How to unblock torrent sites

These days, tons of ISPs and networks are blocking access to torrent sites, even legal ones. The UK, India & Germany are just a handful of the countries that who’s internet providers currently or previously blocked torrent websites.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks (including several free methods) to quickly regain access to your favorite torrent websites.

Which method you choose will depend on a few factors, including:

  • How is the website being blocked (DNS or IP-Address)
  • Does your ISP block p2p traffic or just torrent sites
  • Are you willing to spend money for convenience, performance & security?

How torrents and torrent websites are blocked

Torrent tracker sites are typically blocked in one of two ways:

  • DNS-Blocking (easy to defeat): ISP’s use DNS-hijacking to route your DNS requests to their servers (when you type a domain name into the URL bar of your browser). You can easily get around DNS-blocking by forcing your own DNS servers on your device. Most ISP’s will use more comprehensive domain & IP blocking.
  • Comprehensive Domain and IP-address blocking: Websites are accessible from a specific domain name (like best-bittorrent-vpn.com) and are hosted at a specific IP address. ISP’s will create a blacklist of blocked sites, and prevent you from accessing them by their domain name or IP address. The best way to get around these blocks is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

but some ISP’s also (or alternatively) block the BitTorrent protocol itself.

BitTorrent Protocol blocking:

This type of blocking can reduce your upload/download speeds to almost zero, and may reduce peer availability as well. ISPs will typically use advanced data filtering or firewall software like Sandvine to accomplish this.

It can only be circumvented by using strong encryption (typically a VPN).

How to Unblock Torrent Sites & Downloads

This section covers the 3 most effective methods regain access to blocked torrent sites.

These methods have all been tested and validated. They work by offsetting the detection & blocking methods your ISP is using. Obviously, the method you choose depends on how thoroughly your ISP is blocking sites, and whether they block the torrent protocol as well.

For example: changing your DNS servers will do nothing to get around IP-based blocking. In fact, some advanced DNS-hijacking technologies may still route your DNS queries to your ISP, even if specify them manually!

These methods are ranked in order of effectiveness and simplicity, with the most effective method (VPN) ranked highest.

3 Methods to unblock torrent websites:

  1. Virtual Private Network/VPN ($3-$10/month): This is the most effective method. Enabling a VPN will help you circumvent most (if not all) blockades simply by enabling the VPN connection. You may also see improved p2p download speeds if you were also being throttled.
  2. Tor Browser or Web Proxy (free): This method is effective for unblocking torrent sites (assuming the proxy website isn’t also blocked by your ISP). Downsides include: slow connections, frequent captchas, doesn’t encrypt downloads.
  3. Manual DNS Settings (free): This is the least effective circumvention method, and will only work for a small percentage of blockades by (lazy) ISPs. It doesn’t encrypt your browser traffic or your torrent traffic.

Method #1: Use a VPN

Who should choose this method?
A VPN is the best solution for most users (unless you’re really truly completely broke). For a minimal cost (around $3-6 per month) you get complete encryption of your browser and BitTorrent traffic, as well the ability to hide your true IP address from torrent swarms.

Recommended VPNs:

These are a few our our favorite torrent-friendly VPN providers. They’re ranked based on performance & privacy. There’s even a (limited bandwidth) free option for those who hate paying for stuff.

  1. NordVPN: (from $3.99/month | 30-day 100% refund policy)
  2. Private Internet Access: ($3.33/month | 7-day refund policy)
  3. Windscribe: (free plan available, up to 10GB/month)

How to unblock torrent sites with a VPN

Step #1: Get a VPN (see the list above)

Step #2: Download and install the VPN software on your device
Most VPN services have a standalone app for all major Operating Systems, including Windows, Mac & Android. They have iOS too, but you can’t easily torrent on an iphone. The software is typically free with your VPN subscription and can be downloaded from you account panel.

Download NordVPN software

Step #3: Connect to a VPN server (p2p-friendly location)
Connect to a VPN server in a location where your provider allows torrenting. If you’re not sure, Switzerland or The Netherlands are a good bet.

Connecting is as easy as signing in with your username/password, choosing a server, then clicking ‘Connect’.

Using IPVanish to unblock torrent sites (choosing a server location)
Choose a location/country then click connect
How to unblock torrent sites 1
You’ll quickly be connected to the server, and all traffic will be routed through the VPN server.

Step #4: Visit your favorite torrent site
All live torrent websites should now be unblocked. If you’re still having trouble loading it, make sure to clear your browser cache and cookies (it has your old DNS data and 404 website data saved offline and isn’t loading the live site).

Unblocking 1337x torrent tracker
1337x (torrent tracker site) is easily unblocked.
Note: We use 1337x as an example for educational purposes (it’s one of the most popular torrent sites). Make sure to download only files that are legal in your jurisdiction.

Step #5: Download torrents (encrypted & IP address hidden)
Torrent peers will now see only the IP address of your VPN server (not your true, unique IP address). All your torrent transfers will now be encrypted by the VPN software and even your Internet Provider shouldn’t be able to tell what specific files you’re sharing.

Method #2: Use Tor Browser

The Tor Browser Bundle is a free web browser that allows you to easily route your browser traffic through layers of encrypted proxies. This not only circumvents ISP torrent-site bans, it will also hide your IP address from the websites you’re visiting.

Pros:

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s pretty easy to set up
  3. The browser is functional and intuitive (based on Firefox platform)

Cons:

  1. Speeds are often painfully slow
  2. You’ll get sick of solving Captchas on mainstream websites. Some sites (like news sites) block Tor altogether.
  3. Doesn’t anonymize your torrent downloads, only your web browsing.

Step #1: Download and Install Tor Browser

Download tor browser

You can download the Tor browser bundle for Windows, Mac Linux or Android at Torproject.org.

Step #2: Browse to your favorite torrent site

Using the Tor browser is really easy, and your traffic will automatically be routed through the encrypted Tor network. All you need to do is type the URL of your favorite torrent site into the browser bar (you may need to solve a captcha on some sites where Tor traffic is treated as ‘suspicious’).

Step #3: Tor Tips & Troubleshooting

  1. To avoid some Tor-related issues like foreign-language search results, you can choose an exit node in your home country.
  2. If Tor is blocked on your network, try connecting through a Tor-bridge
  3. Remember, Tor doesn’t anonymize your actual torrent downloads. You’ll want a VPN for that.

Method #3: Use a Web Proxy

There are a number of free HTTPS (encrypted) web proxies that will load a website for you. This sometimes help get around network blockades (assuming the proxy site isn’t blocked too).

Unfortunately, many of these sites (such as kproxy.com) actually block torrent sites themselves. Another issue is that a proxy site may still use your ISP’s DNS servers (leaving you vulnerable to DNS-based blocking).

So the better option is to use a torrent-unblocking proxy site:

There are a number of these sites available. Most are multi-purpose and will allow you to unblock a number of frequently blocked categories like: Youtube, Social Media, and Torrent sites.

Here are a few good options:

  • 4everproxy: This unblocks popular torrent sites. It also prevents malicious scripts (like popups and Crypto-miners) from running in your browser, which is nice.
  • Unblocked.earth: This dedicated unblocking site has proxy mirrors for a number of popular torrent, streaming, and adult sites.

What to do if torrents are blocked altogether

Some ISP’s and network admins aren’t content with simply blocking access to torrent sites (they know how easy workarounds are). Instead, you might find p2p downloads (and uploads) blocked altogether.

If you have trouble finding peers or torrents download really slowly, this is probably the cause.

In this case, the only solution is to use a VPN. This will hide your torrent traffic from the network firewall and fully encrypt your downloads and browsing so that your internet provider can’t see that you’re torrenting.

If you’re not willing to commit cash up-front, try free (but limited) VPN that allows torrenting, such as Windscribe. Then if it solves your issue, consider upgrading to a higher-quality provider.

Where are torrent sites blocked?

There entire countries where nearly all internet providers block (or used to) access to the most popular torrent sites. Examples include:

Australia

In December 2018, an Australian court ruled that ISP’s have to block access to 181 ‘Pirate’ sites (including sites that simply provide free media subtitles). The good news is ISPs have discretion regarding how to block the sites, including simple DNS or IP-based blocks.

Germany

The topic of torrent-site blocking has been a popular one in Germany. It was even elevated to the supreme court in 2015. Even if ISPs aren’t forced to block torrent sites, some may choose to do so voluntarily. Furthermore, Germany is a country that has heavy 3rd-party monitoring of torrent downloads, and many Germans have been targeted with aggressive threats from a new breed of torrent trolls, for allegedly sharing content that they shouldn’t have (though some of these claims have been found to be false/manufactured). 

Read our Guide to Torrents in Germany, and learn how to keep your torrents private.  

India

Last year India got hit with the famous ‘Indian Porn Ban’ and several torrent sites were caught up in that blockade. The number of torrent sites now banned in india has expanded. It was previously falsely reported that unblocking banned site in india could result in a 3-year jail sentance, but Mashable investigated and clarified that accessing a site is not illegal. Only duplicating copyrighted content is. So don’t pirate. And read our India Torrents Guide

United Kingdom

Great Britain and the UK have been on the forefront of Torrent site-blocking. They have aggressively mandated nation-wide blocks of sites who’s content they deem objectionable. The blockade now includes over 100 websites, and their method of determining which sites to block clearly needs alot of work. They have accidentally previously blocked important mainstream sites, including: Wikipeida, archive.org (wayback machine), WordPress, TorrentFreak and Imgur.

ISP’s with over 400,000 subscribers are subject to the court-ordered blockades, including: Sky, Virgin, Talk Talk, and BT Group.

Read: Our UK torrent block & privacy guide

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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