Here’s What ISPs Think About Torrents
Torrenting is pretty sweet. But not everyone thinks so.
In fact, one of the biggest “haters” of P2P traffic is your internet service provider, or ISP for short. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what your ISP thinks about torrents – and how to avoid getting on their bad side.
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Why don’t ISPs like torrenting?
So, let’s start with the basics: why is P2P such a problem for internet service providers?
There are two main reason:
- Torrenting uses a lot of bandwidth
- Torrenting can create legal hassle
You see, the more their users download or upload, the more they have to spend maintaining their network. And the more they spend, the less they profit.
Meanwhile, some torrenters use a lot of bandwidth. Way more than the average user. If you’re the ISP, you’d much rather that not happen.
But server loads aren’t the only reason they hate torrenting. There’s the legal issues too.
Remember, torrenting is not illegal in itself, but downloading and sharing copyright material can be illegal in many places.
Copyright owners don’t like piracy. So, when they see an IP in a torrent swarm for a file they have the rights to, they’ll go to the ISP.
Sometimes it’s a simple complaint. They’ll let the ISP know that someone is using their service to torrent illegally, expecting the provider to take action.
But the intellectual property owner may just take direct legal action against the user – or even the ISP.
Either way, ISPs don’t want to deal with the hassle. Dealing with all these issues not only costs them money, in the form of paying their legal team, it can hurt their bottom line in other ways. After all, copyright owners have a lot of power and resources at their disposal.
Will I get in trouble if my ISP catches me torrenting?
Now that we know why ISPs don’t like torrenting, let’s look at some of the methods they use to stop or discourage it.
What could happen if you’re caught torrenting something you shouldn’t? The worst case scenario is legal action. In the US, this is limited to the civil courts – but copyright owners often sue for HUGE amounts. In other countries, piracy can be prosecuted as an actual crime. Yes, that means potential jail time for the accused.
This is the worst case scenario. However, it’s not that common. And when it does, they’re usually going after the people who upload or seed the hottest torrents on a regular basis, not random downloaders.
So, what’s more likely to happen?
You could have your torrenting throttled. This means that your ISP limits your upload and/or download speeds for torrents. They could also block P2P traffic completely, or stop you from accessing popular torrent sites.
Another possibility is a warning or “strike”, which usually comes in the form of a letter that you receive in the mail. It basically tells you to stop torrenting, because if they catch you using P2P again, they’re going to cancel your service. Two or three “strikes” and say bye-bye to your internet connection
How can I hide my torrenting from my ISP?
Even if you intend to use torrenting completely legally, mistakes can happen. And no one wants to suffer from an innocent mistake.
Needless to say, you’re a lot better off if your ISP doesn’t know you’re torrenting. But that doesn’t mean you actually have to stop.
Instead, you can use something called a VPN or virtual private network. This will encrypt your traffic, so that your ISP can’t actually see what it is you’re downloading. Usually, they can’t even tell you’re using P2P.
Of course, internet service providers aren’t idiots. They know why most people pay for super-fast internet speeds every month. And they might be able to guess that the user uploading and downloading, say, 1TB per month is using torrents.
But they can’t prove it. And thus, they can’t take action against you. And really, they don’t want to lose customers, so they’re fine with remaining in this gray area.
That being said, there are two things to keep in mind before booting up a VPN:
- Many VPNs aren’t trustworthy, especially “free” ones
- There are a small number of countries that ban or several limit VPN use
So, if you live in a country like China, Iraq, Turkey, or others that don’t allow VPNs, you may be out of luck. Or you’ll have to use at your own risk.
Even if you don’t, however, you should do your research before signing up for a VPN. For instance, a VPN that keeps logs can come back to bite you in the long run. And yes, you’ll have to pay a small monthly fee, which can be as low as a few dollars, to get a reliable and trusworthy VPN service. But it’ll save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
You can do the research on your own, or refer to our list of the top VPNs for torrenting.
Okay, so we just threw a lot of information at you. So, let’s sum it up.
ISPs don’t like torrenting. If they (or copyright owners) catch you, it can lead to throttled download speeds, warnings, loss of service, or even lawsuits, though the last two aren’t particularly common.
However, with a good torrenting VPN, you can avoid all of the above, which makes it a great investment.
Have you had any bad experience torrenting with your ISP? Let us know in the comments.