Whether you’re torrenting or just surfing the web, your IP address is one of the biggest vulnerabilities to your privacy and security.
But what the heck is an IP address, anyways? And is there any way to protect or change it?
We’ll explain exactly how to change your IP address for torrenting – and everything else you need to know – in this quick guide.
What is an IP Address?
In simple terms, an IP address (or “Internet Protocol”) is a string of numbers assigned to your computer or device to help identify it. Just like your email address lets you send and receive email, your IP address allows you to send and receive data.
These numbers aren’t random. In fact, they’re assigned to your device by a division of ICANN. And they consist of four numbers between 0 and 255, each separated by a period.
Why Should You Change Your IP Address?
But what’s the big deal about IP addresses? After all, everyone has one, right?
There are two main concerns:
1. Using your real IP address allows websites and online businesses, like Facebook or Google, to invade your privacy by tracking you around the internet and using this to create a profile of your online activities. Creepy.
2. Using your real IP address when torrenting allows copyright trolls and other snoopers to connect what you download to your computer or device – and thus to you. This can come back to bite you right in the butt in the form of warning letters, lawsuits, or other troubles.
So, whether you’re engaged in more sensitive activities online or simply value your privacy, changing your IP address regularly will place a strong layer of protection between you and nosy parties who want to dig through your personal life.
Can You Hide Your IP Address Completely?
You might have seen talk about “hiding” an IP address, but this is a bit misleading. Because you can’t actually hide your IP completely.
You must display an IP address when connecting to the internet. But you can, in effect, “hide” your real IP address by using a new IP that’s unconnected to your own. You’ll still technically have an IP address, it just won’t be one that gives away your real identity.
We’ll tell you how to do that below.
How to Change Your IP Address When Torrenting
While there are several ways to (temporarily) change your IP address, only two of them are truly viable for torrenting.
1. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
The easiest and most effective way to change your IP for torrenting is a VPN or virtual private network. Not only can you change your IP address an unlimited number of times, all with a click of a button, but it’ll also encrypt your traffic.
Pro Tip: Be careful what you do with your “new” IP. For instance, you shouldn’t log into personal accounts, like your email or online banking, when connected to the same IP address you’re using for torrenting. It’s better to disconnect or switch servers to keep these activities separate.
Now, a seedbox won’t actually change your computer’s IP address. Rather, it’ll send your torrent activity to another device completely.
The seedbox downloads the torrent through P2P, and then you download it from the seedbox. This option is a little more complicated – and not as versatile as a VPN – but many torrenters swear by it.
What about proxies and Tor?
Yes, proxies and Tor can be used to change your IP address. However, they both have distinct disadvantages for torrenting.
Proxies do change your IP but don’t encrypt your traffic. Meaning that your ISP and even third-parties can still see that you’re torrenting and even what you’re downloading.
Tor is a great tool for general online privacy but it’s too slow for torrenting. In fact, the Tor developers ask people NOT to use their service for torrenting, since it places too much strain on their limited network.
How to Change Your IP Address for Torrenting: Wrap-Up
In short, a reliable VPN, like PIA VPN, is the easiest and most effective way to change your IP address, whether you’re torrenting or just protecting your privacy. But there are other options, like seedboxes, proxies, and Tor.
And there really aren’t many disadvantages to changing your IP address, other than the occasional CAPTCHA or other login verification. But it’ll drastically increase your privacy and security.