Torrent Downloads & Privacy

Even though torrent downloads are on the decline with direct-download services being used instead, people still like to download files using torrents. We also have magnet links today as an alternative to torrent-file downloads, which offers the same end result.

The problem with this is that torrents are heavily tracked. This started well over a decade ago, and has gotten worse over the years, to government-sanctioned monitoring in the United States and other parts of the world. I’ve listed multiple sources here, but it’s easy to find information on how torrent activity is tracked and the serious privacy concerns for this type of p2p filesharing.

Torrent / Magnet Downloads – Public Download Activity

If you’re not aware yet, downloading torrents is very much an open-to-the-public-type of download activity. In fact, there’s even a website available that lists file names of files downloaded using specific IP addresses. Even if your IP address doesn’t show up on this list, if you’re using your home or work internet connection to download torrents, you should fully understand that your IP address is on a list somewhere.
Surveillance cameras - representing big brother oversight

Any action you take on the internet is tracked to some degree. Torrent and p2p-type downloads are tracked heavily. Anti-p2p organizations, ISPs, governments and other interested parties may be recording the files uploaded or downloaded along with the IP addresses used to access and share these files. The very nature of peer2peer downloads, which is what torrent / magnet downloads are, dictates that your computer is connecting with other computers, and thereby requiring your IP address is shared with each and every other computer accessing the same files you are. If you’re a regular torrent downloader, you can be certain that your IP address is tucked away in logs all over the world, potentially tied to every single file you’ve ever downloaded.

There are ways to protect your privacy when downloading torrents, though, and I’ll share a couple of them here.

Torrent Privacy with VPN services

One of the most popular options for anonymous torrent downloads is using a VPN service. Using a VPN, especially if they are torrent-friendly VPN providers, you can download torrents and magnet link files using your own computer, your own torrent client and your own internet connection. A VPN gives you access to an encrypted private network, or multiple encrypted private networks, which work with your existing internet connection while preventing your ISP from seeing exactly what you’re doing online.

Generally speaking, VPN services are pretty easy to use and many of the popular VPN services work with Windows, Mac and Linux. I’ve been using privateinternetaccess.com for over a year and they’ve been exceptional, but there are other options out there.

Torrent + Download Privacy with Premium Multihoster Services

More fitting for this site is a second option for anonymizing your torrent downloads and filehoster downloads: a LinkSnappy Elite account. Linksnappy and alternate services have built-in privacy protection for member downloads. This means that you can download torrents and download files from sites like Depfile, Rapidgator, UploadRocket, etc without exposing your IP address. You do not need a VPN when using LinkSnappy because your IP address is already hidden when downloading with your account.

To be perfectly clear here: if you only download torrents and don’t download files from filehosting sites like Keep2Share, TurboBit, oBoom, etc, use a VPN service instead. If you download torrents / magnet files along with files from filehosting and filesharing sites, then you’ll probably find substantial value from using a LinkSnappy account.

My Best Advice for Torrents and Downloading Files

No matter what you’re downloading, if you’re getting files from a filehosting site or especially through torrent downloads, take steps to protect your privacy. There’s unfortunately no way to know if your activities are being monitored or recorded, so the best course of action is to assume that they are at all times.

If you’re interested, here’s a short overview of the torrent download tool.

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