VPN to be safe while torrenting

A VPN is the best way to stay safe while torrenting, but it’s not a catch-all solution. You need to watch out for several other aspects, such as the VPN provider’s reliability and whether the VPN has all the necessary features for safe torrenting. Outside your VPN, you also need to use a secure torrent client and a solid anti-malware solution.

Below, we’ll discuss the importance of a good torrenting client and antivirus alongside your VPN. Afterward, we’ll go over all the features a VPN needs so you stay safe while torrenting before answering some common questions surrounding the topic.

Why a VPN alone isn’t enough for safe torrenting

You might think you’re in the clear once you find the best VPN for torrenting. However, torrenting has other moving parts that VPNs don’t cover. Here are some more things to consider:

(Most) VPNs won’t defend against malware

It’s no secret that torrent sites often host malware disguised as the files you’re looking for.

Now, some VPNs have built-in tools that block ads, trackers, and malicious URLs, along with minimal anti-malware scanning abilities in some cases. Examples include NordVPN’s Threat Protection Pro, Surfshark’s CleanWeb 2.0, and ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager.

While they’re great to have when browsing or downloading small attachments, they’re not particularly useful for scanning large chunks of data like the kind you’d get from a torrent. Moreover, none of them perform local scans of your device, so it’s important to have a fully-featured antivirus tool at your disposal in addition to a VPN – Some VPNs even include an antivirus.

Your torrent client counts

Back in 2021, TorrentFreak reported that uTorrent and other torrenting clients were flagged as threats by multiple anti-malware providers. Understandably, users wondered if this might have been a coordinated effort by Microsoft and other antivirus vendors against torrenting apps.

Whether that was the case is uncertain, but TorrentFreak’s VirusTotal tests comparing qBittorrent vs uTorrent found the former to be free of any actual red flags. Moreover, qBittorrent is ad-free and open-source, making it much safer for torrenting in general.

Other free, open-source torrent managers include Deluge, Transmission, and BiglyBT.

What VPN features you need to stay safe while torrenting

Going with a VPN provider that’s built years worth of trust is a good idea, though we always recommend doing your own research as well. Here are some VPN features that shouldn’t be missing from your arsenal if you want to stay safe when torrenting:

1. Secure encryption

Encryption is your first line of defense against cyber threats, including man-in-the-middle attacks and ISPs snooping on your online activities. The stronger the encryption, the harder it is for someone to brute-force it and see what you’re up to.

While better encryption can slow torrenting, we recommend using it simultaneously. Look for providers that use OpenVPN with a 256-bit AES encryption or equivalent, such as ChaCha20 through WireGuard. Any additions that boost your privacy are a huge bonus.

For example, unlike standard setups, NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol and Surfshark’s WireGuard integration also use a double NAT system to avoid storing your IP on the provider’s server.

2. Strict no-logs policy

As you may have guessed, if your VPN logs any of your identifiable data while torrenting, it could land you in trouble with your ISP, copyright trolls, and beyond.

Your best bet is to choose a VPN with a strict no-logging policy, preferably one that’s been audited by an independent third party, to ensure their claims are true. That way, the provider can’t be pressed to hand over any of your data because it doesn’t exist.

We’ve researched over 120 VPN logging policies to see how they compare.

3. A kill switch

VPNs aren’t 100% infallible. If your app disconnects while torrenting, your IP will be exposed in the swarm and could attract unwanted attention. Enter the kill switch: a feature that automatically disables your entire internet connection if your VPN connection drops.

Verify that your provider has a working kill switch on every platform you plan to torrent on, whether on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, or Linux.

4. Full leak protection

An incorrectly configured VPN could leak your IP address through so-called DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC leaks. WebRTC leaks are less relevant for torrenting unless you use a web-based P2P client (e.g., uTorrent Web, BitTorrent Web, WebTorrent).

Even if your provider promises full leak protection, you should take the time to test for leaks before downloading any torrents. After all, you never know when a simple bug could cause a leak, even for a top-notch VPN.

You can use a tool like Browserleaks to test for all types of leaks.

5. Optional: obfuscation

Obfuscated servers (aka “stealth servers”) aren’t strictly necessary to stay safe while torrenting materials. In fact, they severely impact your overall speeds, so they’re best avoided for this purpose in most cases.

However, they might be useful in areas (or on networks) where VPN usage is restricted. Obfuscation makes VPN traffic less conspicuous, so ISPs, network admins (e.g., on school Wi-Fi), and others will have a harder time realizing you’re using a VPN.

Staying safe while torrenting FAQs

Is torrenting without a VPN safe?

No, torrenting without a VPN is not safe. Even if you stick to completely legal and public domain torrent sites (as you should), your IP is still exposed in the swarm. This can leave you at risk for DDoS attacksport scanning, and other threats from malicious actors.

Can I use a free VPN for torrenting?

While you can use a free VPN for torrenting, we don’t recommend it. Not only do most free VPNs log your data, leaving you open to copyright trolls, but many reputable providers don’t allow torrenting on their free plans anyway.

Even if they do, you’d face other issues that make torrenting a chore at best, whether it’s small data caps (up to 10 GB), slow speeds, server overcrowding, and so on.

Do you need a VPN for RuTracker?

Yes, you need a VPN for RuTracker or any other torrenting platform. RuTracker is a public tracker, which leaves it more open to copyright trolling attempts. Private, invite-only trackers are never 100% safe, so it is best to stick with a VPN while torrenting.

Does a VPN hide torrenting from my ISP?

Yes, a VPN does hide the fact that you’re torrenting from your ISP. It does so by masking your online activity with powerful encryption and hiding what websites, apps, and services you use. That said, a VPN can’t conceal the volume of data you upload and download.

RelatedHow to torrent safely and privately