Tor for Torrenting: Why to avoid in 2018?

Nikolos Faslow
Nikolos Faslow
Last updated: 15/11/2018

You never know when you are caught!

Torrent anonymously with a super-fast VPN and avoid fines from copyright holders!

 

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.

However, it’s better to use a VPN with Tor to get a complete anonymity on the Internet. Have a look at top 5 providers which can run with The Onion Router well:

  1. ExpressVPN is a nice choice to use with Tor. The provider offers military-grade encryption and robust protocols.  
  2. NordVPN suports DNS leak protection, automatic Kill Switch and no bandwidth limits.
  3. CyberGhost provides its customers with 45-day money back guarantee and up-to-date protocols.
  4. IPVanish is another perfect VPN with zero traffic logs and more than 40,000 shared IPs.
  5. VyprVPN defeats throttling, it also owns 700+ servers worldwide.

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?

Onion routing has been designed, implemented and deployed as an original project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, with initial study beginning in 1995.

The United States was searching for a way to secure and anonymize intelligence communication for domestic and international operations.


The first launch of Tor

The first publication on onion routing was presented in the mid-1996 causing a furor and showing forward progress.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) joined a project by rendering financial assistance for proceeding with researches in 1997.

Unfortunately, the sponsorship dried up in 1999, but onion routing development continued. With the progress of the researches, it wasn’t a surprise that DARPA reversed its decision and came back to provide funding.


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.


Tor for torrenting: 4 downsides you must know about

Before using Tor for torrenting, look through the following downsides:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


Can I unblock torrent trackers via Tor?

If you are going to use Tor just to unblock your favourite torrent tracker, Tor can be used for these needs. As you need to have a different IP address to access a blocked torrent tracker in your country, Tor can ensure you with this opportunity.

Still, if you want more than just unblocking torrent trackers, you’d better think of Tor alternatives.

Keep on reading and you’ll know what to use instead of Tor for torrenting!  

Got interested? Then let’s dive right now!


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:

  1. Your public IP address is invisible in torrent swarms, since it is replaced by an IP of the VPN service you are connected to
  2. 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 no log 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.


Tor vs VPN: which to choose for torrenting?

You are right of you think that both Tor and VPN ensure you with privacy, but still one of them is better to avoid while you download torrents. Which one is more effective for torrenting?

Get to know right now:

  • VPN is more efficient as regards IP hiding

VPN providers connect an IP of their VPN servers when you try opening a torrent tracker via their service. As for Tor, your real IP is connected that’s why it might be easier to track your identity. Moreover, Tor is much more monitored by the governments.

  • VPN is faster for torrenting

You might be too irritated while downloading heavy HD movies from torrent trackers as Tor is believed to be too slow for these needs. VPN can slow down internet connections as well, but still, it is far faster than a Tor.

  • VPN encrypts the traffic

There is nothing better than a VPN service as regards data protection. Having connected to VPN, all your sensitive data will be encrypted and passed through a VPN server. Being encrypted, the information goes out to the network.

  • VPN server’s IP is tracked on torrent trackers

While you torrent on trackers, you public IP is visible for the other seeders and leechers. A VPN service lets you thoroughly hide your IP as it’s VPN server’s IP that is visible on torrenting sites.


VPN for torrenting: how to choose?

To find a good VPN for torrenting, you need to know about 7 awesome features to look for:

 

Feature Why to use?
Strong data encryption You traffic becomes invisible for prying eyes while you torrent (256-bit strength is preferred).
Kill switch It protects you against IP leak during torrenting. 
Reliable VPN protocols They make your internet connections safer.
Compatibility with all kinds of devices A good VPN for torrenting must be compatible with various platforms so that you can use on all your devices.
No log VPN policy If a VPN provider doesn’t keep logs, you are more private while torrenting.
Fast VPN servers Being able to download even heavy torrents, your VPN service should be fast enough.
Wide choice of VPN locations The more VPN locations are offered, the more chances to unblock torrent sites.

 

If you have already had a VPN service, check if it has all these must-have features.

If you have read all the presented data, you are ready to choose the best VPN for Tor. Even after having received all the useful information, it can be pretty difficult to select the best VPN for Tor. So, we have made a step forward to simplify your job.

Did you know that?

The scientists from Northwestern University have carried out the experiment in the network Tor. It has been held from 12th February till 24th April 2016. The researches set going approximately 1500 trap-servers HOnions that managed to find out 110 dangerous HSDirs (Hidden Services Directories).

What’s HOnion?

HSDirs implied Tor servers which stored information and directed the users to ".onion" addresses. However, HOnions were in operation like normal hidden services, but actually it was used for tracking the traffic.

As the researchers have stated Tor anonymity and security are based on the hypothesis that the most services are honest and operate in the right way. In fact the privacy of hidden services depends on operator’s honesty of hidden services directories (HSDirs).

What’s the result?

The experiment has been held for 72 days. At least 110 malicious HSDirs were found out, most of which were located in the US, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The scientists state that 70% HSDirs operate based on professional cloud infrastructure.

In addition it complicates its analysis. 25% are HSDirs and exit nodes simultaneously allowing their operators to track all the unencrypted traffic and perform man-in-the-middle attacks.

According to the report which has been presented on the symposium Privacy Enhancing Technologies the various behaviors of HSDirs has been disclosed. While some required description.json files and took interest in upgrade state on Apache, the other tried to attack through SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).

The developers of the project Tor did not leave it unattended and post the message on the official blog. Tor has internal identification system. If such a relay is found out, it is ruled out from the network. Unfortunately, the intrusion-detection technology is non-perfect. Working independently should lead to the shared objective.


5 Solid Steel Facts To Prove That Tor Alone Can’t Protect Your Privacy

An onion router known to mass customers as Tor is a toll used for securing one’s network from undesired interference. So, being concerned about your private communications you need to run the service.

On the one side, the service is being tested by numerous customers each day and allows its users to access the deep web and onion sites anonymously.

On the other side, it has been developed by the US army and leaves little assurance in its anonymity, therefore the question needs more information to be used.

The fact is that Tor is much more complicated system than it seems to be. As you have probably seen, some developers offer Tor installed into browsers. As it has been stated by numerous security experts, such browsers have little in common with detached Tor installed on your system.


Torrenting with VPN: quick how-to guide

Have you chosen a VPN for torrenting from our rating above? Ok, then we’ll tell you how to torrent with it!

Let’s turn to the details right now!

Follow this quick guide to get maximum benefits from your VPN for torrenting:

  1. Find the best VPN for your needs from the rating above in our article.
  2. Go to the official website of the VPN provider and get a VPN subscription for the plan which has the best price for you.  
  3. Download the app for your gadget (Read our dedicated articles to know about must-have features for a VPN for Windows and VPN for Mac).
  4. Then set up the VPN app and turn it on.
  5. After your VPN is on, go to the site of your favourite torrent tracker and get it unblocked for you.

Be sure that your VPN is always on when you upload or download torrents. It’s vital to be anonymous while you are torrenting as your IP will be tracked on the website. Still, having connected to VPN, your real IP is hidden from prying eyes.

There is one more Tor alternative – proxy services. Want more details?

Ok, let’s start!


What is proxy?

Wikipedia says that proxy servers are ‘’web proxies, facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web, providing anonymity and may be used to bypass IP address blocking’’.

In other words, people use proxy servers to access blocked sites, including torrent trackers that are blocked by the authorities in many countries.

Unfortunately, proxies can’t protect you on the network as VPN services, for example, do. They just let you bypass internet restrictions and unblock sites, but the information, which is passed, is not encrypted.

Finally? What’s the best Tor alternative? Proxy? Or VPN?

Let’s compare them!


VPN vs Proxy for torrenting in 2018

VPN vs Proxy: compare the results

Feature VPN Proxy
Hides real IPs Yes Yes
Creates secure virtual tunnels Yes No
Encrypts internet traffic Yes No
Ensures with fast connection speeds Yes No

 


Conclusion

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.

Average: 5 (2 votes)
Antonio
Antonio
August 20, 2018 1 

I don't know why to use Tor Router on iOS.. Apple itself takes great care about phone safety. As far as I know, iOS 7 was the first mobile operating system which encrypted the storage drive.

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Milena
Milena
September 19, 2018 0 

Hi! Has anybody used a browser VPN here?

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Ole
Ole
September 20, 2018 0 

I never use browser VPN because most of them are free. This, of course, raise many questions about safety of such services. I prefer website proxy or a paid VPN. Tor is also a good free anonymizer, but it is difficult to download with it.

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Irina
Irina
September 19, 2018 0 

Hello. Yes, I use browsec for watching movies inaccessible in my country. This software works fast and without any significant failures. There are only 4 free servers: Netherlands, England, America and Singapore. You can get other servers after paying for premium. Browsec VPN available on Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Firefox and iOS. Unfortunately, there is no app for Android.

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Maxim
Maxim
September 15, 2018 0 

VPN hardware is really cool for using at office. I like VPN hardware for its additional features. In fact, I don't use VLAN feature, but it is nice to know that it is an option. Actually, all routers that I bought were running without any issues. I was using the stock Windows 10 VPN software to access networks.

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Malthe
Malthe
September 14, 2018 0 

Hello there. I know, lots of people use A VPN for anonymous surfing on the Internet. I've read a lot of reviews and found out that people mainly download private internet access VPN for torrentig. Now, I don't know what to choose... PIA or any VPN hardware.

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Dirk
Dirk
September 14, 2018 0 

Oh, I used CISCO hardware at my office previously. I remember we had some problems with its installation, but then everything worked well, fast and efficient. Now we use VPN software on all our machines. Actually, I can't say what exactly is better. It depends on your whim. Personally I thing that a reliable VPN software will be more than enough for use at home.

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Ljubo
Ljubo
September 12, 2018 0 

Has anybody downloaded tor portable on PC? I wonder if it is really possible to use Tor anonymizer without installing additional software? Sounds too good to be true :)

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Namo
Namo
September 13, 2018 0 

Hello. Yes, it is true. Portable package Tor Browser really allows you to use Tor without additional software. The main disadvantage is that it is suitable only with Firefox, but compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that Tor browser doesn't require the installation of additional software and can run on a USB flash drive.

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Brian
Brian
August 02, 2018 0 

Hi there. I'm thinking about using Tor Router because I don't want government or my internet service provider to be able to spy my online activity! According to the reviews, Tor is quite a reliable way to protect the data. I still didn't get... is Tor illegal in 2018? My main question: is Tor illegal in UK? My country has very strict issues about copyright infringement. So, it seems to me, it is risky to use Tor there, isn't it?

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Helen
Helen
August 07, 2018 0 

Hello, Brian! What do you mean be "illegal"? Technology itself is legal in the UK, but everything depends on your activity. As far as I understand, you want to protect your personal data from the government. Wouldn't you rather use a VPN for this purpose? It is 100% legal and able to encrypt your data as well as change your IP.

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Jamie
Jamie
August 02, 2018 0 

Hello. As far as I know, Tor is not banned in the UK. Though. it is illegal if you manage to use it for torrenting. Personally I have mix feeling about it.. On the one hand, Tor helps to protect personal data. On the other - there are lots of people who use this router for dishonest purposes on dark web.

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Jonatan
Jonatan
July 12, 2018 1 

So many talks about Tor Router.. I wonder, is tor safe on iphone?

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Antonio
Antonio
August 20, 2018 1 

I don't know why to use Tor Router on iOS.. Apple itself takes great care about phone safety. As far as I know, iOS 7 was the first mobile operating system which encrypted the storage drive.

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PavelN
PavelN
July 16, 2018 1 

Hello, Jonatan. Tor is completely safe on iOS devices. It routs your traffic through multiple nodes in ToR network. However, it does not encrypt the traffic, but makes it harder to track or trace back. It also possible to get an access to Dark Web sites via Tor. I can't say that it is the most convenient way to encrypt your data cause it reduces connection speed a lot.

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