4 out of 17 VPN services leaked our IP address while torrenting!
Not every VPN is as secure as they claim. The five services that failed in our testing included:
- Astrill VPN
- Hide.me VPN
We have been in touch with ExpressVPN and upon double checking, we have concluded that ExpressVPN does not leak IP. For further clarification read the ExpressVPN section below.
*NOTE: We would like to clarify that we do not intend to slander anyone’s brand image. This research was conducted in order to highlight flaws in the VPN software. Our intention is to provide the best VPN solution for our readers.
We will be reaching out to other VPN Providers in this research in order to get their response.
One thing that torrent users fear is the revelation of their actual location.
That’s why they use a VPN to safeguards their identity. A VPN cloaks your IP address and replaces it with an IP address of its server, making you anonymous.
But, if there is any IP leakage, then you are doomed!
Copyright sharks are in hot pursuit to catch torrent users, penalize them through DMCAs, fines, or worse, issue lawsuits and prosecute them.
Therefore, to see which VPN providers are safe for torrenting and which would leak your IP address, we put 17 renowned VPN services to the test while downloading a torrent.
The results revealed interesting findings.
Some services worked brilliantly, while others faltered and could be potentially dangerous for use with P2P platforms.
This is why security features of a VPN are extremely important. For a more comprehensive treatment of security and other features of VPNs, you can consult our blog on best VPN providers of 2018
How Did We Conduct the Tests?
To check if VPN providers were leaking IP addresses while torrenting, we used a tool called ipMagnet. It offers a magnet link, which you can add to your BitTorrent client.
It then shows your IP address that your torrent client hands out to trackers and peers. You can see the IP address in the torrent client and on its website.
- See our blog on Check Torrent IP for safer torrenting.
We followed these steps for testing:
- First, check your actual IP address (you can use ipMagnet or https://www.iplocation.net/)
- Launch the VPN service
- Connect to a P2P supported server (note the VPN IP address)
- Wait for a successful VPN connection
- Now launch BitTorrent client (we used uTorrent client)
- Add the ipMagnet tracker from its website
- Wait for a while and then note the IP address it shows (in the client & on its website)
- If the IP address matches the VPN IP address, then there is no leakage
- If IP’s don’t match & shows your actual IP, then the provider is leaking your IP
Test Results – VPNs That Leaked IP & Those That Did Not
Here is a detailed look at the results for each VPN provider, along with our analysis of which services to use and avoid.
Astrill VPN – Not Recommended: Leaks IP Address
Astrill VPN leaked our IP address when we connected to US server. Instead of hiding our IP, it showed our actual IP address.
The reason for this is still unknown, as we tried twice but got the same result. Here is a snapshot of Astrill’s Windows client connected to the US server:
But when we checked ipMagnet tracker in our uTorrent client and on its website, we were not shown a US IP address. Instead, our original IP was visible
Therefore, we would not recommend Astrill VPN for torrenting. It does not guarantee your safety and anonymity and could put you in harm’s way by leaking your IP.
Update: Probable Fix to Astrill VPN Leaking IP Address
We received a comment from Astrill VPN’s support team as a probable fix to the problem. To prevent IP leakage, switch the protocol to StealthVPN or OpenVPN, as it works best for torrenting.
This way, your entire web traffic goes through the VPN, including uTorrent. Here is their comment and the steps to follow for changing the protocol:
“You need to switch Astrill to OpenVPN or StealthVPN protocol, then all your traffic will go through VPN, including traffic from torrent client. Astrill includes App Guard which can block traffic from specific apps before VPN is connected, as well as Kill Switch.
If you use OpenWeb, it will work with web browsers only. It’s meant for fast web streaming and surfing. It’s possible to configure OpenWeb to work with all apps however (OpenWeb Options -> Tunnel: All Apps), but for torrenting OpenVPN or StealthVPN is recommended.”
Betternet – Recommended: A Reliable Free VPN for Torrenting
Among many freemium VPN services, there is Betternet. We tested the service for torrenting and got positive results – no IP leakage.
This was a surprise, as free VPN providers are notorious for leaking IPs and not preserving user’s privacy. Their connections are also unreliable at times and could use weak encryption ciphers.
However, this was not the case with Betternet.
After establishing successful VPN connection, we checked our IP address on ipMagnet and then on uTorrent.
The test revealed no IP leakage, making Betternet a worthy choice for torrenting among free VPNs. It will safeguard your privacy without exposing your actual residence.
CyberGhost – Recommended: No IP Leaks
CyberGhost is another service that made its name in the free category, but its premium version is miles apart in terms of performance.
We gave CyberGhost a run for its money while downloading a torrent. For our test, we connected to their server located in France.
Once connected, we opened uTorrent along with ipMagnet tracker. The IP address handed out by the BitTorrent client was of France and matched the address displayed by the VPN service.
Therefore, we would recommend the provider and you can try CyberGhost for your P2P file sharing activities while remaining anonymous.
ExpressVPN – Recommended: No IPLeak
ExpressVPN is one of the leading VPN services in the industry. It has made a name for itself by offering outstanding performance.
The representative of ExpressVPN reached out to us in response to this article and they had this to say:
“The IP is in Hong Kong
The IP is in Hong Kong
The IP is in Hong Kong”
Since their rebuttal wasn’t quite satisfying, we decided to double check the information.
Although the IP 22.214.171.124 shows up as a US IP on IP2Location, we verified it on MaxMind as per ExpressVPN’s request. And, the IP showed us a location in Hong Kong. Check the Screenshot below:
So we can conclude that it is safe to use ExpressVPN for torrenting.
However, our expectations went down the drain when tested it for torrenting. The results showed signs of potential IP leakage. For our testing, we connected to their server in Hong Kong. But when we checked our IP address using ipMagnet, our location was being shown in the US. This was a surprise, as we never selected a US server to start with. To verify our IP, we cross-checked it on https://www.iplocation.net and it too displayed a US-based address. Here is the screenshot of our ExpressVPN client connected to a server in Hong Kong: The uTorrent client was handing out a US-based IP address to trackers and peers, instead of the IP from ExpressVPN’s Hong Kong server. Below are the results of our testing. Although, our true location was never displayed during testing, but neither was our desired destination. So, we can conclude that ExpressVPN could leak your actual IP. Even though you are using one of its servers, it could route your data through an entirely different path. This makes ExpressVPN a dubious choice for preserving your privacy while using torrents – not recommended.
Hide.me – Not Recommended: No IP Leak but Unstable Connection
The next provider that we tested was Hide.me. It is another freemium service that offers commendable server locations, nifty features, and has several positive reviews.
To test if the service was any good in securing one’s privacy while torrenting, we put it to the test.
Straightway, we faced a problem.
The connections were highly unstable. Hide.me would disconnect immediately upon connecting to any server. After several attempts, we were able to establish a successful connection to their server in Singapore.
To check how reliable Hid.me VPN is in keeping us anonymous, we looked up ipMagnet and uTorrent client. There were no signs of IP leakage, as the IP address shown by both the software was of Hide.me’s Singapore server.
So, if you are looking for a free VPN for torrenting, you can give Hide.me try.
However, our recommendation would be NOT to use the service for downloading or uploading large files that would take time.
Due to unstable connection, you never know when the VPN disconnects and the torrent client starts to leak your actual IP address.
IPVanish – Recommended: Stable Connection with No Signs of IP Leak
IPVanish is highly popular amongst streaming community, especially for Kodi users.
Since many Kodi add-ons work on BitTorrent protocol, it was important that we tested IPVanish and its capabilities in securing users privacy.
For our testing, we used IPVanish’s Netherlands server.
Next, we launched the uTorrent client and ipMagnet’s website to check for IP leakage. The results showed positive signs as there were no IP leakage while using torrents.
You should definitely consider IPVanish for torrenting. It secures your identity and encrypts everything you send over the internet, be it P2P data or any other form of data.
Ivacy VPN – Recommended: No Privacy Breach & Commendable Performance
Ivacy VPN is the next provider we took for a test drive while torrenting. The service showed good performance along with no indication of IP leakage.
One of the key features, that Ivacy VPN openly markets, is its ability to secure your privacy and keep you anonymous while using P2P services.
And, from our tests, it was no surprise – the VPN lived up to its offering. To check how stable and reliable Ivacy VPN is for torrenting, we used its Malaysian server.
As you can see, the IP address picked up by ipMagent and the uTorrent client was of Ivacy VPN.
Hence, we would recommend the provider to torrent users who are looking to secure their identity and want to remain anonymous to copyright trolls and ISPs.
NordVPN – Recommended: No Indication of IP Leakage
Whenever we talk about top VPN brands, NordVPN will definitely make it to our list. It has numerous users and followers from every corner on earth.
One of its durable features is its P2P support, as it offers designated servers for the use of torrents.
These servers are spread across the globe and to see how good they are, we connected to their Netherlands server and conducted our testing.
NordVPN performed smoothly throughout the experiment, as we did not incurred any problem. The connections were stable, internet speeds did not go off the cliff, and there was no IP leakage.
As you can see from the screenshots, uTorrent and ipMagent showed the IP address of NordVPN’s Netherlands server – highly recommended!
PrivateInternetAccess (PIA) – Recommended: No logs & No IP Leakage
PrivateInternetAccess (PIA) is the most secure VPNs you will ever come across. Its emphasis on user privacy and anonymity is unparalleled compare to any other service in the industry.
This was evident during our testing, as there was no IP leakage from PIA.
To conduct IP leak assessment, we downloaded PIA’s Windows app and connected to their French server. Upon successful connection, we ran uTorrent client and verified our IP from ipMagnet’s website.
There were no changes in IPs, and the provider showed a stable connection. Hence, we would certainly recommend PIA to anyone looking for a safe and secure torrent VPN.
PureVPN – Wildcard: No IP leak But Connectivity Issue
There are not many VPN providers like PureVPN in the industry. It offers a variety of features, is pocket friendly, and offers excellent performance, but when things go wrong, it could make you cry.
Why would we say this?
Well, our testing revealed interesting findings about the service.
Let’s discuss the problem first.
PureVPN offers multiple servers located in different locations and among them are servers optimized for P2P. But when tried connecting these P2P servers, we encountered severe connectivity issue.
Not all P2P servers were working. After several attempts, we were finally able to connect to El Salvador server.
The good news was that the connection was stable after connecting. There were no interruptions and we did not observe any leakage in IP address, as you can see from the results:
So what do we make of PureVPN, is it recommendable? To us, this is a wildcard.
Since our IP address did not leak, we can say the provider is safe. However, connecting to a P2P server was hard work, but if you get passed this, PureVPN will not disappoint.
ProtonVPN – Recommended: Free VPN with No IP Leak
Among different free VPN services, ProtonVPN offers one of the slickest VPN apps. Users can use the service on all operating systems, including Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android.
In the free version, you get three server locations and one device connectivity. To see if ProtonVPN is any good for torrenting, we connected to their server in Hong Kong while using their Windows app.
Below are the results of our tests. There was no IP leakage and the connection did not weaken.
Therefore, we would recommend ProtonVPN for torrenting, especially if you are looking for freemium options.
PrivateVPN – Not Recommended: Highly Unstable Connection
PrivateVPN is the next provider that we tested for IP leakage while torrenting. Sadly, the provider did not live up to our expectations. It is not suitable for torrenting due to several connection issues.
According to the providers FAQ page, PrivateVPN allows P2P only on its server in Sweden. However, we were unable to connect to their Sweden server. As soon as we hit connect, it would disconnect.
Ultimately, we connected to their server in Frankfurt, Germany.
The positive take away from our testing was that there was no IP leakage. When we looked up the IP address handed out to trackers and peers, there was no change in the IP provided by PrivateVPN and that shown in uTorrent or by ipMagnet.
Although the results of IP leakage are favorable, the issue of server connectivity is not helpful.
Since PrivateVPN only allows P2P activity on Swedish servers, we think that it can terminate your account if gets the hint that your using torrents on any other server.
Therefore, we would not recommend PrivateVPN for torrenting.
TunnelBear – Recommended: No IP Leaks but Unstable Connection
If there ever was a loveable mascot of a VPN brand, then would be hard to beat TunnelBear. McAfee recently acquired the VPN service and only time will tell how the partnership will work.
However, the signs were not promising from our testing.
We expected TunnelBear to roar through our testing, but instead, it tumbled over terrible server connectivity. After multiple efforts, we established a smooth connection with their Germany server.
We observed the connection for a while and then checked for IP leakage. Astonishingly, there were no signs or results showing any IP leakage.
Here are the screenshots of our testing:
So what’s the verdict on TunnelBear?
At first, the provider did not seem to be worthy for torrenting, but after a strong connection with one of its servers, it did not faltered.
Therefore, we would recommend TunnelBear for torrenting, but we must warn users of unstable server connections.
Windscribe – Recommended: Free, Stable & Reliable
Windscribe comes under the umbrella of free VPN services, which also offer premium packages. We tested its free account and the results were promising.
Windscribe offers select servers on its free plan. For testing, we connected to their Hong Kong server and checked for IP leakage while torrenting.
There was no IP leakage during our tests, as uTorrent and ipMagnet showed the same IP address as shown in Windscribe’s Windows client.
Therefore, it shows that the free version of the service is reliable for torrenting, as it will keep you anonymous and secure.
VyprVPN – Recommended: No Signs of IP Leakage
VyprVPN passed our testing with flying colors as it did not showed any signs of IP leakage. For starters, VyprVPN is a product of Golden Frog and has been in the industry for a sometime.
It has a commendable user base, which is spread across the globe. To find out if the provider would leak our IP while torrenting, we connected to its server in Slovakia.
There was no variation or change in the IP address shown by the Windows client and that displayed by ipMagent and uTorrent.
The reliable connection, 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN protocol, and no signs of IP leakage makes VyprVPN a recommendable VPN for torrenting.
SetupVPN – Not Recommended: Severe IP Leakage & Not Safe for Torrenting
SetupVPN is a new provider in town and is primarily a VPN browser extension. It also offers apps for Windows, Mac and Android.
To see how well the provider fairs while preserving our privacy while torrenting, we tested its Windows app.
It automatically connected us to a server in the US. But when we checked the IP address given out by uTorrent, our local (actual) IP was shown.
Our recommendation, stay well clear of SetupVPN if you are considering it for torrenting, it is not safe!
ZenMate – Recommended: No Privacy Breach
ZenMate comes in various packages, free and premium. Over the years, it made a name for itself by offering a free browser extension, but its premium version offers dedicated apps for different platforms and more server choices.
We used its premium account for testing and the results were actually good. ZenMate did not leak our IP address while torrenting (we connected to their Spanish server).
To validate the results, we first checked ipMagnet, uTorrent, and followed by https://www.iplocation.net/.
All these platforms displayed the IP address assigned by ZenMate and there was no indication of any IP leakage while using torrents.
This shows that ZenMate’s premium version is a worthy contender for safe and secure VPN for torrenting.
Final Thoughts – Which VPN Should You, Choose.
This brings us to the end of our guide.
We hope our analysis and results will help you make an informed decision and select the providers that would guarantee anonymity while torrenting.
Some VPN services stood out from the crowd, while others were not so good.
From our list, we highlighted five VPN services that leaked our IP address and we would advise users to avoid these providers for any P2P activity.
As for selecting the most suitable VPN, we leave you with some points that can help you narrow down your search:
- Look for the number of P2P supported servers
- Dedicated apps are always beneficial as they remove manual labor
- Check for protocols and encryption levels
- Trial accounts or free versions are a plus for checking out the provider before committing to a lengthy paid subscription
- If free version is not available then make use of the money back period
- Lastly, check for IP leak using the steps we demonstrated – you privacy is more important!