Whether you are torrenting the files you created, trying to download game emulators, or looking for the most recent movie releases, torrenting has become to fastest way to upload and download what you want for free. There are some dangers in torrenting though, that is why it’s important to use a VPN when torrenting to protect your privacy and personal information.
Before you decide to start downloading all the “free” online content you can get your hands on, you better check out this information on torrenting and VPNs first:
What is torrenting?
Normally, when you download a file from a website like Amazon, you are downloading it from a trusted central server. When torrenting, files are uploaded and downloaded from other user’s devices via something called the BitTorrent network. This is one of the most common ways of peer-to-peer file sharing, especially when files are large.
Though torrenting is often associated with illegally downloading copyrighted content, there are still valid and legal uses for torrenting. One of the biggest reasons is for sharing large files with multiple users at the same time.
However, torrenting does require each user to use torrent management software, which can be download, usually for free.
Is torrenting illegal?
The short answer to this question is no, the act of downloading things using a torrent is not illegal. However, it can become illegal. The issue of legality revolves around the content that is being downloaded. Due to the copyright laws, many things like movies, music, books, and TV shows are protected from being downloaded without being legally purchased. What does this mean for you?
For example, if you are downloading the most recent Star Wars movie using a torrent without paying for the movie, that would be considered illegal. However, if you are downloading an audiobook of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, you would probably not be doing anything illegal as classic works like Shakespeare are public domain materials, which means anyone has the right to download it for free.
If you think that someone will not notice you downloading one or two copyrighted things here or there, you might want to think again. There are things on the internet called copyright trolls that are specifically there to find people downloading things illegally so that they can take legal action against them.
The best way to avoid illegally torrenting is to check the copyrights of the content you plan to download. If it is not considered public domain, then it is probably protected by copyright laws.
Why it’s important to use a VPN when Torrenting
There are several reasons why it is important for you to use a VPN when torrenting. Not only can it help prevent unwanted situations from happening, but it can also just make things easier for you in the long run. Here are the main reasons why it’s important to use a VPN when torrenting:
Online Safety and Security
VPNs are great whether you are torrenting or not because they allow you to have additional layers of online safety and security. By masking your location and your computer’s IP address, you make it more difficult for hackers and other people who may want to track your information even to find you online.
This is especially important when torrenting because torrenting involves downloading content from other computers that may or may not be set up to harm your computer, infect you with viruses, or steal your personal information. If you use a VPN, you are automatically lowering your risk of these things happening.
Note: It is still a good idea to be mindful of the torrents you are using and install a good anti-malware program on your computer for extra precautions, but a VPN alone will help improve your security.
Avoiding Location Restrictions
Some torrents and websites only work within certain countries, and some content, even with a torrent, can only be downloaded from certain locations. These location restrictions can be frustrating, but they can easily be avoided by using a VPN.
VPNs use something called a gateway to connect you to a specific geographical location, which allows you to bypass the location restrictions. Though the gateway is not a real physical location, the VPN tricks the internet into believing it is. You can use this to your advantage.
For example, if you want to download something from a torrent that only works in Japan, you can select a gateway on your VPN based in Japan. Once your VPN is connected to that gateway, you should be able to use the torrent as if you were sitting in an internet café in downtown Tokyo.
Since torrenting involves downloading content from other people’s devices, if you are not using a VPN, you leave behind little breadcrumbs of your true identity. In doing so, you open yourself up to things like identity theft, blackmail, and even copyright lawsuits.
Thanks to VPNs, you can remain completely anonymous online because VPNs disguise your computer’s IP address through encryption, which means that your computer with your personal information ceases to exist online when the VPN is turned on. Essentially, your device is replaced with another random IP address that cannot be traced back to any physical location or person.
Anonymity allows you to download things using a torrent safely so that no one can know who you are or access your personal information.
No Copyright Issues
Even with the warning about legality mentioned above, if we are completely honest with ourselves, many people use torrents to avoid paying a lot of money for copyrighted materials. Since downloading copyrighted materials is illegal and the copyright trolls are constantly looking for people illegally downloading copyrighted content to take legal action against, it is best to use a VPN when doing so.
If you are going to download copyrighted content, using a VPN will mask your IP address so that the copyright trolls cannot track your location or discover your true identity. In other words, if they do not know who you are, they cannot sue you. To keep yourself out of legal trouble, download a reliable VPN before you start downloading copyrighted content via a torrent.
Whether you are legally or illegally torrenting, it is still safer for you to use a VPN while torrenting. Even if you know the users you are downloading content from, you will risk getting a computer virus if they also get one. Be smart and save yourself the potential trouble torrenting can cause and use protection. There are many free and inexpensive VPNs available to choose from.