Torrenting is a huge part of online life. From the latest movies to classic music albums, video games, and ebooks, a vast library of entertainment content is being shared via P2P networks.
And all of it comes with huge risks. Torrenting isn’t popular among internet service providers, global governments, and corporations, especially ones with a vested interest in copyright protection.
That’s why it makes sense to use Proton VPN, a reliable VPN (Virtual Private Network) for every torrent download. In this review, we’ll try to answer whether this provider could be the top solution for safe P2P downloading.
What should you look for in a good VPN for torrenting?
Not all VPNs offer what torrenters need. Torrenting is a very specific online activity, and some VPNs simply flat-out refuse to optimize their servers to cater to its requirements. So be aware of that when choosing a provider.
Otherwise, here are some key criteria to look for when picking your VPN:
- Jurisdiction. Is the VPN in one of the Five Eyes countries? These countries are known to share intelligence and crime data with the US and other countries that are hostile to torrenting. So look for VPNs in countries like Switzerland or Panama instead.
- Speed. An obvious plus point for any torrenter, you’ll need a VPN that shaves as little as possible from your standard download and upload speeds.
- Kill switch. Kill switches are vital for torrenters. When we torrent, we often leave our downloads unattended. And if your VPN coverage drops for some reason, this can leave your security exposed. A kill switch makes sure you are always protected.
- Encryption. Another obvious consideration. Torrenting is under the microscope of security agencies that would love to know exactly what you are downloading. Solid 256-bit AES encryption makes sure that they can’t get a detailed read-out of the files you are transferring.
- SOCKS5 compatibility. Some VPNs cater to what are known as SOCKS5 proxies. This gives you the option of torrenting at high speeds with complete IP anonymization. But it does away with encryption, so there’s a security trade-off.
- No-logs policy. Most VPNs claim to keep no activity logs. While there’s usually no reason to doubt these, it’s best to choose a service that went through an independent audit.
Proton VPN: a good torrenting solution?
Proton VPN is a Swiss-based VPN offered by the same company behind Protonmail – one of the most popular encrypted email services.
Launched in 2017, Proton VPN doesn’t have the high profile of Protonmail but has been attracting positive feedback from users and reviewers for its security, privacy, and open-source code.
In 2022, Proton VPN took a major step and had its no-logs policy audited independently. That’s great news for torrenting fans who want to be sure that none of their data is being collected.
Does Proton VPN allow torrenting?
Proton VPN does allow torrenting, although not without a stern warning. For instance, its help page about torrenting firmly states that “Proton VPN does not condone the use of BitTorrent to share copyrighted material illegally.”
Proton VPN offers P2P-friendly servers for premium users. Torrenting is allowed in roughly one-third of the available countries: Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, United States, and the United Kingdom. When you load up the client, these servers will be identified by a double-arrow icon.
But is it worth paying for a subscription at all? It’s time to dig deeper.
Is Proton VPN fast enough for torrenting to make sense?
From a torrenting perspective, speed is (almost) everything. So how does Proton VPN compare when it comes to raw velocity?
Sadly, a lot of feedback from experts and users about speed isn’t encouraging. This particularly applies to the company’s American servers, which routinely register as 75% slower than normal speeds.
That’s nowhere near what torrenters require. European servers are faster, but the UK and Asian servers are also a let-down. So if you are based in the EU, speed may not be an issue. But for everyone else, we would advise that you try before you buy.
However, don’t assume that the Proton VPN free version gives an accurate impression of its download speeds. It’s designed to be slower than the premium options. Moreover, it explicitly rules out torrenting, so you won’t even be able to test P2P speeds with it.
Can I trust Proton VPN to safeguard my torrenting activity?
Proton VPN has more than a few security features which torrenters will appreciate:
- Reliable encryption. Proton VPN is at the top of its class, offering 256-bit AES encryption, with a 2048-bit RSA to authenticate data and perfect forward secrecy as standard.
- Secure protocols. Customers can choose from WireGuard, OpenVPN, or IKEv2/IPSec protocols. Proton VPN doesn’t support older protocols like L2TP/IPSec for security reasons – a reassuring aspect of their package.
- Kill switch. This feature disconnects the internet in case of a VPN failure. As a result, your IP address and other data remain safe.
- Multi-hop (Double VPN). Proton VPN routes all traffic through a number of intermediary nodes before it reaches its servers. This makes its anonymization systems more secure while helping to ward off cyber-attacks as well.
These features add up to a good start on the security front. Still, you’d expect to find all of them them in elite torrenting VPNs.
According to Proton VPN, Swiss law means that they don’t have to keep logs, so they don’t do it.
Some users have expressed concerns that Proton VPN logs IP addresses as well. When they return to the service via a different email, the Proton VPN system appears to recognize them as an existing user via IP information – delivering “bonus” deals as a result.
However, the no-logs policy of Proton VPN has been independently audited by Securitum, a well-respected European auditing firm. As such, it’s clear that customer activities aren’t tracked in any way. Plus, the apps are open-source, meaning any tech-savvy user can dive deeper into the inner workings of Proton VPN.
Is Switzerland a torrent-friendly jurisdiction?
We stated earlier that Switzerland is outside the Fourteen Eyes, and that’s true. It’s also true that Swiss law is comparatively tolerant towards individual privacy. And that includes torrenting.
As Torrentfreak reported in 2017, Switzerland places the responsibility on website hosts and ISPs to remove torrent trackers or other sources of copyrighted material. Targeting individuals is not a political aim, and it doesn’t happen within Swiss borders.
So that’s encouraging. Proton VPN should be insulated from information requests originating abroad, such as those from copyright holders in the USA.
However, there could be a catch here. Users should know that Proton VPN has received state funds from the Swiss government. That’s pretty unusual for VPNs and a potential red flag for torrenters.
After all, VPNs are supposed to put a barrier between individuals and governments. Can you trust Proton VPN’s torrenting protection given their close relationship with the Swiss authorities?
What have customers said about Proton VPN torrenting?
Before we finish, let’s give a platform to some Proton VPN customers. After all, they are people who have actually tried to use the VPN for torrenting. And their experiences haven’t always been great.
Some users commented on IP leaks and failed connections, while some went so far as to label Proton VPN a “scam.” But it’s worth noting that Proton VPN has its defenders and fans.
Is Proton VPN good for torrenting?
Proton VPN is a solid choice for torrenting. It offers plenty of P2P-friendly servers, good speeds, and strong encryption. The kill switch protects against leaks, and an independently-audited no-logs policy ensures your privacy.
If you still haven’t found a torrenting VPN that works, it may well be worth giving Proton VPN a try.
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.