Best Kodi Alternatives for 2018
Don’t fall victim to the Kodi crackdown - be safe and try these Kodi alternatives.
The crackdown against the popular streaming software Kodi continues and shows no signs of slowing down.
Not only are copyright holders (such as Hollywood studios) and competitors (such as Netflix and Amazon) going after Kodi third-party add-ons that allow users to illegally stream content like movies and TV shows for free and having them removed, they’re even trying to have “Kodi boxes” physically seized by the courts.
In a recent blog post by the folks behind Kodi, they called the crackdown on third-party piracy a “good thing” – but if you’re a Kodi user who relies on them for content, it’s anything but.
Without add-ons like urlresolver, metahandler, Bennu, etc., it’s becoming much harder (and riskier) to find and stream the content you want using Kodi.
And the offensive against Kodi shows no signs of abating or narrowing its scope. We wouldn’t be surprised to see major studios and paid-streaming giants go after similar, non-Kodi software next.
Fortunately, despite these aggressive efforts, downloading content remains as viable as ever.
But if you want to be totally safe when downloading, it’s not enough to simply open up your internet browser and start grabbing files. That’s why we’re going to highlight the best and safest ways to download, from most private and safe to least. Alternatives #5 through #10 below are even free!
Advantages of Downloading Privately
Before we start, let’s look at WHY you would want to download privately.
Avoiding Legal Issues
“Pirating” – in other words, downloading paid, copyright-protected content for free – is illegal.
Although you’re not likely to be raided by the FBI for downloading a single season of your favorite TV show, there can be legal consequences. Notices from your ISP are also common.
Fortunately, several of the methods we’re going to talk about will not only protect you from copyright trolls and their enforcers, they’ll even keep your own ISP from knowing what you are downloading.
In other words, even if they can see that you’re downloading something, they won’t know what the file actually is. For all they know, you could be downloading software updates or free nature documentaries.
It’s not uncommon for many establishments, from your workplace to the local coffee shop, to block all of the traffic related to the Kodi alternatives we outline below, from torrenting to Usenet.
This is done both to save bandwidth and to protect themselves from any legal obligations.
Many countries also block certain sites and content, whether it’s pornography, political commentary, or even social media.
But a reliable VPN will help you bypass most of this, and also keep your identity private while you do it.
Whether you’re downloading those free nature documentaries or “Barely Legal Babes 27”, most people would cringe at the idea of someone snooping through everything they do and view online.
But unless you’re taking steps to protect your privacy, this likely can – and is – happening from everyone from government agencies to nosy family members.
Top 10 Kodi Alternatives
1. Usenet + VPN
- Cost: about $10 per month
- Privacy Rating: A+
- Pros: tons of content; even more secure than torrenting; can even be automated
- Cons: slight learning curve; not free as the best Usenet and VPN providers require a small monthly fee
If you want the best and latest content without sacrificing any privacy or security, combining a Usenet service with a quality VPN is the way to go.
There’s a small learning curve for Usenet, but once you get accustomed to the interface (called a newsreader), it’s no harder to use than torrents.
Plus, Usenet is a lot safer, since you’re downloading directly from the providers themselves – and the best Usenet providers don’t create any logs of your activity.
Using a VPN with Usenet adds yet another layer of protection, hiding your IP and disguising your traffic from your ISP.
If you’re eager to get started, we recommend signing up for Newshosting Usenet access as it comes bundled with a reliable VPN at no extra cost. This gives you great Usenet and VPN for one of the lowest prices available.
2. Torrenting + VPN
- Cost: as little as $3 per month
- Privacy Rating: A-
- Pros: tons of content; easy to use; good privacy and security (thanks to the VPN)
- Cons: torrent uploaders, downloaders, and hosts are under constant scrutiny; adding a VPN has a small monthly cost
Want to download the latest content in a way that’s fast and convenient? Torrents can make it happen. And using a VPN will help protect your IP address from snoops and hide your traffic from your ISP.
On the other hand, torrents are under constant heavy scrutiny from authorities at the behest of copyright holders around the world. If you’re careful and only download torrents while using a VPN, you eliminate almost all of the risk, but it’s still not quite as private or secure as the methods above.
The biggest benefit is simply the amount of content available from torrenting. Not only is downloading torrents easy, but finding torrents is easy too.
3. XDCC + VPN
- Cost: about $5 per month
- Privacy Rating: A
- Pros: XDCC is free to use; it relies on less “peers” than torrenting (so is more secure)
- Cons: harder to find content than torrenting or Usenet; adding a VPN has a small cost
XDCC uses the internet’s original chat network, IRC, to facilitate high-speed downloads between two users.
While it doesn’t have the popularity of torrents or Usenet – and thus it can be harder to find the content you’re looking for – XDCC is under less scrutiny by snoops and monitoring firms. And since you’re only downloading from a single user, rather than the dozens or even hundreds of peers used with torrenting, your activities are more secure (as is your identity).
Adding a VPN to the mix ensures you are protected even if the person you are sharing with turns out to be working with the snoops. We’d recommend Private Internet Access as an excellent standalone VPN offering great value ($3.08/mo), but we can also recommend you to a handful of the best VPN providers.
4. Usenet (without VPN)
- Cost: about $8 per month
- Privacy Rating: B+
- Pros: tons of content; more secure than torrenting; can even be automated
- Cons: Usenet providers charge a small monthly free; not as private and secure without a VPN; small learning curve
What happens if you decide to download from Usenet without a VPN? Well, it’s still quite safe and anonymous. That’s if – and only if – you choose a provider that does not log user activities, like Newshosting. Read more about the best non-logging Usenet providers.
But considering that a quality VPN costs as little as $3 a month, is it really worth the added risk? If you are going to dive into the world of Usenet content, top it up with a VPN, either a stand alone VPN or, for even better prices, one bundled with a Usenet plan.
5. Free Usenet Trial
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: B+
- Pros: free to use; tons of content; more secure than torrenting
- Cons: trials have a limited time period and data limit; same vulnerabilities as #4 above; small learning curve
If you’re desperate to save money, you can take advantage of the free Usenet trials offered by many of the best newsgroup providers. This will provide you with mostly the same level of service, advantages and disadvantages included, as a paid Usenet subscription.
Of course, the trials are just that – trials. They only last a few days to a few weeks and impose a data cap. Heavy and frequent downloaders will need to pony up for a full membership sooner or later. Fortunately, Cogipas offers some great deals on Usenet plans.
6. Cloud Torrenting
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: B
- Pros: more private than normal torrenting; tons of content
- Cons: less secure than Usenet or torrenting with a VPN; premium accounts require a membership fee
Cloud torrenting was pioneered by services like Bitport.io, zBigz, and Seedr and allows you to download torrents to an online storage locker – instead of directly to your computer.
From there, you can then stream the files from the online locker or simply download them. The storage locker creates a valuable middleman between you and your downloading activity, encrypting your traffic and keeping your IP hidden. Think of it like a cloud version of a VPN.
The best part? It’s free. Well, mostly. You’ll need a paid account to get the fastest speeds and most storage, but generous free accounts are available.
To be safe, you have to trust the cloud torrenting provider. When it’s all said and done, cloud torrenting wont appeal to everyone, but can be a great option.
7. XDCC (without a VPN)
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: B
- Pros: free to use; your IP address is only exposed to a single “peer” per download
- Cons: content is harder to find compared to Usenet and torrents; not totally private or anonymous
You can still use XDCC without a VPN, and it will be somewhat safe and secure, at least compared to unsecured torrenting.
That being said, when a VPN subscription costs less per month than a cup of coffee, the holes in your security may end up costing more than it would to protect yourself.
8. Torrenting (via good old fashioned Bittorrent)
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: C-
- Pros: tons of content; free and easy to use
- Cons: one of the least secure options on our list; can attract scrutiny from your ISP, snoops and monitoring agencies
Straight up torrenting is easily one of the most popular ways to download on our list. But that popularity comes with increased scrutiny. Torrent sites are regularly being shut down, torrent users routinely receive nasty warning notices from their ISP, and some unlucky downloaders have gotten in even worse trouble.
If you value your safety and privacy, it’s highly recommended that you pair your torrenting with a good VPN. After all, you can get one for as little as $3 per month.
9. Tor Browser (The Onion Router)
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: B
- Pros: free and easy to use; offers decent anonymity
- Cons: slow speeds; not entirely foolproof when it comes to privacy and anonymity; under tons of scrutiny by government agencies
The Tor browser has become somewhat infamous for its role as the browser of choice for many of the folks engaging in illicit activities on the “dark web”. That’s a bad rap.
When it comes to providing privacy and anonymity, it does a fairly good job. Unfortunately, it’s infamy has led to increased scrutiny, to the point that even using Tor can be seen as a red flag by authorities.
On top of that, Tor can slow your Internet speeds to a crawl, making downloading and especially streaming difficult. In short, Tor can be a great option for keeping you safe online, but it’s far from the best alternative to Kodi.
10. Accessing Streaming via a Proxy Service
- Cost: free
- Privacy Rating: D
- Pros: free and easy to use
- Cons: not private or secure; connections are often too slow to stream (or download at good speeds); free proxy services can even be unsafe
There are plenty of free online streaming sites. In theory, you can enjoy all of the content that used to be available via Kodi add-ons. In fact, the add-ons were doing nothing more than helping you to access these streaming sites in a fast and easy way through Kodi’s interface.
Of course, accessing these streaming sites naked means your ISP can see what you are up to and this can land you in the same trouble you were trying to avoid in the first place.
A proxy is a server that acts as an intermediary between your computer or device and the websites you visit. It can hide your IP address temporarily, but most free proxies are not nearly as safe or reliable as a good VPN – and proxies have very little, if any, incentive to protect your privacy.
On top of that, proxies can make your Internet connection so slow that it’s difficult to stream or download content at a decent speed. Proxies are more of a last resort or “better than nothing” option than a viable alternative to the other entries on the list. We include it here more for completeness. Plus, it’s always good to have a list of 10 things. 🙂
More Tips for Private Downloading
Whether you’re using a top-rated Usenet provider combined with a great VPN or one of the other methods highlighted above, there are some other, more universal ways to cover your bases – and your tracks – when downloading online.
Use Another Internet Connection
One of the easiest and most common ways that your identity gets connected to your internet activity is through your Internet connection itself. If someone can determine that a site was accessed or a file was downloaded using your connection, it’s not hard to trace that back to you.
Of course, there’s an easy solution to this: using an internet connection that isn’t yours. This could be the local coffee shop, your school or work, etc.
Unfortunately, Usenet, torrents, and many other sites or features are often blocked on public Wi-Fi hotspots. But that’s not always the case, so you’ll just need to find a connection that provides more freedom.
P.S. A good VPN can often help you bypass most of the aforementioned blocks, but it would also make using another Internet connection fairly redundant.
There’s a way to make any of the premium (read: non-free) options above even more private. And that’s by paying for them anonymously.
Paying anonymously means using a major brand gift card or a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.
While Kodi’s time as a viable way to stream free content may be coming to an end, there’s no need to worry. That’s because not only are the Kodi alternatives to downloading just as easy, they are actually safer and more secure than Kodi streaming in the first place. The learning curve is a little higher, but worth it.
The only question is, which method will you choose? As you’ve seen in the top 10 list above, that will depend a little on your budget and how much you want to download (a little versus a lot).
By the way, if you’re in the market for a good VPN service or top Usenet provider, we’ve got some great Cogipas deals on both. Check them out today and start downloading safely and privately for as little as a handful of dollars per month!