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While you can use a free VPN for torrenting, there are certain drawbacks associated with such a tool. Free VPNs, unlike paid VPNs, have limited abilities when it comes to performing their task. For instance, while some free VPNs have only a limited bandwidth, others are limited in terms of a server network. And some free VPNs are owned by the internet bad guys who are out to track the behavior of the internet users and steal their data. But that does not mean that all free VPNs are bad. Before we look at some of the best free VPNs for torrenting, it is essential to talk about what torrenting is all about and how it works, just to bring those who do not know up to speed.
Torrenting is a popular technology, which makes it possible for internet users to download and even share files (peer-to-peer), including software, books, TV shows, movies, and audio files, etc. With each peer acting as a mini-server, network overload is significantly reduced, resulting in a smooth and seamless internet experience. With torrenting, content lovers don’t have to go to a particular site for files, since they can quickly get them from other peers.
How Safe Is Torrenting?
Torrenting itself is a safe process. In fact, a client such as uTorrent is entirely virus- and malware-free. However, the risk lies with the downloaded files. While most of the files available online for download are safe, a good number of them come with toxic content, which can wreak havoc on your device. Thus, it is essential to ensure that any file is free of malware before attempting to download. Corrupted files may also expose your IP address and personal information to other peers, making it easy for them (the peers) to steal your data, if they want to. Your internet service provider and the copyright trolls could also catch up with you quickly and subject you to the full force of the law. However, with a torrenting VPN, you can effectively avoid these threats. This is good news, of course.
Is Torrenting Possible Without a VPN?
Torrenting is permitted in many countries as long as you are downloading and sharing legal content. However, the main challenge is that the majority of popular shows, songs, and movies are copyrighted. Besides, the content available for torrenting in one country may not be available in another. To bypass all these restrictions and avoid punishment at the same time, you need a torrenting VPN. With such a tool, you will download and share torrent files anonymously. In summary, a VPN is a requirement if you want to download and share copyrighted content without the consent of the content owner.
A Torrenting VPN Explained
A torrenting VPN is any VPN service which supports torrenting. To put it loosely, it is a VPN which allows you to download torrent files securely and anonymously. Are VPNs legal? Well, the original idea of VPNs was to ensure that the data of businesses remained secure and private. It was meant to help company employees work remotely, without putting the company’s information in jeopardy. When you use a VPN, it merely means that you’re hiding your actual IP address and displaying another IP address (fake) instead. Thus, while VPNs are legal, what you use for the services can either be legal or illegal. For instance, it is legal to accomplish your office tasks from a remote location using a VPN, but it is unlawful to access a geographically restricted site using a VPN. So, if you are looking to use the service for access to geo-restricted websites, you’d better look for a reliable and secure VPN.
How Does Torrenting Work?
We can perhaps best know how P2P file sharing works by understanding specific terms associated with the process.
Seeders: This refers to the internet user downloading a movie, a TV show, a book, an audio file, or some form of software from a torrent. Once the seeder has downloaded the file, he or she will then upload it for consumption by other internet users.
Peers: The internet users taking part in P2P file sharing are collectively known as peers.
Torrent client: For torrenting to take place, there must be a tool, which is usually uTorrent. It is this tool which combines several seed fragments to ensure the download process takes place as smoothly as possible.
Swarms: Refer to groups of peers who download and upload the same files.
Trackers: These are servers which facilitate torrenting by bridging the gap between various peers. Trackers help in directing packets from one peer to another.
Indexers: An indexer is a website which does the same job as a search engine for torrent files. Torrentz, Extratorrent, and Piratebay are some of the most popular indexers.
Why People Use Torrent
There are many ways of downloading and sharing files online, and torrenting is just but one of them. While we may not know the motive behind the brains which came up with torrenting, what we know for sure is that it can be used for either good or malicious reasons. Thus, it is difficult to understand what really motivates internet users when it comes to torrenting. Why wouldn’t they go for the traditional download option? The following are the reasons why torrenting is such a widespread phenomenon, more popular than a regular download:
Torrent Usage: the Procedure
To use torrents, there is a procedure you must follow. It is simple and straightforward.
Download a client: While there are many torrent clients online, BitTorrent and uTorrent are the most commonly used ones. So, you will more than likely want to choose between these two tools. Remember, using these tools is free of charge. A torrent client helps to manage downloads and uploads. It also facilitates connection to peers.
Search for a file to download: Go to the indexers and choose the file you want to download. Examine the file to ensure it is malware-free by checking its reviews. The file should also have a substantial army of seeders behind it.
Download the file: Simply click the magnetic icon or the download button located next to the file and wait for the process to complete.
Add the file to your torrent client: Open the file in the client, choose your download destination, and let the file download in the tool. If you are using uTorrent as your client, you could delete and add torrent files, and pause and resume the download process later. The client will also show you the download and upload speeds, the file seeders, and the number of peers connected to you.
As we have seen, torrenting is a revolutionary P2P file-sharing technology, which is popular among internet users. It is a legal process, but given the extent to which it is abused by malicious internet users, some jurisdictions have resolved to place a ban on it. For those who want to use torrenting for good reasons, however, there is a way to go about it. It involves using a torrenting VPN.
On paper, there are lots of torrenting VPNs out there. In practice, however, a good number of them don’t support torrenting. A VPN which supports P2P file sharing is not necessarily useful when it comes to downloading and uploading torrent files. Hence, for a free torrenting VPN to be equal to the task, it must have certain hallmarks, including the following:
Solid bandwidth: Limited monthly bandwidth is a common phenomenon among free VPNs. In fact, the majority of them offer just that, which means they are not fit for torrenting in the first place. So, look for a service with a stable monthly bandwidth even if it is limited.
Logging policy: A suitable VPN is that which does not keep your logs. VPNs which log user activities may share your information with a third party. This is sometimes done for money. If security is your concern (and it has to be), then go for a service with a zero-logs policy.
Powerful encryption: As a torrentor, you want to be sure that no one is tracking your sessions. You can do this by simply choosing a VPN with robust encryption. The 256-bit AES encryption never disappoints.
High speeds: High download speeds make it possible to share files fast, however big they are. You just don’t want a download process which takes a whole hour as this could be frustrating. And you don’t need just high download speeds; the speeds should also be consistent.
All free VPNs come with certain limitations; we already mentioned that in this guide. However, if free services are what you are looking for, then you may want to try any of the following providers. They offer just enough to help you meet your torrenting needs.
This is a Canadian service with both free and premium versions to offer. While its download speed and coverage are still only average (as of 2019), the service boasts a couple of useful features, which make it a not-so-bad choice for torrenting. As a SurfEasy user, you will enjoy such things as dedicated peer-to-peer servers and OpenVPN protocol, which is actually the best of protocols in the industry.
To no one’s surprise, SurfEasy’s free version has no shortage of restrictions. For instance, it offers a monthly bandwidth limit of 500 Mb. The good side, however, is that users stand a chance to get some extra megabytes if they complete specific tasks. In terms of servers, the free edition offers 16 servers compared to the premium edition’s 25. Thus, you must switch to one of the provider’s paid plans if you need more servers.
While SurfEasy’s download speed is not excellent, it is relatively good. On average, the tool delivers 50 Mbps. This means you could quickly complete most of the torrenting basics without much hassle. Looking to download or stream HD content? Sorry, this speed is not intended for such; you will need to look elsewhere.
The tool’s security aspect is perhaps the best feature. SurfEasy uses military-grade encryption (256-bit AES), a robust data security technology, which is used by even the top-most service providers in the industry. The tool does not offer DNS leak protection, though. While we may be yet to hear of serious privacy issues from the users, it doesn’t mean that the tool does not keep user logs. SurfEasy indeed collects and stores user logs. Additionally, being a Canadian-based VPN, the provider operates under the eagle eye of the so-called Five Eyes, a data protection agency famed for its harsh laws. So, you will be hoping not to be tracked down.
Besides Canada, SurfEasy’s free plan has servers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Germany. The server network also covers Romania, Poland, Norway, Italy, and Brazil.
With Windscribe, users stand to enjoy a generous 10-GB monthly bandwidth. This is one of the highest figures compared to what other free services offer. The bad news is that the download speed is on the low side, as reported by various users. While the provider claims to adhere to a no-logs policy, the irony is that it is Canadian-based. This makes it a member of the Five Eyes by default. However, the provider’s powerful AES-256 encryption should give you some peace of mind.
To ensure a secure connection, Windscribe comes with IKEv2 protocol as its default internet protocol. Have reservations about IKEv2? Given that the tool also comes with OpenVPN, you don’t have to worry about the security of your connection. Still, there is a kill switch, which ensures you remain secure even when your VPN connection collapses. Any data leaks (they are only occasional) will be prevented by an in-built DNS leak protection feature.
On top of its free edition, Windscribe VPN offers a paid version, which comes with a lot more goodies, including unlimited bandwidth. The paid plan also comes with a total of 40 other servers. The free program offers 10 servers, located in the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Norway, Luxembourg, Romania, and Hong Kong.
Offering a monthly bandwidth limit of two Gb, this tool is definitely not the best free service in that respect. Obviously, this amount of bandwidth is not what torrenting enthusiasts want to have. The speed is not good either. But Hide.Me provides a means to improve these features; upgrading to a paid plan. With a paid plan, you will enjoy up to 35 servers, located in 28 countries across the world.
As bad as it is (in terms of speed and bandwidth), Hide. Me’s free plan scores highly when it comes to privacy. Yes, the provider keeps no logs. It is also nowhere near the Five Eyes reach, given that it is based in Malaysia which is not a member of this feared surveillance agency. So, as long as you are okay with the bandwidth and speed, you can go ahead and use the free version of the tool for torrenting.
Talking of encryption, Hide.Me has done a quite good job in this department, thanks to its AES-256 and 128-bit ciphers for the control and data channels respectively. It also comes with the standard OpenVPN as its default security protocol. Other features which define Hide.Me include the kill switch and the DNS data protection. These features never disappoint when it comes to doing the tasks they are meant for.
Hotspot Shield VPN
Unlike other free services which are somewhat cagey as far as P2P file sharing is concerned, this VPN makes a considerable impact when it comes to what it can do for those who love torrenting. Every server of Hotspot Shield is optimized for peer-to-peer file sharing. With an estimated 3000 servers spread in well over 70-plus nations, the tool is obviously one of the best free services in the business. While you can access only one server for free, unblocking geo-restricted content will be a walkover for you given that the server is located in the much sought-after country, the United States.
Hotspot Shield users have the privilege of enjoying a daily bandwidth limit of 500 Mb, which translates to about 15000 Mb or so per month. This is crazy compared to the figures of other free VPNs. TunnelBear, for instance, offers a monthly bandwidth limit of 500 Mb.
While there is nothing unique about Hotspot Shield’s military-grade encryption, the tool is head and shoulders above most VPNs with respect to security protocols. Initially, the provider used OpenVPN, which was later dropped due to latency. The architects behind the tool came up with their own fast and robust protocol, which they called Catapult Hydra. While Catapult Hydra is a secret source (unlike OpenVPN, which is open-source), it has gained favor in the eyes of many giant cybersecurity firms, an indication that it is an excellent protocol.
Catapult Hydra makes it possible for Hotspot Shield to deliver fast speeds required for the best torrenting experience. For heavy torrentors who feel that the data limit provided by this provider is not enough for them, there are paid plans, which are pocket-friendly. They could opt for one.
While most free torrenting VPNs have limitations in terms of their effectiveness in supporting P2P file sharing, some do more harm than good, as they leave you so exposed to the extent that it is easy for authorities to monitor your online behavior and catch up with you. To this extent, the use of the following free VPNs is highly discouraged.
IronSocket: While this is one of those services which claim to strictly follow a no-logs policy, they do the opposite. The crux of the matter is that IronSocket, to some extent, monitors your online activity, making it possible for third parties to quickly gain access to your data if they want. Another drawback with this tool is that most of its servers don’t allow peer-to-peer file sharing, and they do so by expression.
Betternet: While its paid edition is said to be decent, Betternet’s free package is the tool’s worst version. The free pack is said to contain spyware and malware, which could seriously damage your device and expose your data to hackers. The provider logs user data, which could be shared with third parties.
Hola: If there is one service which you should not even consider using, it is Hola’s free version. Using this VPN means sharing your bandwidth with other users. Other bad news is that the service is not what you would call a real VPN; it is a Tor network emulator. Hola Free does not secure data with encryption. Encryption is a must-have for every VPN, whether it is for torrenting or not.
Gone are the days when a VPN set up would take too long. This is all thanks to the development of clients, which are specially tailor-made for VPNs. With these clients, a process which would take 10 or so steps to complete has now been reduced to only three or four easy-to-follow and straightforward steps. This means you could set up your free VPN for torrenting almost instantly, using the following steps.
Remember, the above procedure is a general guide, which applies to the majority of free torrenting VPNs. If things don’t work as expected after the process, you may want to perform some troubleshooting tricks, which may include changing the server, logging out and logging in again, clearing your browser cache, checking your internet connection, or changing the VPN. If the situation does not resolve, it is advisable to reach out to your provider’s support agents for help. They should have what it takes to quickly arrest any problem you’re experiencing with the set-up.
Software providers are not charity firms. They are for-profit enterprises, which need to pay bills and make bucks, lots of dollars, as a matter of fact. So, what is all this stuff we hear about free VPNs? While VPNs may claim to be free, if a VPN provider allows you to enjoy their services free of charge, just know that they are minting money elsewhere. That is why you need to be extra cautious when you hear of a free VPN service, or any other free tool, for that matter. Of course, there are free VPNs which will offer you a free service as a way of marketing themselves, and once you have known how they work, they will encourage you to opt into their paid services. Since free VPN services are limited by default, you will have no option but to upgrade. As mentioned earlier, some VPNs are out to track user logs and sell them to make money. And don’t forget that free VPNs come with paid ads, which you must watch.
Torrenting through a VPN is essential in avoiding legal risks associated with copyright, and this guide has already covered this almost exhaustively. So what other options are available for safe torrenting?
Use of a private tracker: Trackers are the sources where you get torrent files from, and they are a target for copyright trolls and hackers who are looking to access your data and interfere with your download processes. Getting your own private tracker could go a long way in lessening these risks. If you must use a public tracker, then go for one with a solid reputation.
Downloading legal content only: This is obviously the best and most effective way to avoid legal punishments associated with piracy. Torrents contain both copyrighted and non-copyrighted materials. Copyrighted content is that which should not be shared without the owner’s permission. Thus, it is advisable to keep off this content and go for unrestricted materials instead. However, the most popular online content is copyrighted, making it difficult for torrentors to resist the temptation. If you must download and share such content, then use a powerful VPN service to avoid being caught.
Use of i2p: Looking for a VPN alternative, whether free or paid? It could be time to give i2p a shot. i2p is a network, which allows for anonymous peer-to-peer content sharing. ip2 is very similar to Tor, in terms of how it works. However, this software comes with certain limitations, which render it not entirely safe for torrenting.
You will need to have the Vuze client in order to use ip2 for torrenting. The tool comes as a Vuze plug-in, which means you could enable it over the client with ease. While you could also enable it on other clients, the process is usually long and tedious; so, you would rather give this option a snub. And that is not all about ip2 drawbacks. The tool has very low speeds, which makes it unsuitable for torrent downloads and uploads. So, unless you come to terms with these dead-slow speeds and have some level of patience, you may want to think twice when it comes to using the tool.
Paid VPN services are perhaps the best free VPNs for torrenting. This sounds confusing, right? Yes, you could be forgiven for getting confused here. After all, how can a paid service be free! As you saw in this guide, free VPN services come with lots of limitations, with regard to such aspects as servers, bandwidth, speeds, and even security features.
If you feel the free VPNs provided in this guide don’t meet your torrenting needs and would want to have better torrent VPNs without spending any money, then you can take advantage of money-back guarantees and free trials offered by paid VPN services. For instance, big names in the industry, such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, if you realize that you don’t want to use the service after you have paid for the same, you can request the provider to refund your money as long as your usage of the service has not exceeded 30 days. This means you can use ExpressVPN for 30 days free of charge, opt-out, and join NordVPN for another 30 days. In total, you will have enjoyed 60 days of secure torrenting free of charge.
But why free trials and money-back guarantees? Good question. The internet world is full of both genuine services and scams, and it can be difficult to distinguish between these two until it is too late. As a result, internet users, whether newbies or veterans have learned to be a bit more cautious with their money. Before they commit to purchasing any online service, including VPNs, they want an assurance that they will get value for their money. It is for these reasons that online tools, such as VPNs, allow their customers to enjoy services for a certain period of time, free of charge. Besides, VPNs are competing for a limited number of customers. By offering free services, they encourage leads to opt-in and become long-term patrons.
Besides money-back guarantees and free trials, some paid VPNs also offer long-term free plans, which you can leverage as long as you want. One thing to remember, however, is that these plans will definitely provide less than what paid plans offer. In fact, some paid VPNs don’t allow torrenting on their free plans. So, this leaves us with one conclusion; paid VPNs are the best for torrenting. With a paid VPN service (especially on a paid plan), you will enjoy the following benefits, which free VPNs don’t offer:
Torrenting is an entirely legal process, which is permitted in many countries. However, some countries have chosen to prohibit torrenting due to the fact that people use it to download copyrighted content. While not every torrent file is copyrighted, not every internet user can be trusted. But if you are using torrenting for the right reasons, then you can use free VPNs, such as Hide.Me, Webscribe, Hotspot Shield, and SurfEasy, to enjoy this internet activity without the worry of falling into the hands of the internet surveillance authorities, hackers, and the owners of the copyrighted materials.
VPNs work by masking your real IP address with a fake one and by creating the so-called encrypted tunnel, which allows you to bypass content restrictions without being monitored. It doesn’t matter where you are located or whether torrenting is banned in your country or not. With a VPN, you can access virtually every torrent site.
Since free VPNs come with loads of weaknesses and challenges, such as inadequate security features, limited bandwidth, reduced speeds, and a limited number of servers, it is advisable to take full advantage of money-back guarantee and free trial opportunities offered by some of the best paid VPNs out there, such as NordVPN, PureVPN, and ExpressVPN. While you will find a few free torrenting VPNs, which deliver some excellent security and speeds needed for torrenting, it should never be lost on you that you need a paid VPN for the best torrenting experience.