Anonymous Downloading

Anonymous Downloading with a VPN

Last edited: October 29, 2020
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Download anonymously and safely with a VPN

Using a VPN is a very convenient and effective way to greatly improve your privacy and online safety while downloading torrents and other files. After all, thanks to the encryption a VPN offers, your data traffic will be completely encrypted.

This means (malicious) third parties can no longer just spy on you whenever you’re downloading something. Additionally, a VPN hides your real IP-address, by guiding your data traffic through an external server, before it reaches the intended page.

A VPN we really recommend for downloading anonymously, is ExpressVPN. After all, ExpressVPN is a very safe, privacy-minded VPN provider, capable of reaching great download speeds!

Read the rest of the article below for more information on safe and anonymous downloading. It is important that you consider the legality of the things you download. This is also discussed in the article.

When it comes to downloading, just like with every online activity. For one, you’ll probably want to download as anonymously and safely as possible. Torrent networks are very useful, but they can also be infested with malicious parties trying to obtain your data, for instance. Secondly, some questions might arrise when downloading torrents, such as: Is it legal? Will I get fined? These are questions we will also address in this article.

As for downloading safely and anonymously, the main focus of this article, a VPN is a very useful tool to improve your privacy and security when downloading files. As such, we will tell you all about using this handy tool to download torrents much more safely and anonymously in this article.

Anonymous Downloading with a VPN

Laptop Download

The principle behind P2P networks and torrents is that users exchange data online, from computer to computer. This is called downloading and uploading content. If you download a file from a torrent site, the torrent program will make sure that this file is sent to you by other users. These other users already have this file on their computer. They are the uploaders (seeders), and you are the downloader (leecher).

The above is of course useful, but do realize the following: based on your IP address, others in the torrent network can identify you. Privacy and the protection of your personal data are very important. For this reason it would be wise to always connect to a VPN when you go online on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

A VPN connection encrypts your data traffic and reroutes it through an external server. This encryption provides you with extra protection against hackers and spyware, which can frequently be found on some torrent networks. Moreover, a VPN protects your personal data and provides a level of anonymity. When you go on the internet with a VPN you do so via the IP address of an external server.

Because of this, others, such as hackers and the websites you visit, won’t be able to see your actual IP address. This way nobody can connect your online actions to you. The uses of a VPN are plentiful and so are the different providers.

Important:  Please keep in mind that downloading illegal files with a VPN is also prohibited and punishable. Use a VPN only to download legal content. We’ll tell you more about this later in this article.

Getting started with a VPN

It is very easy to get started with a VPN. Just follow the three simple steps below and you are protected by a VPN:

  1. Choose a good and reliable VPN provider and create an account on the VPN website. We can recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Download the VPN software from the official website of your chosen VPN provider.
  3. Install the VPN software.
  4. Log in to the VPN software.
  5. Choose the desired VPN server.
  6. Turn on the VPN and your data traffic will be encrypted. You can now download more securely and anonymously.

Installing VPN Step by Step Desktop

You will probably not even notice that you are connected to a VPN. It is a program that you turn on and that runs in the background of your computer, laptop, tablet or phone. When the VPN connection is active, you can actually surf the Internet in the same way as always, only a lot more anonymous and secure. You can also download much more anonymous and secure.

Tip: As we indicated, you will experience little inconvenience when using a VPN. However, by redirecting through an external server and encryption, your connection can become slower. However, you can usually solve this by using a good VPN with fast connections, such as ExpressVPN.

Hide Your IP address when downloading

Some people who download torrents illegally or stream movies and shows through services such as Popcorn Time or Kodi, use a VPN to hide their IP address. Copyright organizations are not able to track what these people do online.

Of course you shouldn’t use a VPN for illegal uploading and downloading of music, movies, and series. However, downloading off a torrent site isn’t necessarily illegal. There is a lot of usable legal content available through P2P-networks.

When is Anonymous Downloading Through Torrents and P2P Networks Illegal?

Online downloading through torrent sites and P2P networks in itself isn’t illegal. Something to look out for is that you act in accordance with any applicable copyright laws when downloading files. If the content is copyrighted and you download or upload it, that is illegal. Thus, it depends on the content you download whether it is legal or not.

Torrenting websites are the place where you’ll find your trackers, allowing you to torrent the files you want. It’s not a complicated system, but it’s important to know one thing about these sites: they’re the ones targeted by anti-piracy campaigns.

Some torrent sites have a bad reputations with copyright organizations because people will use these sites to exchange illegal material. The best-known examples of such sites are KickAss Torrents and The Pirate Bay. On The Pirate Bay people frequently share and download movies, series and music that are copyrighted. The same happens on many sites that work as alternatives for The Pirate Bay.

Governments are constantly trying to shut these torrent sites down, which results in these sites often changing their server location, and it can also mean that sometimes your favorite torrent site won’t be up. There are many efforts done by ISPs to block or close torrent sites. Yet, there are still several torrent websites that are active and safe.

In more and more countries copyright organizations are allowed to collect information on the people that are active on torrent sites and streaming services. They monitor the IP addresses of those who illegally download and upload movies, series, books, and music or use illegal streaming services.

With these tracked IP addresses they have even started to fine people in some countries. This is why some downloaders have started to use a VPN to hide their IP address.

Remember, however, that you should always familiarise yourself with any applicable copyright laws before downloading something and act in accordance with these.

Some things that are generally viewed as illegal:

  • Sharing or downloading software, like games, on torrent sites.
  • Downloading or sharing movies or series that are copyrighted.
  • Sharing or downloading music that hasn’t been paid for.

Here you can read more on the laws and fines for illegal downloading.

Legality of Torrents and P2P Programs

Bittorrent logoYes, downloading platforms like BitTorrent and Utorrent are legal. You can use these for downloading a software patch, a demo game, or a movie trailer. In these cases it is not illegal because you are not infringing on anyone’s copyright. Again, it only becomes illegal when the content you download is is protected by a copyright.

It can be difficult to determine whether there is copyright on a file or not. As a rule of thumb, if you can buy it somewhere it is copyrighted.

Best VPNs for Torrents, P2P and downloading

To secure your internet connection for the purpose of safety and privacy, it is wise to use a VPN when you download (or do anything online, for that matter). Sadly, not all VPN providers or compatible with P2P downloading. This is why below we have listed 3 VPN providers that allow for anonymous (torrent) downloading and provide secure, stable and fast connections.

Let’s check out the best VPN’s for torrenting!

1. ExpressVPN for anonymous Downloading

ExpressVPN is ideal for downloading torrents. This provider has no legal obligations to share information on their users with third parties. The owners of the company made the strategic decision to register the company on the British Virgin Islands, which is a privacy paradise. After all, companies on the British Virgin Islands are not required to store logs containing their users’ internet activities. As such, ExpressVPN states they don’t store any user-logs whatsoever.

Moreover, they are at the top of our general list of the best VPN providers. We have to note that they are on the higher end of the spectrum both in quality and price. Their services aren’t cheap but then again, they do offer premium, safe, high-quality, ultra fast connections, virtually perfect for anonymous downloading. This is an essential feature for downloading large files.

Their customer support (24/7) is very good and their applications are user-friendly. It’s also very nice that they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to try out their services without any risks.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN for anonymous downloading

NordVPN has their headquarters in Panama which means they are not legally required to store user-logs. This means they do no not register any of your actions online.

They offer a secure connection which will provide you with a great level of anonymity online. NordVPN allows you to go online with six people at a same time with just one subscription.

Most importantly, NordVPN is compatible with P2P downloading. They have special servers for torrent downloading. These servers are very fast and you can download files in no time.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3.71 a month for a 2-year subscription
9.3
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

3. Surfshark for anonymous downloading

Surfshark is a great option for downloaders who want to improve their privacy and security without breaking the bank. In fact, Surfshark is one the cheapest, true premium VPN we’ve been able to find.

Unlike its price might suggest to some, however, Surfshark does not compromise one bit on safety and privacy. In fact, like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is officially registered on the British Virgin Islands, meaning they don’t and not have to store any user logs.

On top of this, they offer solid encryption, great protocols and offer a great balance between speed and safety when it comes to their servers. As such, Surfshark enables you to safely and privately download large torrent files comfortably.

Lastly, Surfshark comes with a 30-day money-back-guarantee, allowing you to try it out for yourself before fully committing to it.

Surfshark
Deal:
Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.49 a month
9.0
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30 days money back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

Why Shouldn’t I use a Free VPN for Torrenting?

Besides paid VPN’s there are also free VPNs. They’re enticing, because you don’t have to pay anything upfront, but we don’t recommend them for because of a few reasons.

First, because most free VPNs have logs of when you masked your connection, and when you got back on your actual connection. This is detrimental to your anonymity online. Plus, free VPNs get a lot of traffic, and they restrict your bandwidth. This means that it’ll be really hard to download anything since your connection is throttled by the VPN you’re using.

Another reason against downloading with a free VPN is that many free VPNs do not support torrenting.

On top, paid VPNs are not just about hiding your connection. They’re an added layer of overall security too. Most VPNs have other security features, such as having an automatic kill switch in case your connection to the VPN is lost.

So do yourself a favor – if you want to torrent, use a paid VPN.

Alternative download methods

Would you rather use a different method to download instead of a VPN? For the more technically oriented user, there are alternative methods to download anonymously. For example, there is the possibility to use the Tor browser, BTguard or a seedbox. Tor is an anonymous internet browser that fragments and encrypts your internet traffic. This makes it unreadable to others. As such, the Tor Browser is a valid alternative to download anonymously.

However, many people will prefer a VPN because the Tor browser is less user-friendly and works slower than many VPN services. When you download torrents via Tor, the whole Tor network slows down. Tor’s capacity is limited and when many people download torrents the network gets overloaded.

Also, the download speeds are often substantially lower. Tor is also not 100% anonymous.

Final Thoughts

You can use a VPN to download anonymously from torrent networks. Thanks to a VPN’s encryption, it’s much more difficult for third parties to spy on you while downloading. Additionally, those who track IP addresses of people that download will not be able to see your personal IP address but will instead see the IP address the VPN provides for you. As such, your data and privacy are much better protected against hackers, spyware and other malicious parties.

Not all VPN providers allow downloading on torrent sites or through P2P networks. A reason for this is that they want to prevent users from downloading illegal material. Depending on the country the VPN provider is registered in, illegal downloading could cause them trouble with the authorities. It can happen that a VPN provider allows downloading on selected servers. This depends on the location of the servers and the legislation in that country.

If a VPN provider allows downloading you can usually assume that this will happen safely and anonymously, provided it’s a good VPN. If you choose ExpressVPN, CyberGhost or Surfshark, you can rest assured you can safely and comfortably download torrents!

How To Download Anonymous - Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about anonymous downloading? Then take a look at the questions below. Click on a question to directly see the answer to your question.

With a VPN you can download torrents in a more anonymous and secure way without your IP address being visible. A VPN shields your IP address and encrypts your internet traffic.

We recommend ExpressVPN for anonymous downloading. This VPN is very secure, fast and privacy-focused. With ExpressVPN you can download files without delay.

We do not recommend the use of free VPNs if you want to download. Free VPNs are often not secure and keep logs. Moreover, free VPNs get a lot of traffic and they restrict your bandwith. This makes it difficult to downlaod anything.

This depend on the content you download. Online Downloading via torrent sites and P2P networks in itself isn’t illegal.  However, some files are copyrighted. It’s illegal to download copyrighted content.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. Since 2019 she is VPNoverview.com's cybersecurity news coordinator.

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