How to Torrent Safely on Android: Use a VPN or Proxy

If you like to download torrents directly on your Android device, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it safely and privately.

No matter what type of device you’re using (Smartphone, Tablet, Android TV box), your torrent activity is public and traceable to your visible IP address.

Fortunately, is very easy to encrypt your Android torrents and hide your real IP address from p2p peers by using either a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Proxy.

This guide will teach you:

  • How Android torrents are tracked
  • The basics of secure (anonymous) torrenting
  • The best privacy tools for p2p:
    1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
    2. Proxy
  • How to use a VPN for Android Torrents
  • How to use a Proxy for Android torrents
  • Protecting yourself from malware
  • Other Android security settings

Torrent downloads are monitored & tracked

Whether you download a torrent on your PC or your Android smartphone, if you found it at popular torrent site the download was likely monitored.

That’s because all p2p activity is public, and easily traced to the unique IP address of seeders and leechers alike.

Sites like IKnowWhatYouDownload publicly display some of the torrent downloads they monitor. Warning: if you click the above link, you will see downloads that have been linked to your own IP address.

Your internet provider (ISP) can also directly monitor torrent downloads. For your Android device, your wireless carrier (Verizon, AT&T, Boost, Sky) is usually your ISP as well.

The best way to prevent torrent tracking…

It is possible to plug the two main BitTorrent privacy leaks, and securely download torrents, in a way that is hidden from your mobile carrier and not traceable directly to your Public IP Address.

To accomplish this we need two things:

  1. A new IP address: We’ll use a VPN or proxy to route your torrent traffic through a remote server, hiding your real IP address from peers.
  2. Encryption: by encrypting your torrent traffic (with a VPN) you can prevent direct monitoring or blocking by your internet service provider.

Android can’t do this natively unfortunately. So you’ll need to use a 3rd-party tool, either:

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN): Runs as an app on your Android device and encrypts all your traffic while also assigning you a new IP address.
  • SOCKS5 Proxy: Routes only your p2p traffic through a remote server (hiding your real IP address). We can add lightweight encryption directly in your torrenting app.

Which Android Torrenting App to use?

There are a number of great torrent clients available as Android apps. From classic desktop ports like Vuze and uTorrent, to Android-specific clients like Flud and aTorrent.

The app you choose will depend on the privacy method you want to use:

  • VPN: a VPN works with all Android torrenting apps. So keep using your favorite.
  • Proxy: there only 2 Android torrent apps that fully support proxying your torrent downloads, so you’ll have to use one of them: Flud & tTorrent. Fortunately they’re both excellent.

Choose a privacy method: VPN vs. Proxy

For most users, using a VPN is the best (and easiest) option. The VPN services we recommend all have excellent Android apps that can create a VPN connection in a single click.

However if you are a frequent file-sharer, you may want to consider using a proxy or adding it as a fail-safe in addition to the VPN. Once you configure the proxy correctly, it will always run every time you open your torrent app, so you don’t need to remember to start the VPN.

Use a VPN if:

  • You need strong encryption
  • You want more features and location choices
  • You aren’t confident setting up and testing your proxy configuration
  • You only download torrents occasionally

Consider a proxy only if:

  • you’re comfortable setting it up
  • you don’t need encryption (not worried about ISP monitoring)
  • your torrent sites doesn’t require magnet links (some proxies have issues with them)

Note: Most of the VPN services we recommend in this guide also include proxy servers. So you don’t need to choose one or the other in advance, because you’ll have access to both. See VPN vs. Proxy for more info.

Best Android VPNs for Torrenting

Below you’ll find our recommendations for the best torrent-friendly Android VPN apps. All of them meet our required criteria:

  • No metadata logs kept
  • Torrents explicitly Allowed
  • Dedicated VPN app available for Android
  • Fast speeds
  • Kill-switch and IP leak protection

1: NordVPN ($3.99+/month)

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the fastest-growing VPN user bases in the world. Their combination of privacy, features and price is virtually unbeatable. And it’s one of the only VPNs that isn’t completely blocked by Netflix and Hulu.

Reasons why we recommend Nord:

  • Feature-rich: Dual kill-switch, p2p-optimized servers, Tor-over-VPN, custom DNS, and works with Netflix
  • Affordable: NordVPN costs less than $4/month with their best offer.
  • 3rd-party audited (verify their No Logs guarantee)
  • SOCKS Proxy: Includes p2p-optimized proxy service
  • 30-day refund policy: 100% refund within 30 days
Visit Website

30-day 100% refund policy


2: IPVanish (from $6.49/month)

IPVanish Android VPN

IPVanish is ranked as one of the 5 most torrent-friendly VPNs, thanks to their zero-log policy and included SOCKS5 proxy (great for torrents).

We also like IPVanish’s intuitive Android app. They even have a standalone FireTV/Firestick app if you want to run a VPN on your FireTV device.

But IPVanish’s speed is their biggest advantage. Stackpath (the parent company) owns a massive data backbone that allows them to deliver more bandwidth and faster speeds at a lower price than competitors.

Visit Website

7-day 100% refund policy


3: Cyberghost VPN

Cyberghost's Free VPN Plan

Cyberghost is back on our recommend list thanks to a massive upgrade of their software and network. Their Android VPN app is full of advanced features like malware protection, DNS leak protection, and even bandwidth-saving data compression.

It also worked flawlessly with Netflix, Youtube & HBO go in our testing.

And best of all, Cyberghost allows file-sharing on all server locations. The only thing missing is an included SOCKS5 proxy, so if you need that go with either IPVanish or NordVPN.

Cyberghost:

  • No Logs. Period.
  • Works with Netflix & other streaming services
  • p2p allowed
  • fast speeds
  • 30-day 100% refund guarantee
Visit Website

30-day 100% refund policy

Set up your Android VPN for Torrents

In this section, will go over the steps to set up and properly configure your VPN for enhanced torrent privacy. We recommend using the ‘easy’ method, because you get enhanced security features like a kill switch.

Easy Method: Use your provider’s App

Each of the VPNs we feature on this site has their own custom VPN app. It allows full control of the VPN service, and provides most (if not all) of the add-on features in their desktop software.

You can find your provider’s app directly on their website or download it directly from the google play store (yes, you’ll need a subscription regardless).

Android App links for:

step #1 – Download and install the App

step #2 – Turn on the kill-switch

step #3 – choose a p2p-friendly server location

If your provider doesn’t have a specific list of p2p-enabled locations, we recommend servers in the following countries:

  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Mexico

It’s also a good idea to verify your VPN is working before you start torrenting.

Alternate method: manual configuration

Method #2 (Manual Setup: PPTP or L2TP)
The manual setup option takes a bit more work at the start, but once configured requires only 1 tap to start a VPN connection. This setup also tends to be more stable because it’s configured directly in the Android Operating System instead of relying on a 3rd party app.

The exact steps may differ based on what version of android you’re running, but once you find the VPN settings on your phone it should be pretty straightforward. 

Each VPN provider will require different configurations for manual setup, so make sure to consult the step-by-step guide your VPN provider offers.

Here are setup guides for the VPN’s recommended in this article:

Bear in mind that some of these setup guides are pretty old. I saw one VPN using Android 2.0 for their instructions

Make sure to check your VPN is working before you start torrenting.

How to set up a torrent proxy in Android

Some users may wish to add a proxy in addition to the VPN. This provides a second fail-safe in case the VPN disconnects, and will keep your torrent traffic on a separate IP address from the rest of your device’s traffic.

Currently there are only two Android apps that fully support proxies (securely).

  • Flud
  • tTorrent

For full setup instructions, read: How to set up a SOCKS proxy on Flud & tTorrent.

Verify your VPN or Proxy is working

It’s wise to check and test your setup before starting your next BitTorrent binge. The most important thing is to check your visible torrent IP address, and verify it has changed.

If it has been changed, we know your torrent traffic is being routed correctly. To do this, we’ll use a simple IP-address tracking torrent.

For full instructions, read: How to check & verify your torrent IP address

Fix your Torrent App’s Settings

Most desktop and mobile torrent applications have default-enabled ‘convenience’ features. Unfortunately, several of these can reduce your privacy, make your downloads more easily tracked, or decrease download speeds.

Examples include:

  • uTP: Basically it’s self-throttling
  • DHT: Easily find torrent peers, but makes you easy to track
  • Encryption settings: can limit peer availability if configured wrong.

Settings to change:

  • DHT: We recommend you turn DHT and local peer discovery off. Many ‘lazy’ p2p monitoring organizations track mostly DHT via honeypots. Even if you’re using a VPN there’s no reason to be on their radar unless you don’t have enough peers to complete the download.
  • uTP: The ‘Micro Transport Protocol’ is supposed to optimize your torrent bandwidth for overall system performance, but in practice usually just makes your downloads slower. Turn it off unless your web browsing is really slow while torrenting.
  • Encryption: If using a VPN, you should set your torrent app’s encryption setting to ‘Allow’ or ‘Enable’ (or similar). Don’t force encryption and don’t dissallow encrypted connections.
Encryption enabled in Flud
Encryption ‘Enabled’ in Flud (torrent app) settings

Avoid Malware & Viruses

Some torrenters will happily download and install any type of file, regardless of it’s source. But most of us put our lives (and accounts) in our handheld devices, and you’d be smart to not just install things willy-nilly.

Because rogue Android .apk’s are out there, even in licensed app stores. Just imagine the malicious stuff that’s hiding in apps you download from less reputable sources.

Here are rules of thumb you should follow:

  • Don’t torrent .apk’s (unless you really trust the source): Android apps are distributed in the .apk file extension, and are available from unlicensed app stores and torrent sites worldwide. But it’s foolish to grant device permissions to an app from an unknown, unvetted source. It could cause massive harm, by installing remote malware, stealing keystrokes (password) or spamming your contact list. It’s not worth it.
  • Use an Antivirus: Even if you’re only downloading videos and music files, it’s still smart to scan your torrent downloads for viruses. It can save you massive headaches later.
  • Use Wifi: VPN connections can be spotty on 3G and even 4G mobile networks. You’ll get faster speeds and more stable VPN connections if you torrent over wifi.

David Barnes

David started torrenting before it was cool. He enjoys hiking, strategy games and eats watermelon year round. He still rocks his Napster t-shirt once a month.

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