Sure BitTorrent downloads and P2P file sharing is fun. But when you’re torrenting, you’re basically on thin ice. While torrenting isn’t necessarily illegal or dangerous, you need to consider all the possible dangers before you lurk in deeper waters. Security must be your priority when you share P2P.
What is Torrenting and BitTorrent?
BitTorrent is a P2P protocol for torrenting that facilitate file transfers on pretty much all operating systems. It lets a file to be downloaded from several sources, which makes the download process smoother and faster.
Thanks to the BitTorrent protocol, the user is connected to a torrent community and not to a single computer, and each community member provides a piece of the file. As a result, the downloading process is considerably faster.
When only two computers are connected to share large files, as in the case of P2P file sharing, there is always a chance of web server overloading. Web server overload results in slow downloading or frequent disconnections.
The BitTorrent protocol has been introduced to get around this annoying problem and made torrenting very fast and easy.
How to Use BitTorrent
Using BitTorrent is pretty easy. Here are the steps for it.
1. Install a BitTorrent client (We’ll discuss some popular clients later).
2. Search for the right files on their interface or on best torrenting sites (We’ll soon mention some torrenting sites).
3. Find the right torrent file and put it on download. It’s just like downloading regular files.
4. The BitTorrent works in the background and you don’t have to do anything for it.
Is Torrenting Safe?
This is by far the most asked question by our readers. The best answer is; it depends. The way torrent works is not illegal in itself. However, if you use BitTorrent to download copyrighted material, things turn illegal.
Just so you know – as you search for BitTorrent downloads, you can be seen by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and copyright enforcement agencies.
Is there any way to download BitTorrent safely?
Yes! You can use a BitTorrent VPN to upload and download your torrents safely. We’ll soon discuss how it can be done. But first let’s discuss how torrent works.
What does Seeding Mean in BitTorrent?
Torrent works by downloading and uploading files at the same time, where the uploading process is called Seeding. Seeding means that once you’ve finished downloading a copy of the file, you let others download a piece of the file from your computer. It consume minimum resources and it’s considered a good thing as you get to share what you have. Besides, it’s really simple and you don’t have to do anything – just leave the client open after the BitTorrent download is finished and the downloaded files will be seeded.
Seeding isn’t risk-free. While downloading copyrighted torrents is illegal in almost all countries, the ban isn’t very strictly imposed in some. For example, in Italy, if you download copyrighted content for your personal purposes, you might not land into trouble. However, if you’re found seeding and distributing the content, you can land in legal problems.
How to Stop Seeding on BitTorrent
Seeding is considered a good thing in the BitTorrent community. However, seeding should be done only with a VPN so that you can stay safe. If you want to stop seeding, just close the BitTorrent client and your seeding will stop. So you can achieve safe torrenting just by using a VPN.
Is Anonymous Torrenting Possible?
Yes, all you need to do is use a VPN. A torrent VPN is the only way to keep yourself anonymous and download BitTorrent safely. It can help you stay hidden in your web browser and while torrenting, alike.
I’ll discuss all the details here.
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Most of the content you find on a typical torrent sharing website is protected by copyright. Which makes BitTorrent download potentially illegal.
Simply put, it’s not the safest scenario.
So, why is torrenting so inviting?
Why is BitTorrent Free Download so Inviting?
Free and fast. These are the two magic words that make BitTorrent download irresistible. There is often a third term strictly related to torrenting, which is “illegal”, but it is surely the most overlooked word among the three.
BitTorrent download is a better version of P2P file sharing and it comes with several advantages.
Unlike common P2P file sharing where two computers are connected to share content, the BitTorrent consists of an entire community that is connected together to exchange data. I’ll soon discuss some of the best torrent websites available.
This is the reason why the BitTorrent download is fast.
When you look for a file, the BitTorrent protocol doesn’t look for it on a single computer. Instead, it looks for the same file on several computers. Once it locates them, it downloads only a piece of the file from each computer connected.
Since each computer has to use only minimum resources, there is no overload and the download speed is good. Once all the parts of the file are downloaded, they are organized on your computer to create a complete copy of the file you were looking for.
This is a pretty smart solution. The result is that torrent download is both free and fast. Since only a little portion of the file is taken from each computer, web server overload is not an issue anymore.
On torrent websites you can find a lot of opensource material. However, as soon as you download your first file covered by copyright, you have officially become a “pirate”.
As every other pirate in this world, you need to be cautious. In a while, I will go into the details of all the dangers related to BitTorrent download. But first of all, let’s consider how to protect yourself.
Is Torrenting Without VPN Safe?
If you want to download torrents free, use a VPN as it will make your navigation anonymous.
A VPN or a Virtual Private Network reroutes your traffic through one of its own servers. This means the internet cannot see the place from where the request originated (your computer). Instead, it sees the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to.
In essence, your IP address is hidden and your IP is changed on the internet.
All you need to do is connect to a torrent friendly server and start torrenting. That’s it. Now that you know how to use a VPN with BitTorrent, make sure you always stay secure when torrenting.
Most of the best VPNs have large networks, which means you have countless IP addresses to choose from. By using a VPN, you add a layer of protection to your online identity.
What Are the Benefits of Having your Real IP Address Hidden?
There are several advantages.
For instance, if a copyright enforcement agency tries to track you, the only thing they can see is the IP address of the server you’re connected to.
The server can be in any location – inside your country or outside. Which means that when you use this “fake” IP address, it will be impossible to know your real location, not to mention your identity.
Besides that, the VPN will encrypt your data as well. So your ISP will be unable to monitor your activities. And not just the ISP, even the government cannot see your browsing sessions. And if there’s a hacker trying to steal your data, they won’t be able to get any details either.
Once you are assigned a new IP address and your traffic is encrypted by the VPN, it will be impossible for anyone to know what you’re doing online. Unless, of course, if they have physical access to your computer. If you want to hide your online activities from your friends and family as well, it’s best to use an incognito web browser instead of a regular one. However, keep in mind that the incognito web browser hides only your history and not your data.
But wait, what can possibly go wrong if you start torrenting without VPN? Let’s discuss the risks.
- Cyber attacks: If a hacker is snooping on your network, they can read your data and manipulate it to harm you
- Hacking: If a hacker can read your data, they can use it for identity theft and other cybercrimes
- Malware issues: Without any protection, there is a chance for malware and viruses being downloaded onto your device
- Bandwidth throttling: When your ISP sees that you’re consuming data at a high rate, they will throttle your connection and kill the speeds
- Monitoring from your ISP: If the ISP gets to know you’re torrenting, they are alerted that you might be doing content piracy and this can land you in trouble.
- Legal risks for downloading copyrighted content: As you might already know, sharing copyrighted content isn’t legal and this can make you pay a heavy price – possibly even land you in prison.With a good VPN, you get protection from these risk factors. Since the internet can only see the IP address associated with the VPN server you’re connected to, you can rest assured that your true location and identity will stay private. Plus, when traffic is encrypted, the other risks associated with BitTorrents become obsolete.
Safe Torrent VPN For BitTorrent Download
There is just one bit of problem with using a VPN when you download torrents. Sure, your ISP provider, copyright enforcement agencies or government agencies cannot see what you’re doing online if you use a VPN service.
But keep in mind that your VPN provider can have access to your data. On this regard, your connection is not 100% anonymous.
Do you know what that means? If you use a VPN, is torrenting safe?
If you want to download BitTorrent safely, not every VPN will suit the purpose.
NOT EVERY VPN ALLOWS TORRENTING AND NOT ALL OF THEM ARE SAFE FOR BITTORRENT DOWNLOAD
You need to find a reliable VPN that IS serious about protecting your data. This means not just their encryption standards but also their logging policy. Ideally, you’d want a VPN that has a strict “no logs” policy.
A “no logs” policy means that even though the VPN provider can see what you do online, they will not keep any record of it. If somebody requests to access your data record to discover any possible illegal activities, the record simply doesn’t exist.
Now I’ll discuss some best VPN for torrenting that do not log your activities.
We strongly recommend you to not use a free VPN to download BitTorrent. First of all, they usually don’t work for this task. Most importantly, a free VPN doesn’t guarantee your privacy.
We selected the Best VPN for torrent on the market for your quick reference:
CyberGhost VPN is our first choice when it comes to safe torrenting. This VPN is torrent friendly and offers a number of servers specifically for torrenting purposes. They have recently entered a partnership (not openly advertised!) with BitTorrent and uTorrent, enabling their users to torrent files easily.
Just start the CyberGhost client and select the “Torrent Anonymously” profile and you will be redirected to the closest and fastest VPN server that’s optimized for BitTorrent download.
Is torrenting safe with this VPN? CyberGhost offers stellar security features and the integrated killswitch make this provider the ideal partner for BitTorrent lovers who are looking for peace of mind.
Read our CyberGhost VPN review to get all the information on this VPN connection and how you can use VPN for torrenting.
45-Day Risk Free Guarantee
Apart from the “no logs” policy, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN connection that makes BitTorrent download pretty easy.
You can discover all the features of this VPN in our ExpressVPN review.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
HideMyAss doesn’t need any introduction. One of the oldest VPNs in the industry, HMA provides a guarantee of high-performance and security.
When it comes to BitTorrent downloads, you will surely enjoy the amazingly large network of VPN servers offering top download speed for every user around the globe.
HideMyAss has software that’s super-easy even for inexperienced users. Plus, the integrated killswitch guarantees maximum security for BitTorrent download.
More details in our HideMyAss review.
30-day Money Back Guarantee
NordVPN is based in Panama. This country has online freedom and its laws do not require a VPN provider to collect user logs. For this reason, NordVPN applies a strict no-logs policy that makes it perfect for BitTorrent download.
NordVPN takes user privacy very seriously and offers the best grade encryption. Additionally, NordVPN offers fast connections for a great file sharing experience. The client may not be as user-friendly as ExpressVPN but if you are not totally inexperienced with VPNs, you will enjoin this service.
Read our detailed NordVPN review.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
IPVanish is another great option. IP Vanish allows BitTorrent and is one of the veterans in the VPN world. IPVanish speeds are good, which means you can share P2P quickly and enjoy your fresh downloads in no time.
They have a “no logs” policy and the company has always proved good in protecting its customers. If torrenting is your passion, IPVanish can be an excellent option. A bit less expensive than ExpressVPN, IP Vanish provide a great service.
IPVanish is one of the many VPN we tested and you can find all the details in our review of IPVanish.
7-Day Money Back Guarantee
PureVPN has its headquarters in Hong Kong and claims that they don’t keep logs of your activities. The service comes with several add-ons that make its price totally reasonable.
The Split Tunneling feature can be used to save more bandwidth for BitTorrent without compromising your security. During our download speed test, we were happy to see that PureVPN can keep your Internet connection surprisingly fast.
All the details of our test are listed here in our PureVPN review.
31-Day Money Back Guarantee
SaferVPN helps you create an internet without boundaries. Thanks to its high-grade encryption, you can access the internet and download BitTorrent without any risks. Your online identity stays anonymous and you can enjoy high speeds.
Is torrenting safe using this VPN? SaferVPN has special servers in Canada, Netherlands, and Spain for P2P and torrenting. Whenever you want to download BitTorrent, just connect to one of these servers and enjoy high download speed.
SaferVPN keeps zero traffic logs, which means your connection is safe and your details are hidden.
More details in our SaferVPN review.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Dangers Of Torrenting
A scary downside of torrenting is that the peers that you’re downloading the copy of the file from can see your IP address. Obviously, your ISP and copyright enforcement agencies can see it too.
This is quite a problem. Through your IP address, authorities can track you down and take legal actions.
The scary part is that your online activity logs are maintained by your ISP for several years and these can be shared with the government authorities.
And of course, there are several other dangers as well. One small slip and you might land yourself in a legal soup.
Here are some dangers associated with BitTorrent downloads.
- Using encryption means that activities are undetectable, right?
Not really. While many people think encryption = anonymity, it is simply not true. While encryption can help in anonymity, it’s not exactly anonymous. The copyright holders and their affiliates can still track what ISP was used to download copyrighted material. This means that even copyright owners can use this route to find who uploaded the file in the first place.
- There is still a risk to your device
While you may be downloading and sharing anonymous files, your device is still prone to the same issues as if you were downloading from anywhere online. These files can still contain malware, spyware, and adware that can be very dangerous for your operating systems. Anything you download poses online threats, and BitTorrents are not an exception to this rule!
- There are scams in these files
There are several spoofed websites that are created to attract unsuspecting users. Once you open the website and click on a link, it will generally install malware on your computer. From there, it can lead to identity theft and several other dangers.
You might think that these dangers are generally for traditional file downloading and torrenting is safe. However, torrenting can also lead to malware installation.
The main aspect to remember while using a BitTorrent is that you are at risk and since the websites hosting the torrents are illegal, they can host malware-infested files as well.
What Happens if You Get Caught Torrenting?
You can land in prison!
Let’s take an example.
If you were to get caught by one of the many copyright trolls, who are usually companies that act on behalf of those who own the copyright content, you may receive a settlement letter. Depending on how serious copyright infringement is, they may offer you an agreement outside the court.
Your internet provider can penalize you. This can go in two different routes; the provider could disconnect or simply slow down your internet service. Or, they could give your personal information to a copyright troll who will then threaten lawsuits and court dates.
Is there any way to get around this problem and download BitTorrent safely?
Anonymous Torrenting – How To Do It
While they have their own advantages, keep in mind that you’re not completely safe just because you use their services.
First of all, they don’t hide your real IP address. Secondly, your data is not encrypted. Yes, these IP blockers grant you some control, but they do not protect you from legal issues.
The recommended approach to BitTorrent download is through a VPN connection. If you connect using a VPN, you can have anonymous torrenting.
If you want anonymous torrenting, follow these steps:
- Select one of the best VPN providers mentioned above (for total security they are “no logs” VPN)
- Download the VPN client to your machine.
- Connect to the VPN client choosing a server of your liking.
- You will be given a new IP address not associated with your real IP address and all your data will be encrypted.
- Connect to one of the BitTorrent clients from VPN.
- Download any torrent file safely.
These extra steps are the only way that you can truly say you are anonymous while using a torrent client. The VPN encrypts your data and hides your real IP, a combination that makes it very difficult to track back to your real location and identity.
Is Tor good for Torrenting?
There are many people who will recommend Tor. While Tor is similar to a VPN and can protect your privacy, do keep in mind a VPN is always the better option.
Tor is slower, thus downloading BitTorrent is going to take hours.
Plus, when using Tor, you attract the attention of your ISP. Tor is often used by hackers and criminals; thus, law enforcement officials look get alerted if you use Tor.
How to Check Your Torrent IP Address
This is an important step to take for those who want to ensure they are completely anonymous while their BitTorrent works on downloading the files. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your real IP address is not being seen by anyone!
If you want to see if your IP address has actually changed after using a VPN, you need to follow these steps.
- Check your real IP address before you connect to the VPN (You can use our free “What is my IP address” tool)
- Open the VPN client and connect to a server
- Check if your IP has changed using the What is My IP Address Tool
You can also go to one of the BitTorrent clients in the list and check the tracker tab to make sure the IP now associated with you is different from the real one.
Another method of checking the IP address is to simply download an ipMagnet tool. This is a tool that will automatically start when you connect to a BitTorrent client. It will display the IP address being used while logged into this BitTorrent client, along with a timestamp and the user agent.
An ipMagnet is relatively easy to code, as it is only 500 lines of codes, and there are several tutorials out there that are going to show the person how to do this.
Make Sure You Get the Best BitTorrent Client
Is torrenting safe if you use any BitTorrent client? No, the right BitTorrent client can make a lot of difference.
You’ll find several websites that offer torrents for free. But not all of them are necessarily good.
Apart from legal issues, torrent files are prone to carry malware installed by hackers. Therefore, besides using a VPN, make sure you have installed a good anti malware software.
The way BitTorrent works — its file-sharing system — is a perfect and fast way for a hacker to infect the web. You need to be extra careful when you download BitTorrent.
These are some simple security guidelines you can keep in mind:
- Use BitTorrent clients that are attentive to your security.
- Never download files that are executable (.EXE, .BAT)
- Never download cracked programs.
When thinking of BitTorrent, we generally think about Kickass, a long-term king among BitTorrent sites. However, Kickass is currently down and there is no evidence that it is going to become available any time soon.
The owner of Kickass was arrested in Poland on the charges of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. For this reason, Kickass is no more. However, we have several BitTorrent options that are great alternatives!
Among the more trustworthy BitTorrent clients you may find:
Transmission can be controlled remotely with the web, PC, or mobile devices. It is often cited as being one of the best torrents for Ubuntu. This is an open source torrent client, which is a huge plus, as it is always improving.
uTorrent offers lightweight software. And that’s not all – they have a faster download and upload rate than several other clients out there, and they support downloads with .torrent and Magnetic URL. They offer a simple interface that’s available for all operating systems.
Vuze was formerly known as Azureus. This is the second fastest torrent with uTorrent being number one. Vuze is available for free but they also have a paid version called Vuze Plus. With the Plus version, you get antivirus protection and an ad-free experience.
BitLord is not available for mobile devices, which is a major drawback for mobile users. However, some of its features include a lightweight downloader, support for .torrent and Magnetic URL, and it lets you create and add your personal torrent files.
Torlock is a torrent client that offers several features for torrent lovers. With other BitTorrent clients, there are always chances of downloading malicious or phony files. Torlock doesn’t have many corrupt or infected files because it pays the users who report fake files, thus keeping scam files at bay.
Popcorn Time (one of the best for BitTorrent movies) offers a smart interface, and it is open source. It does have a built-in VPN, but that’s not free. Plus, it is available on just about any platform. Check additional information on how to watch movies on Popcorn Time risk-free. If you don’t want to wait for long after you start the BitTorrent movie download, you can watch it directly on Popcorn Time.
BitPort.io is another BitTorrent client that does not have actual files on hand for you to download. However, they give the power for you to find these yourself and then download these onto their private servers. You can then download those files on your computer. It comes in paid and free versions, with the free version only allowing 100MB per hour. The paid version allows for faster transfer speeds.
Of course, the list of BitTorrent clients is almost endless. We recently published another list of BitTorrent clients as an alternative to Kickass. You may want to have a look at this article as well.
In Conclusion, Is Torrenting Safe?
Downloading BitTorrent involves some amount of risk. It is very easy to get into illegal activities when looking for content on a BitTorrent website.
If you decide to take the risk, be careful about your online security. Maybe torrenting has always been easy for you up to now. However, just because you haven’t been caught yet doesn’t mean you’ll never be caught.
Remember that your online activity is all stored by your ISP. Even after several years, you are accountable for what you did online.
Several VPN companies offer their service for a very reasonable monthly fee. It is a small investment to guarantee your online security. A best VPN connection is a necessary tool for BitTorrent download.
If you are not willing to pay a VPN fee, maybe give a little rest to torrenting. To download torrents through an unprotected connection is too risky and should be absolutely avoided.
A wise person is the one that sees the problem and does something about it. Are you a wise user?