Last Updated: May 12, 2021
Every time you download a torrent through exposed and unprotected internet connections, you put yourself at risk—a lot of it. Torrenting is all fun and games until your data lands in the hands of hackers.
What’s worse, torrent files can infringe upon copyright laws and you might end up paying a hefty fine. There’s a solution that can get you through all your torrenting hurdles, however. We’ll guide you through them step by step and show you how to torrent safely and safeguard your personal information against unwanted breaches.
Torrenting for Dummies
Torrenting is a method of file sharing through a P2P network, meaning that you can download and upload files from and to a significant number of users like you. Torrent downloads took off with the advent of broadband internet, making it possible for users to download and upload larger and all types of data faster.
However, like with all things in life, nothing is actually free. Namely, torrents are mainly associated with the following threats:
- Malware. A torent download can contain undetectable malware content—everything from viruses to ransomware—which can easily open a doorway for hackers to access your device and cut you off from it and your connections. However, you can always install an antivirus to scan your files for any threats.
- Hacks. Since your IP address is exposed to everyone when you’re downloading torrents, your data will become vulnerable to activity, location and identity breaches from hackers.
- Data safety. Torrents can be a way for hackers to look for loopholes to access and gather sensitive data, like your banking information.
- Copyright issues. Torrenting has turned out to be the forbidden fruit of file sharing since internet service providers and copyright owners can trace your IP address back to you without a hitch. Even if you accidentally download copyrighted material, the owners can actually obtain your data from the ISP and slap you with fines.
- ISP throttling. Downloading torrents can take up much more bandwidth than regular internet use. Therefore, if your ISP notices that you’re doing it, it might limit the speed and bandwidth of all your online activities.
How to Stream Torrented Movies
You can use a torrent to download movies but also to stream them. Streaming a film means that you can watch it before it’s fully downloaded. These torrent sites often contain flicks, TV series and other videos that may be restricted in your country. Make sure that you’re using safe torrent sites and that the content you’re streaming is legal.
Since most torrent clients aren’t streaming-enabled, there are many torrent streaming sites like WebTorrent Desktop, ROX Player, Soda Player, Webtor, etc., that offer this option. Some don’t use external clients, so you can directly copy a torrent’s magnet URL and paste it to the streaming website. Bear in mind that some of these streaming sites won’t support all media formats, so make sure first to check the file extension of the video you’re about to stream.
How to Open a Torrent
Things can get a bit perplexing if you aren’t an expert in torrenting/file sharing. So, if you want to make the most out of a torrent’s download, you’ll have to learn how to open a torrent file. The most common type you’ll come across is the one with the .torrent extension.
First and foremost, you’ll need to download a torrent client. uTorrent and BitTorrent are among the most popular ones. Once you’ve downloaded the software of your choice, you’ll need to configure it. Start by:
- Choosing whether or not you want your torrent client to launch when your computer boots up.
- Selecting a file destination for your downloads.
- Allowing UPnP port mapping so that you’ll get the fastest download speeds.
- Limiting the bandwidth allocation to control the download and upload rates.
Lastly, when you get the file from torrent download sites, you can just double-click it, and it’ll start downloading. When it’s finished, you can go ahead and open your file. The most commonly used torrent file types are video, ISO, EXE, and ZIP files.
Is Torrenting Legal?
Is torrenting illegal in the UK? While torrenting through a P2P network in itself is legal if you only have a torrent client and use it as a private file sharing method, streaming, uploading and downloading copyrighted content is entirely illegal. Still, no one in the UK has ever been prosecuted for this type of internet activity, and it isn’t considered a serious crime.
Do I Need to Hide My IP Address When Torrenting?
Your ISP can track your internet activity, which can easily lead to your IP address being exposed. If you don’t use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or any other privacy tool that would hide downloads from your ISP, you might land yourself in trouble since copyright holders can obtain your IP address from your provider.
How to Tell if a Torrent Is Being Tracked
Every file you download through a torrent client is connected to a tracker. That tracker contains data about every user (peer) who has that file, like your IP address and every bit that each peer has. If you look at a torrent client’s features, you can see that the torrent you’re downloading contains details about it, and the IP addresses of the peers are there for everyone to see.
All torrent trackers are based on one central server, easily tracked by anyone, anywhere. Essentially, when they find your IP address, they can simply link it to your actual physical address and find out your name instantly.
Again, if you want to download torrents without your ISP knowing, you’ll need to get protection for your IP address. By far, VPNs offer the most acceptable file sharing security methods with dedicated servers just for torrenting.
Best Torrenting Sites
Finding the best torrent site can be challenging, and it can be hard to know where to start since these websites constantly change their names and URLs. That said, we’ve put together a list of the top sites from which you can download torrents for free. Make sure to install an antivirus and malware scanner or a VPN for an extra layer of security.
The Pirate Bay
Probably one of the most popular torrenting sites, The Pirate Bay, or commonly known as TPB, offers a seemingly endless variety of torrents that range from movies to operating systems. The Pirate Bay site has scores of users (peers), which is why it’s many people’s preferred torrenting website. To ensure safe torrents, TPB marks reliable and VIP peers with pink and green skulls.
This site uses magnet links to connect directly to your torrent client, so downloading is pretty straightforward. The Pirate Bay interface is simple to use, and even though there are pop-up ads, they’re all displayed around the perimeter of the page. In addition, the average download speed that we got on this site was 6.2 Mbps. If the official TPB website isn’t working or loading, try getting your torrent from the following mirrors: thepiratebay.vip, thepiratebay.rocks or thepirate-bay.org.
RARBG is one of the best working torrent sites, known to peers for being the oldest of them all. It started as a tracker in Bulgaria and has gained popularity through its extensive community, lots of seeding, and tons of high-quality content.
Like The Pirate Bay, its interface is user-friendly, and every torrent file contains details about its contents, like screenshots from the film, so that you can check out the resolution before you download it, for example. The average speed on this website was 6.1 Mbps.
Unfortunately, RARBG is banned in many countries, and that includes the UK as well. However, despair not, since a VPN can help you circumvent these barriers and get a torrent unblocked.
Like RARBG, 1337x is one of the greybeards among torrent download sites. It’s provided users with all sorts of torrents for 14 years now, and recently it was revamped for a more streamlined and easier-to-use interface. In addition to this makeover, 1337x has made browsing much more accessible and offered users thumbnail posters of the movies, ratings, comments and related torrents.
For us, downloading a torrent from it with a magnet link was super easy, at an average speed of 4.2 Mbps. However, beware of the tacky ads and notifications since they can get quite bothersome.
If you love to read and watch anime content, then this torrent site will be the right fit for you. Torlock offers various high-quality reading and video anime material, making it a favourite among otakus. Furthermore, this website provides peers with a huge variety of music files that are hard to find elsewhere.
The average speed that we got from Torlock was 4.4 Mbps. Note that this site has a lot of porn ads, so you might want to install an ad-blocker before visiting it.
YTS is one of the websites dedicated exclusively to downloading movies, offering top torrents in this category. What makes it so unique and popular with torrent users is that it provides them with superior releases of movies that have just come out.
Despite the HQ video material and an average speed of 3.2 Mbps, YTS makes torrents small in size, so they won’t clog up your bandwidth at all. We enjoyed the modern interface with thumbnails, and it was pretty hassle-free to use.
How to Torrent Safely
Why Do You Need a VPN for Torrenting?
The most common and secure way to protect yourself while torrenting is to use a VPN. Not only will it hide your IP address, but it’ll also cover your tracks when it comes to your ISP. The way a VPN works is that it encrypts all of the activity and data you put online, entirely through dedicated servers located far from your actual location. This makes it difficult for your ISP to track your internet activities, whether it’s website visits or downloading/streaming. Torrenting without a VPN might work for people when it’s legal, but using one is highly recommended for users in places where downloading torrents is blocked.
What to Look For When You’re Getting a VPN for Torrenting
Picking the first VPN that a Google search spits out might not do the job. These are some of the crucial factors to look for when getting a VPN for anonymous torrenting:
- Speed. You don’t want a VPN that would sabotage torrent download and upload speeds. Therefore, choose a VPN that has less speed loss on local and overseas servers.
- P2P servers. Check to see if the VPN you’ll be using has dedicated servers for P2P that will make torrenting far easier.
- Protocols. VPN protocols aren’t the same thing as VPNs. They’re a safe pathway that helps a VPN to send your data through encrypted tunnels.
- Kill switch. A “kill switch” will stop all of your internet activity if your VPN connection drops out of nowhere. This will prevent your torrent files from being registered by third parties.
- No-logs policy. A no-logs policy is an essential feature of any VPN, meaning that it doesn’t keep records of anything you do online. This includes IP addresses, downloads, visits, or any other data.
- Split tunnelling. This feature will enable you to direct your internet traffic where you want it to go—through the VPN connection or unprotected through your regular network.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
Choosing the best VPN for torrenting must be done right so that there are no consequences later on. We’ve compiled the top VPNs that enable torrenting, and here are our suggestions:
If you’re looking for a torrent VPN that will give you high speeds, remarkable security and privacy features with no limit on data usage, then NordVPN is the way to go. It offers VPN users more than 5,000 servers in ~60 countries, including dedicated servers in torrent-safe countries. Both the mobile and desktop NordVPN apps are user-friendly, making it easy for users to find these dedicated servers. The larger a VPN’s server base, the lower the traffic and the faster the speed. You can check out our thorough speed test in our NordVPN review.
NordVPN provides superb security and privacy features, which will undoubtedly do the job of masking your torrenting well. It has 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, two kill switches, and CyberSec suite built-in protection from all sorts of malware and trackers. Additionally, NordVPN can bypass certain geographically restricted streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. On top of that, you can connect this VPN to 6 devices simultaneously.
Last but not least, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to simply try out NordVPN with torrent files and see if this service will work for you in the long run.
ExpressVPN and torrent downloads are a match made in heaven since it’ll keep you safe at all times. It has more than 3,000 servers in over 90 countries. This VPN operates special, dedicated servers for torrenting through a highly advanced P2P network.
This VPN has TrustedServer technology which acts as a no-logs policy, meaning that none of the data you put on the net will be stored in any way, shape or form. ExpressVPN won’t disclose anything you do on the internet to your ISP or the authorities. Not even the VPN will know whether you’re downloading, streaming or surfing the dark web. The torrents download speeds on ExpressVPN were outstanding since we didn’t experience any interruptions on any server we tested.
As far as security and privacy features go, ExpressVPN has the gold standard of encryption methods, i.e. 256-bit AES encryption with a built-in DNS/IPv6 leak protection, which will ensure that nothing goes outside of the VPN connection and out to third parties. It also provides VPN users with Network Lock, a kill switch for compromised and dropped connections.
ExpressVPN will unblock the major streaming services and has a 30-day refund guarantee so that you can try it out risk-free.
If you’re a bit skint but still want to download a torrent with a VPN, then Surfshark might be an excellent choice for you. With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries and unlimited simultaneous connections at exceptional speeds, this VPN enables lag- and buffer-free torrenting and streaming.
Surfshark offers AES-256 encryption with multi-hop, kill switch and split tunnelling features. All of these ingredients guarantee safe, anonymous and secure torrenting. Additionally, Surfshark has a CleanWeb feature that will eliminate all ads and shield against any malware content, making torrenting easier and neater. Probably the option that wowed us most when we were torrenting was Camouflage Mode, which will hide your VPN connection from your ISP.
The interface and phone apps themselves are straightforward and user-friendly, which VPN rookies will appreciate. What’s more, if you’re experiencing any problems with torrents not downloading with this VPN, you can always contact Surfshark’s customer service via live chat or email or read the FAQ page.
Moreover, Surfshark offers low-price bundles, but you can also try it out at practically no cost due to its 30-day refund policy.
CyberGhost is another fabulous choice for anonymous torrenting since it implements privacy and security features of the highest standards. As a high-speed VPN with an impressive over 6,000 servers in close to 90 countries, CyberGhost will definitely allow you to torrent without a care in the world.
Out of its servers, 80 are P2P-enabled, and it also offers a Torrent Anonymously profile, making it easier for users to choose which one will work best for them based on the speed, number of users and distance. On top of that, you can connect seven different devices to it at the same time.
With its 256-bit AES encryption and 2,048-bit RSA keys, this VPN will ensure that its optimised P2P network encrypts all online activity, whether it’s torrenting, streaming or browsing. Additionally, CyberGhost has various security protocols for you to choose from, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP. It also has DNS and IPv6 leak protection, which has proved to be a highly functional approach to privacy and security.
If your preferred torrents won’t download with this VPN, CyberGhost has a reliable customer support service that will respond within minutes. What’s more, CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, but only if you sign up for six months or more, and a 14-day refund if you opt for the one-month subscription.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (or PIA for short) will grant your torrenting wishes at an extremely low price and give you unlimited bandwidth via 35,640+ servers in 78 countries. Despite being an affordable VPN, PIA uses high-quality security and privacy features with download and upload speeds that won’t let you down, in addition to being able to hide downloads from your ISP.
If, by any chance, your torrenting speed isn’t exactly what you’d expected, you can use the port forwarding feature, which can speed up the download and upload of larger files. Additionally, you can connect PIA to as many as 10 devices simultaneously.
Just like other great VPNs, PIA uses the AES 256-bit encryption with various security protocols to choose from, including OpenVPN and a SOCKS5 proxy. Private Internet Access has a no-logs policy, IPv6 and DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch that will spare no effort in getting you the security and privacy you need. Moreover, it has malware protection and an ad-blocker, which are vital factors when torrenting.
Lastly, PIA provides a 30-day full refund guarantee if you feel like it just isn’t the VPN for you.
More Tips on How to Torrent Safely
Your VPN alone can provide you with the protection you need when you’re torrenting. If you want to be extra safe, however, here are some additional tips:
- Get an antivirus programme. Since torrent files can contain malware, it’s best to use an antivirus to monitor the files you’re downloading. We recommend that you stay away from EXE and BAT files since they’re more susceptible to viruses.
- Do prior research on torrents. Those with a lot of seeders are more likely to be safe and legit torrents. Furthermore, you can check if the torrent website has a comment section where people have shared their experience with the torrent you’re downloading and find answers to the question “are these torrents safe?”.
- Opt for legal torrenting. If you want to avoid getting into trouble with copyright owners, it’s best to stick with legal torrents, which can contain free indie movies and music, open-source software, and content that’s in the public domain.
- Configure your torrent client properly. File sharing can’t be done simply through your browser. You have to use a torrent client that’s safe and has built-in encryption that will obscure your torrenting from your ISP. All of this can be configured manually in your torrent client’s settings.
Final Bits & Pieces
Many file-sharing newbies are reluctant to start torrenting since there can be some legal consequences. Nevertheless, there are sure-fire ways to torrent safely. The most important things to remember are always to use legit torrents and to download them from reliable websites. However, if you want to download other torrent content, it’s best to take extra security measures to ensure that you have high-level protection.
Hopefully, this handy guide has taught you everything you need to know about how to torrent safely.
Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers
How to hide your torrenting from your ISP?
Using a VPN for torrenting is an ideal security and privacy tool if you don’t want your ISP to figure out what you do on the internet.
Can you download a torrent with no seeders?
Not always. Since torrents go through a P2P network, they need seeds so that the file they’re sharing can actually be downloaded.
Is direct downloading safer than torrenting?
Direct downloads aren’t the same thing as torrents, and the site of origin will know your IP address and what you’re downloading.
What happens if you get caught torrenting?
This is all up to where you’re torrenting from and what type of torrents you’re downloading. If you’re downloading and uploading legal and private torrents, then nothing’s going to happen. On the other hand, if you aren’t meeting the copyright owners’ legal standards, you might face massive fines.
How to download magnet links?
If the torrent site offers the option of magnet links, they’re often tagged as “magnet download” or have a tiny magnet thumbnail next to them. You can click either one of these two, and the website will directly connect it to your torrent client, and the file will start downloading. Therefore, if you’re wondering how to torrent safely, it’s one of your best bets.