Downloading stuff from torrents and P2P sites is super-risky (and kinda illegal). But if you must use torrenting sites, make sure you cover your ass by using a good-quality VPN…
I mean, think about it: torrenting sites are the #1 place for picking up malware and other viruses.
You don’t know where you’re downloading from or what you’re actually downloading until it’s on your hard drive.
And once it’s in there, all bets are off…
Frequenting a torrenting site and downloading some content, without the proper protection, is the equivalent of driving without a seatbelt.
You might get away with it for a while but eventually, something’s going to happen, and it won’t be pretty…
Why You Need A VPN For Torrenting
Why? Think of torrent sites and P2P downloaders as the “rough part of town” – if your town was the web.
It’s the type of place you wouldn’t leave your car, walk late at night, or stop for a coffee or a drink. And for this reason, if you must go there it pays to take precautions…
For this reason, if you’re going to use torrenting sites, you should definitely only frequent them with a VPN installed on your device.
Personally, I use PureVPN – it’s cheap, it is 100% no-logs, and it has servers all over the world, so it is very fast.
- 100% No-Logs
- Very Fast Download Speeds
- Simple To Use
- Runs on Desktop & Mobile
- Get Up & Running For Just $0.99
- Doesn’t Work Great With Netflix
- App Issues Have Been Reported
- Not As Many Servers As NordVPN
VPNs For Torrenting
When it comes to premium VPNs – i.e. the ones that you pay for versus the free ones that sell your data onto advertisers – you have A LOT of options. The best VPNs in the world are still very cheap though (no more than $5 a month, usually). And these VPNs use the highest-grade encryption which is important if you’re going to download torrents.
With the right VPN for torrenting, the following things happen:
- Previously blocked sites (PirateBay, for instance) become unblocked.
- Your browsing data is NOT viewable by your ISP
- What you look at and download becomes 100% anonymous
- The seeders you download from will not be able to compromise your connection because it is secured and encrypted through the VPN
- No BitTorrent users will be able to see your IP address
Without a VPN, you don’t get any of those things. Think about that for a second. Millions of people, every single day, frequent torrent sites without the proper protection (a good VPN) and, in doing so, run the risk of getting fined, blocked by their ISP, infected with malware and viruses, having their identity stolen, and even being turned over to the cops!
So why don’t they just cough up the $5 a month for proper protection via a solid, reliable VPN provider? I have no idea! In some cases, it’s just naivety; they just aren’t aware of the risks associated with downloading torrents. But in other cases, it’s just plain stupidity or, worse still… general tightfistedness (which is not a good look on anyone, by the way).
Either way, this is a very problem that, mercifully, has a very simple solution – just get a VPN.
Downloading Torrents With A VPN
BitTorrent file sharing is different from normal file sharing in a few key ways. But the most important one is that BitTorrent sites use files stored on people’s computers all over the world to function. When you download a file, you’re effectively getting it direct from another person’s computer inside the swarm – the collective term for all PCs inside a P2P network.
For example, say you’re downloading something via PirateBay. You then search for what you want, download the torrent, and then start downloading it. This file is then pulled in bits from the swarm. By doing this, pulling the data down in bits from multiple sources, the files are downloaded faster and less strain is put on the network versus if you downloaded from a single server.
But here’s the thing: if you download a torrent without a VPN, anyone in the BitTorrent site can see your IP, it’s literally right there for the world to see. This makes for easy pickings if any hackers are lurking around. All they have to do is copy your IP and then they can get you into all kinds of trouble. You’ve seen Mr. Robot, right? Well, there’s some truth in that stuff…
With a VPN installed, your IP address will be completely hidden (you’ll get a proxy one from the VPN network), so there will be no way for anyone – hackers or authorities – to tell if it is you or not. This keeps you safe on multiple levels by removing your computer’s unique IP address from public display. Put that way, using a VPN becomes a no brainer, right? This is the #1 thing that convinced me to start using one in the first place.
Is Downloading Torrents Legal?
In a word, no – 99.9% of torrent activity is totally illegal. You cannot download pirated software, music, film, and media without breaking the law – but everybody knows this. I’m not going to ramble on about the nuances of the law here; it’s simple and everybody knows the score already. What I will say, though, is that if you do choose to download torrents, you NEED to protect yourself. Even if you’re using legal sites for P2P and torrenting.
You wouldn’t have unprotected sex with a complete stranger, right? Well, that’s technically what you’re doing when you use torrents without proper protection. Your entering into murky waters without thinking about the consequences of your interactions with a total stranger (in this sense, it’s their computer you need to worry about, though, not their genitals). Rough analogy, I know. But it gets the point across well.
On top of this, there are myriad legal consequences to consider if you download copyrighted materials. For breaching the law in this context, any of the following things can happen:
- Jail time
- Enormous fines
- Be reported by your ISP to the police
- Have your internet connection switched off
Pretty crazy, right? Well, the good news is you can avoid ALL of this simply by using a VPN.
Does Apple make a VPN? Here’s what you need to know about iCloud Private Relay.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.