What is a Torrent Proxy or Bittorrent Proxy? VPN vs Proxy for Torrenting

Torrent users face many security threats while downloading or sharing files. By using torrent proxies or VPN with your torrent client, you protect yourself from hackers and any legal trouble. Learn what a torrent proxy is and how to get one.

What is a torrent proxy or BitTorrent proxy?

A torrent proxy or BitTorrent proxy is often referred to as a SOCKS5 proxy or simply a SOCKS proxy. SOCKS is a proxy protocol, and it is called that as it uses sockets to manage individual connections. Sockets are used by computer networks to communicate.

All different types of proxies, including an HTTP proxy (web proxy), and SOCKS proxies put a separate Internet server between your devices and those you connect to.

Using a SOCKS proxy while downloading torrents results in fellow file-sharers (torrent peers) you connect to seeing transfers from and to the IP address of the proxy server, rather than your device’s actual IP address.

This adds a layer of protection against eavesdroppers wanting to check on your torrent activities.

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Why do you need a torrent proxy?

BitTorrent is not as peaceful and quiet as it used to be. Nowadays, there are plenty of organizations that want to send you ominous letters, check what you’re downloading, or even throttle your connection. If you are using BitTorrent, it’s crucial that you make sure you hide your online identity and an anonymous torrent proxy is the way to do this.

When you seed or download a torrent, you connect to many other people, known as a swarm. All the individuals in the swarm can see the IP address of your device – they can’t connect any other way. This is fine as long as other netizens you’re sharing files with see this, but those aren’t necessarily the only people watching what you’re doing.

The entertainment industry often pays piracy monitoring groups, either before or after they find violators. These groups join BitTorrent swarms but log the IP addresses of other swarm members instead of sharing files. They then use this information to notify ISPs (Internet Service Providers) of what their customers are doing.

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How does BitTorrent proxy work? 

A BitTorrent proxy service reroutes your BitTorrent traffic through another server so that the BitTorrent swarm will be shown an IP address from them instead of your own. 

Diagram showing how a torrent proxy hides your IP address in the torrent network

The anti-piracy groups won’t be able to contact your ISP, as they don’t know who that is, and your ISP has no reason to send you a warning letter about your conduct.

Theoretically, the anti-piracy groups could ask the anonymizer service for their logs to determine what you are downloading. If you, however, use a very good anonymizer, they won’t be keeping logs, so there’s no trace of any activity leading back to you. All the anti-piracy monitors will see is a BitTorrent proxy service sharing files, and all your ISP will see is that you connect to a proxy service.

We also highly recommend that you always encrypt your BitTorrent traffic. If you do this, the ISP won’t be able to pick up that you are using BitTorrent.

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How to set up a torrent proxy

BitTorrent, as well as other torrent client apps, fully support proxying the tracker and peer communication. Here is how to set up a proxy on BitTorrent:

Step 1. Go to Preferences > Network.

Step 2. Choose SOCKS5 next to Proxy server.

Step 3. Fill-in the proxy IP and the port.

Step 4. If you are using an anonymous proxy with basic HTTP authentication, check the Authentication checkbox and fill in the Username and Password text boxes.

Step 5. Check the Use proxy for hostname lookups option to make sure that tracker requests are routed through the proxy.

Step 6. Check the Use proxy for peer-to-peer connections option such that peers in a swarm see the proxy IP address instead of your real IP address.

BitTorrent screenshot - How to set a proxy server in BitTorrent client
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How to verify the proxy setup

After you set up the torrent proxy, you should follow this tutorial and perform a leak test, to double-check that your IP is not visible while downloading torrents.

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How to choose a torrent proxy

When selecting a torrent proxy, there are two things that are non-negotiable:

  1. You need a Socks5 proxy and not an HTTP or HTTPS proxy.
  2. For maximum privacy, you need a proxy service that does not keep logs (Zero-Log).

The proxy should be affordable, yet still have the best combination of essential torrent features. Check how many simultaneous connections the proxy service allows, and make sure it’s enough for your requirements.

There are not many proxy services available in the world that still work with Netflix. If this is one of your requirements, you need to do proper research to find one.

The last criteria you may want to look at is speed. Not all services are equally fast, and you may have to pay a premium if speed is one of your priorities.

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The best proxy services for torrenting

Many proxy providers prefer not to allow torrenting on their servers as it consumes a lot of bandwidth.

However, I can recommend BlazingSEO as a good solution for downloading torrents in privacy and anonymity.

Additionally, several VPN providers offer access to SOCKS5 proxies that you may use as torrent proxies. By subscribing to a VPN service, you may also use the VPN to anonymize your downloads. Find out below what are differences between VPNs and proxies.

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Torrent proxy vs. VPN

As explained above, VPN is an alternative solution to the torrent proxies. Although the technologies are similar in what they do, each has its own advantages.

Proxies and VPNs have many common benefits when using BitTorrent: 

  • There are many providers that don’t keep logs.
  • They allow encryption to prevent any action from an ISP.
  • Your IP address will not be shown.

Using a Proxy for BitTorrent

Torrent proxies have various advantages over VPNs:

  • Faster download speeds.
  • Proxies are cheaper than VPNs.
  • Your real IP will not be exposed to connection drops.
  • The internet can be browsed through your normal connection, not the proxy.

BitTorrent with a VPN 

A VPN has its own advantages when using it for torrents:

  • Completely encrypts the connection.
  • Installation and setup are easy. 
  • VPN software may offer additional advanced features. 
  • Encryption is of a higher grade.
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Summary

If you use BitTorrent, it is important that you protect your privacy and anonymity to prevent any potential backlash from your ISP. Although a torrent proxy is generally more suitable for this, a VPN can also be used. Both these options have their own distinct advantages.

If you decide to use a torrent proxy, make sure it’s a SOCKS5 proxy, as an HTTP proxy will not do the job.