Best free VPNs for torrenting

P2P networks are great for sharing large files, but they aren’t without their problems. For instance, when you torrent, every other person downloading the same file can see your IP address. Additionally, ISPs know that torrents are popular tools for copyright infringement, and often throttle the speeds of users who use them.

A VPN can help solve both of these issues but if you want to torrent with a free VPN, you face several hurdles. After all, providing high speeds and strong encryption costs the service a lot of money. So, it is almost impossible to find a free torrenting VPN with all of the qualities needed for full protection. That said, when looking for a free VPN provider for torrenting, you can adopt one of the following strategies:

  • Use the free trial or refund periods of paid VPN services
  • Find a free VPN for P2P downloading with high speeds and strong encryption
  • Look for the free versions of reputable VPNs that don’t have service restrictions
  • Be aware many free VPNs have low data caps which will quickly be exceeded by most torrenters.

Short on time? Here’s a brief overview of the best free and cheap VPNs for torrenting:

Best free VPNs for torrenting

  1. Windscribe: A fast, security-conscious VPN with a generous 10GB data cap.
  2. Hide.me: Highly configurable provider with great multi-platform support and a 3GB monthly limit.

You can greatly improve your experience if you have a little more room in the budget. With this in mind, we’ve also created a list of the best low-cost VPNs for torrenting.

Best cheap VPNs for torrenting:

  1. Surfshark: Extremely fast, with cutting-edge security features and no connection limit. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. CyberGhost: An easy to use service with a huge network and dedicated servers for torrenting.
  3. PrivateVPN: Quick and reliable, this privacy-first service is ideal for secure torrenting.

Methodology: How we test and assess VPNs for torrenting

To be an effective VPN for torrenting, a service has to offer strong security and high speeds, but this isn’t all we look for. Below, we’ve listed a few characteristics you should look out for when choosing a VPN for torrenting.

  • Fast speeds for quick downloads
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Large server network
  • No-logs policy
  • Strong encryption to block deep packet inspection
  • Comprehensive address masking
  • Port forwarding to assist torrenting
  • System-wide coverage (i.e protects more than just browser traffic)

We us these criteria alongside our wider research, including analyzing VPN log policies, testing VPN speeds, checking for DNS leaks and a range of other VPN testing.

Best Free VPNs for torrenting

1. Windscribe

Windscribe is an excellent paid VPN, and its free version is almost as good. While free users can access just 10 of its 63 supported countries, they have access to the exact same security features; 4096-bit RSA keys and 256-bit AES encryption, which are considered effectively uncrackable. This VPN deletes all connection records three minutes after a session is terminated.

Windscribe doesn’t place speed restrictions on the free service, but there is a data cap of 10 GB, which is a lot for a free VPN. The allowance is reset on the same day of the month that you sign up on. Naturally, in order to keep track of this, Wndscribe records the amount of data consumed by each free account.

Windscribe is available as both an app and a browser extension. The browser extension is available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera — in other words, it won’t cover your torrent client. The app is available for Windows, MacOS, and Android. You connect to the VPN through a third-party app on iOS and you can install the VPN manually on Linux and routers.

Pros:

  • Offers a free tier up to 10GB per month
  • Robust server network
  • Has no problems with you torrenting

Cons:

  • Lacks advanced features

BEST FREE VPN FOR TORRENTING:Windscribe offers a fully-fledged free plan, with high speeds, strong security, and an especially generous data limit. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you’d like to try the paid version.

Read the full Windscribe review.

2. Hide.me

Hide.me has been independently audited to prove that it keeps no logs. Further, it uses 256-bit encryption and an almost unhard of 8196-bit RSA keys to ensure your privacy. Speeds are decent for a free service, although there’s a monthly data limit of 2GB. As such, this might not be the best option if you torrent frequently.

The paid version can use the OpenVPN, SoftEther, IKEv2, SSTP, and PPTP protocols. With the free version, you can’t access OpenVPN or SoftEther, so we recommend IKEv2 instead. Desktop versions of the app include a kill switch, although you’ll have to enable this manually.

The VPN app can be installed on Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You can install the VPN manually on Linux computers and routers.

Pros:

  • Malaysian based provider with good privacy credentials
  • Offers a lot of control over security features
  • Solid speeds

Cons:

  • Not very good and unblocking geo-restricted streaming content

SECURE TORRENTING:Hide.me puts your privacy first with powerful security features and a no-logs policy. Also offers impressive speeds, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee for paid subscriptions.

Read the full Hide.me review.

Cheap VPNs suitable for torrenting

The VPN market is full of great deals on good VPNs. For a small monthly fee, you can subscribe to a VPN service far superior to a free VPN that will allow you to torrent privately and without speed issues. Here are three great VPNs to consider:

1. Surfshark

Surfshark is a veteran provider with more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries. It boasts high speeds, a strict zero-logs policy, and some of the strong security features around. These include 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, and an automatic connection feature. Support is on-hand, 24 hours per day, over email and live chat. Best of all, as well as being budget-friendly, Surfshark has no connection or bandwidth limits, making it the cheapest way to make sure all your devices are protected.

Apps are available for MacOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, and Android. This service can also be manually installed on some routers.

Pros:

  • Strong security and privacy credentials
  • Fast enough for uninterrupted streaming, torrenting, or browsing
  • No limit on number of devices connected
  • Excellent unblocking ability

Cons:

  • Customer support could be improved

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST CHEAP VPN FOR TORRENTING:Surfshark is fast, privacy-conscious, and reliable. What’s more, it allows you to protect every device you own and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Surfshark review.

2. CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers very high speeds, and has around 7,000 servers in 90 countries. Users can even choose P2P-optimized servers if they’d like. This service boasts an ad-blocker, plus 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. There’s also 24/7 support in case of any problems. Up to seven simultaneous connections are permitted per account.

CyberGhost apps are available on Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and iOS devices. The service can be manually installed on supported wifi routers.

Pros:

  • Great speeds for torrenting
  • Solid privacy and security features enabled by default
  • Plenty of servers to choose from
  • Excellent unblocking ability

Cons:

  • Power-users may lament lack of advanced configuration options

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GOOD BUDGET VPN:CyberGhost is a great value choice. Strong on user privacy, fast speeds and reliable for torrenting with unlimited bandwidth. We found it easy to set up and use.  45-day money back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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3. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN has fewer servers to choose from (around 150 in 62 countries) but it’s exceptionally fast and works great for torrenting. With 256-bit AES encryption, a zero-logs policy, and protection against IPv6 and DNS leaks, your activities remain your business. Better still, this VPN includes a customizable kill switch, so if your connection drops, you can immediately stop torrenting. Up to six devices can be connected at any one time. Live chat-based support is available most hours of the day.

PrivateVPN’s app can be installed on Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and iOS. You can also install the service manually on select network routers.

Pros:

  • Some of the highest speeds around
  • Also leads the way for torrenting and streaming
  • Privacy and security are top notch
  • Zero-logs provider

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT FOR SPEED:PrivateVPN is consistently reliable. Good for general purpose use and Torrenting. Speeds are impressive for this end of the market. Could do with having more servers and lacks 24/7 support. 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full review of PrivateVPN.

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How to torrent safely with a VPN

Believe it or not, the hardest part of torrenting safely is setting up the VPN. Here’s a brief rundown of how to do this:

  1. First, sign up for one of the VPNs above. We particularly recommend choosing a low-cost reputable VPN such as Surfshark.
  2. Next, download and install the VPN app.
  3. Open the app and connect to a nearby server. The location doesn’t matter for torrenting but if it’s too far from your actual location, your speeds will suffer. Note that some providers only allow you to use specific servers for torrenting.
  4. Your traffic and real IP address are now hidden, so even though you can just torrent as you normally would, nobody monitoring the network will be able to tell what you’re doing.

GET A PAID VPN FOR FREE: Sick of data caps? Why not take advantage of a high-quality paid service’s guarantee to gain unrestricted access? NordVPN, for instance, offers a 30-day money-back guarantee which means you can use it as much as you like for a month, risk-free. When you’re done, just cancel to receive a full refund.

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Free versions of VPNs that are not quite good enough

Although there are some great free versions of excellent VPNs to try out, in most cases, the impairments imposed on them make them useless for torrenting. Here are a few examples:

TunnelBear

TunnelBear is a great VPN with a cute, simple design. Amazingly, this fantastic VPN has a free version. You would think this would be perfect for use when torrenting. However:

  • The free version only allows a data throughput of 500 MB per month
  • The company doesn’t allow its VPN to be used for torrenting

So, TunnelBear would be great for low data volume browsing, but it is not a feasible choice for torrenters.


SaferVPN

SaferVPN is a service that we frequently recommend at Comparitech. You can try out the service on a 24-hour free trial and you also get a 14-day money-back guarantee. So, you could use this VPN for free for a day, sign up, and then cancel after two weeks and get your money back.

The free version of SaferVPN is available once you have completed the free trial if you choose not to subscribe. However:

  • You only get a monthly data allowance of 500 MB
  • Only available as a browser extension and won’t cover your torrent client

SecurityKISS

SecurityKISS is a low-priced VPN service that is also available for free. The company is based in the Republic of Ireland. This VPN service declares that it keeps “minimum logs.” You don’t need to give any information about yourself at all to use the free VPN. You don’t even need to set up a username and password.

However, you wouldn’t want to use the paid version of this VPN for torrenting because those minimum logs include your IP address and timestamps of your sessions. Other reasons why SecurityKiss is not suitable for torrenting include:

  • Crackable 1024-bit RSA encryption for session establishment
  • Data throughput limit of 300 MB per day
  • Terms of Service ban torrenting

ProXPN

ProXPN allows torrenting and includes OpenVPN protection. The VPN is headquartered in the USA, which is not an ideal location for a privacy service because it makes it vulnerable to government pressure and legal challenges. The paid version of the VPN offers servers in the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, and Singapore. However, the free version only gives access to servers in the USA.

You can sign up for the Premium (paid) service and get a 30-day refund period. This would be better than using the free version because:

  • Torrenting is not allowed
  • Data transfer download speeds are limited to 300 Kbps

Free VPNs to avoid

There are some very bad free VPNs that should be avoided at all costs, and not just for torrenting. These VPNs make the blacklist either by providing terrible service, compromising user security, or simply being plain, downright and shamelessly dishonest. So, no matter how much their advertising may tempt you, do not, under any circumstances, install the following VPNs.

Hola!

Hola! is a free service that purports to be a VPN, but it isn’t. The system emulates the Tor network in that it uses the connections of members to pass through other users’ connections. This is presented very much like a mutually beneficial setup serving a community. However, the organization that runs Hola! also owns a business that sells access to the network. So, free users allow other users to pass their connections through their system in exchange for the same service in return. In other words, if someone performs a criminal act, traceable to your IP address, you could get into a lot of trouble.

Betternet

Betternet is another VPN owned by AnchorFree. The CSIRO researchers found this free VPN contains malware, adware, and tracking codes. In fact, it includes 14 different tracking codes, which is way more than most dodgy VPNs. The CSIRO also discovered 13 instances of malware in the Betternet app. Also, Betternet’s Terms of Service give the VPN the right to grant third-party companies access to your computer. In the same document, the service absolves itself of any responsibility for the actions of those third-parties.

VPN address substitution and privacy

Data retention is vitally important when choosing a VPN. A service’s protection is useless if your provider tells copyright lawyers or law enforcement which user was represented by an IP address at a certain time. However, if there are no logs of user activity or identifiable information, third parties can’t request, steal, or coerce such information out of the VPN provider.

The VPN industry is very crowded and competition is fierce. All VPN companies know about the importance of privacy to users. Many keep logs that identify users despite claims to the contrary. Some companies dance around the definition of what a log is and will stretch the definition of personally identifiable information. Some outright lie and say they don’t keep logs when they actually do.

The location of the VPN provider’s headquarters is also important. Some countries are very strong on copyright enforcement. If a VPN company is based in a country with strong copyright laws, the owners of that company can be threatened with imprisonment or fines if they fail to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. That threat can be enough to sacrifice your anonymity.

Choosing a VPN server for torrenting

As a general rule of thumb, it is better to connect to a VPN server as close as possible to the source of the data you are accessing. This is because VPNs divert your internet traffic through the VPN server. If you are in Turkey and connecting to a web server in Germany, for example, diverting all of your traffic through a VPN located in Hong Kong would create extra distance for each piece of data to travel and slow the download.

When torrenting, you are likely to connect to peers all over the globe simultaneously, so it isn’t feasible to connect to a VPN server close to the source. An alternative VPN server selection strategy is to connect to a server close to you. To make it even harder for someone to trace your activities, you may want to use a server location outside of your home country.

The top VPNs have servers in many countries. If you are in Europe, you likely get plenty of choice from any VPN service. However, many free VPN services only offer one VPN location, which is often in the USA.

Should you avoid “free” VPNs?

Although there are hundreds of free VPNs on the market, surprisingly few of them offer adequate privacy protection. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization discovered that 18 percent of VPNs on the market don’t include any encryption at all (PDF). That study took place at the end of 2016 and examined a total of 283 VPN services. Without encryption, the protocol details of your connections are visible to your ISP, not to mention whoever owns the VPN’s servers.

Free VPNs often earn money by displaying advertisements to users, either in the app or injected into web pages as they get loaded into browsers. This annoyance, coupled with their other limitations makes them unfeasible for day-to-day usage. We recommend seeking out reputable no-logs providers, instead of choosing a service simply because it’s free.

Free VPN Torrenting FAQ

Is using a torrent service illegal in my country?

Torrenting isn’t inherently illegal -- it’s just an alternative way of downloading a file. Simply, people who get into trouble for torrenting have usually been caught downloading copyrighted content. In other words, as long as you only torrent content that you have the rights to, you’ll be fine. 

What is the best and cheapest VPN client for torrent downloads?

NordVPN and CyberGhost both offer large server networks, 256-bit encryption, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, allowing you to torrent almost completely anonymously. Better still, these services have minimal impact on your connection speed, allowing you to finish your download as quickly as possible.

Is OpenVPN good for Torrenting?

OpenVPN is a strong choice for torrenting, for a few reasons. First, users rarely have to configure this kind of connection manually (unless they’re on Linux). Second, OpenVPN manages to remain highly secure without compromising too heavily on speed; there are faster protocols out there, but ultimately, OpenVPN is often more convenient.

What are some mobile VPN apps that allow torrent downloading?

Most major VPN providers allow torrenting these days, and this doesn’t change just because you want to torrent on a mobile device. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost are all excellent choices: they boasts high speeds, large server networks, and powerful security features designed to keep your traffic private at all times.

See also: