P2P filesharing now accounts for nearly half of all internet traffic. Unfortunately, being a P2P user can be risky – even if everything you’re doing is legal. In this article, we’ll cover the key characteristics a quality VPN should have, and go over the four top services designed with P2P users in mind. We’ll also explain what P2P file sharing is, what the risks are, how a VPN can help you mitigate these risks and stay safe offline.
Why you need a VPN to use P2P filesharing
A VPN service does 2 things. First, it encrypts your data in a way that nobody else can read. This means that with a VPN, you can use P2P filesharing to your heart’s content without anyone ever knowing. Even if the government or your ISP do get their hands on some of your data, they’ll be unable to decipher it or link it to P2P filesharing. Second, a VPN service masks your real IP. Since every data packet you send is usually linked to a static IP address from your provider, this makes it extremely difficult to trace any online activity back to you.
Which VPN features do you need?
Some features are more important than others when you’re using a VPN. These are:
- Zero-logging – logging is when an internet service provider or VPN service tracks and saves your online activities. The best VPNs don’t log much (if any) data, making it impossible for third parties to ask for records of past online actions.
- Strong encryption – the best VPNs encrypt your data so nobody can view it without knowing a specific passcode. This means that you can use P2P file sharing without anyone ever being able to prove it. Conversely, poor VPNs don’t encrypt your data, making it easy for the government or your ISP to snoop on you.
- No bandwidth limits – many free VPNs shut your connection off or slow it down once you’ve hit a specific download limit. The best VPNs don’t have any bandwidth limits, meaning you can download as much as you want.
- Large server network size – free VPNs have servers in one or several countries, which can make P2P connections slow and laggy. Top VPNs have servers in dozens of countries, making it easy to get fast connections no matter where your peer network is.
- Permissive P2P policy – some providers are against P2P filesharing applications. Before you subscribe to a service, make sure it’s P2P friendly. This will help you avoid laggy connections and low speeds.
Now that we’ve covered what you should look for in a VPN, let’s talk about specific service providers that are best for P2P filesharing.
The best VPNs for P2P filesharing
Different VPNs fit different use cases. The same service that’s outstanding for gamers may not be the best for streamers, for example. Or you might live in a country like Panama, where you can get in trouble for merely having some temporary media files in your computer’s RAM, making security a priority over speed. What’s more, many VPN providers block or restrict P2P activities on their servers.
It’s clear there are a lot of variables at play. We’ve narrowed down the market for you, bringing together this list of the top four recommended VPN providers for P2P filesharing:
ExpressVPN is our #1 choice for P2P users for several reasons. First, the network has no restrictions on P2P connections of any kind. Whether you’re using P2P Kodi add-ons, torrenting files or doing something else entirely, you’re more than welcome to do so. What’s more, in our ExpressVPN review, we found the service to be among the fastest in the market. Subscribers enjoy buffer-free streaming, fast downloads, seamless browsing and more. Getting started is easy too, regardless of your IT skills and experience. The lightweight apps work on all common device types, from iPhones to Android tablets to desktop computers (macOS/Windows/Linux) to video game consoles and routers. The interface is intuitive, with everything you need always a click away.
ExpressVPN is also tough on security. Neither your ISP nor your government nor third-party corporations can track you when you use this service properly. The first reason is ExpressVPN’s use of military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, which is virtually unbreakable. The second is the service’s comprehensive zero-logging policy: one of the most complete in the business. Third is the fact that the service comes with a DNS leak test, which helps make sure your ISP can’t track you, and an automatic kill switch: a feature that shuts down your P2P streams and downloads when your VPN connection drops.
To top it all off, the service is registered in the British Virgin Islands: a country exempt from the 5, 9 and 14 Eye surveillance agreements between major governments. In short, if you’re looking for a P2P filesharing VPN, ExpressVPN is an all-around excellent choice.
Learn more in our full ExpressVPN review.
If you live in a country like Panama or the US, where the response to P2P file sharing can be disproportionate, you might want some extra security – and that’s where NordVPN comes in. The service uses VPN 256-bit AES encryption, which would take a supercomputer quadrillions of years to crack, to protect your data packets. It also offers a selection of premium specialty servers, including obfuscated servers that hide your VPN use – and P2P-optimized servers that are perfect for torrenting and P2P streaming.
NordVPN’s no-logging policy is one of the best in the whole business. The service doesn’t log traffic, IP addresses, timestamps, bandwidth or browsing history. Even if your ISP or government finds a way to pressure the company – which would be hard – there’s simply nothing to access. As a cool add-on NordVPN also has a built-in ad blocker and malware protector, which you can use to make sure you’re safe when using P2P services and apps. For all these reasons, NordVPN is another top choice when it comes to P2P filesharing.
If you’d like to know more, simply read our 2018 NordVPN review to learn all about the service’s speed, security and P2P download features.
CyberGhost offers a lot of P2P-friendly features in one of the most user-friendly packages in the business. The applications that come with the service are easy to download and install. A colorful, minimalist user interface design makes it easy to access all the features you need with just one click. What’s more, the app has 6 simple configuration profiles that make it very simple to get the features you need. For example, the Torrent Anonymously setting is optimized for P2P filesharing. This way, installing CyberGhost and getting ready for secure P2P filesharing only takes minutes.
In addition to being easy to use, CyberGhost has a large server network: 2,700+ servers in over 60 countries. This means that users get fast downloads no matter where the users and servers in their P2P network are. The service also offers users 5 encryption protocols, from speedy UDP to mobile-compatible L2TP/IPSec. There’s also a range of simple toggles, including block malicious websites; block ads; extra speed. You can use these to protect your device while using P2P services, and to get a little extra speed when you want to download anything quickly.
If you’d like to learn more about this service, you can do so in our full review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN has a wide range of valuable features included in all of its subscriptions. Users get up to 6 simultaneous connections, meaning you can use P2P apps on your smartphone, desktop computer and tablet and other devices simultaneously. Bandwidth, speed and server switches are all unlimited. There’s a free remote set-up service that covers all devices, including routers and video game consoles. Best of all, PrivateVPN is P2P-friendly, both for downloads and streams.
In addition to all these extras, PrivateVPN covers all the bases when it comes to core features. It features 2048-bit encryption that known computers could only crack through sheer luck. The zero-logging policy is strong. The server network spans 52 countries, meaning connections are fast no matter where you and your P2P network are. There’s also a port forwarding feature that can be used to optimize torrent performance. All in all, PrivateVPN is a good torrent for P2P filesharing.
Learn more about this outstanding VPN in our PrivateVPN review.
What is P2P filesharing?
Let’s start by definiing what P2P filesharing is. The “P2P” stands for peer-to-peer, but for the purpose of this article, you can think of it as “person to person”. Filesharing refers to letting others stream or download the files you own. The most famous P2P filesharing apps are probably Napster and eMule. Today, most P2P filesharing happens through torrent clients and apps like PopcornTime and Kodi. While there is nothing inherently wrong with filesharing, it can be used to misappropriate copyrighted content – and as a result, using P2P websites like The Pirate Bay can lead to fines and unpleasant phonecalls from government officials.
Despite this, statistics suggest that P2P traffic accounts for 46% of all internet traffic. This means that you’re either going to use it sooner or later, or miss out on nearly half of what’s online. Fortunately for you, there’s a way to use P2P filesharing without getting in trouble. Getting a Virtual Private Network service – a VPN – can encrypt your data and hide your real IP address from the government, your Internet Service Provider and everyone else.
How to be safe when using P2P services
As we said above, there’s nothing inherently illegal or wrong with using P2P services. At the same time, you ought to be aware of the fact that you’re sharing files with other people, many of whom are anonymous. This means that you need to protect yourself from malware, viruses, and other harmful files you might download by accident. You should also look to protect yourself from governments, many of whom look to punish P2P users – even when they’re not doing anything illegal or harmful. Here are some of the main risks to watch out for:
- Government monitoring – as we said above, governments often punish P2P users regardless of whether they did anything wrong. Simply installing a torrent client can make you a target for government surveillance or ISP tracking. If you’re going to use P2P filseharing, it’s important to make sure you’re safe from prying eyes.
- Harmful files – malware and viruses can do all kinds of unpleasant things. They can harness your computer’s processing power for criminal activities; harvest and sell your personal data; destroy your hardware and software; even view your online activities and steal your private information, your credit card numbers, etc. Using P2P filesharing safely means having a way to pre-empt and deal with these problems.
- Copyright infringement – the legality of P2P filesharing varies from file to file and country to country. Broadly speaking, much of what you’ll find is in the public domain; a lot isn’t protected by copyright laws; some is shared by the content creators themselves. Also, if you own whatever you’re downloading, you’re allowed to torrent it. Unfortunately, many governments will still seek to punish you for using P2P services, even if you’re not doing anything wrong. Finding ways to stay anonymous while online is the best way to deal with this specific problem. Fortunately, a VPN can help address all of these issues by doing 2 things.
By this point in the article, you know what P2P filesharing is – and why it can be dangerous to torrent or stream P2P files without a VPN. You also know what to look for in a VPN, how a VPN helps stay anonymous and safe, and which service providers are the best on the market. You now know everything you need to register with, install and use an excellent VPN.
If you’d like to leave a tip, comment or question, please use the form below to do so!