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How to Download Torrents Anonymously

Step-by-step details for anonymous torrenting. 

anonymous torrenting image

Psst. To download torrents anonymously use a VPN like Private Internet Access

Learn How to Achieve Anonymous Torrent File-sharing

Torrents can be downloaded in a few easy steps, but doing so anonymously means taking a few extra steps in the process. However, the extra steps are not difficult and are well worth the effort.

The most important step is to use a reliable torrent VPN that does not keep any logs. One of the best, Private Internet Access VPN, is also inexpensive at a mere $3.08/mo.

Any kind of interaction on the Internet, including torrent file-sharing and downloading, means sharing your device’s IP address, your unique online digital fingerprint. If you do not take steps to hide your IP address, your torrent downloading activities can be easily found out.

If snoops want to detect your IP address and track you down, they just need to share the same torrent as you and then monitor the activities of the swarm of torrent downloaders. This means that to download torrents anonymously you need, at a minimum, to hide your IP address so that outside parties cannot detect, snoop on or monitor your torrent activities.

The 3 Key Ingredients to Being Anonymous when Downloading Torrents

Using a reliable and trustworthy torrent VPN will 1) hide your true IP address, 2) use strong encryption to scramble and hide your torrent traffic and 3) keep no logs of your activities.

A reliable VPN acts as a shield and protects your torrent activities from being snooped on whether by your ISP wanting to throttle and shape your bandwidth or by outside parties eavesdropping on your connection to monitor your downloads.

While nothing can ever guarantee 100% anonymity, this combination of features makes it all but impossible for snoops to detect your true IP address, monitor your activities and track you down.

So to recap, to protect your torrent downloading you need a torrent VPN that:

  • masks your true IP address using its own proxy servers
  • encrypts your torrent traffic behind AES-256 bit (or higher) “military grade” technology 
  • keeps no logs of your customer activity when using the VPN

The torrent VPN providers we recommend below do all this and have got you covered. 

RANK

VPN

FEATURES

PRICE / DISCOUNT

MORE

#1

• no logs

• value priced

• very torrent-friendly

• money-back guarantee

 $3.08/mo 

7% exclusive discount

Review

#2

• no logs

• based outside USA

• double VPN

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$5.75/mo

($3.29 limited time!)

Review

#3

• no logs

• most servers

• fastest VPN

• money-back guarantee

$5.19/mo

20% exclusive discount

Review

#4

• no logs

• based outside USA

• fast downloads

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$8.32/mo

Review

Introduction to the Steps

The sections below explain in detail the steps to download torrents anonymously. We recommend that you use both an anonymizing torrent VPN service (step 1) and an IP address protection tool (step 2) when downloading and sharing torrents.

Step #1, using a torrent VPN, is mandatory: it is a “must”. Step #2, using an IP address protection tool, is an “optional” step but we believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, especially as it is completely free

If you make the informed choice not to take Step #2 and use an IP address protection tool, that’s OK. You can skip Step #2 and still enjoy safe torrenting by using a torrent VPN. But if you skip Step #1, and don't use a torrent VPN and instead rely only on an IP address protection tool, please understand that you will be compromising your privacy and will not be anonymous (your IP address could still easily be detected and monitored by snoops and your traffic won’t be encrypted). That may be fine for some people provided that they understand the trade-offs they are making.

The screenshots below were taken on a Windows desktop using the torrent client µTorrent. If you use a different computer or device, operating system, VPN or torrent client, your screens may look different, perhaps very different, but the same general concepts will apply almost universally.

Step 1: Start your Anonymous Torrent VPN (or Proxy)

The best way to hide your IP address is to use a specialized torrent anonymizing service. Generally speaking, this means either a torrent VPN or a BitTorrent proxy. The rest of this step will focus on using a torrent VPN as they are more versatile and offer better value for money than a BitTorrent proxy. If you like, read more about the differences between a VPN vs proxy.

When you use a reliable torrent VPN:

  1. your ISP will only see encrypted (scrambled) Internet traffic. Your torrent downloading will be hidden inside an encrypted tunnel of data directly between you and the VPN’s proxy servers. Your ISP will still be able to see the amount of data you are downloading, but not how you are downloading (via torrent file-sharing) or what it is you are downloading (movies, music, software, etc). The torrent VPN’s protection ensures your ISP cannot see your p2p file-sharing traffic.
    A good torrent VPN will have strong levels of encryption (256-bit and higher) and offer different "protocols" to choose from. Don’t worry too much about protocols: if you use OpenVPN and avoid PPTP you’ll be safe. Read more about VPN Protocols.
  2. outside snoops will not be able to monitor your torrent activities as they will be unable to link your torrent downloading and sharing to your true IP address. Every time you connect to the torrent VPN, your torrent file-sharing traffic will be routed through a masked IP address belonging to the VPN’s proxy servers rather than your ISP. To outside snoops, your torrenting will seem to be coming from an IP address and location that is totally different from your true ones. 🙂 Even if the snoops traced back your activities to the VPN servers, if your torrent VPN keeps no logs, the trial would end there and your torrent downloading remains anonymous and untraceable.
    A good torrent VPN will let you select the location of the proxy server handling your torrent connections. We like selecting non-US and non-EU countries when connecting to a proxy server for torrent file-sharing (for example, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Romania and Russia can be good choices depending on where you live).

Getting Started

Using a VPN to download torrents anonymously may sound intimidating, but many of these services are now easy to use. After paying for an account with the VPN provider and receiving a welcome email, it is usually as simple as downloading and installing a small app for your computer or device and then entering the username and password provided in the welcome email.

Top Tip – You can even pay anonymously for a torrent VPN by using Bitcoin or redeeming gift cards. The advantage of this is you do not reveal any personal information, even to the VPN provider. 

Connecting and Disconnecting

nordvpn ip address image

You should be able to see your masked IP address at-a-glance in your VPN's app (NordVPN shown)

Whichever anonymizing torrent VPN you decide to use, Connect to it before you open your torrent client software and start downloading and sharing any torrents.

torrent ip address

Note down your masked IP address for Step #3  (Private Internet Access VPN shown)

IPVanish ip address image

Any good torrent VPN will display your masked IP address (IPVanishVPN shown)

Advanced Torrent VPN Settings

Optionally, consider enabling any advanced settings supported by your torrent VPN provider. Some advanced settings are pictured below.

Some of these advanced protections are pictured and can include features such as a Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection, IPv6 Leak Protection and the type or strength of encryption to use from AES-256, AES-128, Blowfish or even None (for when you want the fastest download speeds possible).

If you are not technically-inclined, don't worry, just stick with our recommended torrent VPN's default settings and you will be fine.

Encryption Settings image

PIA has advanced encryption settings for its VPN apps

NordVPN app's advanced settings

IPVanish VPN Client Settings screenshot

IPVanish's advanced settings include a kill switch and DNS leak protection

Make a Note of Your New IP Address

Once connected, take note of your masked IP address as you will need it for step 3. By masked IP address we mean the IP address assigned to you by the torrent VPN provider after you connected to it. It should be easy for you to determine.

Any good torrent VPN will display the IP address assigned to you at any given time, usually right in the VPN app itself or your phone/tablet's main display, or sometimes by hovering your mouse over the VPN's icon in your computer's system tray. If your VPN provider doesn’t display your masked IP address, consider changing VPN providers. Seriously.

Another way to find out your masked IP address is to visit a ‘What’s My IP’ page like those found on dozens of websites including Cogipas.com at http://www.cogipas.com/whats-my-ip/.

Even though these sites only detect your IP address for web browsing (your IP address might be different while downloading torrents), that’s good enough for now. There are special tests for verifying your torrent IP which we cover in detail later in Step 3.

Do yourself a favor and use one of the best torrent VPN providers recommended below to make sure you are safe.

RANK

VPN

FEATURES

PRICE / DISCOUNT

MORE

#1

• no logs

• value priced

• very torrent-friendly

• money-back guarantee

 $3.08/mo 

7% exclusive discount

Review

#2

• no logs

• based outside USA

• double VPN

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$5.75/mo

($3.29 limited time!)

Review

#3

• no logs

• most servers

• fastest VPN

• money-back guarantee

$5.19/mo

20% exclusive discount

Review

#4

• no logs

• based outside USA

• fast downloads

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$8.32/mo

Review

Step 2: Start your IP Address Protection Tool (such as PeerBlock)

Although it is only optional that you use an IP address protection tool to help download torrents anonymously, these tools prevent “unfriendly” IP addresses from connecting with your computer or device.

An IP protection tool is an additional layer of armor in protecting your privacy. For Windows, we recommend PeerBlock (free).

These tools act similar to firewall software, but go one step further as they filter the IP addresses trying to connect to you against blacklisted IPs compiled by passionate torrent enthusiasts.

Figure

PeerBlock is protecting you from over 1 billion (with a ‘b') potentially unfriendly IP addresses

The blacklists that PeerBlock lets you choose from include those protecting you from IP addresses associated with snoops, spammers, spyware, educational institutions, governments and, of course, anti-torrent elements (called P2P in the lists). The first time you run PeerBlock you will be taken through a setup wizard. In addition to the P2P list, select any other lists of interest to you such as Spyware or Advertising.

The P2P lists are especially handy as they block the IP addresses of some organizations believed to be monitoring torrent downloads. In addition, you can easily add even more custom blacklists (many are free and some are premium) from resources such as I-Blocklist (pictured below).

iblocklist blacklisted torrent ips image

i-Blocklist has a number of IP address blacklists available including for free

Step 3: Confirm what IP Address your Torrent App is Transmitting

Now you can start your torrent client software whether qBitTorrent, Deluge, Vuze, µTorrent, Transmission, etc. But before you start enthusiastically downloading and sharing torrents, you should first check what IP address your torrent app is transmitting.

This is important because it’s possible that your web browsing is protected by a masked IP address but your torrenting leaks your true IP address. This can happen when your VPN or proxy doesn't fully support the torrent file-sharing p2p protocol.

Top Tip – Make your life easy and eliminate this risk by sticking with our recommended torrent VPN providers. Reliable, fast, inexpensive and with a money-back guarantee for your full peace of mind.

Whether you choose a different VPN provider or even if you go with one of our recommended torrent VPNs, it’s always good to double-check for yourself.

The best way to check what IP address your torrent app is transmitting is to undergo an IP check especially for torrenting. We recommend three ways you can perform a torrent IP check. As the instructions are rather detailed (and to keep this article a reasonable length) we present them in detail together with screenshots in a special post, Is My VPN Working?

By making sure that your torrent VPN (or proxy) is functioning and masking your true IP address you can be assured that snoops will not be able to detect your true IP address while monitoring torrent activities.

Whichever of our recommended torrent VPN tests you performed (or maybe you performed all of them), once you confirm your torrent VPN is working and transmitting a masked IP address and not your true one, you can be confident about downloading and sharing torrents (you can also now safely un-pause any torrents that were already loaded).

Step 4: Make Sure to Stay Anonymous When Searching for Torrents or Using Other Torrent-related Web Sites 

We know you are keen to start finding and downloading torrents, but there is an often overlooked tip that we need to tell you about. As a further precaution, ensure that you also hide your true IP address when visiting any websites related to your torrent activities. This includes websites such as torrent search indexing sites, torrent-related forums, movie subtitle archives, etc.

Many people fail to think about this and only focus on hiding their IP address when actually downloading torrents. But there is little sense taking the precautions outlined here to download torrents anonymously only to inadvertently reveal your true IP address while conducting activities related to your torrent downloading.

This can even be true when you are undertaking these related activities at a different time. For example, maybe last night you downloaded a movie torrent with your VPN enabled, but today you looked for its subtitles file without using your VPN.

Avoiding Traffic Analysis

With this in mind, you should also protect your torrent-related web browsing either by using the same VPN you use for torrents or using Tor (The Onion Router) which lets you browse the web anonymously for free (note that Tor does not support torrent file-sharing!).

Let's illustrate traffic analysis with another example. You search for a certain torrent on the web (perhaps using a major search engine) without anonymizing your web browsing. Those web searches are now “stamped” with your true IP address for any snoops to obtain and use. Maybe the snoops are monitoring and logging the IP address information to eavesdrop on you in real-time or maybe they are collecting this information to use it later, maybe even much later, in time. Or maybe they have set up a honeypot subtitle or torrent search site.

Whether thirty seconds or 2 days after you did those web searches, someone with a different IP address and who seemingly lives half-way across the globe starts downloading one or more of these torrents. Of course, that person is you but now you are downloading the torrents with your VPN enabled and using an entirely different IP address. Depending on how popular those torrents are, snoops can cross reference these two separate activities – the web searches and the torrent downloads – and still pinpoint or figure out that you are the same person.

It is very simple: X searched for Y, then Z started downloading Y, therefore downloader X must also be downloader Z.

Even for popular torrents that are being searched for and downloaded by thousands of people, you cannot hide in the crowd and avoid these cross-referencing techniques (called traffic analysis). In these more complicated cases, the conclusion to the formula above simply becomes: therefore X is more likely to be Z. But with enough cross references, this can be determined very accurately and the probability that X must be downloader Z can become almost a certainty.

Hopefully we have convinced you that it's also important to stay anonymous when engaging in any web browsing related to your torrent downloading activities. You don’t want to make it any easier for the snoops by taking steps to download torrents anonymously only to then give yourself away when performing related web browsing while unprotected.

In fact, you should browse the web anonymously with a VPN as much as possible to help prevent other privacy problems such as online tracking and profiling and to help avoid identity theft and doxing.

Final Step: Start to Download Torrents Anonymously!

Of all the steps, this is the easiest and most fun. 🙂 

The difference now is that your logless torrent VPN will be masking your true IP address and encrypting your connection. If using an IP address protection tool, it will also be shielding you from unfriendly snoops.

To get the most out of your torrenting experience, see our Tips on How to Find and Search for Torrents and read our other posts on Torrent File-sharing.

Top Tip – As you have gone to some trouble to protect yourself from online snoops, you should also strive to keep your torrents and downloads safe from the prying eyes of offline snoops. You don’t want to leave obvious traces of your torrent downloads on your computer or devices. To best protect yourself 1) hide your torrents and downloaded files with strong file encryption to keep them safe and 2) clean traces of any torrent activities from your computer and devices once you are done.

Happy (safe & anonymous) torrenting!

RANK

VPN

FEATURES

PRICE / DISCOUNT

MORE

#1

• no logs

• value priced

• very torrent-friendly

• money-back guarantee

 $3.08/mo 

7% exclusive discount

Review

#2

• no logs

• based outside USA

• double VPN

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$5.75/mo

($3.29 limited time!)

Review

#3

• no logs

• most servers

• fastest VPN

• money-back guarantee

$5.19/mo

20% exclusive discount

Review

#4

• no logs

• based outside USA

• fast downloads

• 30-day money-back guarantee

$8.32/mo

Review

8 Responses to How to Download Torrents Anonymously

  1. Dave May 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    I have Kodi on my computer (iMac) and TV (Smart), do I require a VPN for each device?

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