Using a proxy (vs a VPN) is another way to torrent anonymously
Although in general we recommend using a torrent-friendly VPN for your anonymous torrent file-sharing needs, below is our recommended BitTorrent proxy provider. The difference between a proxy and a VPN is explained further down the page.
Best Proxy for BitTorrent: TorGuard
TorGuard (select ‘Proxy’ from the menu at the top) offers a very attractively-priced torrent proxy server package. TorGuard’s proxy service is specifically tailored for torrent users and costs less than $4 per month for an annual subscription (a massive 33% discount off the regular $5.95 month-to-month price).
Strictly No Logging
Privacy-conscious torrenters will take careful note that TorGuard has a strict no logging policy. No user session logs or traffic logs, period. In their words this means it’s “impossible to back trace usage“.
Stable, Fast and Unlimited
TorGuard’s proxy service is also well-known for stable performance, fast download speeds and unlimited speeds. You can double-check on TorGuard’s reliability and reputation for yourself at other trusted sources such as TorrentFreak and Reddit.
Easy Set Up
They have also made the setup process a breeze providing a “one-click” solution: download and install their small app and it will automatically set up the proxy with your torrent client, whether µtorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze or Deluge.
Lots of Proxy Servers
Furthermore, once launched, the app will suggest the best proxy server location you should use (among the 200+ proxy IPs in 8+ countries) for the best anonymous BitTorrent proxy experiences possible.
Anonymous Payments Accepted
Lastly, ultra-safe torrenters will appreciate that TorGuard accepts over 80 ways to pay including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as well as major brand prepaid gift cards for those wanting to make payments “anonymously” and not hand over any personal information.
Proxy vs VPN
The two main ways to achieve anonymity while torrent file-sharing are to use a BitTorrent proxy or a VPN that supports torrents. Some years ago proxies were the most common way of achieving torrent anonymity, but now torrent-supporting VPNs are the norm. However, a dedicated SOCKS proxy may still appeal to you.
A Brief Introduction to BitTorrent Proxies
A BitTorrent proxy is sometimes referred to as a SOCKS proxy. SOCKS is the name of a proxy protocol and derives its name from the fact that it uses sockets to keep track of individual connections. Sockets are a way computer networks communicate and that is all you need to know about them for now.
As with other types of proxies, including web proxies (HTTP), a SOCKS proxy places another Internet server between your computer (or device) and those you connect to. This means that the torrent peers (fellow file-sharers) you connect to will see transfers to and from your proxy server rather than your true IP address. This adds an important layer of protection against snoops trying to monitor your torrent activities.
Differences between a VPN and a Proxy
Both a VPN and a proxy alike will hide your IP address and protect your connection by preventing your ISP from detecting your torrent file-sharing activities. However, the two main differences between proxies and VPNs have to do with how they connect and encryption.
How Each Connects
The first main difference between VPNs vs proxies is that a VPN effects your entire Internet connection while a proxy lets you select the apps that use it.
- Top Tip – There are VPNs that will let you split your connection, such as PureVPN, but it’s a rare feature (read our ‘VPN split tunneling’ article)
There can be advantages to cherry-picking which apps are routed through your protected proxy connection. For example, this can allow you to route µtorrent through the proxy but leave your web browsing routed through your ISP as normal. This would let you access your online accounts such as email or social media while at the same time protecting your torrenting activities.
This can be an important advantage because by accessing your accounts with the same IP address as you are sharing torrents this exposes you to traffic analysis with the two activities being matched up (by the same IP address at the same time) and linked to your identity.
With a proxy you can log in to your password protected accounts while sharing torrents because the two activities have different IP addresses at the same time. Generally, this is not possible with a VPN and means you should refrain from accessing your accounts while torrenting or expose yourself to being identified through traffic analysis.
Admittedly, this kind of traffic analysis is not common, at least not yet. But some people still like to split their connection among apps by using a proxy. If for no other reason you won’t be directed to foreign language start pages when visiting sites such as Google and Amazon as happens when you use a VPN. 🙂
Another difference is encryption. Many commentators seize on the fact that “Egad, proxies are not encrypted!“. Technically this is true, but because a proxy establishes a direct connection to you that is independent from your ISP, encryption is not (as) necessary. The proxy works alongside, not inside, your ISP connection, by creating its own connection.
A VPN is encrypted but that’s because it works inside your existing ISP connection, through a tunnel it creates within the existing connection.
In other words, the bottom line is that the SOCKS proxy technology (like that offered by TorGuard Proxy above) is safe and reliable for torrenting. The proxy will prevent your ISP from detecting your torrent file-sharing activities and being tempted to slow down your connection.
Carefully Choose your BitTorrent Proxy
Connections speeds vary between proxy services and can depend on a number of factors including the technology used, the overall load, and the geographical distance from your location to the proxy and to peers, so choose your BitTorrent proxy carefully.
You should only sign up with reliable and reputable torrent proxy services – no fly-by night operations if you want to keep your torrenting safe.