Many internet users are interested to know whether Tor browser is fit for safe and anonymous torrenting. At first sight, torrenting with Tor sounds like a great option, since this technology has many advantages: it’s free and operates on multiple layers of encrypted proxies providing high anonymous results.
In such a manner, Tor can be used as a torrent proxy. But the Tor community insists on ignoring this option, instead choosing other great alternatives for anonymous torrenting.
What is Tor?
Named after the original software project “The Onion Router”, Tor has been developed with the U.S. Navy with the main purpose of enabling anonymous communication and internet browsing. Nowadays, it is managed by a non-profit organization whose goal is the research and development of online privacy software.
Having installed Tor on your device, Internet traffic is directed through a free worldwide overlay network composed of thousands of relays to mask a user’s actual geo-location and activity from a prying eye.
Using Tor makes it more problematic for network activity to be traced back to the customer including browsing history, instant communication and online posts. The use of Tor technology is designed to protect the personal privacy, as well as freedom and ability to communicate by keeping users’ internet activities from being tracked.
Tor does not prevent an online service from identifying that it is being accessed over the Tor browser. It protects a customer’s privacy, but leaves open the fact that Tor is being used. However, some websites and online services restrict Tor browser accessing.
Can Tor be used to download torrent files?
The Tor network uses layers SOCKS proxies, so technically any app or software maintaining SOCKS proxy connectivity can use Tor. Fortunately, many popular and widely-used apps, OSes and mobile platforms including some desktop torrent clients are compatible with Tor.
But before using Tor for torrenting, look through the following downsides:
- Tor has been designed for enabling the right to free speech and fighting censorship, not for file downloading.
Tor’s bandwidth is severely limited, so it seems important to save the limit for people who really need it. Tor is used on a daily basis to exercise the freedom of opinion against violent government and brutal dictators, or to exchange sensitive data anonymously. The technology enables users to expose abuse and oppression in relatively safe environment.
Tor is an incredibly important tool in the struggle for online freedom, so it’s undesirable to overload the Tor network with high-bandwidth torrent traffic.
- Your actual IP address can be leaked when torrenting over Tor.
Cyber security experts say that they are able to de-anonymize thousands of torrent users trying to hide their torrenting with Tor. This is because Tor is used for connecting to the tracker, while peer connections are routed outside it.
- Tor does not support UDP connections allowing for your IP address leaking while using any non-TCP connection.
Being a core torrent technology, DHT is supported by magnet links that do not work without it. Nevertheless, DHT relies on the UDP protocol which is not handled by Tor.
In that case, some torrent clients disable non-supported functions, while the others ignore proxy settings for UDP and route traffic outside the tunnel created by Tor. As a result, your actual IP address is leaked to all DHT peers revealing your identity.
- Tor can make your internet connection much slower.
As practice shows, playing online game or streaming HD video over Tor seem to be difficult and ineffectively. The same applied to torrenting with Tor: there is no guarantee that you’ll enjoy fast downloading/uploading connection speeds promised by your ISP.
What Tor alternatives can be used for torrenting?
Considering the disadvantages using Tor for anonymizing your torrent activity, you may look for the other options available on the Internet. One of the best choices for secure and anonymous torrenting is a no-log VPN service.
What is a VPN?
A VPN service is used for routing all the internet traffic through a third-party server owned by the VPN provider. Besides, VPN encodes the exchanged data with extremely strong up-to-date 128-bit or 256-bit encryption.
Having subscribed for a reliable VPN service, you are provided with an iron-clad protection from the two main methods torrents are monitored:
- Your public IP address is invisible in torrent swarms, since it is replaced by an IP of the VPN service you are connected to.
- A strong encryption level prevents your internet provider from monitoring your traffic including torrent files downloading.
It should be mentioned that you have to choose a non-logging VPN service. This is because a VPN provider, which stores users’ activity logs, can share your connection history, whether voluntarily for personal gain or coercively forced by the government.
Here are presented the best three VPN services for secure and anonymous torrenting:
If you want to stay anonymous when torrenting and do not want other users to see what you are downloading – Tor is not the best solution. Tor browser is not able to keep you unidentified while downloading files over torrent.
However, a reliable VPN service is a must-have for torrent users. All the top VPN providers offer easy-to-use VPN software which guarantees 99% anonymity and privacy when torrenting.