VPN services are now an essential part of our internet security. Even if you are doing something completely legal, your ISP and internet marketers want to know what you’re doing, where you are going and what you get up to online. When activity includes something like downloading, a VPN should be mandatory. So what type of VPN is best for torrenting?
Torrenting is the colloquial term for using the bit torrent protocol to download files. Despite what the government and the media would have you believe, bit torrent itself is not illegal. It is just an internet protocol and is actually used for very legal reasons such as large file transfers across networks. It is also used to download illegal files, which is where the heat comes from.
Why use a VPN for torrenting?
- Why use a VPN for torrenting?
- The type of VPN best for torrenting
- 1. Bit torrent allowed
- 2. No logging
- 3. What country is the VPN company based?
- 4. What encryption and connection protocols are used?
- 5. Can you choose from a range of destinations
- 6. Do they use customer service tools that could identify users?
- 7. Anonymous payment options
- 8. How they handle court orders
- 9. How often do they update their VPN software
- 10. Do they protect against DNS leakage?
There are two situations where using a VPN alongside bit torrent is vital. One, if you live somewhere that restricts access to knowledge, religious texts or even popular news media. A VPN can circumvent most controls over this kind of content. The second is if you are downloading illegal content in its many and varied forms.
VPNs are ideal for dodging geoblocking of all kinds. For avoiding censorship and for gaining access to knowledge that your government deems dangerous or seditious.
A VPN will hide your own IP address from the internet, protecting you. It will also circumvent some types of national geoblocking that would otherwise stop you accessing news outlets or content from other regions.
The type of VPN best for torrenting
So if you’re planning to use bit torrent for any reason, what type of VPN service should you use? I would say there are ten key characteristics you should look out for.
1. Bit torrent allowed
Not all VPN providers like bit torrent as it produces a huge amount of traffic and network overhead.
2. No logging
The VPN you choose should not keep any logs that could be used to identify you, your IP address or where you go online.
3. What country is the VPN company based?
Some territories are safer than others and will protect your privacy as far as possible within the law.
4. What encryption and connection protocols are used?
A VPN is only secure if the encryption level and connection protocol is high enough to keep you safe. Some older solutions are simply not secure anymore such as PTPP and WPA but newer protocols such as OpenVPN and WPA-2 are fine.
5. Can you choose from a range of destinations
If you are more interested in accessing geoblocked content, being able to manually select a VPN endpoint in a particular country can ensure you get your content. For example, if you are outside the US, having a VPN endpoint within the US will provide access to all Netflix content (as long as Netflix hasn’t blacklisted the IP range).
6. Do they use customer service tools that could identify users?
This is often overlooked by those looking for the most secure VPN service. It’s all well and good being anonymous while using the service but if you raise a fault and it identifies you, your security can still be theoretically compromised.
7. Anonymous payment options
While paying for a VPN service is not illegal, it is taken as an indicator of potentially illegal conduct in many countries. The ability to pay in Bitcoin or other digital currency, even by cash is useful.
8. How they handle court orders
How will a VPN provider handle a court order compelling them to hand over data. The usual response will be ‘no logs or data to hand over’. This is good. A canary system for gagging orders would be beneficial too.
9. How often do they update their VPN software
People are always trying to find weaknesses in programs and protocols. A good vendor will quickly patch their software to fix any vulnerabilities very quickly indeed. Look at how quickly they have responded to gauge yours.
10. Do they protect against DNS leakage?
DNS leaks can allow your ISP to see what websites you’re visiting by showing the DNS query in the clear. When ISPs begin using our data to make money, this becomes an issue. Many good VPN providers have DNS leak protection built into their products.
I consider those ten questions enough to find out what VPN is best for torrenting. Some companies will deliver on all of those counts where others only a few. Barebones requirements would be no logging, high encryption, acceptance of bit torrent traffic and the ability to manually select the VPN’s destination. But with so many quality options around, there really is no need to compromise.