Stay Anonymous on Bittorrent
How to Anonymize Your BitTorrent Traffic with TorGuard
If you’re downloading torrents without taking special measures to protect your personal identity and activity, it’s just a matter of time before your ISP throttles your connection, sends you infamous “love letter” (sarcasm), or worst case, gets a subpoena from an attorney requesting your identity for a potential law suit. Here’s how to stay completely safe on bittorrent and keep your downloading safe and anonymous.
The traditional measures taken to torrent anonymously aren’t quite enough anymore to keep you safe. It is becoming increasingly easier for prying eyes to view torrent download traffic. You don’t even need to be doing anything illegal, either. Maybe you just want to keep “big brother” out of your personal business and just prevent bandwidth throttling. Either way, if you’re really serious about keeping your download activity private, your best bet involves routing your BitTorrent connection through an external service. Torguard is a BT-focused proxy server, VPN and Seedbox provider. Below, we’ll explain exactly what it does, how it works, and how to set it up to privatize and anonymize your BitTorrent traffic.
How TorGuard Works
When you download or seed a torrent, you’re connecting to a bunch of other people, called a swarm, all of whom—in order to share files—can see your computer’s IP address. That’s all very handy when you’re sharing files with other users, but file sharers such as yourself aren’t necessarily the only people paying attention. Independent monitoring groups also join BitTorrent swarms, but instead of sharing files, they’re logging the IP addresses of other people in the swarm—including you—so that they can notify your ISP of your doings. A proxy (like TorGuard) funnels your internet traffic—in this case, just your BitTorrent traffic—through another server, so that the BitTorrent swarm will show an IP address from a server that can’t be traced back to you instead of the address that points to your house. That way, these “prying eyes” can’t contact your ISP, and your ISP has no cause to send you a harrowing letter.
But wait, can’t these groups go after and request TorGuard’s logs to figure out that you’re the one downloading this watched torrent? Theoretically, yes, but the main reason that keeps TorGuard secure is that they don’t keep logs, so there’s no paper trail of activity leading back to you. TorGuard’s servers simply tunnel traffic for thousands of users at a time over a single server without keeping actuall records of files transferred. All anyone watching would see is TorGuard servers sharing a file, and all your ISP sees is you connecting to TorGuard—but not what data you’re downloading, because it’s encrypted.
If you subscribe to an ISP that throttles BitTorrent traffic, and aren’t using an anonymizer service, you have an additional problem. Your ISP can still see what you’re doing, and if they detect that you’re using BitTorrent (even if you’re using it for perfectly legal purposes) they’ll throttle your connection so you get unbearably slow speeds. When you encrypt your BitTorrent traffic with TorGuard, your ISP can’t see what you’re using your connection for. They’ll see that you’re downloading lots of information, but they won’t be able to see that it’s BitTorrent traffic, and thus won’t throttle your connection. You still have to be careful of going over your ISP’s bandwidth cap, however, if that exists.
TorGuard offers you both a proxy (to combat spying) and encryption (to combat throttling)—though many torrent clients have encryption built-in as well.
Sounds great, right? Now for a price check: First, TorGuard’s bittorrent protection service isn’t free. At rougly $6/month (as little as $4 if you pay for a year in advance), it isn’t very expensive, and well worth it if you want to torrent anonymously. A law suit settlement, if it comes to that, will cost you at least a couple thousand dollars, which equals a couple decades of TorGuard subscriptions, so keep that in mind.
Other TorGuard Alternatives
Lastly, while this is our preferred BitTorrent privacy solution, it won’t work for everyone. For example, if you’re stuck with a specific client that doesn’t support proxies, you’ll need something different. Here are a few of your other options:
A full VPN: If your client doesn’t support proxies, you’ll want a full VPN service that anonymizes all your traffic, not just BitTorrent. You can sleep well at night knowing that TorGuard is one of few VPN services do not keep logs of your activity.
A Seedbox: If you want to contribute back to the community (or if you’re on a private tracker that requires you seed to a certain ratio), you’ll want to try a seedbox. A seedbox is essentially a dedicated server in another country that does all the torrenting for you, using their very high speed connection. Once a torrent is downloaded, you can then point and click from and device and download your files. It’s more expensive than a simple proxy (ranging from entry-level boxes at $10 or $20 a month to fast boxes with more storage at $50 or even $100 a month), but it allows you to keep seeding at very high speeds.
In closing, BitTorrent isn’t the safe haven it once was, and if you’re going to use it to share and download files, we highly recommend getting some sort of protection from one of the TorGuard services above so you can avoid ISP “love letters” and throttled speeds.Tweet