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Friday, 2 February 2018

The best VPN for torrents and torrenting in 2018

Torrents are a popular way of downloading things – legal things, and of course in some cases, not-so-legal things (of course we don’t condone any copyright- trampling activities here at TechRadar) – whereby many users share small bits of a larger file with each other to enable some potentially very fast download speeds.

Of course, the downside on the privacy front is that all these other online folks you’re sharing with can clearly see your IP address, so if you want to avoid that, obviously one of the best VPNs will ensure that your details stay private. Providing the Virtual Private Network in question supports torrents, of course.

How to choose the best VPN for torrenting

Because not every VPN supports torrent downloading, so you need to be careful when picking one out – this is clearly your prime concern when selecting a client for this purpose. Download speeds are important, too, as are privacy and security.

You should look for a VPN with a clearly laid out privacy policy, and one that has a ‘no logging’ guarantee. You want the best security possible with strong encryption (although any decent VPN worth its salt should offer that, anyway), and a service that is watertight from DNS leaks and has a kill switch (which shuts down the internet connection if the VPN falls over, thus preventing your true IP from being exposed).

Finally, you want a VPN which offers fast download speeds to keep those files coming quickly, and a service which doesn’t throttle bandwidth. So with that in mind, let’s move on to look at the five best VPN services for torrenting.

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This British Virgin Islands-based provider is impressive on the performance front, with excellent speeds across a wide range of server locations. And that’s obviously a major advantage for anyone who downloads large files.

In terms of security, ExpressVPN ticks all the right boxes with strong encryption and support for a range of VPN protocols, while the privacy policy clearly states that they keep no activity logs and no connection logs.

The software’s unique split tunneling feature for both Mac and Windows users is definitely worth mentioning as it allows users to choose to protect their torrent client only (leaving all other online activities, such as, for example, web browsing or online gaming, unaffected by the VPN).

And should you encounter any problems with the service, 24/7 customer support is provided via live chat or email. ExpressVPN’s offshore jurisdiction in the BVI is also a key advantage for protecting your anonymity.

Price-wise, ExpressVPN costs slightly more than other providers but it may be worth it for those who want the very best experience when torrenting. 

This provider doesn’t offer a free plan or trial but all the plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Out of the three subscriptions, the annual plan offers the best value-for-money (you get an extra three months free, into the bargain). The packages available are:

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IPVanish routinely stands out as one of the top VPN providers and for good reason. It offers impressive download speeds, wide global coverage, unlimited P2P traffic and great clients that work well across different platforms (although we found that the Windows client may be prone to the odd network issue).

The no logs policy and strong encryption via OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols, along with an automatic kill switch make for a genuinely private and secure experience. 

However, the price might be the one fly in the VPN ointment. The service doesn’t come with the benefit of a free trial, but you do get a 7-day money-back guarantee. The 1-year subscription is the most popular choice, and the best one in our books. The packages available are:

When talking about VPN security, NordVPN is one of the first names that springs to mind. You get an ultra-secure connection with support for IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols, plus there’s a certain number of ‘Double VPN’ servers which actually pass your data through two separate VPN servers for extra security.

The service offers ample server coverage, an automatic kill-switch, a good client and great performance levels with steady download speeds. There’s a no log policy, too, although a slight weak spot here is that the policy on session logging isn’t clear.

NordVPN has very reasonable pricing – save for the monthly plan, which is one of the more expensive offerings around – and there's a free 3-day trial. You have three plans available, all with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The two-year plan is clearly the best choice in terms of pure value for money. The packages available are:

The company’s boast that it’s the ‘world’s fastest VPN’ isn’t an idle one, as Hide.me offers some truly impressive performance levels, actually slightly improving upon our regular download speeds. The client is well-designed and simple to use, automatically selecting the fastest server available at the time. There is also a strict ‘no logging, ever’ policy in place, with the service boasting OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IPsec, SoftEther and SSTP protocols. 

Another big plus point of Hide.me is the 2GB per month free plan which offers a good preview of the service. You’ll need it as the Premium plan with unlimited data is expensive, so you can use the freebie to be sure before you commit. Your best bet is the Plus plan if you don’t mind its restrictions (75GB data transfer limit, no port forwarding, among other restrictions). The packages available are:

Torrenting demands high download speeds and this Hungarian-based provider certainly delivers in this department. In our testing, Buffered VPN achieved very consistent performance levels with speeds nearly matching our usual rates with the VPN service turned off.

One downside, however, is that there are no native mobile clients, so you’ll have to set up everything manually on your phone or tablet. In terms of security, you get 256-bit Blowfish encryption, and Buffered VPN promises that it doesn’t log any of your online activities so there should be no worries about privacy. The firm’s customer service is available 24/7, too.

Another highlight of the service is a rather generous refund policy. If you’re not satisfied, you can still get a refund after up to 10 hours of usage or 100 sessions or 10GB of bandwidth – whichever comes first. This will come in handy, however, as the service is far from cheap. The yearly plan is the best option for the moment, even if it’s still a pricey subscription compared to rival VPNs. The packages available are:

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