A proxy (like Private Internet Access) funnels traffic—in this case, just your BitTorrent traffic—through another server, so that the BitTorrent swarm will show an IP address from them instead of you. In this case, Private Internet Access’ proxy server is in the Netherlands. That way, those anti-piracy groups can’t contact your ISP, and your ISP has no cause to send you a harrowing letter.
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Online piracy laws are a little fuzzy in India. A slew of news reports from 2016 suggested that even viewing certain web pages or torrent files (not the copyrighted content itself) was enough to penalize netizens with heavy fines and jail time. This is not true, however; the rumor arose from a poorly-worded warning from Indian ISPs that appeared when users tried to access blocked sites.
First, it prevents your ISP and anyone else on your local and ISP network from seeing that you are torrenting. Because all of the files you download and upload via BitTorrent are encrypted when they pass through your ISP’s servers, their contents cannot be identified. It would take a monumental time- and resource-consuming effort for an ISP to even attempt to crack the encryption put in place by your VPN service.
NordVPN uses shared IP addresses, and bandwidth is unlimited. Torrenting is explicitly permitted. A proxy, encrypted chat, and self-destructing encrypted notes are extra features included in each subscription. It can also unblock a range of geo-locked streaming services including Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. A 30 day money-back guarantee means you can try the service and receive a full refund if not entirely happy.
Some VPN services offer even longer subscription periods. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, for example, lives up to its name with an effectively life-long plan. It also offers billing periods as short as one week, which is great for travelers who want a VPN only for a vacation or business trip. At PCMag, however, we recommend using a VPN as often as possible.
Using a VPN goes a long way to improving your personal security, but it's not a bulletproof, magical solution. When it comes to security, we often say that it's better to think of tools like VPNs as raising the effort required to successfully attack you. If someone is willing to invest the time and money in targeting you specifically, they will eventually get what they're after. A VPN needs to be part of a layered approach to security and can't take the place of critical tools, such as good antivirus software.
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.
In addition to creating encrypted tunnels for your web traffic, many VPNs are packing in extra options to help stand out in an increasingly crowded space. It's not unusual to see ad-blocking, network-based phishing protection, and other security features included with your VPN. TunnelBear, for example, even offers standalone apps for ad-blocking and password management, complete with cute bears.
Fussiness aside, Ivacy echoes the scenario-based setup of PureVPN and Hide My Ass. The right rail has presets for Secure Download, Streaming, Unblocking, and Dedicated IP. You can pick the one that meets your needs in the moment, or use the Fast Connect button from the main page. Most scenario-centered VPN services, including PureVPN, eschew the Fast Connect option, to their detriment.
PrivateVPN unblocks Netflix in more countries than any other provider—no small feat for a young VPN with only a hundred or so servers. The servers that work best for streaming are clearly labelled in the app, which is simple and novice-friendly. PrivateVPN scored well in our speed tests, meaning you can continue to stream your favorite Netflix shows in high definition.
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.)
It seems like every two or three weeks I log into the VPN, I connect with no problem but cannot connect to any server. The resolution the first few times was to update the software. It has recently devolved into updating the software AND changing the protocol. If that were consistent I could live with it but I have to contact support and find out the latest combination steps to take to fix the problem. Each instance sucks 24 hours out of my life.