How to Download Torrents Safely in 2024

George Walker  - Security Expert
Last updated: July 17, 2024
Read time: 19 minutes Human Written
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Learn how to download torrents safely in 2024 with our comprehensive guide. Discover essential tips like using a VPN, installing quality antivirus software, and joining private torrent communities to protect your privacy and avoid legal risks.

Radar Rundown
  • Torrenting can expose your data to malicious actors, and your device can be infected with malware.

  • To download torrents safely, you should get a reliable VPN, and install quality antivirus.

  • Use a robust VPN like NordVPN to encrypt your data and hide your IP address from prying eyes.

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Torrenting is a method of sharing and downloading files online through a peer-to-peer network.

However, security threats, legal issues, and privacy concerns can be risky. Fortunately, you can implement certain measures, like using a VPN, to download torrents safely. If you want to download torrents anonymously, it is advisable to cover your tracks and hide your identity.

In this guide, we’ll show you the steps to protect yourself when torrenting and how to evade the restrictions later, but here are some fundamental basics.

A quick guide on how to safely download torrents

Safe Illustration

This is a summary of how to download torrents safely:

  1. Use a VPN service: You should always use a VPN when torrenting. A reliable VPN will encrypt your web traffic and mask your IP address, preventing third parties, including your ISP, from tracking your online activities.
  2. Install high-quality antivirus software: A robust antivirus will help you detect malware concealed in torrent files, which can allow cybercriminals to access your personal data and control your devices.
  3. Use quality seeds: You should download well-known torrents with many seeders because they allow others to download data from their devices.
  4. Consider user comments: Reading user comments on most torrent sites is a good way to determine if a seed is genuine.
  5. Join a private torrenting community: Joining these exclusive communities guarantees getting quality torrents.
  6. Sandboxing: Passing the torrent files through a sandbox environment helps to avoid downloading malicious files.
  7. Avoid executable files: These files can easily transmit malicious data and infect your device with malware.

How to download torrents anonymously with a VPN

  1. Select a reliable VPN provider suitable for torrenting. NordVPN is our top recommendation.
  2. Download and install the VPN software on your device. Most premium VPNs support major operating systems and devices.
  3. Connect to a server of any location. It is advisable to connect to a closer safer for faster speed and lower latency.
  4. Activate the necessary security settings of your VPN, like the kill switch.
  5. Access a reputable torrent site and begin downloading your favorite content.

How does P2P file sharing work?

How does P2P file sharing work?

Let’s use an example of BitTorrent as it differs from other file-sharing platforms. While these platforms host their torrent files on a central server, BitTorrent stores the files in the computers (swarm) of the individuals in the file-sharing network, thus peer-to-peer computing. 

The files are broken into smaller units, making it easy for users to assemble them into a single file. So, any file you download is uploaded back for others to use.

7 methods to download torrents safely

How to Download Torrents Safely and Protect Yourself

Disclaimer: These tips only educate internet users on downloading torrent files safely without compromising their security. We don’t support downloading legal or copyright-protected material. 

Here are some steps you may use to mitigate potential torrenting risks:

Install a VPN

It is always advisable to torrent with a reliable VPN. It will encrypt your device’s inbound and outbound web traffic by creating an encrypted tunnel and routing your traffic through it

As a result, even your ISPs won’t be able to monitor your online activities, including the torrent sites you access and the things you do on the sites. Furthermore, a VPN service that supports P2P traffic stops the platforms you access from tracking your IP address.

Since the authorities monitor popular torrent sites to catch users who download torrents, a VPN prevents anyone from accessing your real IP address and data as it will be encrypted. They can only see the VPN’s server IP address.

Moreover, select a VPN with a no-logs policy to keep your torrenting activities completely anonymous. NordVPN is a reliable VPN that provides large bandwidth, no logs, blazing-fast speeds, and unique torrenting VPN servers.


Install quality antivirus

Besides a VPN, antivirus software should be a part of your active security tools when downloading torrents.

Most hackers conceal malware in the torrent files you download, enabling them to access your device and get personal details. For instance, they can install harmful malware, like Ransomware and Trojans, to infect and control your device.

Ransomware allows hackers to encrypt your device and demand payment. On the other hand, Trojans enable attackers to hijack your device’s camera or microphone and steal contacts, personal files, photos, data, or monitor your daily behavior.

Fortunately, robust (and up-to-date) antivirus software like Total AV can safeguard your device from potential threats, enabling you to stay secure when torrenting.


Use the right seed

Some potential risks of downloading torrents are malware and strikes from authorities. The best way to avoid these is to follow the crowd.

Therefore, you should opt for torrent files with many seeders. These users download files completely on their devices and let others extract some data from them. So, a torrent without seeders may be malicious, and you should avoid it.


Consider user comments

Most torrenting sites have a section for users to comment on their feelings about certain torrents, which is a good way to ascertain if a seed is genuine. You should go for torrents with the positive comments.  Just search the torrent file you want to download, then scroll to read other downloaders’ comments.

However, do not be fooled by the comments. Some trolls criticize legitimate sites, while others overpraise unworthy seeds. While these comments offer valuable insights, you should be cautious when making decisions based on them.


Join private torrent communities 

Private torrent communities are exclusive trackers that maintain the integrity and quality of torrent files. Joining these communities offers many benefits. For example, you will get quality torrents because they are carefully handpicked after an extensive moderation process.  

However, joining such communities is difficult as they operate under the one-in-one-out policy. So, existing members will not jeopardize their place at the big table. Some of the most common private torrenting communities include Demonoid, Zeronet, PassThePorpcorn, and IPTorrents. 

You can only access most of these communities through an invitation and if you manage to get one, you are guaranteed to only access quality torrents. This will protect you from malicious files, spam, viruses, malware, Trojans or other threats.  

The easiest way to boost your chances of joining such communities is to hang out on torrent forums like r/torrents on Reddit. This lets you meet friends who can invite you to private torrent communities. 

Most of these communities have a rule that you should give as much as you take. So, once you join them, you must maintain a downloading and uploading ratio (usually 1:1)


The sandbox method

Another way to ensure safe torrent downloads is to pass the files through a sandbox environment. This is especially useful for downloading executable (.exe) files like computer software. 

A sandbox ensures malicious files do not affect your device if you accidentally download a virus or malware. It helps you check the legitimacy of the files you download before installing them on your device. 


Avoid executable files

While some executable files, such as.BAT,.SCR, .EXE, and .APP, are hard to avoid; you should maintain control and avoid downloading them. 

These files have the highest risk of virus and malware infection. Once they are run, they execute an action, easily transmitting malicious data and viruses to your device.


Risks of torrenting without protection 

Risks of torrenting without protection 

Torrenting is undeniably a reliable, fast, and effective method of downloading files. However, downloading torrents has some risks that you should know. Here are some of them.

Most content that many torrenting sites host is copyrighted meaning downloading it may be illegal and could result in legal consequences

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and security agencies know that most people download copyrighted content, so they track online activities, especially torrenting-related ones. 

So, your ISP might constantly monitor your activities when downloading torrents, including the sites you visit and even what you do on those sites. 

If they detect you are downloading copyrighted or illegal content, you might face the full force of the law. This can range from suspension of your ISP license to huge fines.


Data safety

Despite being simple and fast, torrenting is vulnerable to data loss or theft. When you download a torrent file and store it on your computer, attackers may access your sensitive data based on where you store it. 

For example, if you download a torrent file and store the folder containing your organization’s sensitive data, you could expose your organization to threats like breaches or hacking.  


Vulnerabilities

Although P2P file sharing doesn’t have a direct threat, a hacker can access your system. So, once you share, download, or upload a torrent file, you allow hackers to collect your data. 

Luckily, you can employ privacy tools, like a VPN, to minimize the risk and anonymize your torrenting activities (more on it later). Alternatively, you can customize your system’s settings to make all folders password-protected. 


Malware threats

Malware is another common risk that torrent users encounter. The fact that you can accidentally download a torrent file with a virus makes it more dangerous. 

Downloading such files harms your device. For example, they can cause your device to load files slowly, overheat, shut down unexpectedly, or even corrupt your other files. As a result, always ensure you scan your torrent file after downloading it with a reliable antivirus to protect your device from malware threats.


How individuals get caught while downloading torrents

Another major concern is whether you can get caught when torrenting. Remember that government agencies and copyright trolls know what happens in different torrent networks since they monitor all the sites listing IP addresses under the downloaders and uploaders lists. 

Also, the torrent’s working mechanism makes it possible for you to get caught. 

For example, the torrent file transfer method is based on BitTorrent technology, which uses a specific port for traffic, making it easy to spot by authorities (this is also how your ISP can throttle your torrent traffic easily). 

If you use torrents without masking your IP address, your ISP and other third parties can monitor the files you download. So, if you accidentally download an illegal file, you can get into trouble.  

Why use a VPN for to download torrents anonymously?

Why use a VPN for safe torrent downloads

Online file sharing has evolved significantly, and it doesn’t seem to slow down soon. Torrenting makes downloading and sharing files easy, and regardless of the risks associated with torrenting, people persist in using it. 

However, you don’t have to worry about these risks using a reliable VPN. In fact, torrenting won’t be safe unless you install a quality torrent VPN.

A good VPN will enable you to bypass geographic restrictions and access unlimited torrents while covering your tracks from snoopers. 

NordVPN is our top recommendation for downloading torrents safely. It has many dedicated P2P servers with fast speeds and robust security.

For example, it will encrypt your traffic and conceal your IP address to keep you safe when accessing torrenting sites. 

A VPN protects your connections when torrenting and enables you to unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, BBC, and more.

How to configure your VPN for secure torrenting?

How to configure your VPN for safe torrenting

A VPN is not a sufficient security measure to protect you when torrenting unless you configure it properly. Once you install a VPN, activate these basic security features

  1. Choose a nearby server in a safe jurisdiction for torrenting: Some countries like the US, the UK, Australia, and Germany have strict laws on copyright infringement and online piracy. So, using a server in these countries when torrenting can land you in legal trouble. Therefore, select a nearby server in a safe jurisdiction where authorities won’t trace or monitor your online activities. 
  2. Check for leaks: Use an IP address check tool to test if your VPN leaks your real IP address. This is because third parties can track your online activities if the VPN leaks your IP address outside the encrypted tunnel. 
  3. Use a secure protocol: The VPN’s security protocol determines the encryption quality. Wireguard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 are the best tunneling protocols. 
  4. Activate the kill switch and leak protection: A VPN kill switch automatically disconnects your internet connection if your VPN connection drops. This prevents your real IP address from leaking in the torrenting swarm. Also, activating the leak protection prevents your IP address from leaking outside the VPN tunnel.
  5. Connect to a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) server: The best torrenting VPNs offer P2P-optimized servers, guaranteeing a fast and dependable connection to download and share files.

How to set up your torrent client?

How to set up your torrent client

Configuring the torrent client properly can improve your security and privacy when downloading and uploading torrents. Furthermore, it maximizes your security against internet threats and lowers the risks of being flagged while torrenting.

  1. Enable IP binding: This is essential if you use a VPN without a kill switch, a leaky or unreliable VPN, or a proxy. It will pause your downloads if the VPN or proxy connection drops until the connection is restored to prevent your IP address from leaking
  2. Disable start qBittorent on Windows start-up: Enabling this feature means qBittorrent will start and seed torrents automatically whenever you start your computer. This may be an issue if your VPN requires to be connected or disconnected while your computer starts. Deactivating this feature prevents the qBittorent from starting automatically and minimizes the risk of leaking your IP addresses. 
  3. Enable check for software updates: Keep your torrent client up-to-date to avoid vulnerabilities or bugs that can compromise your privacy or security. This feature ensures the client checks for updates and automatically installs them when available. 
  4. Install a reliable torrent client: Select a trustworthy one to avoid using one that might contain malware. qBittorrent is a free torrent client that offers an array of features that improve your anonymity and security.

How to safely open .torrent files

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A .torrent file doesn’t have the files you wish to download. Basically, it links you to other users who are seeding or uploading the content you want to download. So, you must initially install a torrent client, like qBittorrent or uTorrent, to launch a .torrent file. Then, double-click or open the .torrent file to begin torrenting.

As we discussed, torrenting has major risks attached to it. That is why we recommend using a trustworthy VPN provider and an antivirus to boost your security when torrenting.

Best torrenting VPNs comparison table

Best torrenting VPNs comparison table

The table below compares our top three VPNs for torrenting.

CategoryNordVPNExtremeVPNSurfshshark
Torrenting speed10.7MiB/s9.2MiB/s8.9MiB/s
Kill SwitchYesYesYes
Logging PolicyZero logsZero logsZero logs
JurisdictionPanamaBritish Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands
Port ForwardingYesYesYes
P2P serversYesYes Yes 

The top three VPNs for torrenting

The top three VPNs for torrenting

NordVPN

NordVPN is a great torrenting VPN with blazing-fast speeds and outstanding security. It includes more than 6,000+ servers in 111 countries worldwide. 

NordVPN

The VPN offers a P2P server selection feature to help you connect to the fastest server based on your location. NordVPN employs AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your connection when torrenting. 

Moreover, it offers a reliable kill switch and DNS/IPv6 leak protection to protect your data from being leaked into torrent swarms.


ExtemeVPN

ExtremeVPN is a trustworthy VPN service for torrenting that allows P2P activities on most of its servers. It offers unlimited data and bandwidth, facilitating the download of massive torrent files. The VPN has more than 6,500 servers distributed in 78 countries globally.

ExtremeVPN

Furthermore, its sophisticated security standards and reliable server technology ensure safe and private torrenting. The VPN is reasonably priced and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try the service without financial risk.


Surfshark

Surfshark is a cost-effective VPN for torrentting safely. It supports P2P sharing on over 3,200 servers in 100 countries. 

The VPN can also circumvent restrictions and help you access geo-blocked torrent sites. It employs AES 256-bit encryption, the most secure encryption protocol, to protect your torrenting activities.

Surfshark

Surfshark’s kill switch temporarily blocks traffic in case your VPN connection malfunctions. The VPN adheres to a strict zero-logging policy and is based in a jurisdiction with friendly privacy laws. It also includes additional features like camouflage mode, CleanWeb, and MultiHop mode to boost privacy and anonymity.


What to look for in the safest torrenting VPN?

Safe VPN Illustration

Here’s a summary of the features to check when selecting the best VPNs for torrenting:

FeatureDescription
Security and privacyA kill switch, RAM-only servers, AES 256-bit or ChaCha20 encryption, independently audited zero-logs policy
TorrentingP2P friendly, torrenting optimized servers
SpeedWireGuard tunnel protocol
ServersObfuscated servers, extensive server network
  • Privacy and security: Torrenting is a risky task that may compromise your online privacy and security. A torrent VPN offers reliable security tools, including a kill switch, robust encryption, modern tunneling protocols, and anti-malware protection.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) support: Peer-to-peer connections are the best and quickest means of sharing torrents. Therefore, always select a VPN service with P2P-optimized servers or support torrenting on all its servers.
  • Speed: Picking a lightning-fast VPN helps you download your files quickly. As a result, ensure you select a VPN provider with the market-standard WireGuard protocol to enhance your speed connection.
  • Cost: Choose a VPN that meets your needs and offers the best price-to-value ratio. Most paid subscriptions include a risk-free refund policy that allows you to test their services before committing to long-term subscriptions. If you are looking for the most affordable premium VPN, then we recommend using ExtremeVPN.

Can I torrent safely with a free VPN?

Who are free VPNs for?

We don’t recommend using free VPNs for torrenting because of many reasons. For example, they lack sufficient security features, like robust encryption and a kill switch, which are necessary for torrenting.  

Furthermore, free VPNs don’t support torrenting or lack specialized P2P servers. They may also collect your information to sell to third parties or even target you with malicious ads that can compromise your protection. 

Freemium VPN services are a better option if you are on a budget. They are premium VPNs that also offer a free version. Although they may have limited features, like fewer servers and capped speed, they will protect your connections when torrenting.

The best way to torrent without limitations is to use a premium VPN such as NordVPN. It has dependable security and privacy features that enable torrenting activities anonymously and securely

Why is torrenting the fastest file-sharing method?

Several factors in the peer-to-peer architecture make it one of the fastest file-sharing methods.

In some file-sharing methods, you download a file from a single server. However, torrenting (P2P sharing) lets you download pieces of the file from several peers simultaneously, boosting download speed.

Torrenting

The distribution of the load among the peers minimizes the risks of overload, which can reduce the download process.

Also, the bidirectional transfer of data increases the overall efficiency and speed. While you download segments of the file, you also make those pieces available to other peers.

In torrenting, the torrent files are distributed across the swarm, not a single server. You can also upload a file before it is completely downloaded.

However, downloading torrent files is dangerous as your IP address is revealed to multiple users downloading the same file. This could compromise your privacy and make you vulnerable to hacking and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

legal

Most people wonder whether torrenting is legal or illegal. Torrenting is legal, but downloading copyrighted material is considered illegal

However, it is difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal content. So, you must be cautious when torrenting, or you’ll get yourself in trouble. 

Usually, what you share through torrents and not the torrenting method might get you into trouble in most countries. Uploading and hosting copyrighted material is what is regarded as illegal in most countries worldwide. 

So, most copyright holders focus on individuals who upload and host their content, not those who download and stream it. Torrenting makes you the host and the main target of any file you download.

FAQs

Both BitTorrent and uTorrent are regarded as sufficiently secure. However, we recommend using a VPN to enhance security on both sites.

All torrent sites pose distinct threats, making it difficult to pinpoint the safest one. Regardless of which you select, your data is not safe unless you employ a reliable VPN and an antivirus.

Yes, anyone downloading similar files with you can see your IP address, including your ISP. That is why you should use a top-notch VPN to mask your IP address.

There are many IP address-checking tools online that you can use to confirm if your VPN works correctly or conceal your IP address. Furthermore, always review your VPN provider to authenticate their privacy policies and features to ensure maximum protection.

It is a feature that functions similarly to a VPN kill switch but requires more setup. The feature lets you download torrents and other connections using a new IP address. When you enable it, the torrent client blocks connections from your actual IP address whenever your VPN or proxy connection malfunctions.

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About the Author

George Walker

George Walker

Security Expert
7 Posts

George is a seasoned Cybersecurity writer who has been writing guides and news about digital security for over five years. He has worked for several international tech platforms, and his writing and editing expertise has also enhanced over time. He loves covering topics about VPNs, online privacy, and anonymity and shares his knowledge of online security with internet users through his words.

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