The Best VPNs for File Sharing, 2016

Private Encryption to Cloak Your Online Activities

If you are a P2P user looking to privately download and share files, then you will be interested in the concealment benefits of a virtual private network. As a downloader, there are 3 key features you want from a VPN service:

  1. The VPN has to reliably cloak your signal, with automatic reconnecting when the VPN drops.
  2. The VPN has to NOT log user activity.
  3. The VPN must provide fast bandwidth for large files.

Note on logging and privacy concerns: While transfer rates are easy to objectively measure and evaluate, logging policy is something that cannot be easily assessed. When a VPN provider claims that it does not record specific data usage about its subscribers, this claim is ultimately a matter of company integrity. Evaluating a VPN's no-logging policy relies largely on how much trust the VPN provider inspires via its verbal and written assurances. The following list represents the subset of fast VPN providers who have given verbal and written assurances that they do not log user activity.

This list is in random order. This list is populated in part by About.com users who submit their suggestions and offer their personal reviews. If you wish to add to this list, you may submit a recommendation for a VPN service here.

Note on VPN speeds: expect your VPN internet speed to be reduced to as low as 10% of regular speed. VPN speeds of 2 to 4 Mbps are common for cheaper VPN's. Speeds of 5-8 Mbps per second are good. VPN speeds over 15 Mbps are excellent.

Note on VPN encryption protocols: there are 3 common ciphering options for VPN's: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP. For most desktop users, OpenVPN is the strongest encryption and fastest data transfer.

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Cryptostorm VPN

Cryptostorm VPN
Cryptostorm VPN. screenshot

Cryptostorm is absolutely the most preferred VPN for file sharers, privacy freaks, and people who surf the Dark Web. The service is based in Iceland and Canada and resists the reach of the US PATRIOT Act/Freedom Act and other surveillance. The service accepts bitcoins as payment, and uses tokens instead of currency transactions to give people access to the service; this token-based payment approach adds more cloaking to the identity of its customers.

The big differentiator is Cryptostorm's plugging of DNS leaks.  Most VPN's do not go this extra mile to prevent authorities from tracing you.  Cryptostorm employs a special DNS utility to ensure that there is no DNS hint of your source location while cloaked.

Cost: tokens are $7 for one month of access, with discounts when you buy more and if you use bitcoins for payment.

Visit Cryptostorm VPN at their site: https://cryptostorm.is/join.html

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Tunnel Bear

Tunnelbear.com
Tunnelbear.com. Tunnelbear.com

Cost: Free to $5/month; $50/year. Supports PPTP. Servers are located in UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, and the USA.

Tunnelbear is an interesting Canadian VPN service for a couple of philosophical reasons: they believe that 'user logging is evil', and they believe that setup and daily use should be as easy and automated as possible.  To deliver on their first belief, Tunnelbear employs a policy of no-logging for all their users, free or paid. To deliver on their second belief, Tunnelbear employs very simple interfaces and automated settings (decorated with cute bears, of course) that make installing and using their VPN software very easy and non-intimidating to the average user.

Tunnelbear also offers 3 interesting tech features that users will find helpful for additional privacy protection: 'Intellibear' lets you selectively VPN which websites you want private while browsing with no-VPN on other sites.   'Vigilant' is a safeguard against those small windows of exposure when you wi-fi or VPN connection drop; Vigilant will suspend transmissions until the VPN connection is restored.  And 'Maul Trackers' offers ongoing blacklisting of known trackers from ever seeing your signal.   

Tunnelbear prices are very good, and Tunnelbear speed performance is in the range of 6 to 9 megabits-per-second down speed  (which is quite good for a VPN).  

Definitely, try Tunnelbear for your privacy and downloading needs. Tunnelbear is available for both desktop and mobile devices.

Visit their site: https://www.tunnelbear.com/about/

Cost: $20/month; $240/year. Supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols. Good support for mobile devices like iPhones and Android tablets.

VyprVPN is a quality VPN service, recently grown by several new servers in Europe and Asia. Users with iPads and Android devices will definitely appreciate the Vypr mobile VPN apps. Additionally, being an offshore company incorporated in the Bahamas, there is less likelihood of the Vypr server logs being examined under the US PATRIOT Act.

Visit their site: http://www.goldenfrog.com/vyprvpn More »

Cost: $7.00/month; $40/year. Private Internet Access is a very fast service that will cloak your identity and data transferring. PIA price is also amongst the best-priced services you can get for VPN access. With near-perfect anonymity services, PIA has some very beneficial features, like auto-disconnecting you when the VPN cloaking goes offline and concealing DNS leaks from hackers and authorities.

One particularly interesting privacy feature of PIA is their 'shared IP addresses'. Because multiple subscribers will be assigned the same IP addresses while they are logged onto PIA, it makes it impossible for authorities to match individual file transfers to any individual on the service.

Overall, Private Internet Access is a highly recommended service for torrent downloaders. Give them a try and let us know how you like the transfer speeds and ease of setup.

Visit their site: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com More »

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Cost: $10/month; $78/year. Servers in 16 different countries make IPVanish an international presence. This service supports OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP (L2TP is harder for authorities to block, so it's a good protocol for people in countries where the government restricts internet use, like China and Egypt).

IPVanish is recommended by multiple readers at About.com. Not only does it have L2TP protocol for people in oppressive countries, the speeds for IPVanish are often over 10 Mbps. This service also supports simultaneous connections across multiple devices, so your Windows PC and your iPad can be encrypted at the same time.

While IPVanish does promise not to log any of its customers' data or online activity, the company does have offices in the USA. This makes them, unfortunately, open to PATRIOT Act investigation. Nonetheless, the service provides excellent speeds in a very user-friendly manner. Do consider evaluating IPVanish as you shop for a VPN service.

Visit their site: http://www.ipvanish.com More »

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Cost: $10.00/month; $50/year. Supports OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols. PureVPN also supports IKEvs2 protocol for BlackBerry. The servers are in 19 different countries, with no bandwidth limitations for premium subscribers. The price point is very compelling and is much more affordable than most of its competitors.

PureVPN has won the affection of many users because of its very friendly software client and very economical price. You can split the tunneling, which is helpful for having encryption on specific parts of your web habits, while still using your regular network connection for others (gamers and downloaders will like this splitting feature). PureVPN does log bandwidth usage and your login durations but deletes that information every 5 days. Speeds on Pure are in the 4 Mbps to 21 Mbps range, which averages faster than most other VPN's.

Visit their site: http://www.purevpn.com More »

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Cost: $6.00/month; $45.00/year. Servers are available in 10 countries, including Singapore, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the USA, Canada, Israel, and Egypt. Supports L2TP and PPTP protocols.

Box Private Network yields some very fast speeds, especially when compared to other VPN's. Readers report getting over 7 megabits per second, which is very fast for a personal VPN. The parent company of BoxPN is in Turkey, which helps keep it away from the reach of the US PATRIOT Act. The company also pledges not to log any client activities, which is particularly comforting to people who participate in P2P file sharing.

Visit their site: https://www.boxpn.com/ More »

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Express VPN: a recommended service for torrent downloaders

Cost: $13.00/month or $100/year. Employs OpenVPN, plus PPTP and other protocols are available for smartphones.

ExpressVPN is a growing service that has earned substantial user loyalty during these last months. While they are an American service (which makes it easier for US authorities to access names of subscribers), ExpressVPN download speeds are very fast, where the transfer rates reach as high as 80% of non-cloaked cable transfer speeds (i.e. if your normal speed is 30 megabits per second uncloaked, you might achieve 24 Mbps while connected to the ExpressVPN servers).

ExpressVPN's logging policy is that they do not record URL's, messaging, or the actual data or packets that you transfer. They only log your subscription IP address and volume of bandwidth.

ExpressVPN is a very good choice for P2P downloaders because of its speed benefits and data-logging policies. The price is a notch higher than its competitors, but the speed might make the couple dollars per month worthwhile for file sharers. The only downside to ExpressVPN is their American location, which adds some risk that American authorities could request information displaying how many megabytes you transfer each month. Visit their site: https://www.expressvpn.com More »

Cost: $11.00/month; $83/year. Invisible Browsing VPN (ibVPN) offers different tiers of service, with each tier offering access to different numbers of servers and torrent-specific access points. The premium price of 11 dollars per month par for the market and it includes the use of torrent-specific servers. While we are unsure what this torrent-specific claim actually translates into for speed and privacy benefits, it is noteworthy that the ibVPN company chooses to openly market it services towards P2P torrent users.

ibVPN's website is not impressive at first glance, and it does not inspire confidence with its plain appearance. But they do offer a free trial for 6 hours, which separates it from the competition as this gives you a chance to see how your particular connection delivers speed and convenience results.

OpenVPN speeds were very good during our About.com testing. It was in the range of 70% of uncloaked transfer speeds, which is very competitive. Definitely, give ibVPN a try with their 6-hour test drive, and see if you like the results for your P2P uses.

Visit their site: http://www.ibvpn.com/ More »

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Cost: free option with limited features; $6.25/month for premium. Supports PPTP and L2TP.

This Dutch service gets mixed reviews. The free option is the perfect price, but it is very slow for most users at 100 kilobits-per-second, and 'nagware' will pester you to upgrade. The premium version has been reported to have moderate speeds over 2 Mbps/. The system is easy to setup, so definitely give it a try and see if you get decent free speeds at your geographical location.

Visit their site: http://proxpn.com/ More »

Cost: $8/month; $96/year. Supports PPTP. Servers are located in Austria, Switzerland, and Sweden.

This Swedish service offers unlimited bandwidth (no throttling), and the Swedish laws that govern the server farm there are arguably more pro-privacy than other countries. Ipredator, unfortunately, does not let you control the country of your masked IP address, and the connection can drop at times.

Visit their site: https://www.ipredator.se More »

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Cost: $17/month; $61.40/year. Supports OpenVPN and PPTP, with servers in 25 countries.

VPN4All is a crowd-pleasing service based in the Netherlands. Users comment that the software is very easy to install and use, and little features like instant IP-switching are very useful. They offer round-the-clock chat support, full refund policy, and the promise of total privacy. VPN4All comes highly recommended by About.com users, so definitely give it a try if you are seeking to do private browsing and file sharing online.

Visit their site: http://www.vpn4all.com/ More »

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Cost: $20/month; $85/year. Good support for users in Asia. Offers L2TP and PPTP protocols.

Strong VPN is one of the more expensive choices out there, but readers in Asia and the Pacific Rim say that Strong performs very well for them when compared to its competitors. The price point varies with your part of the world, but expect in the range of $20USD per month. The Strong VPN owners promise that there is no logging or scanning of their customers' data, and many readers recommend Strong. Try it for a month and let us know if Strong VPN works for you.

Visit their site: http://www.strongvpn.com/ More »

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Cost: $5.00/month; $60/year. Supports OpenVPN and PPTP protocols, high-speed servers, and access points in 12 countries.

This UK-based service is definitely worth looking at. While Overplay does not have the server pool size of Witopia or HideMyAss, the performance is strong, and readers comment that they average over 6 megabits-per-second speeds. The basic service is very reasonably priced at $5.00/month. Premium service is $10/month.

Visit their site: https://www.overplay.net/ More »

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Cost: $9.50/month; $20 for 3 months. Supports OpenVPN protocol. Servers in 10 countries.

AirVPN is very recommended by About.com readers. While the software install and setup isn't as straightforward and simple as most would like, AirVPN performance is solid, and there are no bandwidth limits on the users. Sophisticated users will appreciate that remote port forwarding is possible, and AirVPN promises to never log data usage and customer habits. The leadership of the company are very pro-privacy and claim to support Net Neutrality is a company ethic. For philosophical reasons alone, AirVPN is a service worth looking at if you are seeking online privacy for your browsing and file downloading habits.

Visit their site: https://airvpn.org/ More »

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Cost: $13.00/month; $100/year

Visit their site: https://www.express-vpn.com More »