Using a free VPN to torrent is tempting. You want the privacy to torrent freely without having to pay. I get that.
But here’s the problem: 99% of free VPNs aren’t just bad – many are dangerous. Free VPN providers have been caught selling user data, allowing malware on their networks, leaking your location and identity, and much more.
However, if you still want to use a free VPN, we’ve tested dozens and found the only three that are safe to use and don’t impose too many restrictions on you (like slow speeds and unreasonable bandwidth limits).
If you’re on a tight budget, stick to one of these free VPNs. But, if you can spare $2-3 per month, we suggest investing in a cheap premium VPN for reasons that will become clear in this guide.
The best free VPNs for torrenting:
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Best cheap VPNs for torrenting
If you’re already thinking 10 GB of data a month isn’t enough, but you still don’t want to spend a lot of money, check out these excellent, cheap VPNs:
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The best free VPNs for torrenting: in-depth analysis
Zero-cost plans are the only criteria we used when choosing the three best free torrenting VPNs (and the only ones you should use).
So, now, we’ll look at each one in greater detail and show you what they offer – and their limitations.
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The best cheap VPNs for torrenting
Now, let’s quickly review just three cheap premium VPNs so you can make a side-by-side comparison with the free providers listed above.
We chose these VPNs for their combination of low-cost plans, industry-best security, fast connections, and huge server networks.
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8 reasons to upgrade to a cheap VPN
How do we compare the experience using a cheap premium VPN like Surfshark vs. even the best free VPN?
There is no comparison.
Even a good free VPN like Windscribe cannot stack up against the features and experience offered by the best cheap VPNs.
To give you an idea, here’s what to expect when you invest a couple of dollars into a premium VPN:
Unlimited data: Even the cheapest premium VPNs don’t cap your data in any way. You can download, share, stream, game, and video conference 24/7, never worrying about your data limit. Faster connections: Premium VPNs invest millions of dollars to ensure you get the fastest connections anywhere in the world. Thousands of servers: While free VPNs restrict you to (at best) 10 servers, premium providers give you access to thousands located across the globe. Better privacy: Premium providers include a host of state-of-the-art privacy tools that add multiple layers of privacy to your internet connection. Industry-best security: Premium VPNs also lead the way in encryption standards, VPN protocols, leak protection, anti-malware, and much more. More content: The top premium VPNs work with every streaming site you can think of: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and even your local streamers. More devices: You can download the best premium VPNs on every device you use: phones, tablets, computers, consoles, smart TVs, Fire Stick, routers, and more. Premium support: Once you upgrade, you can access 24/7 live support with real human beings who have answered every question imaginable.
If you still need convincing, read our guide to the best premium VPNs for streaming to see the difference.
2 free VPNs to avoid at all costs
While we generally advise avoiding any free VPN not on this list, two, in particular, stand out for being genuinely nefarious in their shady attempts to profit from users and shocking dishonesty.
No matter what you read in their sales pitches or (probably compromised) reviews elsewhere, DO NOT install the following VPNs on any of your devices.
Hola! is a free privacy software that claims to be a VPN – but it’s actually something else entirely.
Hola! is more like the Tor browser (also known as The Onion Browser), a volunteer-run web browser from the early ‘00s that encrypts your data through a series of random “nodes” located across the globe. The Tor browser itself is a great tool when used with a VPN. But the problem is that Hola! is a private company that randomly mixes users’ IP addresses.
This method of ‘privacy’ is dangerous because if someone engages in criminal activity while using your IP address, it could be traced back to you. The risks if this happens are obvious, and authorities will probably be unsympathetic to your claims of innocence.
Betternet is a popular VPN owned by the same company as Hotspot Shield, AnchorFree, which generally has a positive reputation.
However, in 2016, a study by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found 14 separate tracking apps and 13 instances of malware on Betternet’s VPN app. Worse, Betternet’s Terms of Service allow it to grant third-parties companies access to your data and absolve Betternet of any responsibility for their actions once they have access.
If you’re worried about accidentally using a dishonest, dangerous VPN, read our guide to the worst VPNs available.
Methodology: how to choose the best free torrenting VPN for you
We’ve only recommended free torrenting VPNs that passed a series of rigorous tests by our international team – and only three made the final list!
You can use our criteria to guide you if you want to conduct your own research. Here’s a sample of the features we looked for:
Free plans forever: We only include VPN plans that are 100% free with no time limits or usage caps. Fast enough for P2P: The best free VPNs for torrenting won’t keep you waiting days for a single file to download. Reasonable bandwidth: We’ve only recommended free VPNs that give you enough bandwidth to download a couple of large files each month. Work with streamers: Aside from P2P, we also tested each VPN with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming sites to ensure they’re compatible. Excellent security: The VPNs we’ve recommended use industry-best encryption, leak protections, and additional tools to keep you hidden online. Transparent policies: No VPN with vague or dishonest policies made our list. We read the small print on every provider and tested their claims independently. Good on every device: You can use the best torrenting VPNs on mobile, laptops, PCs, tablets, smart TVs, and more. Good customer service: These VPNs won’t keep you waiting weeks for a reply when you submit a question. Privacy-friendly location: Look for a VPN based outside the Five Eyes surveillance alliance for ultimate privacy – places like Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
To get the complete list of criteria and understand precisely how we screen every VPN, read our complete VPN review process.
Free VPNs for torrenting FAQs
Are free VPNs safe for torrenting?
Sadly, most free VPNs are unsafe for torrenting – or anything else. We’ve tested, researched, and reviewed hundreds of VPNs. We consistently found free providers offering inferior products and engaging in borderline criminal activities.
Free VPNs need to generate revenue. But, because they don’t charge a subscription, they use much shadier tactics to profit from you. We’ve seen free VPNs:
Secretly harvest and sell your data Insert ads into your browser Host malware on their network that can infect your devices.
Also, free VPNs have limited budgets. So, even the honest ones can’t keep up with the latest cyber threats and technological shifts. They’re constantly common VPN scams.
And if you still don’t want to spend money on a VPN, stick to Windscribe, Hide.me, or Hotspot Shield for your torrenting.
Is using a VPN for torrenting legal?
Using a VPN for torrenting is legal in most countries. However, torrenting copyrighted material without permission is illegal in most countries.
If you use a VPN to hide your identity while torrenting copyrighted content, you may still be engaging in illegal activity, and using a VPN will not exempt you from potential consequences.
You need to understand the laws and regulations related to torrenting in your country, and always respect intellectual property rights. At ProPrivacy, we do not endorse or encourage illegal activities, including using free VPNs to download or share copyrighted content through torrenting.
Which free torrenting VPN has the most servers?
Windscribe has the most servers of any free torrenting VPN. You can choose between 11 P2P-friendly servers around the world.
While this is more than most free VPNs, it’s a tiny fraction of the servers you get from top premium VPNs. Surfshark, one of the cheapest VPNs in the world, has over 3,000 servers in 100+ countries. That’s over 270 times more than Windscribe.
Can I use a free VPN for streaming?
Due to consumers using VPNs to bypass region locks, most streaming services are aware of this and have made significant efforts to block them. As a result, only a few premium VPNs work to successfully access popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Player. Unfortunately, staying ahead of VPN blocks is time-consuming, expensive, and technical.
However, some market-leading VPNs continue to provide access to streams and have incorporated it as a core feature of their service. They understand that this adds value to their service and helps to maintain the VPN’s popularity.
In contrast, free VPNs are unable to provide this level of service due to limited servers and IP addresses, making them easy to detect and block. Additionally, free VPNs often have slow speeds, making them unsuitable for watching TV due to constant buffering and poor video playback.
Do free VPNs have limitations?
Yes. Compared to premium VPNs, reliable free VPNs are highly limited. They impose download limits, speed limits, and have a limited choice of servers. They also prevent users from accessing popular streaming platforms. They do this to limit how useful the free plan is, and to encourage users to upgrade to a paid plan.
Despite these limitations, free VPNs can come in extremely useful for people living in countries suffering from blocks. These limited free plans allow netizens to bypass blocks, read unbiased news, and communicate with family and friends using social media during internet blackouts caused by overreaching governments.
The three free torrenting VPNs we’ve recommended offer the best combination of safety, trustworthiness, and performance. They’re fast, support P2P, and don’t impose too many restrictions.
But… they’re still incredibly limited compared to the best cheap premium VPNs.
There’s no risk in trying one out – they’re free, after all – but if you really want to torrent with peace of mind and minimal stress, use the generous 30-day money-back guarantees offered by premium providers like Surfshark and PrivateVPN (CyberGhost offers 45 days) to see the difference.