Your VPN Should Play with P2P
Peer-to-peer downloads, also known as “torrents”, are among the most common activities done over VPNs. This mustn’t be confused with piracy, however, since the latter can be done both with and without torrenting… though, concededly, most will attempt to hide their piracy through a VPN as well.
Torrents are all about downloading large file sizes, so they have to be fast. When done via VPN, they have to be safe as well since, regardless of the files being transferred via torrents, you wouldn’t want anyone peeking into the content streaming into your computer.
Most VPN services generally work well with torrents. Most even advertise torrent-specific servers that you can use without any speed barriers. However, we only say “generally” because many VPNs tend to suffer from fatal (or at least annoying) flaws that you need to watch out for.
If you haven’t heard of VPNs leaking before, this is when a provider has security lapses that would allow a third-party to see the requests someone is making over the supposedly secure network.This means that if I use a leaking VPN and I go to Google’s homepage, an observer can see that I am trying to access Google even if they can’t see exactly what I am doing. In even worse scenarios, a VPN may leak your IP address, therefore allowing an observer from the other end (the site you’re trying to access) that your IP is requesting data from the site. Even if the activities cannot be seen, this is enough of a privacy breach to cause concern.
This is an even greater concern if you’re accessing sites that contain pirated content, at which point everyone from media providers to the government can have a cause of action against you! These entities are becoming more and more creative in ways they use to counter piracy and copyright infringement. For example, they run their own servers that can monitor torrent data, collecting information on any connection that accesses or joins the torrent. If you’re not using a good VPN, and one of these servers picks up your scent, then your identity could be compromised.
To help keep you safe, we thoroughly test VPN services for any leaks that can compromise your safety. We use a host of tools to ensure that the services properly encrypt your data from end to end, leaving no room for observers to see the origin and destination of your data.
Speed Still Matters
One of the advantages of downloading via torrents is speed. As long as there are enough seeds, you can download massive files without having to contend with the bandwidth limitations that regular downloads have. Since you’re essentially taking bits and pieces of a file from a lot of people instead of a central location over the internet, you don’t get bogged down when many others try to download the same file.
When you’re using a VPN, however, the landscape changes a bit. Since VPNs are also servers, too many people torrenting over the same set of servers can cause bottlenecks as well.
This is the main reason why most VPN companies offer specific torrent-friendly VPN servers, which are especially equipped to handle humongous data streams. When you use these servers, there’s no danger of clogging up other servers that others use for regular browsing and downloads, thus allowing the companies to keep their servers running fast.
Location is equally important
And then, the location of these servers also matter. Even though they’re specialized for torrents, they may be located in areas that are far from your location. This means data has to travel longer distances, taking up more time before they arrive at your router’s doorsteps. The best VPN services we review have torrent-friendly servers in several key locations, allowing for greater flexibility when choosing.
Location is also important, since many VPN companies have their torrent-friendly servers in torrent-unfriendly countries! You may see lots of these servers clustered around the North American and European regions — places where there are very strict data control laws, allowing the government to compel VPN companies to give up their data logs. If this happens, and if the VPN company does keep logs, then your privacy and security can still be compromised.
Of course, there are a few VPN companies that allow torrenting across all their servers, which is a good deal though they’re still subject to the legal caveats described above.
There are also a few miscellaneous advantages that VPNs can give those who prefer torrents over regular downloads. For example, some of the best VPN companies offer a kill-switch feature that cuts off your internet connection in case the connection to the VPN server is severed, or in case of similar irregularities. This is important because you don’t want to be caught with an ongoing unprotected torrent stream in case the VPN goes down. While this feature has pros and cons, it’s a nice-to-have that adds peace of mind. There are also VPNs that incorporate security features, blocking any potential tracking or malware from your downloads.
Our stringent review process also looks at how fast and how safe your torrents are. While we strongly advise against copyright infringement and piracy of any form, it’s good to know that there are VPN services that can protect you in whatever you choose to do online.