We're not going to beat around the bush - despite governments and internet providers attempting to stop it, downloading music, films and video games via torrenting is still incredibly popular. And, frankly, downloading a VPN for torrents is a natural fit.
Torrenting is where many users share small bits of a larger file with each other to enable some potentially very fast download speeds. And the rise of torrenting has also meant a rise in the popularity of VPN downloads.
Of course TechRadar doesn’t condone any copyright-trampling activities, but we do worry about your safety when you're trying to watch stuff online. And, on the privacy front, all these other online folks you’re sharing files with can clearly see your IP address. So if you want to avoid that and retain your anonymity, then we'd recommend using one of the best options that we've listed below to ensure that your details stay private.
The Virtual Private Networks in question all support torrents (not every VPN out there does) and we're on hand to tell you the best VPN for torrenting in 2020.
How to choose the best VPN for torrenting
Because not every VPN supports torrent downloading, so you need to be careful when picking one out – this is clearly your prime concern when selecting a client for this purpose. Download speeds are important, too, as are privacy and security, which is one reason why some providers do not offer port forwarding (see further down this page for more details).
- Check out the best VPN service 2020
Finally, you want a VPN which offers fast download speeds to keep those files coming quickly, and one that doesn’t throttle bandwidth. So with that in mind, let’s move on to look at the five best VPNs for torrenting.
The best 5 torrenting VPNs in full:
Best all-round VPN for torrenting and P2P traffic
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 5
Best torrenting VPN 2020 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
This VPN is very impressive on the performance front, with excellent speeds across a wide range of server locations. And that’s obviously a major advantage for anyone who downloads large files. In addition, P2P is available with unlimited bandwidth on all servers.
The software’s unique split tunneling feature for both Mac and Windows users is definitely worth mentioning as it allows users to choose to protect their torrent client only (leaving all other online activities, such as, for example, web browsing or online gaming, unaffected by the VPN).
And should you encounter any problems with the VPN, 24/7 customer support is provided via live chat or email. ExpressVPN’s offshore jurisdiction in the BVI is also a key advantage for protecting your anonymity.
Price-wise, ExpressVPN costs slightly more than other providers but it may be worth it for those who want the very best experience when torrenting. A thing to note is that Bitcoin is supported too.
This provider doesn’t offer a free plan or trial but all the plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Out of the three subscriptions, the annual plan offers the best value-for-money (you get an extra three months free, into the bargain).
Get the best torrenting VPN 2020: 49% off and 3 months FREE
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we'd choose if we were getting one! And the good news is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra free when you sign up. And don't forget about the no quibble 30-day money back guarantee, too.
Most secure torrenting VPN
Number of servers: 5,600+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
When talking about VPN security, NordVPN is one of the first names that springs to mind. You get an ultra-secure connection with support for IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols, plus there’s a certain number of ‘Double VPN’ servers which actually pass your data through two separate VPN servers for extra security. Furthermore, Onion over VPN is supported for extra privacy.
P2P is not supported on all servers, but the VPN offers ample server coverage, an automatic kill-switch, a good client and great performance levels with steady download speeds. There’s a clear no log policy, too.
NordVPN has very reasonable pricing – save for the monthly plan, which is one of the more expensive offerings around. Crypto is supported (Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple), and you have four plans available, all with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The three-year plan is clearly the best choice in terms of pure value for money. The packages available are:
Feature-packed VPN that's terrific for torrents
Number of servers: 5,700+ | Server locations: 110+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 7
Very simply, CyberGhost is a very good client when it comes to a VPN for torrenting. We really like that it automatically connects to a P2P compatible server and then activates the most reasonable settings to speed up and protect your downloads. It even takes care of opening your torrent program when you connect. That means you can have peace of mind, without having to constantly adjust your settings and wonder whether you're remaining truly anonymous. The big fast 'Torrent Anonymously' button leaves you in no doubt at all.
If you're torrenting away from the laptop, we have a lot of love for the provider's iOS and Android apps as well. Although we'd love to see it improve its live support in the coming year.
4. Private Internet Access
Best balance of performance and price
Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 50 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 10
Private Internet Access is a good pick for torrenting for several reasons. Its performance is quite good and it has a whole bunch of servers, with each one supporting P2P. You also have support for port forwarding, which can help with optimizing your torrent performance. The clients are nice and user-friendly, although the mobile ones are somewhat low on features.
A small complaint is that there is hardly any mention of P2P on their support site. Still, that won't ruin the experience and the provider also doesn't store logs of any kind. For added anonymity, Bitcoin is supported.
Sadly there is no free trial but all the plans are very affordable. You have a choice of three plans, with the 2-year plan being the best option (you also get three extra months).
A log-free oasis for torrenting
Number of servers: 400+ | Server locations: 110+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
One of the features that will always stand out about Windscribe is the fact that a single subscription covers you for unlimited devices. So if you do your torrenting (or, indeed, whatever you use your VPN for) on multiple devices, Windscribe lets you keep adding more and more. In addition, P2P is supported on most servers.
But that's not the only major selling point. Another is its no-logging policy. We know that anonymity is a key consideration when you're downloading a VPN for the purpose of sourcing torrents, so Windscribe climbs up our chart for that reason. Bitcoin is supported here as well. And we really like that you can use 2GB of data per month for free without even handing over an email address.
There's no 24/7 support - the kind of asset that makes the likes of Express above really standout.
Apart from the two plans (monthly and yearly), there is a third one, called "Build a plan", which allows you to customize your plan by adding only the locations you want, with $1 per location.
Port forwarding and VPN
We approached some of the biggest VPN companies in the world to get their thoughts on torrenting and port forwarding and this is what three of them had to say.
"We don't support port forwarding, almost no VPN's do. In order for true port forwarding to work, the customer would need a dedicated IP. We use shared IP's for enhanced privacy. A little explanation: It's impossible to do port forwarding when everyone shares the same IP address on the VPN server. Because you'd run into port collisions. However, torrenting still works fine on the VPN. Why? Because of NAT. A torrent client makes an outbound connection to a seeder with an ephemeral port, then the server associates that connection to your private/internal IP address via connection tracking (conntrack) / NAT. Inbound connections then work through that. It's more or less the same how NAT would work in your home environment on your router. You might be wondering: What's the difference between port forwarding & NAT? Port forwarding dedicates a specific port to a specific client. Say for instance you wanted to start a Minecraft server on port 25565. You'd setup your router to tell it All connections for port 25565 should be directed to 192.168.1.10 (which is your PC for example) then the router knows that 25565 should ALWAYS be forwarded to that specific IP on your network. This works well for your home, but it doesn't work well for VPN's where multiple users would want to open the same port for the same reasons. NAT, on the other hand, opens ports based on association, and it assigns the ports at random so it avoids space exhaustion and collision."
"We do not support port forwarding as it might lead to service abuse. Meanwhile, P2P traffic is allowed on the portion of designated servers."
"We have opted to not to allow port forwarding due to potential abuse and security risks that exposes. It is the same policy as a number of other VPN providers on the market. Many customers believe our speeds for torrenting are fast nevertheless, and in our internal testing port forwarding often has little impact on speeds when downloading popular legal torrent files. There are a number of VPNs that do offer port forwarding if that is something you are looking for, but unfortunately we do not offer that.
- Read more: take a look at our guide to the best free torrent clients