How to torrent safely with a VPN
BitTorrent is a specialized peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol that reduces the impact of sharing large files on servers and networks. While torrenting allows you to share large files, it does expose you to risks. This article explains those risks and what you can do to mitigate them.
The risks of using BitTorrent
First, anyone you are sharing a file with can see your IP address (that is, the number assigned to all Internet-connected devices). In fact, you can see the IP address of everyone in your torrent network — and everyone can see yours. This puts your privacy at risk because it is possible to see who is downloading and sharing which files.
Second, while users can only tie torrenting activity to an IP address, your Internet service provider (ISP) can pair it to your true identity. Your ISP is the company that connects you to the Internet and assigns your device its IP address. As long as you are connected to their network, your ISP can record your Internet activity and connect it to the name and address on your account. These records can then be provided to third parties upon request. Furthermore, many ISPs seek to actively identify and throttle BitTorrent downloads, leading to slower torrenting speeds.
How to choose a trustworthy VPN for BitTorrent
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the easiest ways to use BitTorrent safely.
Unfortunately, not all VPNs are created equal and your data is not necessarily protected simply because you are using a VPN. You should only work with trustworthy VPNs, as your VPN provider has the ability to see all of your traffic. When evaluating a VPN service, these are the things to look for:
The team providing the service – If you don’t know exactly who runs the VPN service
, it might not be a good idea to trust that VPN provider with your data.
A strict no logs policy.
Strong encryption and secure VPN protocols – Examples of secure VPN protocols include OpenVPN and IKEv2.
The location of the VPN provider’s headquarters – Countries without strong data protection laws can legally force best VPN providers to turn over their users’ data to authorities.