vpn for torrenting

How to use VPN for torrenting

Hello, my name is Nicolas Cuts. I am an employee of SwitcherryVPN. Today I will tell you how to download any files from torrents safely and without restrictions.

Despite all prohibitions, the popularity of torrents in the world does not decrease at all. Even in the developed countries of the West, where Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other streaming services have become widespread, many millions of people still continue to actively use file-sharing networks. And this is despite the fact that downloading files from torrents is associated with certain risks. This is particularly true for users living in the United States and other countries where the law strictly punishes copyright infringers. This article will tell you how to download files from torrents freely, without fear of internet provider sanctions and prosecution by the authorities.

Should a VPN be used for torrents

Each and every user activity in file-sharing networks is easily tracked. On the internet, you can even find services that track the IP addresses of users who illegally download licensed content. For example, go to the website iknowwhatyoudownload.com – if you have used a torrent and downloaded copyrighted files, you will see a table with a complete list of these files and the time of download. Of course, if you have a dynamic IP address, then all the information from iknowwhatyoudownload.com may not apply to you, but to those whom your internet provider gave this IP address to at that time.

In any case, make no mistake, anyone can track all your activity in torrent networks using your IP. That’s why, the most important rule for using torrents safely is the observance of complete anonymity and privacy. Although all torrent clients have an option to enable traffic encryption, this encryption is weak and will not hide your IP address. Only using a VPN is guaranteed to solve the problem of protecting your anonymity and privacy.

Is this legal

Downloading files from torrents does not violate the laws of any country. No one will stop you from downloading and distributing legal content that is not protected by copyright. But for downloading and, especially, for distributing licensed content, the user exposes him- or herself to the risk of being fined a large sum or even getting a prison sentence. The most severe penalties for copyright infringers are faced under Japanese law – up to 2 years in prison for only downloading and up to 10 years for distribution. Under US law, a copyright infringer can be fined up to $250,000 and sentenced to up to five years in prison. The legislation in Europe is also quite strict. For example, in Germany, for every download of licensed content, the violator is obliged to pay a fine of 1000 euros.

Torrent users absolutely need to use traffic encryption and hide their IP address for secure downloads. And the easiest way to do this is by using a VPN.

Safety of connecting to torrent networks

When downloading files from torrents, your computer receives data from computers (“torrent peers”) of dozens of other users. If you do not use traffic encryption, there is a chance that a malicious user will replace a fragment of the downloaded file with malicious code. Reliable encryption, which is used in VPN technology, will help prevent malware infection.

Connecting to any torrent

In all countries, including Western democracies, internet service providers analyze the traffic of their customers in one way or another. First of all, this applies to the United States, where DPI technology (Deep Packet Inspection – deep inspection of network packets) is widely used, making it possible to determine the type and content of a downloaded content. With the help of DPI technology, internet service providers easily identify users who illegally download copyrighted content and block their access to the internet. Only encryption using strong cryptographic protocols like in VPN can protect your traffic from deep analysis, and you personally from the internet provider’s sanctions.

Low speed and internet disconnection threat

Many internet service providers, on discovering that their client uses a torrent, drastically reduce his or her internet speed, sometimes even when the user downloads legal content. In the United States, an internet service provider can simply permanently block internet access for customers who download files via torrent. A VPN with reliable encryption will help you avoid the sanctions of your internet provider.

Ways to use a VPN for a torrent

As I have already written in other articles, there are several ways to protect your computer or other devices using a VPN. Here are the three most popular ones:

  • download and install a VPN client for the given device with the given operating system;
  • set up your own VPN client of the operating system, (most operating systems have a built-in VPN client);
  • set up a VPN on your router.

Standard VPN client

Installing a proprietary VPN client is the simplest way to protect your internet traffic from tracking and hacking. However, this method does not guarantee 100% protection, and here’s why: in case of any problem with the VPN client, for example, when it freezes, the torrent client (if it is not specifically configured) will continue to download the file, but this time bypassing the VPN tunnel, that is, the connection will cease to be anonymous and secure.

It is important that the VPN client has an emergency stop option (kill switch), that is, it disconnects the internet connection in case of problems with the VPN server.

Some VPN clients have a button to enable the Kill switch option, others have a built-in emergency stop. If you didn’t find the Kill switch button in the interface of your VPN client, ask your VPN provider if this VPN client has a built-in emergency stop option. Also, a good VPN client should automatically block DNS request leaks and IPv6 leaks. (All this applies to our company’s VPN client SwitcherryVPN, in case of a malfunction, our VPN client will immediately break the internet connection and prevent data leakage.) In any case, if your computer is protected by a regular VPN client received from your VPN provider, it is recommended to not download large files (more than 3-5 GB).

Setting up directly in the OS

Using a built-in VPN client gives a more stable connection, since the software built into the operating system is less prone to glitches and malfunctions than a third-party application. And if there is a serious problem, your internet connection will simply be severed, which automatically eliminates any privacy leaks. A short instruction on how to configure a built-in VPN client, in detail, how to configure a VPN directly in the OS has already been described in the article with screenshots «VPN for Windows».

Setting up a built-in VPN client (on Windows 10):

  • get the IP address of the VPN server and authorization data from your VPN provider. Also find out which encryption protocols are supported. If your VPN provider is our company SwitcherryVPN, then contact our support service directly;
  • go to your computer settings, to “Network and Internet settings” Settings > Network & Internet;
  • on the left panel, select “VPN”;
  • in the “VPN” section that opens, click on “Add a VPN connection”, the option “Allow VPN over metered networks” should be enabled;
  • from the “VPN provider” drop-down menu, select “Windows (built-in)”;
  • in the “Connection name” field, enter the name of the new VPN connection – it can usually be arbitrary, but some VPN providers require you to set a specific name for the given VPN connection;
  • in the “Server name or address” field, enter the domain name or IP address of the VPN server that you received from your VPN provider;
  • from the “VPN type” drop-down menu, select the encryption protocol that you are going to use (set by the VPN provider);
  • from the “Type of sign-in info” list, select “Username and password”;
  • enter your username and password in the appropriate fields (you should get them from your VPN provider);
  • check the “Remember my sign-in info” option and click on the “Save” button at the bottom right;
  • now you can establish a connection to the VPN server by clicking on the “Connect” button.

Setting up on a router

A VPN on a router will reliably protect all devices connected to it. This short guide will help you quickly set up your router to work with a VPN. For more information on configuring routers of various models, see the article “How to install and set up a VPN on a router“.

  1. Select the appropriate router. Remember that not all routers have built-in VPN support. Besides, some routers work only with weak encryption protocols. Therefore, before buying a router, be sure to ask if this device supports a VPN at all and, if so, what cryptographic protocols it uses.
  2. Select your VPN provider and get the data necessary for setting up the routerthe name (or IP address) of the VPN server and authorization data from it. If your VPN provider is our company SwitcherryVPN, then contact our support service – you will immediately receive all the necessary data for configuration.
  3. Go to the router’s web interface. To do this, you need to know the IP address of the router. Usually it is 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. The IP address of the router as well as the login and password are usually indicated on the label stuck to the router. Enter the router’s IP address in the browser’s URL bar. The home page of your router opens, it provides access to all the device settings (usually you can access the router settings after entering your username/password). Go to the “VPN” section and enter the authorization data received from the VPN provider.

Setting up in a torrent client

At the moment, there is no easy way to make a torrent client download files exclusively through a VPN, while other programs (browsers, for example) connect directly to the internet. Theoretically, it is possible to set a specific port for a VPN connection and use the same port in the torrent client, but this option is not documented and there is no convincing evidence that such a connection will be reliable and secure. However, you can easily configure a torrent client to work with a VPN server.

In any case, the torrent client must be properly configured to prevent leaks that violate your anonymity and privacy. For example, if the VPN client freezes or crashes, as well as problems on the VPN server, your internet traffic ceases to be protected, and your real IP address becomes visible. Meaning anyone can find out which files were downloaded via torrent from your IP. In order to prevent data leaks when your VPN has problems, your VPN client must forcibly block all internet connections in case of problems (kill-switch option).

If you have set up a VPN on an OS or on a router, you need to bind your torrent client to the local IP address of the VPN connection. To do this:

  • first of all, connect to the internet and make sure that your VPN connection is working;
  • open the command prompt in Windows (start – > run – > cmd.exe or press “WIN+R”, type “cmd” in the Run box and click OK);
  • in the command prompt, type “ipconfig” and press Enter;
  • find the local IPv4 address of your VPN connection (see the image);
Local IPv4 address of the VPN connection
Local IPv4 address of the VPN connection
  • now open your torrent client. First, a description of the settings of the most popular torrent client uTorrent is given:
  • go to Options –> Preferences;
  • in the Preferences dialog box, go to the”Advanced” section;
  • for the parameters net.bind_ip and net.outgoing_ip, enter the same value – the local IPv4 address of your VPN connection, confirming the changes by clicking on the Set button (see the image);
Changing parameters and saving them
Changing parameters and saving them

It is also recommended to disable forced encryption (if it is enabled), there’s no point enabling this option when using a VPN, since VPN encryption is way more powerful.

qBittorent Settings

qBittorent – another popular torrent client. Despite the fact that it is the closest relative of uTorrent, it has a completely different interface.

  • select Tools –>Options;
  • in the Options window, go to Advanced;
  • find the “Network interface” option and select the name of your VPN connection from the drop-down menu (in our case, SwitcherryVPN);
  • below is the “Optional IP address to bind to” drop-down menu – select the local IPv4 address of your VPN connection from it;
Selecting a local VPN connection IPv4 address
Selecting a local VPN connection IPv4 address
  • to save your settings, click “Apply” and “OK”.

Vuze Settings

Vuze is also a popular torrent client, that is not like the previous ones at all. To bind it to your VPN connection, do the following:

  • select Tools –>Options;
  • in the Options window, go to Connection: Advanced Network Setting;
  • in the list, look for the name of your VPN connection (in our case, SwitcherryVPN);
Finding the name of your VPN connection
Finding the name of your VPN connection
  • copy the IP address and paste it into the “Bind to local IP-address or interface” field;
Local IP address binding field
Local IP address binding field
  • by clicking on the “Save” button, save the settings.

How to check if a torrent is working with a VPN

After setting up the torrent client, it is very important to test how it works to make sure that the torrent traffic goes through the VPN tunnel.

  • Verify that your VPN connection is working. To do this, connect to the internet and launch your VPN client (of course, if you have set up a VPN directly in your OS or router, you do not need to run anything, you will be connected to your VPN server automatically);
  • launch your browser and go to any network service that identifies your visible IP address, for example, My location & IP page of our website;
  • make sure that your visible IP address matches the IP address of your VPN server (if you use a standard VPN client, the IP address of the VPN server will be displayed in the program window, if you have set up a VPN directly in your OS or router, then the visible IP must match the IP address of the VPN server provided by your VPN provider);
  • now go to any network resource that defines the IP address of a torrent client. There are several such sites on the internet, perhaps the most popular one is ipleak.net;
  • on the homepage of ipleak.net find the Torrent Address detection section and click on the “Activate” button;
  • copy the magnet link (see the image);
Copying a Magnetic Link
Copying a Magnetic Link
  • open your torrent client;
  • select File –> Add Torrent from URL… – the relevant window will open;
  • paste the copied magnet link into the text field and click OK;
  • in the Detailed Info torrent client panel, go to the Trackers tab;
  • compare your visible IP address with the IP address of the torrent client (see the images);
Checking torrent settings
Checking torrent settings
IP addresses must be the same
IP addresses must be the same
  • if your torrent is properly set up and works through a VPN, then all the IP addresses should be the same.

How to choose the perfect VPN for a torrent

The main condition is that the VPN server must be able to work in decentralized (P2P – peer-to-peer) networks. Some VPN providers block P2P connections, that is, they do not allow downloading files from torrents. Others (including our company SwitcherryVPN), on the contrary, optimize their servers for working in P2P networks.

Also, a good VPN service should not reduce the internet speed when downloading files from torrents. This is achieved by using powerful high-speed servers with a wide bandwidth. The stability of the software – of both the VPN client and the VPN server – is also of great importance. One more important feature is the total number and location of VPN servers. The download speed will be maximum when the VPN server is located at the minimum distance from the torrent peers.

SwitcherryVPN owns thousands of powerful servers located in almost all countries of the world. Our VPN client will automatically determine which server is the most suitable for downloading the given file at maximum speed. Stable operation, high speed, simplicity and accessibility – all this puts our company on one of the first spots in the world in terms of popularity.

FAQ

1.What is an emergency stop (killswitch)?

1.What is an emergency stop (killswitch)?

Kill switch – is the forced blocking of internet access in case of any problems in the operation of a VPN client or VPN server.

2.What does the term IP leak mean?

2.What does the term IP leak mean?

An IP leak occurs when your native IP becomes visible to websites or other internet users, despite having a working VPN connection.

3.What types of IP leaks exist?

3.What types of IP leaks exist?

There are 4 types of IP leaks:

  1. IP leak. Caused by software problems (when a VPN client or VPN server has a fault or freezes);
  2. DNS leak. Occurs when your internet service provider uses the technology of intercepting DNS queries, as a result of which your ISP becomes aware of all the websites that you have visited. To avoid DNS leaks, VPN providers tunnel all DNS queries and use their own, private DNS servers.
    Note: DNS – Domain Name System. Converts alphabetic domain names to numeric IP addresses (somesite.com –> 123.45.6.78). Tables of domain names and their numeric IP addresses are stored on DNS servers;
  3. IPv6 leak. Occurs because, by default, most VPN protocols support working only with short IPv4 addresses. On facing an IPv6 address, VPN clients of some VPN providers stop encrypting traffic, making the real IP address of users visible. Use reliable VPN clients to avoid IPv6 leaks;
  4. WebRTC leak. Modern browsers using WebRTC technology are subject to this type of leakage. WebRTC technology allows you to organize real-time video streaming between two browsers. To exclude the possibility of a WebRTC leak, it is necessary to disable support for this technology in the browser.

4.How to be protected from IP leaks?

4.How to be protected from IP leaks?

Choose reliable VPN clients. A good VPN client blocks internet connection in case of a malfunction, and also has built-in protection against other IP leaks. Please note that our company’s VPN clients are completely free from IP leaks.

5.Where can I check my VPN connection for IP leaks?

5.Where can I check my VPN connection for IP leaks?

The easiest way to do this is on the website ipleak.net. On the homepage of the site, you will find sections dedicated to all types of IP leaks, including IPv6 and WebRTC leaks.

Author: Nicolas Cuts

Product Managers at SwitcherryVPN. Have 5 years background in management and marketing. I never stop learning!

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