If you are wondering if encryption is really necessary when it comes to torrents and wish to know more about the advantages of applying encryption and what is the best way of protecting your torrents, this is the guide that you need. Most torrent users know that it is important to add a layer of security to their activities, but they may not be sure how to do so. Most BitTorrent clients include encryption and the use of this method of security, has increased dramatically over the years. Here we’ll take a look at the most important aspects that you need to know about encryption.
What is encryption
Encryption is widely used on the internet, although you may have not noticed it yet. Whenever you use online banking or a buy something from a website, your web browser uses encryption. This prevents third-parties from being able to see the data that is transferred. Encryption can protect you from fraudsters who try to steal your personal and financial information. When there is no encryption being used, your data may be accessed by other people who are using the same network as you. This is why it is particularly important to be careful when using public WiFi networks. It should also be noted that your ISP may use deep packet inspection to access all the transferred data, keep an eye on your traffic and log your browsing history. When you use encryption, the data that you send is scrambled to make sure that it cab’t be read by others.
Should you encrypt your torrents?
If you want to keep your torrent activities private and enjoy efficient performance while downloading content, encryption is very important. Since BitTorrent is very popular, it is targeted by most ISPs and they are likely to slow down (throttle) torrent traffic. To be able to throttle a specific application or service, Internet Service Providers need to be able to see your traffic and isolate it from other traffic that is not throttled. When your traffic is encrypted, your ISP can’t see what you do online and won’t manage to slow down your connection. Apart from allowing you to enjoy speed, encryption also keeps your privacy and prevents your ISP and other parties from seeing the data that you are uploading or downloading. When encryption is properly applied, your ISP can’t monitor your activities.
How to encrypt your torrent activity: VPN vs Built-in encryption
It is possible to find built-in encryption in most desktop torrent clients. However, this option comes with some limitation and it will have an impact on the peer availability. This is why it is better to go for a VPN, as it protects your data with solid encryption and it doesn’t decrease the amount of available peers that you will be able to see. In addition, a VPN can hide your IP address when you join a torrent swarm. While a VPN is the best choice, we will look below at the built-in encryption option.
This free encryption method gives you the possibility of encrypting data transfer between other peers, but they need to have encryption enabled. If they don’t, it is possible that your data will be downloaded unencrypted, or you may not be able to download content from that peer, but this would depend on your settings. You can get complete encryption with the built-in method, the encryption mode has to set to “Forced” or the similar option available in your torrent software. However, it is only possible to connect to peers that also have their encryption enabled, which means that the available option can be dramatically decreased. It should also be noted that with this method, you can only encrypt your torrent downloads. Your web-browsing won’t be encrypted and your ISP and others will be able to see that you are visiting torrent websites. The download of the initial .torrent file won’t be encrypted and your IP address won’t be hidden.
VPN – The best encryption solution
Opting for a VPN is the best solution since it provides stronger encryption and won’t affect the amount of peers available. In addition, a VPN can hide your IP address in torrents, which means that your real IP address remains hidden and won’t be easy to trace. While the built-in encryption only provides around 64-bit encryption strength, a high quality VPN can give you up to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption. This is military grade encryption that is virtually impossible to break. Another advantage of using a VPN is that it doesn’t restrict the amount of peers that you can connect to. The VPN server encrypts your entire traffic and you can see all the peers available, without compromising your connection. You real IP address is changed so your identity remains protected. This is crucial when it comes to making you anonymous because your IP address is visible to all the peers within the swarm.
If someone is trying to monitor torrent traffic, they are likely to log the IP addresses in torrent swarms. When you use a VPN that doesn’t keep logs of your activities, the IP address that appears in your torrent swarms will be the one of your VPN provider, not the one assigned to you by your ISP. Choosing a VPN provider that doesn’t keep logs and that is committed to keep your privacy protected is crucial. There are several providers in the VPN industry, but not all of them can be trusted when it comes to protecting your online traffic. The below VPNs fulfill all the criteria to be considered as strong solutions to encrypt your torrent activities.
ExpressVPN is a highly secure solution to protect your torrent activities and it is also known for the fast performance that it offers. The features supported by this provider based in the British Virgin Island will ensure that all your traffic (including of course your torrent traffic) remains protected from eavesdroppers and those who want to monitor your activities. ExpressVPN offers great set up guides and its customer support service is available 24/7. You can connect to servers in over 90 countries and no logs of your online activities are kept.
With over 900 servers in 59 countries and great features to keep your online traffic secure, NordVPN is an excellent option for torrent users. They don’t keep any logs whatsoever and apply strong encryption to prevent third parties from seeing your activities. The remarkable security is combined with great speeds in their P2P friendly servers. Since NordVPN is based in Panama, it is not under a data retention law and it is far from the jurisdiction of surveillance agencies like the NSA. NordVPN is torrent friendly and supports advanced security options.