How to secure your torrent downloads

The problem

Revealing your identity by using your real IP address to download/transfer torrent files can turn into big trouble and even cost you a money in lawsuits. Many people don’t understand how the P2P downloads and copyright infringement work, so we will try to explain it.

When you start to transfer a file over bittorrent protocol, you are one of the “peers”, and everyone participating in the same transfer can see that you are doing it. To put it simple: “a peer can see other peers”. All peers participating in the sharing of the same torrent file, form a “swarm”.

While you are part of the swarm, other participants can see your source IP address. Normally, torrent users don’t know who are they sharing the content with, but the swarms are infiltrated by bots and actors who are collecting automatically the IP addresses of other participants. Those IPs are used when sending so-called “copyright infringement letters” (or “DMCA warnings” in the USA and some other countries), and all nasty emails to their ISPs. So your ISP can receive a notice that you have transferred copyright protected material and this may result into all kind of problems.

The solution

Protecting your torrent downloads means hiding your online identity so the copyright trolls don’t get to you. And the best measure to do that is to use a VPN or a proxy that will protect your real IP from being disclosed through the P2P file transfer. This way you are dodging the warning and other related problems, since they won’t be sent to you anymore, but to the VPN/proxy provider.

Keep in mind that not all VPNs are similar, and they have different policies. Most of them don’t allow torrenting and they may kick you out if you use their service to transfer torrent files. Or even worse: they can disclose your real identity to the copyright trolls.

Here is a list of VPN providers that allow torrenting. There are more, but these are the ones we tested, trust and recommend.

You should always double-check to confirm that your VPN/proxy provider is fine with torrent traffic. Read their policies, info-pages carefully and ask them what is their P2P policy and if they suspend clients torrenting. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Also be aware that PopCornTime is using the bittorrent protocol to transfer the movies you are watching, which is exactly the same as downloading the file with a bittorrent client. PopCornTime transfers need to be protected, too.

The checklist

  • sign-up only with VPN services that allow torrenting and have a solid reputation to not go against their customers
  • use a seedbox
  • use VPN software that has built-in protection for DNS leaks and traffic leaks/kill switch
  • use firewall rules to block traffic made by torrent client when the VPN is not connected
  • use a torrent software that can be forced to use the virtual network interface only so it won’t leak your real IP
  • do regular tests for torrent IP leaks and DNS leaks

The checklist explained (or the “how to”)

Sign-up only with VPN services that allow torrenting and have a solid reputation to not go against their customers

The ones we recommend in the Best VPNs for Torrents are the way to go. You can’t go wrong with them. We suggest to stay away from free VPNs for torrenting. In the end, you get what you are paying for.

Use a seedbox

A seedbox is a virtual server (or a VPS, but it can also be a real dedicated if you pay more) hosted out of DMCA jurisdiction which can be used to keep all your torrent downloads. A seedbox usually comes bundled with web-based torrent clients and other goodies that will allow even the non-technical users to start torrenting safely in a moment. From the seedbox you can get the torrented files to your own PC using FTP, HTTP or SFTP transfer protocols. The seedbox hosting companies that we recommend are: whatbox.ca and feralhosting.com

Use VPN software that has built-in protection for DNS leaks and traffic leaks/kill switch

It is a must these days to include such features in a VPN software. We had no issues with the software from PIA, which has a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

Use firewall rules to block traffic made by torrent client when the VPN is not connected

This can be a bit complicated as it depends on the OS you are using. On Windows, check these tutorials (mostly the same steps) at HMA, VPN.AC,BolehVPN

Use a torrent software that can be forced to use the virtual network interface only so it won’t leak your real IP

Vuze can do that. We tried with some other torrent clients with no real success.

Do regular tests for torrent IP leaks and DNS leaks

Check What is my torrent IP, ipleak.net, dnsleaktest.net. If they report your real IP or your ISP’s DNS, you have a problem.

If you have more tips for protecting torrent downloads, post a comment below!

5 Comments

  1. fred September 2, 2015
    • JJ April 21, 2016
      • vpnreviewer April 21, 2016
  2. OhFeelya Delight October 11, 2015
  3. what is a good vpn October 23, 2015

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