Here are the Steps on How to Torrent Safely & Anonymously
This is a shorter version of our extremely popular page, How to Download Torrents Anonymously, which is a little long for some people. Below is a briefer version of the same techniques on how to torrent safely.
Follow the steps below for anonymous torrenting and to prevent your torrent activities from being detected or monitored.
1. Use a Reliable Torrent VPN to Hide your True IP Address
The single most important step to take is to use a reliable VPN (virtual private network) provider that fully supports torrents and understands the specific needs of torrent users.
There are dozens of VPN services now available but only a handful of them cater to torrent users AND can be fully trusted. Our recommended torrent VPN Private Internet Access (or “PIA” for short) is well established, reliable, cheap and trusted by torrent file-sharing community champions such as TorrentFreak and Lifehacker.
Do NOT be tempted to use ToR (The Onion Router) or “free” VPNs or proxies for torrent file-sharing. Tor is great for anonymous web browsing, but is not suitable at all for torrenting. Some free VPN services are fine for certain activities, such as public Wi-Fi hotspot protection, but not torrenting. And free proxies are best avoided altogether.
For a few bucks a month, it’s worth going with a premium VPN service that has staked its business and reputation on keeping your torrent activities private. You can even pay anonymously (psst, PIA VPN accepts anonymous payments by major brand gift cards).
2. Use an IP Blocker to Prevent Connecting with Unfriendly IP Addresses
You will see some debate about how necessary this step is, but we like to think of it as insurance. Plus, it’s free. For example, although it’s only anecdotal evidence, over the years we have been using PeerBlock (free) together with a number of different VPNs and have never once received a warning of any kind.
3. Always Confirm that your True IP Address is Actually being Hidden Before Torrenting
Once you know how, it only takes 30 seconds (or less) to confirm that your true IP address is not being transmitted when downloading or sharing torrents. Our detailed materials about torrent IP checks will walk you through it, but basically you’ll keep a test torrent loaded in your app that you can quickly check every time at “check torrent ip” type sites to make sure that your true IP address isn’t transmitting or leaking.
Once you’ve confirmed everything is OK, you can download and share torrents in full confidence that you are truly protected. Needless to say, the few seconds that this check takes is worth it!
4a. Avoid Traffic Analysis by Staying Anonymous for Related Web Browsing Activities
There’s little sense protecting your IP address while torrenting to only then afterwards download or browse related content unprotected. For example, if you download a video while hiding your IP address and then later download a subtitle file for the same video while unprotected, these activities could be correlated, linked and lead back to you. Plus, the more you do this the more likely the snoops can establish these links.
The solution is simple: as you’ve signed up for a quality and trusted VPN anyway, keep it active for all your online activities related to your torrenting. Or use Tor for web browsing related to your anonymous torrenting.
4b. Avoid Traffic Analysis by Keeping out of Your Online Accounts While Downloading Torrents
Similar to 4a above, you should also avoid signing in to any accounts while downloading torrents. If you sign into your personal webmail account while downloading torrents, this risks directly linking the IP address that the VPN assigned to you for that session to you.
An example will help: you activate your torrent VPN and it gives you a protected IP address. You start downloading torrents. While the torrents are downloading you merrily log into your Gmail, Facebook or other personal accounts. If the snoops are monitoring torrent activity and can establish that at the same time an IP address was downloading a torrent it was simultaneously logged into one or more of your personal accounts, they’ve pretty much got you red handed.
Notice in this case that the snoops only need access to the logs of your personal account (Gmail, Facebook etc) so even if your VPN doesn’t keep logs (good VPNs don’t), your torrenting activities can still be revealed through this kind of traffic analysis.
5a. Encrypt your Torrents, Downloads and Related Files
If your circumstances warrant and you are worried about the amount or type of torrent materials on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, take the extra step of using encryption. This protects your devices from snoops that have or gain access to your stuff, whether of the casual variety (someone you share the device with) to more hardcore snooping elements.
5b. Eliminate the Traces Left Behind by your Torrent Activities
Even if you encrypt your torrent-related materials, your computer and other devices will still leave traces of them behind in all kinds of nooks and crannies. To eliminate even this trace or residual risk, use a privacy clearing app such as CCleaner (free) that will clean up after you and sweep up these traces for good.
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Now that you know about how to torrent safely, explore related topics to increase your privacy and be anonymous online.
- How to Choose a Torrent VPN Anonymizing Service
- Recommended Torrent VPN: Private Internet Access (Our Review)
- Torrent Monitoring (Are Your Torrent File-sharing Activities Being Monitored?)