Is download speed important to you? I bet it is.
And you shouldn’t have to choose between private torrents and fast torrents.
But that’s the tradeoff many people face when they try downloading torrents with a VPN for the first time (often using a cheap, low-quality provider).
Fortunately, it’s possible to have both. You can have a zero-log, torrent-friendly VPN service that is also fast (capable of 100+ Mbps download speeds).
In this guide you’ll learn:
- Reasons a VPN can give you faster speeds
- What causes slow downloads with some VPN providers
- Server location
- Crowded servers
- Torrent Throttling
- The fastest VPNs for torrenting (including speed tests)
- Additional speed tips
Why your torrents may get faster by adding a VPN
We already know that a VPN is the best tool for torrent privacy, but did you know VPN usage can quickly fix several torrent speed issues as well?
In fact, using a VPN is the quickest way to fix:
- Torrent Throttling: When your ISP blocks or slows p2p downloads
- Port forwarding issues: Never mess with manual settings in your router again
For a deeper on dive on this: Slow torrents? What causes them and how to fix them.
The Fastest VPN Providers for downloading torrents
We did a p2p speed test for many of the most popular VPN providers (much more accurate than a web-based speed test). These speedtests clearly show which VPN services have the highest bandwidth for torrent traffic.
Speedtest Methodology: We performed these tests using uTorrent with each VPN connection active on a US-based server within 500 miles. The VPN client chose the exact server location based on their ‘smart server selection’ algorithm. We used a well-seeded, legal linux torrent as the file to test.
1. Cyberghost VPN
Average Speed: 11.75 MB/s | Download Time: 2:47 | Best Offer: $3.99/month
Cyberghost is zero-log VPN service based in Romania (non five-eyes country). They’ve completely overhauled their software client (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and FireTV). The new interface is incredibly intuitve and easy to use.
Best of all, Cyberghost is quite fast (and quite affordable).
We tested Cyberghost using the IKEv2 protocol (high security, high speed). This protocol is available directly from the VPN app and doesn’t require manual setup like most other providers.
Cyberghost really impressed us with their download speeds. And it’s not just great for torrents. Cyberghost is one of a handful of VPNs works with Netflix and other geo-blocked streaming apps.
Cyberghost is easily capable of buffer-free 4k streaming.
2. IPVanish VPN
Average Speed: 9.57 MB/s | Download Time: 3:25 | Best Offer: $6.49/month
IPVanish is a top VPN when it comes to speed and performance. Owned by one of the largest CDN provider companies in the world, they’ve built out their own tier-1 data networks that other VPN’s can’t match. The result? Faster speeds.
Beyond being a fast VPN, IPVanish is very torrent friendly and they are a true ‘No-Logs’ VPN provider. They don’t even keep connection logs.
Speedtest results: IPvanish was able to download our test file in 3 minutes and 25 seconds for an average speed of just under 10 MB per second.
IPVanish has more server locations than almost any other VPN provider. You get 1-click protection in over 70 countries worldwide.
IPVanish plans start from $6.49/month (1-year subscription)
Average Speed: 5.25 MB/s | Download Time: 6:14 | Best Offer: 3.49/month
NordVPN actually performed better than expected in our tests. While NordVPN has a bit of a reputation for crowded servers, it’s clear their p2p-optimized servers are capable of fast p2p downloads.
We downloaded the 1.96GB test file in a decent 6 minutes 14 seconds. That’s an effective bandwidth of nearly 42 Megabits/s (about double the bandwidth of a 4k streaming).
Protocols: NordVPN’s software only offers the OpenVPN protocol, but you can set up L2TP connections manually if you need even more speed.
Proxy Support: NordVPN has more torrent-friendly SOCKS proxy servers than any other VPN provider. Every subscription includes access to more than 50 proxy locations and 10 p2p-optimized servers.
Tips to increase your torrent download speeds (with VPN)
Even though using a VPN is 1-click easy, don’t be afraid to tweak the connection settings in the VPN app (or in your torrent client).
Here are a couple suggestions for improving speeds even further:
Try different VPN protocols:
The OpenVPN protocol (supported by nearly every VPN app) is powerful and easy-to-use, but it’s also taxing on the CPU. Other protocols like L2TP or IKEv2 might give you better speeds, especially if you’re on an older machine.
Lower the encryption strength
Some (not all) VPNs let you adjust the strength of the encryption algorithm. 128-bit encryption can be much faster than 256-bit in real-world applications like torrenting.
Private Internet Access and VyprVPN are two providers whose apps let you quickly change the encryption strength setting.
If you provider doesn’t offer it for OpenVPN, you can try the PPTP protocol instead, which is 128-bit encryption by default.
Check the connection settings in your torrent client
Users often don’t have the optimal speed settings inside their torrent client. Things like bandwidth-per-torrent or peer-connection limits can hamper your speeds.
Some settings to check:
- Make sure you don’t cap download speeds or per-torrent speeds
- Set the number of peers to ‘0’ (unlimited) or a reasonably high number like 100
- Disable uTP ‘bandwidth-optimization’ in uTorrent/BitTorrent clients
- Turn off ‘forced-encryption’ for torrent peers. When you’re using a VPN, client-based encryption is useless.
Choose a faster server location
Server choice has a big impact on VPN speed.
Here are a few tips:
- Choose less crowded servers (fewer users means more bandwidth for you)
- Choose a nearby server (far away servers are almost always slower)
What else causes slow torrents?
Here are some more torrent speed tips pulled from previous articles.
For a deeper dive: Slow torrents? Here’s the fix
There are a number of reasons your torrents may be downloading slower than they should. Here are some of the most common:
Reason #1: You’re Being Throttled
Internet Providers all over the world are now actively throttling their customers’ data connections. This means that they selectively target certain types of data (torrents, Video, Youtube, Netflix, etc) and force those types of data to download much slower than they should.
Torrent Downloads/ Bittorrent is one of the most commonly ‘Throttled’ protocols because it uses so much bandwidth (and bandwidth costs your ISP money).
Fortunately, a VPN easily stops your ISP from throttling your torrents!
Your ISP isn’t allowed to slow down your entire data connection (you pay for a certain amount of speed). Because a VPN encrypts all your data, your ISP cannot view which specific protocols you’re using, and thus cannot throttle specific protocols (like bittorrent).
Reason #2: Port Forwarding Issues
If your torrents are incredibly slow, there’s a good chance you have a port forwarding issue
What is port forwarding?
Each protocol on your computer operates on its own port (like a channel). This way your computer knows which incoming data belongs to which program. The problem is all data has to go through your router first. If your router has alot of devices connected to it, it may not be sure which data/ports to forward to each specific computer. This can cause data bottlenecks and slower speeds.
To fix this, you usually have to set up manual port forwarding rules in your router settings, telling your router which data ports should be forwarded to a specific internal IP address (your computer). This site has awesome portforwarding setup guides to show you how to set it up for your specific router model.
A VPN Removes the need for port forwarding altogether!
A VPN service will encrypt all data traveling to and from your router. This data passes straight through your router to the VPN server. All incoming data passes through the router in the same way, and gets routed directly to your computer.
Because the data is encrypted, the router cannot see the individual ports and thus doesn’t have to decide which ports belong wear. All VPN data goes directly to your computer. This will dramatically speed up your torrents if they’re slow.
Some VPN providers like Private Internet Access even allow you to specify which port you want the VPN traffic to come in on, just in case your router doesn’t allow easy VPN pass-through. This way, you only have to forward 1 port number to your computer instead of multiple.
Reason #3: Wifi is Slower
You almost never get the same speeds over wifi that you do over a direct connection. This is because data packets sent via wifi can easily get lost, or misrouted. This reduces speeds dramatically.
A few things that can slow down your wifi:
- Distance – the further you are away from your router, the slower the speeds will be
- Obstructions – walls, shelves, and cabinets get in the way of wifi and will slow your speeds
- Interference – all kinds of wireless products in your home operate on the same frequency spectrum as wireless internet. Things like: cordless phones, remote controls, and microwaves can all jam your wireless signals and cause slower speeds.
Fix it: use a wired ethernet connection whenever possible. If it must be wifi, use the 5Ghz band and choose an uncrowded wifi channel on your router.
Using a fast VPN can dramatically speed up your torrents. The added encryption will help keep your torrent downloads hidden from your ISP and provides you with an anonymous IP address in your torrent swarms.
There are hundreds of VPN companies worldwide and they vary widely in real-world speed. But don’t overlook other critical privacy features when making your choice.
- What is the logging policy
- What is the torrent policy
- How good/easy to use is the software
- Does it come with a kill-switch or other security features
Cyberghost and IPVanish really stood out from the crowd in our speed testing. Fortunately, both these companies have excellent reputations for privacy and security.
And don’t forget, you can take advantage of each company’s 100% refund policy to try their service risk free. (Cyberghost’s trial period is 30 days!).