A virtual private network (or VPN) is very similar to a proxy, but instead of rerouting just your BitTorrent traffic, it reroutes all your internet traffic. For some people, that’s a good thing—it gives you privacy all over the web. However, it can also be inconvenient, navigating you to different web pages for that VPN’s country or causing issues with streaming services. If you have a NAS, you can set up your VPN on it to route only your NAS traffic, which is a perfect option for downloading anonymously. VPNs are about the same price as most proxies, and I personally have found that I get better speeds with most VPNs than I do with a proxy.
Ivacy's mode for distribution on iPhone is similar to its Android strategy. Again, it offers a free version called Ivacy Lite and the main app called simply Ivacy VPN. We haven't had the chance to test either version, but we look forward to seeing how it compares with other iPhone VPN apps. I'll update this review once we get one of these apps into the lab.
A virtual private network (or VPN) is very similar to a proxy, but instead of rerouting just your BitTorrent traffic, it reroutes all your internet traffic. For some people, that’s a good thing—it gives you privacy all over the web. However, it can also be inconvenient, navigating you to different web pages for that VPN’s country or causing issues with streaming services. If you have a NAS, you can set up your VPN on it to route only your NAS traffic, which is a perfect option for downloading anonymously. VPNs are about the same price as most proxies, and I personally have found that I get better speeds with most VPNs than I do with a proxy.
While Kodi is a very popular method to watch your favorite shows and movies, it's even harder to extend VPN protection to streaming boxes like the AppleTV or Roku. Thankfully, some companies like TorGuard make their software available preinstalled on some streaming boxes. Several VPNs I have reviewed can even be installed on your router, in order to provide protection to all your connected devices.
Let's firstly examine the sheer volume of servers that Ivacy VPN has over a series of different locations in the world. Let us explain. Remember how we were talking about geo restrictions? These can be bypassed if you connect to one of the desired county's servers. By this logic, the more servers there are in several locations, the wider your access to global entertainment.
When using a Netflix native app, however, the app can override the DNS routing used by a VPN and send requests to your nearest public DNS server. This means Netflix can determine the user’s true location and block them accordingly, even with a VPN app switched on. ExpressVPN and NordVPN have figured out how to overcome this behavior, so they both work with the iOS and Android Netflix apps so this won’t be a problem for if you are using one of these two VPNs.
But, despite the thousands of hours of content available to Netflix users in each country, they still want more and you know what the best part about it is? That they can get! Actually, Netflix is a geo-restricted site which means that while most of its shows can be watched worldwide irrespective of which country you are located in, it does offer a significant number of shows in some countries while blacking the rest out from viewing them.
In order for a VPN to to pass our test, it must be able to unblock Netflix videos out of the box, meaning no manual configuration outside of the VPN app is necessary. It must also bypass Netflix’s firewall with a reasonable degree of consistency—no reconnecting to the same server over and over in the hopes of finding an IP address that hasn’t been blocked. Finally, we used the paid subscription versions of VPNs when available.
It's also important to know where your VPN company is located, since this dictates the legal jurisdiction under which it operates. Because of their location, some companies may be required to hold on to certain data for set periods of time, or need to cooperate with different law enforcement bodies. Ivacy is located in Singapore and operates under that legal jurisdiction. Personally, I do not believe that I can judge the quality of any company based solely on its location, but it is still an important consideration. I encourage everyone to make their own decisions in this regard, and use the service they feel comfortable with.
If you frequent ThePirateBay, uTorrent, RARBG, Putlocker or KickassTorrents, however, chances are what you download from these torrenting sites is not legal. Government authorities can fine you for committing a civil offense, while ISPs and copyright holders will threaten and in some cases follow through on legal action. While it’s unlikely that a record company will take someone to court, they might seek damages through settlements.

When you look at VPN services for regular users, you don’t often see purpose-based server recommendations, such as “use this server for streaming and this one for downloading.” Ivacy VPN, a 10-year-old service officially based in Singapore, stands out by doing just that. (It’s not the only service to take this tack—CyberGhost has a similar purpose-based approach—but it’s still rare.)
Similar to the US, copyright trolls send threatening letters to torrenters after identifying their IP address. While we’re not legal experts in German law, the consensus of what to do if you receive a letter is also similar to the US: if it doesn’t identify you by name and doesn’t come directly from the police, ignore it and just let the statute of limitations period expire.
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Another great benefit is the fact that most VPN services operate a network of servers located across the globe. In other words, the user can select a server located in a specific country, and have a new IP address from that country. With a VPN, anyone monitoring your traffic only sees the IP address of the VPN server. Your location, IP address, downloads, and Internet activity are masked behind the VPN.
I then drop the highest and lowest results and average what remains to use as a baseline. Next I perform the same tests, but with the VPN active, and compare the results in order to find a percentage change. In order to get a sense of how spoofing your location with a VPN affects performance, I perform the international version of these tests, using a VPN server in Australia and an Ookla test server in Anchorage, Alaska. Because I couldn't connect to an Australian server with Ivacy, I selected the next-furthest service from the towering PCMag Labs in New York City.
While ubiquitous, streaming video is far from universal. For example, outside the US, Netflix customers can enjoy Star Trek: Discovery, but US residents need a CBS AllAccess account to view those continuing voyages. If you're traveling out of the country, you may discover that the show you were in the middle of watching on Netflix just isn't available anymore.
But, despite the thousands of hours of content available to Netflix users in each country, they still want more and you know what the best part about it is? That they can get! Actually, Netflix is a geo-restricted site which means that while most of its shows can be watched worldwide irrespective of which country you are located in, it does offer a significant number of shows in some countries while blacking the rest out from viewing them.
When you download or seed a torrent, you’re connecting to a bunch of other people, called a swarm. All of those people can see your computer’s IP address—they have to in order to connect. That’s all very handy when you’re sharing files with other netizens, but file sharers such as yourself aren’t necessarily the only people paying attention. Piracy monitoring groups (often paid for by the entertainment industry either before or after they find violators) 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.

Using a free VPN for anonymous torrenting is generally a no-no. Due to the large amount of bandwidth required, many free VPN services prohibit P2P activity. Others aren’t secure, and many have data caps. The common adage that comes with free services is that if you don’t buy the product, then you are the product. This is especially true because a VPN isn’t just a piece of software, it’s an ongoing service that requires continuous resources and maintenance.


NordVPN has the biggest server network among all VPNs. The VPN boasts 5100+ servers spread across 62 countries. This big number of servers ensures that you can always get very high and stable torrenting speeds. With NordVPN, you can choose torrenting servers from a category of special servers. You will also be able to enjoy other features like automatic killswitch, Onion over Tor, double VPN, multiple protocols, and DNS & IPv6 Leak Protection.
Other noteworthy settings within the Ivacy app are a protocol selector, IPv6 leak protection, and a Kill Switch. This prevents your computer from communicating over an unencrypted channel should Ivacy become temporarily disconnected. Also notable is the split tunneling option, which lets you decide which apps should deliver their traffic through the VPN tunnel. I had no trouble using the selector tool to choose my protected apps.
In the latency tests, Ivacy performed noticeably poorly and increased latency by 2,360 percent. This is the second-worst score I have recorded, after AnchorFree Hotspot Shield's abysmal 3,145.4 percent increase. TorGuard VPN had the best score in these tests, actually reducing latency by 6.7 percent. Ivacy performed much better in the international tests, where it increased latency by 292.5 percent. That's nipping at the heels of TunnelBear, which increased latency by 270.31 percent.
But wait, can’t the piracy groups then go to the anonymizer service and requisition their logs to figure out what you’re downloading? Theoretically, yes, but if you’re using a truly good anonymizer, they don’t keep logs, so there’s no paper trail of activity leading back to you. All the piracy monitors see is a proxy service sharing a file, and all your ISP sees is you connecting to a proxy service. If you encrypt your BitTorrent traffic (which we recommend), your ISP won’t even be able to see that you’re using BitTorrent.
When using a Netflix native app, however, the app can override the DNS routing used by a VPN and send requests to your nearest public DNS server. This means Netflix can determine the user’s true location and block them accordingly, even with a VPN app switched on. ExpressVPN and NordVPN have figured out how to overcome this behavior, so they both work with the iOS and Android Netflix apps so this won’t be a problem for if you are using one of these two VPNs.
Torrenting in itself isn’t illegal. It’s just a form of technology that facilitates file sharing. However, most torrent websites host pirated content, which makes those sites illegal. This has led to many governments and ISPs to block most torrent websites, with some ISPs even blocking P2P traffic altogether. Thankfully, VPNs are there for us to use. With the best free VPN for torrenting 2018, you can unblock all torrent websites and download any content.
Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to the Android OS and security services. He's also PCMag's foremost authority on weather stations and digital scrapbooking software. He spends much of his time polishing his tinfoil hat and plumbing the depths of the Dark Web. Prior to PCMag, Max wrote for the International Digital Times, The... See Full Bio

For each test, our staff connected to the VPN, opened Netflix in a browser or in the Netflix app (depending on the OS), and played a video. If the video played normally, the VPN scored a positive result. If it wasn’t clear which server to connect to for a given VPN, we contacted the VPN’s customer support team to ask which servers work with Netflix.
Panama-based NordVPN keeps neither connection nor traffic logs. 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy is the default, along with optional double-hop encryption and Tor over VPN features. Speeds are great, but can be a bit volatile. DNS leak protection and a kill switch can both be toggled on in the settings. The traditional all-or-nothing kill switch is one option, or you can specify which programs get cut off from the internet if the VPN connection drops, such as a BitTorrent client.

Morgan says Netflix probably isn’t targeting isolated VPN providers. He believes a combination of techniques is used to block them. One of those techniques, says LiquidVPN CEO Dave Cox, is by identifying connections coming from data centers instead of residences. He goes on to explain that the Netflix apps combat SmartDNS services by forcing you to use a public DNS server and frequently change the URLs that do geolocation for their content. This makes it impossible for services that could support thousands of customers streaming at a time by only forwarding the geolocation packets through their servers.
I had no trouble installing the Windows client on a Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running the latest version of Windows 10. I did, however, have some trouble signing up for Ivacy. For some reason, the site wasn't returning an error message when I accidentally used the incorrect payment information. Note that Ivacy accepts all major credit cards, as well as Alipay, Bitty, PayPal, and sundry cryptocurrencies. This last option is important if you want to pay for your VPN anonymously.
Flash your wifi router with a VPN-compatible firmware and configure the VPN on it. This is the most technically advanced option, so make sure you know what you’re doing. The process varies from router to router, and not all wifi routers are compatible with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware. If you’re not comfortable with replacing the firmware on your home wifi router, you can opt to purchase a preconfigured VPN router from ExpressVPN.

Many VPN companies now offer browser extensions in addition to native apps. These are much more lightweight than their desktop companions and have the added advantage of being available anywhere you log in to a browser. The downside, as I discovered when working with Chromebook VPNs, is that VPN browser extensions only encrypt your browser traffic. The rest of your computer's data travels outside the encrypted tunnel.

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Ivacy has a bare-bones offering out of the box. You can spice things up with a NAT firewall for an additional $1 per month. That's a bit odd, since many other companies include this feature for free. Ivacy also has dedicated IP addresses for $1.99 per month in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, as well as the UK and the US. A dedicated IP is less likely to be blocked, since it won't be immediately recognized as part of a VPN's IP block.
Morgan says Netflix probably isn’t targeting isolated VPN providers. He believes a combination of techniques is used to block them. One of those techniques, says LiquidVPN CEO Dave Cox, is by identifying connections coming from data centers instead of residences. He goes on to explain that the Netflix apps combat SmartDNS services by forcing you to use a public DNS server and frequently change the URLs that do geolocation for their content. This makes it impossible for services that could support thousands of customers streaming at a time by only forwarding the geolocation packets through their servers.
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Ivacy offers only 459 servers, a bit below the 500-server minimum threshold I have come to expect. In fact, so many VPN services are now exceeding 700 and even 1,000 servers that I may need to raise the cutoff soon. NordVPN currently leads the pack with over 3,400 servers, and Private Internet Access is close behind with 3,275. TorGuard recently expanded its offering to 3,000 servers, placing it among the three most robust services I have yet reviewed.
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