Torrenting simply means file sharing. In most cases, there are restrictions to the type of data that is shared on the internet. To bypass such security when downloading or file sharing, you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) alongside the torrent software in what is otherwise known as VPN torrenting. But, will a VPN protect me when torrenting, you may wonder. Or, does a VPN hide torrenting from ISPs?
Yes, it will and it does. In fact, torrenting works differently from normal downloads altogether. While torrenting, the file is broken into small portions called packets and they are on a server which is called a seeder. At the same time, there are other people downloading the same file who are referred to as leechers and/or peers. Each one of them has a different portion of the file that you are downloading. A torrent keeps track of which packet you have and where you are downloading it from (server, leecher, or peer).
For this reason, most ISPs consider torrenting, both a legal and a security risk. All the copyrighted data is decentralized and as such, there is no single individual who is considered the source or pirate of the data because it is just packets assembled over an internet connection. However, all of it is routed to your computer via the internet connection from the ISP. Even though by law, an IP address is not considered as a person, something that makes it difficult for a copyright holder to sue, the ISP can still get into trouble with the authorities because of copyright trolls who are hired to locate torrenters.
So, will a VPN protect me when torrenting, you may still wonder? Yes, a VPN will secure you from these copyright trolls who, on behalf of the copyright owner, can sue you in a court of law for damages.
Streaming vs Torrenting
The difference between streaming and torrenting is that when you stream data, it is not permanently saved to your device while torrenting lets you download and store the whole file into your computer. Most streaming sites require a premium subscription and are considered safe. They also do not harbor piracy or copyright infringement and it is no wonder that you do not need a VPN to access Youtube, iTunes, Apple Music, or Vimeo. You do, however, need a VPN in a network where torrent is restricted. Since the files are downloaded from leechers and seeders, you have to ask yourself ‘will a VPN protect me when torrenting?’ Another way the VPN protects you is that it encrypts your traffic before it leaves your laptop/PC because the data is routed to the VPN server before the ISP can even tell where it is going.
These are some of the reasons most institutions and employers block torrent. By encrypting large volumes of data, a VPN guarantees ‘safety in numbers’. Therefore, finding your IP address is just like looking for a needle in a haystack. By using a VPN for torrenting you get to mask your identity (IP) and location.