Popcorn Time is an immensely popular app that allows users to stream movies and TV shows for free. However, many users have questions regarding the safety of the app due to the following reasons:
- Popcorn Time uses torrents to provide the streams in its app. Downloading copyrighted content using torrents is considered illegal in most countries.
- The app has survived through forks and clones since the founders stopped work in 2014. Hence, it is difficult to find a reliable website to download the app from.
Given these concerns, we would not recommend that readers use the Popcorn Time app. But for those who must, it’s important that you have the proper security mechanisms in place. Some steps that you can take to ensure your safety are:
- Use a reliable and secure VPN provider, like NordVPN, to encrypt your internet activity and hide it from prying eyes. Click here to learn how to get a free 30-day trial with NordVPN.
- Install an antivirus that can detect and remove any malware contained in files you download from the internet, such as the Popcorn Time app.
- Download the Popcorn Time app from reliable sources, such as the GitHub repository, and check the Reddit forums for the latest information.
As of January 5th, Popcorn Time and its mirror sites are currently down, with the exception of one possible site managed by unknown developers. We will update this article as more information becomes available.
Popcorn Time has been one of the most popular methods of streaming TV shows and movies online for free. Since it first launched in 2014, it has gained many fans due to its slick interface, vast catalog of TV shows and movies, and virtually zero ads. Many users also prefer it as it has an app, unlike other competitors such as 123Movies, Flixtor, or Primewire.
But how does the website really work? Is Popcorn Time safe to use in 2022? Is it legal? What are the consequences one can face for using Popcorn Time? And what are some legal alternatives?
In this article, we answer all these questions and more.
What is Popcorn Time? How Does it Work?
Popcorn Time is a downloadable application that allows you to watch the latest movies and TV shows.
A close comparison to Popcorn Time is Netflix. Both platforms organize their content using tiles as the centerpiece of an easy-to-use and clean interface. Unlike Netflix, however, all the movies listed on Popcorn Time are actually derived from torrents available on the internet.
Yep, that’s right, Popcorn Time uses sequential downloading and taps into multiple torrents to provide you with a high-quality stream of the movie or TV series you want to watch.
Since it uses torrents from online directories, its library usually has the latest releases and biggest hits. The app provides a couple of other great features for its users, such as adding their own trackers and creating a watchlist.
Is Popcorn Time Safe for Streaming?
When it comes to user safety, two key concerns arise with regards to Popcorn Time. The first concern relates to your safety from a legal perspective. The second deals with your cybersecurity. Both these concerns are addressed in the following sections.
What are the legal concerns with using Popcorn Time?
Even though users don’t directly torrent content while using Popcorn time, in the eyes of the law, it is no different from downloading a torrent file from The Pirate Bay. Simply put, Popcorn Time is illegal as it counts as copyright infringement.
In simple terms, copyright infringement occurs when someone uses or shares another person’s copyrighted work without permission or payment of royalties. This is considered an illegal activity in most jurisdictions and can result in a hefty fine.
While copyright infringement is mostly illegal, the degree of prosecution for such crimes varies from nation to nation. In most cases, law enforcement is more concerned about going after the site owners and developers as opposed to end-users.
Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of how your country deals with copyright infringement. We’ve compiled a list of nations that groups them according to their stance on piracy and copyright infringement.
|STANCE ON PIRACY||COUNTRIES|
|Pirating is legal or allowed (for personal use)||Poland, Spain, Switzerland|
|Pirating is illegal||Australia, China, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, United States|
|Pirating is illegal, but individuals are not actively prosecuted||Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Uruguay|
Note: We don’t recommend the use of streaming websites or torrenting, which results in copyright infringement even in countries that are lenient towards piracy. While it may not be illegal, it is certainly unethical as it deprives creators of the fruits of their labor.
What are the cybersecurity concerns with Popcorn Time?
The cybersecurity concerns with Popcorn Time stem from the fact that it comes as an app. This means you have to download and install a file from the internet. Downloading the right file is complicated when it comes to Popcorn Time because there is no single certified website that consistently provides safe downloads.
The founders of Popcorn Time stopped their work in 2014 due to pressure from the United States’ Motion Picture Association. Since then, the Popcorn Time community has kept the service alive through various open-source mirrors and forks.
While the Popcorn Time app is still available and functional, finding the correct site and file can be confusing because anyone can create a fake Popcorn Time app using open-source code.
In fact, we came across several sites that claimed to provide the Popcorn Time app — but these were actually infected files containing malware.
Given the legal and cybersecurity risks attached to using Popcorn Time, users must take a few basic precautions while using the app.
How to Safely Use the Popcorn Time App
To secure yourself from legal and cybersecurity risks, you will need to use a couple of digital tools, as well as exercise caution and common sense.
Step 1: Don’t use Popcorn Time without a VPN
Purchasing a subscription to a reliable and safe Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the first and most important step that any Popcorn Time user must take.
A VPN encrypts your internet activity and reroutes it through a server located in a country of your choosing. VPNs mask your information — such as your IP address — from the prying eyes of hackers, law enforcement, and other nefarious elements online. By using Popcorn Time without a VPN you risk your privacy and cybersecurity.
NordVPN: The best VPN for Popcorn Time
When choosing a VPN to use with Popcorn Time, you should prioritize speed, protection, and the availability of a large selection of servers.
NordVPN ticks each of these boxes as it has a verified no-logs policy; allows torrent downloads; and boasts an extensive network of servers. It also boasts military-grade encryption, which will ensure that the activity of Popcorn Time users is well hidden.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
You can get a free trial with NordVPN using its 30-day money-back guarantee to check out how it works with Popcorn Time before committing to a long-term subscription
Surfshark: The Best Alternative Popcorn Time VPN
Our wallet-friendly alternative to watch popcorn time is Surfshark, as it starts at just $2.49 for a month’s subscription. It also scored very high on safety, speed, and user-friendliness. The VPN service works across a range of devices, including your mobile device.
Much like NordVPN, Surshark also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. So be sure to watch Popcorn Time using Surfshark before you pick up that subscription.
Private Internet Access: The best privacy-focused VPN for Popcorn Time
Users who watch Popcorn Time would want to ensure that their online activity is not being logged by their VPN service provider or Internet Service Provider (ISP). Private Internet Access (PIA) is an excellent VPN for Popcorn Time as it has an airtight no-logs policy and a strong focus on privacy. All this comes at a very reasonable price point, as well.
PIA too comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can use to watch content on Popcorn Time before deciding on which VPN provider to go with.
We also encourage you to do your own research and determine the best VPN for you by using our VPN comparison tool.
Step 2: Ensure you have a good antivirus installed
As we mentioned earlier, using Popcorn time requires you to download the app from the web and install it. There’s always a risk that you get the wrong installation file and end up installing malware onto your device. The internet is full of malicious elements, such as keyloggers, worms, trojans, spyware, and even ransomware. These are commonly found on unverified mirrors of sites like Popcorn Time.
This is why it’s important to have good antivirus software running on your device. Antivirus programs scan files before they’re installed and ensure malicious elements don’t get the opportunity to infect your computer. Additionally, antiviruses also provide firewall functionality to block dangerous sites and protect your online activity.
Kaspersky is our highest-rated antivirus software and provides an unmatched suite of functions. It’s easy to use and works on a range of devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
You can also check out our list of the top five antivirus software of 2021 to check out alternatives to Kaspersky.
Step 3: Download the Popcorn Time app from a reliable source
This is probably the hardest step of the three as the site where the app files are hosted keeps changing. The link that worked for you last time may have gone offline, been taken down, or been taken over by a fake clone. Hence, there’s always an element of risk when trying to download Popcorn Time.
But at VPNOverview, we’re all about keeping our readers safe. So we researched for you and found a couple of reliable sites that provide downloads of the Popcorn Time app.
The first is the GitHub repository of the Popcorn Software group. The repository usually has the latest builds for all devices.
The builds are also hosted on a Popcorn Time mirror URL. The site currently being used is popcorn-ru.tk/build, though this is subject to change at any time without warning.
If either of those doesn’t work, you can check out the Reddit forums for Popcorn Time to see updates and comments from other users. Malicious accounts may sometimes post links to sites that host files with malware on these forums, so it’s important to be cautious and always check the upvotes and downvotes for each post.
What Are Some Alternatives to Popcorn Time?
In this section, we provide some alternatives to Popcorn Time. This included both official and unofficial options. The official ones are paid but come without any legal or security concerns. The unofficial ones are mostly free, like Popcorn Time, but do pose the same risks to users.
Best official Popcorn Time alternatives
Let’s say you’re worried about the safety implications associated with using Popcorn Time and want a secure and legal way to stream movies and shows. Well, then your best bet is to purchase a subscription to one of the legal and official streaming apps listed below.
Netflix is the largest streaming platform in the world with over 200 million global subscribers. It owes this large number of users to its rich and diverse collection of content, including some blockbusters and Netflix Originals.
Using a VPN while watching Netflix enables access to content available in different countries, which further expands the selection of shows and movies available to you. Learn more about how how to set up a VPN to stream Netflix here.
NordVPN is an excellent choice to use with Netflix as it doesn’t reduce your streaming speed and enables access from several nations.
2. Disney Plus
Disney Plus is one of Netflix’s closest competitors when it comes to streaming movies and TV series. Its popularity results from its collection of diverse content from the likes of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and even National Geographic.
Read more about which VPN is best suited to Disney Plus here.
Hulu is an American streaming service that hosts thousands of movies and TV shows. It has an extensive range of drama, comedy, documentary, and content for kids. It’s available across several platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and on smart televisions as well.
A downside of using is Hulu is that its library is accessible only to users in the USA and Japan.
Fortunately, you can bypass the geo-restrictions on Hulu by using a VPN. This article guides you through the process of setting up a VPN server in the USA or Japan to access Hulu.
Best unofficial Popcorn Time alternatives
These alternatives provide movie and TV streams for free. But, like Popcorn Time, they use illegal sources such as torrents to provide users with live streams. Using these sites could you into legal trouble due to copyright infringement. So be sure to always use a VPN when accessing these Popcorn Time Alternatives.
Kodi is an open-source media player. It’s a great alternative to Popcorn Time as it lets users stream all kinds of content, from ESPN, YouTube, and others, using add-ons. While several legal add-ons do exist, the most popular ones tend to be illegal. That’s why you must use a VPN to encrypt your online activity when using Kodi.
FlixTor is a website that provides very similar functionality to Popcorn Time. It has an extensive library that features the latest and great TV shows and movies.
The mirror or website where FlixTor is hosted keeps changing. Some of the mirrors that show up in search often link you to malware. So, having a reliable antivirus installed on your device is a must before accessing FlixTor.
In some nations, FlixTor may even be geo-blocked. You can use a VPN to change your IP address to one in a different country and bypass the geo-blocks.
Popcorn Time’s simple, clean, and ad-free interface makes it an enticing option for streaming the latest movies and TV shows. It’s one of the best CouchTuner alternatives too! But is Popcorn Time safe? As with most things, using Popcorn Time comes with a set of risks, both in the legal and cybersecurity domains.
For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend that our readers use the platform to watch their favorite content. If you must use Popcorn Time, you should only do so through a VPN server and with an effective antivirus installed. If you like watching anime, we also have a list of some of the best free anime streaming services that you can try out.
Have a question about the safety of using Popcorn Time that remains unanswered? Check out our FAQ section for answers to some of the most pressing questions regarding Popcorn Time! If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please do leave your query as a comment and we’ll get back to you with an answer.
We do not recommend using Popcorn Time without a VPN. This is because Popcorn Time uses torrents to get movie and TV streams.
Most torrents contain copyrighted content without the necessary licenses. Using these files can constitute copyright infringement, which is illegal and may land you in trouble. A good VPN can help protect you by anonymizing your identity.
There is a risk of getting a virus on your device if you download the incorrect Popcorn Time app installation file. Since there is no certified website for Popcorn Time, finding the right file can prove to be a challenge for most users.
Check out our article to learn about you can access Popcorn Time safely.
If you’re concerned about your safety while using Popcorn Time, then you can consider switching to one of the following legal alternatives:
- Disney Plus
The sites on which the Popcorn Time app builds are hosted keep changing for various reasons. The most reliable source for downloading the app is the GitHub repository. You can also check out the Popcorn Time Reddit forums to see which sites other users are downloading the app from.