Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
Getting your favorite movies and music for free is great, but the last thing you want is to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Read on to learn about the steps you need to take so that you don’t get caught torrenting.
Torrenting simply means downloading files using a file transfer protocol that breaks down big chunks of shared files into smaller pieces. The word is often associated with downloading copyrighted files, such as music and movies, which in many countries is illegal.
In this article, we highlight tools that you can use to protect your privacy and not get caught torrenting copyrighted material. We give insight into the ways you can get caught torrenting and how to avoid them. We will also discuss the chances of getting caught and what happens if you do.
What happens if you get caught torrenting
What happens if you get caught torrenting copyrighted files? Prosecution of so-called “torrenters” has been minimal. However, there is still a chance of you going to court or paying a fine. In some cases, these fines have been extremely high. The rate of copyright holders suing torrenters for piracy increased in the early 21st Century. Some downloaders were fined, but most cases were settled out of the court. Direct lawsuits are not as common these days, but the campaign against illegal torrenting continues.
The best way to avoid getting caught torrenting is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN provides two solutions. First, it redirects your internet activities through a server in a location you choose when setting up your VPN connection. This will change your IP address to an IP address used by hundreds or even thousands of other people. This adds a shade of anonymity to your actions, making it difficult for anyone to trace your activity. Second, a VPN encodes all your activities. This makes it difficult for others to track your activities.
Why you need to install a VPN before you start downloading torrents
When torrenting without a VPN, the chances of getting caught are relatively high compared to when you are using a VPN. This is because your ISP monitors all your activities. Without a VPN, not only can they see all your activities, they log those activities in their database. These records can be accessed when you are suspected of illegal torrenting and can lead to you getting caught. The records can likely be used in a legal proceeding.
Things to consider when choosing a VPN
Instances of getting caught torrenting illegal files have decreased thanks to the introduction of VPNs. VPNs are fast and secure tools for torrenting with a powerful encryption tool that enables users to hide their browsing activities from ISPs. This makes getting caught highly unlikely.
VPNs vary in functions, system support, and characteristics. Therefore, choosing a VPN is the most important part of the journey of torrenting. Things you have to consider include data caps, the level of security, and download speeds. Other aspects to look at are a VPN’s logging policy, bandwidth limits, and shared IPs.
Avoid free VPNs
As tempting as it may be, it is important to avoid using free VPNs. The biggest problem is that free VPNs aren’t as secure as paid ones. Another issue for torrenters is that many free VPNs have data caps limiting how much you can download.
Some free VPNs actually reduce your privacy rather than increase it by injecting tracking cookies into your web browser
This keeps a history of your activities, insert ads on web pages, or may even carry malware.
The best VPNs for torrenting
The VPNs listed here have been chosen based on factors like the number of server locations, dynamic and dedicated IP addresses, client software, security, bandwidth caps, logging, price, and customer support.
VPN providers such as NordVPN, StrongVPN, IPvanishVPN, SurfShark, and HideMyAss VPN are the best VPN providers out there that fit the factors listed above, which are necessary for torrenters. These providers ensure users anonymity. They also provide fast download speeds with military-grade AES encryption. They prevent unauthorized tracking, so your privacy is secure. Finally, these VPNs also include a kill switch to prevent data from leaking.
24/7 live chat
- Good connection speeds
- Good for Netflix
- Connect up to twelve devices simultaneously
- No data or bandwidth limit
- Decent for torrenting
- Compatible with all major platforms plus Kodi, Amazon Firestick
- Free SmartDNS feature
- Some locations are very slow
- Located in the US
- No trial feature
StrongVPN was established in 1995, making it one of the oldest VPNs on the market. This affordable VPN gives users access to Netflix as well as the ability to download from P2P servers. StrongVPN also provides dedicated IP addresses (you will need to contact their customer service support to take advantage of that feature).
StrongVPN guarantees a highly effective no-logging policy. However, its location in the US is of some concern, since that puts them under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes Intelligence Agency.
For a deeper investigation of StrongVPN, read our StrongVPN review.
2. Surfshark VPN
24/7 live chat, FAQ
- Strong encryption
- Excellent performance
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Almost zero logs
- 24/7 live chat
- Unlocks Netflix and other platforms
- Great for torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supports plenty of platforms and devices
- No-logs policy hasn't been audited
SurfShark offers high download speeds, 256-bit AES military-grade encryption, OpenVPN protocol, and perfect forward secrecy across over 65 countries. This makes SurfShark very safe and secure with highly efficient servers in a broad range of locations to choose from.
Located in the British Virgin Islands, SurfShark provides a completely anonymous browsing experience. They keep no records of your activities, and they are not under the jurisdiction of any notable intelligence alliances.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
24/7 live chat, Email
- Excellent security
- Flawless privacy practices
- Fastest speeds
- Great server list (5200+ servers in 60 countries)
- Custom apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more
- Great app design and website
- 24/7 live chat and good knowledge-base
- Fair price
- Awesome for Netflix
- Good for torrenting
- Great for China and other restricted countries
- No router app
NordVPN offers the most generous multiple connection counts compared to their competitors, allowing users of their VPN to connect up to six devices simultaneously through their servers. NordVPN’s network consists of 5200+ servers in 65 countries – that’s more than any other provider has. If you are trying to clear your internet activities completely, your best option is to choose a VPN company that has the most servers. For that reason, NordVPN is clearly among the best and provides a compelling offering. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP to those wanting a different spectrum of VPN connectivity.
NordVPN has apps for an extensive range of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Android TV. NordVPN’s best pricing plan is their 2-year subscription plan for $3.71/month. Payment options include cryptocurrencies, meaning you can have a totally anonymous account. In addition, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
24/7 live chat, email, knowledge base
- Excellent security
- Decent price
- No device limit
- Apps for major platforms, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromebook, and routers
- 24/7 live chat
- Good server list (1900 servers in 51 countries)
- Above-average speeds
- Not bad for torrenting
- Unblocks Netflix US
- Based in the US
- Not good for China
- No anonymous payment options
A unique feature of IPVanish is that they provide Kodi support. Starting at $3.75/month, IPVanish is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market. Plus, it’s blazing fast with the modern WireGuard tunneling protocol.
IPVanish is one of the few providers that allow unlimited simultaneous connections. They provide a connection kill switch feature, which is very important for anonymity. IPVanish gives users a range of connection options with 1900 servers in over 51 countries.
Best of all, you can take the service for a spin thanks to the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of IPVanish, read our IPVanish review.
24/7 live chat
- Large server list with 20 Gbps options
- Unblocks Netflix and other platforms
- Temptingly low pricing
- Good range of supported platforms
- Advanced port forwarding
- Great 24/7 live chat support
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Anonymous payment options
- Weak kill switch
PureVPN stands out for their remarkably high download speeds. However, there have been a few issues with privacy and customers requesting refunds. The company is registered in Hong Kong, placing it outside the jurisdiction of Five Eyes or other intelligence alliances.
A monthly subscription is on the pricey side at $10.95, but you’ll save a lot of money with their 2-year plan. It costs just $1.99/month.
There are add-on services available such as port forwarding, dedicated IPs and P2P protection. We recommend that torrenters opt for the P2P protection for an additional $1.99 per month.
For a deeper investigation of PureVPN, read our PureVPN review.
24/7 live chat
- Servers in 190+ countries
- Has locations no one else does
- Not bad for Netflix
- Security is lackluster
- Company known to cooperate with authorities
- A bit low on features
- Inconsistent speeds
Though they log your IP address for three months, they don’t monitor your traffic and DNS queries. HideMyAss no longer offers monthly plans in the US, but their annual subscription at $4.99/month is quite competitive, given the fact that it comes with five simultaneous connections.
For a deeper investigation of HideMyAss, read our HideMyAss review.
24/7 live chat
- Mostly privacy-friendly
- Free trial (Windows and Mac)
- Good for Netflix
- Large server list (7400 servers in 89 countries)
- Decent knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
- Good for torrenting
- Relatively fast connection speeds
- macOS and iOS apps have less features
- Owner Kape Technologies has a poor reputation
CyberGhost is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, making it attractive to buyers on a budget. Pricing starts at a mere $2.15/month, an exceptionally affordable price in the VPN industry.
The company is based in Romania. This puts them outside the jurisdiction of any intelligence alliances. CyberGhost security features include military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and IPv6 and WebRTC leak prevention.
The VPN has a huge and widespread server park with 7400+ servers in 89+ countries. It’s perfect for households with multiple devices as it allows seven simultaneous connections.
For a deeper investigation of CyberGhost, read our CyberGhost review.
The bottom line to stealth torrenting
The bottom line here is that you need to protect your privacy and hide your identity if you are torrenting copyrighted files. This is especially true if you’re located in the nations that are members of an intelligence alliance. There are many factors to consider when choosing the best VPN for your purposes, but whatever you do, do not use a free VPN as these have significant security flaws.
Along with P2P support, you should look for VPNs that offer high security so that your identity isn’t traceable, a no-logs policy and a kill switch. Happy torrenting!
Mikaela is an investigative journalist that likes to cover the ever-changing world of technology. She tries to keep her finger on the pulse of digital trends and share her insights on the most relevant topics, including big tech, security, privacy, and data breaches.