Hong Kong’s PureVPN is one of the best-known VPNs in the world. Founded in 2008, it has expanded worldwide, pioneering now-standard innovations like NAT firewalls and kill switches. But we’re not too interested in those features right now. Instead, this article will look at the PureVPN torrenting experience.
Torrenting can often be an Achilles Heel for VPNs, whether because they want to limit traffic passing through their servers, or for legal reasons. And even fast, reliable providers can fall down when it comes to torrents. So is this popular VPN among the best ways to use P2P clients securely? Let’s find out.
The PureVPN torrent policy: What is their position on P2P downloads?
The best place to start when assessing any VPN’s torrenting potential is with their marketing material. On first glance, PureVPN looks promising here, with their tagline “the world’s fastest VPN.”
In the list of services the VPN is compatible with (Amazon FireStick, Kodi, and PlayStation consoles) but there’s not a single mention of uTorrent or qBittorrent. However, if you scroll down, things look much more encouraging. Unlike some VPNs, PureVPN actively promotes “P2P Protection” against malware.
So it’s fair to say that the PureVPN torrenting stance is that P2P downloads are fine. At least on the surface. But what specific features does the VPN possess that appeal to torrenters?
Elements of the PureVPN torrent setup
Actually, there are plenty of features here that will excite regular torrent downloaders. Here’s a sample of what’s on offer:
- Unlimited bandwidth
PureVPN promise “unlimited data transferring” with their premium packages, which is always a key requirement for P2P fans. This applies both to data and bandwidth, so neither speed nor volume is restricted.
- Good encryption
Encryption is vital for safe torrenting, and PureVPN does pretty well here, too, offering 256-bit AES encryption and the use of cutting-edge protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec.
- Kill Switch
As noted above, PureVPN was one of the first Virtual Private Networks to include a kill switch. This essential tool cuts out your web connection if the VPN drops for any reason. Without it, your IP and DNS information would instantly be vulnerable to snoopers or hackers.
- Sheer speed
Speed is a major selling point with PureVPN. The company operates a global network of over 2,000 servers and promises lightning fast download speeds for P2P users.
- Secure payment options
PureVPN offers one of the widest choices of payment options in the world of VPNs. If you want to pay anonymously, you can use a host of cryptocurrencies. And – which is definitely not the norm – gift cards.
Put together, this is an impressive suite of features for P2P downloading. As the VPN states, they set out to tackle ISP throttling while securing users’ P2P connections from surveillance and malware alike.
The VPN also offers 200 servers that they call “dedicated P2P servers” which are used solely for file sharing. This sounds like a good idea, and feedback from most customers suggests that the speed boost is real. However, look below for some criticisms of this model.
Another thing to note is that PureVPN is based in Hong Kong. That’s a good thing from a PureVPN torrenting perspective – although China certainly has a lot of influence in Hong Kong, they’re not known for their observance of copyright law.
What about the PureVPN privacy record? Can it be trusted?
While PureVPN torrent policies look great on paper, they would mean very little if the company logged user data or was fine with handing over user data to law enforcement bodies. Torrenters should always investigate how VPNs handle data privacy, and PureVPN is no exception.
However, this doesn’t apply to free PureVPN users. While paid-for users have no bandwidth restrictions, that’s not the case with free users. To police those restrictions, PureVPN must monitor how much data each user consumes, which entails a degree of logging. That’s pretty much routine for VPNs though, and most serious P2P downloaders won’t be sticking to free services in any case.
Have there been any allegations about PureVPN’s security policies?
The most controversial episode involved the arrest of an American, named Ryan Lin. Lin was arrested in 2017 by the FBI for cyberstalking, following the disclosure of information by PureVPN.
That case became notorious as an instance of VPNs working with government agencies. The more shocking aspects of this ordeal were that this was a foreign government agency and also that PureVPN had information to give.
With that said, the VPN would probably be much less keen to hand over information if it was a torrent-related case. After all, Lin’s alleged offenses were about ruining the life of an innocent person, not copyright issues.
Have there been criticisms of the PureVPN torrent setup?
The Lin case gathered headlines, but there may be more worrying information for torrenters to consider. For instance, some reviewers have put PureVPN through some tests, finding IP and DNS leaks.
There are also issues with PureVPN blocking torrenting on many servers. Critics have suggested that the “optimized P2P servers” mentioned in PureVPN’s marketing materials are a cover for diverting torrenters to second-class servers. Some VPNs also restrict P2P downloads but make it easy for users to find the fastest possible P2P server from a limited selection. PureVPN doesn’t offer that service.
Another problem for torrenters is the lack of a Socks5 proxy.
Another problem for torrenters is the lack of a Socks5 proxy. This proxy service enables users to segregate their P2P traffic from other online activity and makes it simple to link P2P clients to VPNs. Socks5 is a standard, albeit not essential, feature for torrent-friendly VPNs.
The appeal of Socks5 is that it ensures a high degree of anonymity and delivers very fast speeds – and torrenters often appreciate having the choice of using it.
How to create a PureVPN torrenting configuration
Although there are some gaps in the PureVPN torrent package, it’s still an option for P2P fans to consider. But how easy is it to configure with popular torrent clients like uTorrent?
Actually, configuring PureVPN for torrents is comparatively simple:
- Download and install the PureVPN client, and purchase one of their paid for VPN plans (not the free service).
- Load the VPN client and choose the “Settings” menu in the top right-hand corner.
- On the next screen choose “Select Mode.”
- Now, scroll down the menu and choose “File Sharing”. A green tick should appear next to your chosen option.
- When that’s done, click “Back.” At the main login screen, choose the country you’d like to connect to and fire up the PureVPN service. Your connection should be optimized for torrenting.
Before you start downloading torrents, it’s always advisable to that your IP address has been anonymized. The best way to do so is via specialist tools like IPMagnet.
When you get there, click the link entitled “Add this Magnet link to your downloads”, and it should start in your torrent client. As the test magnet downloads, you should see your IP on the IPMagnet page. And it should be different than your real IP address.
Another handy tool is DoILeak, which gives you an instant readout about DNS leaks. If it finds anything while you are torrenting, your VPN isn’t doing its job.
Conclusion: Is PureVPN torrent heaven or hell?
PureVPN is a solid option for torrenting, but it’s far from the best around. It scores highly on encryption, payment options, unlimited bandwidth, ease of use, and features like the kill switch. And speeds can be very impressive on some servers.
However, the lack of a Socks5 proxy, the diversion of P2P onto relatively few servers, and doubts about privacy are slightly worrying. Overall, it’s worth trying and may deliver the features you need. But be prepared to look elsewhere for better performance.