good reason to hide your activity is bandwidth throttling – something internet service providers have been known to do when they see that you are downloading large files. Business people who have staff working remotely find VPN essential – they do not wish to risk their confidential information being exposed and exploited by hackers. The list of reasons goes on.

VPN and Torrenting

No VPN service provider will encourage you to torrent files without permission because exploiting copyrighted content is illegal. Nevertheless, you do not need to be an illegal torrent user to be exposed to hackers, advertisers, and other potential intruders.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to torrent safely. First of all, you need to download and install a VPN. Secondly, turn on the VPN’s killer switch, if available. Thirdly, connect to a server, preferably choosing one in a P2P-friendly location. Lastly, open your torrent and start downloading content as you usually do.

How to Choose the Right VNP for Torrenting?

You should take several things into account when choosing a VPN for torrenting. Safety is a priority, so pick one with strong encryption (e.g., AES-256). A kill switch is also recommended since it will keep you safe if you lose a VPN connection. Next, choose a provider with a strong privacy policy that provides great speed – because what is the use of having a VPN if it will hamper you rather than aid you? Finally, opt for a VPN provider that runs DNS leak tests.  All in all, choose your VPN wisely, and you should have no reason to fret.

Recommended VPN services

NordVPN Logo

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WHY I LIKE NORDVPN NordVPN has long been regarded as one of the strongest brands in cybersecurity. With one of the largest server offerings on my list and support for most, if not all operating systems, making NordVPN an obvious choice for many. They have 24/7 customer support if you need help getting started. Their app is one of the most well-designed apps I have ever used. NordVPN even accepts cryptocurrencies as payment for extra anonymity.

ProtonVPN Logo

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WHY I LIKE PROTONVPN: ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland and is most known for their e-mail service ProtonMail. They currently offer the safest free VPN services on the market. There is also support for TOR usage and P2P file sharing. I highly recommend ProtonVPN if you are intending to do some extensive online sharing. It goes without saying that Proton does not collect logs of any kind and is completely safe to use.

Cyberghost VPN Logo

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WHY I LIKE CYBERGHOST CyberGhost VPN is the first choice of many other cybersecurity experts, and the reason is clear; they have the most complete VPN service. An incredible number of extra features that are best suited for the more advanced users but also work flawlessly for every-day purposes like P2P-filesharing. Cyberghost VPN also has the longest stretching money-back guarantee at a full 45 days.

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