The Best VPN for Torrenting

We tested these VPNs, taking speed and security tests, to find which is best

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Dec 4, 2020

One of the main ways to ensure anonymity when torrenting is through the use of VPNs, also known as Virtual Private Networks. However, not all VPNs allow torrenting. So, which ones allow for that torrenting software and which are the best VPNs for torrenting? We did the research for you by testing out a bunch of VPNs, and we’ve got the 411.

Our Two Favorite VPNs for Torrenting

Before we get into our top picks of VPNs for torrenting, we wanted to explain a bit more why we opted for VPN software when it came to torrenting and why the VPN market is expected to reach $35.37 billion by 2022.1 Using a VPN that encrypted our web traffic and provided us with new IP addresses when we downloaded file shares made us feel more comfortable that what we did online would stay private. NordVPN and Surfshark were our top two favorite VPNs for torrenting.

Our Top Picks

Best Torrenting VPN for Privacy

NordVPN

Editor's Rating
9.4
/10
NordVPN stood out in the privacy department, providing us with not one but two encryption methods with a headquarters outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes. The use of double encryption meant our web traffic went through multiple servers to hide our original IP address.

Best Torrenting VPN for Travelers

ExpressVPN

Editor's Rating
9.5
/10
ExpressVPN was one of the best overall VPNs on our list and we found that it was exceptionally great for those on-the-go. We had no problem watching Netflix and some of our favorite shows away from home.

The Best VPNs for Torrenting

A Breakdown Of Our Top VPNs for Torrenting

With so many VPNs on the market, it was hard to know which was best for our purpose of torrenting without testing them out ourselves, so that’s what we did. Here’s a breakdown of features included in our favorite VPNs for torrenting:

NordVPNExpressVPNCyberGhostSurfsharkPrivate Internet Access
Number of servers5,246More than 2,0003,157More than 1,700More than 3,194
Number of countries62148606333
Privacy JurisdictionsNon-member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 eyesNon-member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 eyesNon-member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 eyesNon-member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 eyesMember of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes
Does VPN log Files of IP addresses and web activity?NoNoNoNoNo
Kill SwitchYesYesYesYesYes
Split TunnelingNoYesYesYes, through WhistlerNo
NetflixYesYesYes, except Netflix U.KYesSometimes
Encryption TypesIKEv2, IPSec, SHA2-384, PFSIKEv2, IPSecAES-256AES-256-GCMAES-256
Minimum Monthly Price$5.75$8.32$2.75$1.99$2.69
ReviewsNordVPN ReviewExpressVPN ReviewCyberGhost VPN ReviewSurfshark ReviewPrivate Internet Access Review

The Details of Our Favorite VPNs for Torrenting

  • 1. NordVPN - Best Torrenting VPN For Privacy

    Editor's Rating
    9.4
    /10
    What Worked Well
    • Double encryption
    • No logging of IP addresses, web activity, downloaded files or servers used
    • Six simultaneous connections per subscription
    • Netflix streaming abilities
    What Needed Work
    • No split tunneling
    • Unreliable kill switch when using with iOS devices
    • Same IP address with every use
    • Customer service

    Double Encryption

    NordVPN is considered a double VPN. But what exactly does that mean? Well, it’s an advanced security feature that offers double the encryption. When we went online, NordVPN encrypted our traffic and then encrypted it again through a second VPN server. By the time we reached our destination, our IP address had been encrypted twice, meaning we had multiple layers of privacy and security.

    No Logging of IP Addresses, Web Activity, Downloaded Files or Servers Used

    We always look at privacy policies to make sure the VPNs have a strict data logging policy, meaning the company wouldn’t keep web activity or other online footprints on record. According to NordVPN’s privacy policy, the company didn’t keep records of our IP addresses or web activity. It also didn’t record visited websites, files downloaded, and the amount of data transferred. With NordVPN, we could sleep easy knowing the company wouldn’t track what we did online and wouldn’t pass any of our information to third parties, like the government or advertisers.

    NordVPN No log policy
    NordVPN No log policy

    Multiple Device Connections

    The majority of Americans use multiple devices to browse the Internet or torrent files,2 and we definitely fall into that majority. That’s why we were pleased that with NordVPN, we didn’t have to choose which device to connect to the VPN at one time; we had the option to connect up to six of our devices to just one subscription. If that wasn’t enough, we connected NordVPN directly to our router, in which case all of our devices were considered one.

  • 2. ExpressVPN - Best Torrenting VPN for Travelers

    Editor's Rating
    9.5
    /10
    What Worked Well
    • Servers in more than 148 countries
    • Kill switch
    • Split tunneling
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    What Needed Work
    • Expensive
    • No phone support for customer service
    • Slower speeds on Mac devices
    • Only five simultaneous connections per subscription

    Locations in Multiple Countries

    Out of all the VPNs we tested, ExpressVPN had servers in the highest number of countries. In order to have the best possible speed, it was imperative for us to be near a server because the closer we were to a server, the faster the speed of our Internet. With servers all over the world, we used ExpressVPN’s software when torrenting almost anywhere, which was great for vacations.

    ExpressVPN Kill Switch
    ExpressVPN Kill Switch

    Kill Switch

    When it comes to VPNs for torrenting, we needed to have a kill switch. A kill switch, also known as a network lock feature, protected us in the event that our Internet connection went down while we were using a VPN like ExpressVPN. It automatically shut down whatever software or websites we were using, ensuring our privacy was always protected. This was especially crucial when torrenting because when our network connection went down, our peer-to-peer file sharing stopped automatically so no one could see what we were downloading.

    Split Tunneling

    ExpressVPN gave us the option of using our Internet connection through both private and public networks. This was useful when we hung out at local coffee shops between work and our dinner plans. We torrented a TV show privately through the VPN while checking other, non-sensitive websites, like CNN.com or Nordstrom.com, via the coffee shop’s public network. The flexibility of split tunneling was a great way for us to lower our bandwidth when connected to the web, creating faster speeds overall.

    FYI: ExpressVPN comes with just five simultaneous connections per subscription. In order to increase the number of connections, you need to purchase an additional subscription. You can also set up a VPN router, which allows you to connect as many devices as you want to one subscription as long as those devices are connected to the same network.

  • 3. CyberGhost - Best Torrenting VPN for Mac

    Editor's Rating
    9.1
    /10
    What Worked Well
    • Fast speeds on Macbook
    • 24-hour free trial and 45-day money-back guarantee
    • Not a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes
    • Great customer service
    What Needed Work
    • Logging policy
    • Lack of split tunneling
    • Slow speed on Windows systems
    • No manual option to turn kill switch off

    Best for Mac Devices

    CyberGhost worked incredibly fast on our Macbook Air. After comparing reaction times, download speeds, and upload speeds with and without the VPN connected, we noticed there wasn’t a drastic difference in speed either way. One of our biggest pet peeves is the swirly circle in the middle of our screen when waiting for a download, but we rarely saw that when using CyberGhost on our Mac.

    CyberGhost App
    CyberGhost App

    Money-Back Guarantees

    We loved having the chance to test out CyberGhost before committing to the software. In addition to the 24-hour free trial, the company also offered a 45-day money-back guarantee. Most other VPN companies, like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, only offered a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it was nice to have an extra two weeks to make sure the software really worked for us.

    Not a Member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes

    We always check where VPN companies are headquartered and CyberGhost is located in Romania, a country we felt comfortable with since it was not a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. Because CyberGhost was located outside those jurisdictions, the company wasn’t required to share our data with any government officials, a policy that wasn’t the case for all VPN companies. When it came to using a VPN for torrenting, this was particularly pertinent since torrenting could be shady if used to download copyrighted content.

    You Should Know: Some VPN companies log files and user data, so we recommend reading each company’s privacy policy in full before making a final decision as to which software to use.

  • 4. Surfshark - Best Torrenting VPN for Affordability

    Editor's Rating
    9.2
    /10
    What Worked Well
    • Affordable pricing
    • Multiple entertainment streaming options including HBO and Netflix
    • Split tunneling
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections per subscription
    What Needed Work
    • Slower speeds
    • Kill switch needed to be set up manually on Windows software
    • No browser extension for Safari
    • Static IP addresses

    Affordable Pricing

    Surfshark was one of the most affordable VPNs for torrenting we came across. For just $1.99 a month, we could have total Internet privacy and protection. That being said, the $1.99 price was for a two-year subscription. We felt comfortable committing to the lengthy extension because of Surfsharks 30-day money-back guarantee. But for those who wanted less of a commitment, Surfshark offered a monthly subscription for $11.95 and a yearly subscription for $5.99. As you can see, none of the subscription options burned holes in our wallets.

    Multiple Entertainment Streaming Options

    Using Surfshark, we watched our favorite shows on some of the most popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and the BBC. It was great to have all those options work with our VPN software because watching a TV show is how we decompress after a long day.

    Surfshark Connected to VPN
    Surfshark Connected to VPN

    Unlimited Simultaneous Connections Per Subscription

    We loved having the option to connect unlimited devices to a single Surfshark subscription at the same time. Other VPNs put limits on how many devices we could connect to a single subscription simultaneously, so this was a plus, especially since we are known among our friend group as the ones who constantly add devices to our collections.

  • 5. Private Internet Access - Best Torrenting VPN for Windows Software

    Editor's Rating
    8.9
    /10
    What Worked Well
    • Doesn’t track IP addresses or web activity
    • Very fast on Windows Vivobook
    • Netflix access
    • Dynamic IP addresses
    What Needed Work
    • Headquartered in the United States
    • No split tunneling
    • Slow on Macbooks
    • Subpar customer service

    Strict Privacy Policy

    When it came to our data, Private Internet Access kept logs of our names, email addresses, and payment information, but not of our IP addresses or web activity. Considering Private Internet Access is located in the United States, it was particularly important that we knew their privacy policy. That’s because the United States is part of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, meaning the company is legally required to hand over user information to government authorities if it’s requested. As a result of that, we wanted to make sure we knew exactly what the company kept track of in the event our information was passed on to government officials.

    Connecting to Private Internet Access
    Connecting to Private Internet Access

    Very Fast on Windows Vivobook

    When it comes to using Mac or Windows devices, we don’t discriminate, so of course, we have both Macbooks and Vivobooks at home. We tested the PIA software on both devices and got significantly better results in terms of speed on our Windows device. For those who are loyal and avid Windows users, we recommend considering Private Internet Access as your VPN software.

    Dynamic IP Addresses

    Every time we connected to Private Internet Access we got a different IP address, which made it harder for people to track our web activity. This gave us an added sense of security when it came to our privacy and anonymity.

How We Decided on Our Top VPNs for Torrenting: The Methodology

Before becoming experts in VPNs and torrenting, we didn’t know what to look out for when buying a VPN for torrenting specifically. But after years of testing and reviewing, we learned exactly what made for the best VPN software. Take a look at how we came to our conclusions; by reading this, you too could become well-versed in VPNs for torrenting.

DNS and WebRTC Leak Tests

ExpressVPN WebRTC Leak Test
ExpressVPN WebRTC Leak Test

Because we tested these VPNs for torrenting specifically, we wanted the most secure and private networks we could get our hands on. Therefore, we wanted to make sure our domain name servers, or DNS, were encrypted and that our private IP addresses weren’t being leaked as a result of WebRTC, which allows for direct communication between browsers and is the default setup for Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

ExpressVPN DNS Leak Test
ExpressVPN DNS Leak Test

We did a DNS leaks test using DNSLeakTest.com, comparing our computer’s IP address with the address that appeared on the website to see if there was a leak when using the VPN. We also conducted a WebRTC test using a tool provided by ExpressVPN. For that test, we looked at local and public IPv4 addresses to see if there were any leaks.

Privacy

CyberGhost Data Logging Policy
CyberGhost Data Logging Policy

We also looked for companies outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances. This was important when it came to torrenting because we didn’t want government officials to have access to our file sharing. Companies outside those international surveillance alliance jurisdictions aren’t required to hand over customer information to the government. In terms of privacy policies, we looked for companies that didn’t log information like web traffic, downloads, and IP addresses. Finally, for our own safety, security, and privacy, we wanted to make sure that there was proper encryption and a kill switch that shut down all our Internet browsers in the event that our VPN went dark on us.

Speed

NordVPN Speed Test South Africa
NordVPN Speed Test South Africa

Next, we looked at how fast the VPN worked. For torrenting, we didn’t want a software that made the speed of our Internet so slow we spent hours watching the download buffer. We tested all the VPNs on a private Optimum Network in Brooklyn on both a Macbook Pro and Air and Windows Vivobook because it was crucial for us to know the speeds on different brands of devices. We used SpeedTest.net to test the download speed, upload speed, and latency, first without the VPN, and then with it. The download and upload speeds were measured in megabits per second and latency in milliseconds.

It was necessary for us to remember that speed could vary based on a variety of elements, including how far away we were from the server, our operating system, or the device itself. That being said, after conducting our tests, we decided the speed differences between the VPN being connected versus disconnected should be no more than 40 percent in any category. However, because of the varying factors that could play into speed, we ask readers to take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Features

Surfshark Kill switch
Surfshark Kill switch

We looked for software that had a split tunneling feature and compatibility with entertainment streaming platforms. Split tunneling gave us the ability to simultaneously use private and public networks when surfing the web. And because we liked to use our VPN for watching movies or TV shows, we wanted ones that gave us access to torrenting, Netflix, HBO, and Hulu.

FAQs About VPNs for Torrenting

  • What is torrenting?

    Torrenting is the most popular form of peer-to-peer file sharing. It allows multiple users to connect and share content without having to depend on one single web page for downloading.

  • What is a VPN?

    A VPN, which is also known as virtual private networks, is a software that allows users to send or share data over public networks as if their devices were still connected to a private one. VPNs make it difficult for hackers or others to gain access to personal information and allow users to maintain privacy and anonymity online. The software also encrypts web traffic and hides IP addresses from Internet Service Providers.

  • Should I always use a VPN for torrenting?

    We always recommend using a VPN for torrenting. A VPN encrypts your IP address and prevents your Internet Service Provider from being able to monitor your Internet activity. Torrenting without a VPN means your Internet Service Provider will be able to see your online activity.

  • Can you get caught torrenting if using a VPN?

    The simple answer is yes, you can get caught torrenting even when using a VPN; however, it’s very unlikely since VPNs hide IP addresses and web traffic. One way you can get caught though is if the VPN you are using doesn’t have a kill switch. If the VPN goes down while you are torrenting, without a kill switch, your torrenting will no longer be private. However, with a kill switch, the torrenting will automatically shut down in the event the VPN stops working. It’s also important to look for VPN companies headquartered outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes alliances. Companies outside those jurisdictions aren’t required to hand over information to the government, making it less likely you will get caught torrenting. Finally, privacy policies play into whether or not someone may get caught torrenting. You want to go with companies that don’t keep records of users’ IP addresses or web activity.

  • Can I use uTorrent without a VPN?

    Yes, you can use uTorrent without using a VPN. However, if you don’t use a VPN, Internet Service Providers can monitor your activity, slow down your service or terminate it altogether if they notice torrenting taking place. Using a VPN prevents Internet Service Providers from being able to see what it is you’re doing online.

Citations
  1. GO-Globe. (2018). The State of VPN Usage – Statistics and Trends.
    go-globe.com/vpn-usage-statistics/

  2. NTIA. (2015). Majority of Americans Use Multiple Internet-connected Devices, Data Shows.
    ntia.doc.gov/blog/2015/majority-americans-use-multiple-internet-connected-devices-data-shows