NordVPN has one of the most solid reputations in the world of VPNs, attracting praise from leading tech journals for its easy to use interface, great speeds, coverage and the ability to work around geo-blocking. So it’s easy to see why it’s become the VPN of choice for many people. But what do we know about NordVPN torrenting capabilities?
Even the best VPNs often have a blind spot where torrenting is concerned. While they may be watertight in all other regards, VPNs often don’t allow P2P traffic at all or leak IP information, which is terrible for users who want to connect to popular torrenting services. This blog will assess whether you should use NordVPN for torrenting, or whether even this high-profile VPN fails the test.
Why VPNs have problems with P2P downloads: A quick overview
Before moving onto assessing the specific merits of NordVPN, it’s probably useful to run through the state of play with Peer to Peer (P2P) downloading and VPNs. If you’ve tried to find a VPN for torrenting or other P2P activities, you’ll appreciate that finding the right VPN isn’t easy. But why is this the case?
In some cases, VPNs ban P2P traffic due to capacity issues. They simply don’t want high-volume users causing congestion on their services, so they cut one of the biggest sources of traffic: torrenting. In other cases, compliance is the issue. In some jurisdictions, VPNs feel it necessary to limit P2P to avoid users violating copyright laws, fearing that their actions could lead to a response from authorities.
Then there are VPNs which technically allow P2P but aren’t really suitable for torrenters. Some of these VPNs channel torrenters into crowded servers, essentially turning them into second-class customers. Others don’t have the server speeds required for practical torrenting. And many don’t possess the know-how to prevent IP leaks – the major security issue associated with using torrents and VPNs.
Finally, there are a few VPNs which meet the technical challenge, allowing torrenters to download files quickly and reliably. But watch out! Some of these providers maintain logs of user activity, making torrenting activities a lot less private than you might think.
Having laid out the wide range of sad possibilities, let’s move on to assess the NordVPN torrent situation, and find out whether this is the right VPN for private P2P downloads.
Can you use NordVPN for torrenting?
Firstly, you’ll probably want to know whether NordVPN accommodates torrenting at all. If not, we can safely cross it out and move on. Thankfully, this isn’t actually the case. NordVPN states that it allows P2P downloads on specially optimized servers, so accessing trackers and using clients won’t be difficult.
However, note that torrenters are not allowed to use all of NordVPN’s servers, but the servers they do make available offer unlimited bandwidth and keep no logs, so they tick a couple of boxes right off the bat. And with thousands of server options, the fact that NordVPN segment their servers isn’t a huge issue. Some VPNs have fewer total servers than the NordVPN torrent selection – it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
Adding security features to make torrenting safer
Moreover, when you connect to a torrenting client while running NordVPN, you will be redirected to a safe torrenting server. After encountering issues where users would lose their connection when firing up utorrent or Bittorrent, they’ve now changed their setup so that users are automatically routed to servers in Canada or the Netherlands. Both locations are deemed safe for torrenting, with greater legal protections than jurisdictions like the USA.
There are other security features worth noting as well. For instance, the VPN client comes with a kill switch, which automatically cuts your internet connection should the VPN go offline. This is a crucial feature to have if you want to avoid IP leakage when torrenting, and VPNs don’t always have it.
This is what you would expect from a VPN that’s based in Panama and which specializes in doing laps around government censorship. NordVPN is among the VPN elite when it comes to transparency and autonomy from governments, and there’s no sign that it has ever capitulated to demands for data from the USA or EU.
What have users made of NordVPN’s torrenting features?
These are all very encouraging signs that NordVPN offers a torrent-friendly service, and they already exceed what’s on offer from many competitors. But in the world of technology we need more than positive language and reassurances. We need to know whether ordinary people have used NordVPN to torrent files without any issue.
Here’s a quick sample from a pretty good source. Reddit users are generally a skeptical bunch, and they regularly weigh up the merits of VPNs. The feedback about NordVPN was mostly positive, with praise for its anti-DNS leakage systems, choice of P2P-optimized servers and the ability to screen torrenting from ISPs. However, there were a few mentions of slow speeds – something to bear in mind.
How easy is it to configure NordVPN SOCKS5 for torrent clients?
None of the below things are necessary if you want to torrent – just connect to a P2P optimized server and off you go! However, if you want an extra layer of security or if you only want the torrenting traffic to be protected, additionally you can setup a SOCKS5 proxy on your torrent client.
Socks5 is actually an alternative to classic VPNs, and functions like a beefed up proxy. It offers faster speeds for torrenting than most VPNs, which is why NordVPN adopted it as a standard part of their client.
To set up uTorrent with NordVPN, head to the preferences section on uTorrent and choose “socks5” under the “Proxy Server” drop-down menu. After that, you’ll have to paste in one of the NordVPN P2P server addresses. Don’t worry, you can find them fairly easily on the NordVPN server list.
Then, specify the port as 1080 and check:
- Use proxy for hostname lookups
- Use proxy for peer-to-peer connections
- Disable features that leak identifying information
- Disable connections unsupported by the proxy
- Disable all local DNS lookups.
After that, add your NordVPN login details to the username and password fields and you’re good to go. The kill switch and DNS leak protection will still apply, but you’ll be able to use uTorrent with the faster Socks5 proxy, which also provides a very reliable level of anonymity (at least as good as standard VPNs).
Can I set up the NordVPN SOCKS5 proxy to torrent with other clients besides uTorrent?
If you don’t use uTorrent (and millions don’t), it’s not a major issue. NordVPN also provide tutorials for setting up the client with alternatives, like BitTorrent. There are also how-tos for popular torrenting tools like Vuze – so all major torrent clients are covered.
It’s also possible to set up NordVPN on other kinds of P2P software, like Soulseek. In this case, the VPN’s port forwarding capabilities come into play. You can access this via the main NordVPN settings menu, and Soulseek shouldn’t have any issues with the VPN.
Conclusion: Is NordVPN the torrenting solution we’ve been seeking?
Based upon its range of features, it’s hard to criticize NordVPN as a torrenting solution. It offers P2P-optimized servers, offers a Socks5 proxy for major torrent clients, doesn’t keep logs, and has great security features. Clearly, the people behind NordVPN have thought about what torrenters need, and have implemented policies to meet those needs.
Are there any drawbacks? Sadly, no VPN is entirely flawless. If NordVPN has an Achilles Heel, it’s definitely the connection speeds. Customer feedback regularly notes slower speeds – although that’s not a universal experience.
You may also quibble with their price. NordVPN isn’t a budget VPN, although the free trial (requires credit card) and the 30-day money-back guarantee are all major positives in this regard.
So, the final verdict? Give NordVPN a try. It could well be the security and privacy solution that torrenters need.