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What is a P2P VPN? How Peer-to-Peer VPNs Work

what is p2p vpn

VPNs are great tools for securing your communication, protecting data, and obtaining access to all websites and services. 

However, not all VPNs are built the same. Many VPNs don’t allow users to connect to P2P networks or severely limit performance when they try to download content from torrenting sites.

This is where P2P VPNs come into play. A P2P VPN is a service compatible with a peer-to-peer network and won’t limit download and upload performance, allowing users to transfer large files across the Internet. But, do you need to use a P2P VPN server, and what are the perks of this? Read on to learn more!

What Is P2P VPN?

A P2P VPN works identically as a regular service. It allows you to connect to P2P networks and share data connecting directly to peers via a VPN server. When you connect to a P2P VPN server, the secure tunnel enables you to send and receive data in maximum security and far away from prying eyes.

Many users employ P2P Virtual Private Networks to protect their torrenting activities, as it acts as a middleman between their device and the end location. 

As long as they stay connected, the encrypted tunnel keeps their torrenting IP address private and hides their network traffic.

What Is The Difference Between P2P Providers and Regular VPNs? 

The main difference between regular and P2P VPNs is that the latter enables users to access P2P networks.

Not all services offer this feature. 

Moreover, some VPNs even intentionally prohibit users from connecting to P2P sites to avoid legal repercussions from torrenting and P2P file sharing.

P2P VPNs often have features that make it easier for you to send and receive data. For instance, this can include fast speeds, strong online security features, unlimited bandwidth, and other traits that can contribute to a more efficient experience when connected to the P2P network.

What Are The Benefits of a P2P Virtual Private Network?

NordVPN P2P server list

*Some VPNs include P2P-optimized server locations, offering better performance than regular VPN servers.

The main benefit of using a P2P VPN is the ability to use P2P networks and share data with maximum security. With the protection of an encrypted VPN tunnel, you can share content and torrent content without worrying about anyone observing your activities.

Additionally, in some cases, a P2P Virtual Private Network can even speed up your downloads. This can happen in cases when your ISP might be throttling your bandwidth

By connecting to a VPN, you will enable your data packets to be routed more efficiently, therefore speeding up your connection.

P2P Networks vs. Dedicated Servers

P2P networks are decentralized computer network architectures where participants, known as peers, interact and share resources directly with each other. 

In a P2P network, each peer can act both as a client and a server, enabling the distribution and sharing of data, files, and services among the peers. 

A P2P network is characterized by its distributed nature, where there is no central authority or dedicated server managing the network. 

Dedicated servers are exclusively allocated to a single user or organization. These servers are dedicated to fulfilling the computing needs of a specific client. 

With these VPN servers, the client has exclusive access to the server’s resources, including processing power and bandwidth. They are also great for users who want maximum privacy, as they can rely on the fact that no other users have access to the same connection.

P2P vs. Onion over VPN

NordVPN Onion VPN servers

*NordVPN offers an integrated Onion Over VPN feature.

The key difference between P2P and Onion over VPN lies in their primary purposes and functionalities. P2P focuses on efficient resource sharing, while Onion over VPN prioritizes privacy and anonymity. 

A P2P network does not inherently provide strong privacy measures and may expose users’ IP addresses, whereas Onion over VPN adds multiple layers of encryption and routing to obfuscate the user’s identity and location.

It’s important to note that while Onion over VPN can provide enhanced privacy for your data, it may introduce some performance trade-offs due to the multiple encryption layers and network routing. 

Are P2P VPNs Safe?

P2P VPN providers are great tools for ensuring privacy and security when downloading files from a P2P network. It keeps your torrenting activities private from your Internet Service Provider and creates an encrypted tunnel for your data. 

Using a P2P VPN provider is a must when downloading, as it keeps your data safe from your ISP, hackers, and even the government. However, a Virtual Private Network won’t offer security and protection from viruses and other harmful software. 

If you download a malicious file, your device can still get infected even if you use a VPN. For this reason, it’s best to combine a VPN with antivirus software

The service will keep your data secure and encrypted, while the antivirus will protect your device from any malicious actors trying to infect your computer.

The Most Important Features of P2P VPNs

To obtain the security and privacy benefits of a P2P VPN, it’s crucial to pick the right Virtual Private Network for peer-to-peer activities. Here are the most important factors you should look for in a P2P VPN:

  • P2P Support — The first thing to do when picking a peer-to-peer VPN is to ensure that the VPN explicitly allows and supports peer-to-peer file exchange and torrenting. Some providers restrict or throttle P2P traffic on their servers.
  • Strong Encryption — Look for a P2P VPN that uses secure encryption protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard. Strong encryption ensures the security of your data while being transmitted over the network.
  • No-logs Policy — Choose a P2P VPN provider that has a strict no-logs policy, meaning they don’t store any records of your online activities. This ensures your privacy and minimizes the risk of your data being accessed or disclosed.
  • Kill Switch — A kill switch is a crucial security feature that cuts off your Internet connection if the VPN connection drops. It prevents your real IP address from being exposed during a disconnection, maintaining your anonymity.
  • Fast and Stable Connections — A reliable P2P VPN should provide fast and stable connections. Fast connection speed and minimal downtime are important for smooth and uninterrupted torrenting.
  • Wide VPN Server Network — A P2P VPN with a large server network allows for better connectivity options and increased access to different regions. A diverse P2P VPN server network helps ensure that you can connect to servers with optimal performance and better geographical coverage.
  • Additional Features — Some VPNs offer obfuscation or stealth features to mask VPN traffic, which can be beneficial in regions with strict Internet censorship. Others offer multi-VPN features, which allow you to connect through several servers instead of a single location.

Best VPNs for P2P Traffic

NordPVN, Surfshark and PrivateVPN logos

Using the criteria from above, you can pick the most suitable Virtual Private Network you can use on peer-to-peer networks. With that in mind, I’ve singled out a few of the best P2P VPN services in 2023. Here are my three top P2P VPN picks:

  • NordVPN — The best VPN for peer-to-peer networks, NordVPN offers exceptional speeds and a massive VPN server network. It includes dedicated IP addresses and many advanced features that help secure your online activities.
  • Surfshark — Surfshark is a solid, trustworthy pick for peer-to-peer networks. It has solid speeds and stable connections, ideal for downloading large files. It’s an especially great pick for users who want a service for multiple devices, as it doesn’t limit the number of simultaneous connections you can set up per plan.
  • PrivateVPN — This user-friendly P2P VPN is one of the few services that allows port forwarding. This is great for users who want to tailor their online activity and adjust their network to obtain faster connections. It’s also one of the most stable VPNs in the industry.

Peer-to-Peer VPN FAQs

What does P2P VPN mean?

A P2P VPN is a type of VPN that is compatible with a peer-to-peer network and can be used to download content and share files. P2P VPNs are commonly used for secure file sharing, communication, and bypassing censorship.

Is P2P safe with a VPN?

Using P2P with a VPN can enhance safety and privacy, as the VPN encrypts your traffic and masks your IP address, providing a layer of security and anonymity. However, keep in mind that a P2P VPN won’t offer security from malicious files and harmful software.

Is A P2P VPN Good For Gaming?

A P2P VPN may not be the ideal choice for gaming due to potential drawbacks. While it can provide security and privacy, it will also likely introduce increased latency and slower connection speeds, which are crucial factors for online gaming.

Should You Use a P2P VPN?

If you frequently engage in P2P activities such as torrenting or want to maintain anonymity while sharing files, a P2P VPN can be beneficial. It encrypts your Internet traffic, hides your IP address, and provides an additional layer of security.

What is a peer-to-peer network?

A peer-to-peer network is a decentralized computer network architecture where all users, called peers, can serve as a potential point of connection. They can interact and share from multiple nodes, instead of a single location.

Will a P2P VPN hide torrenting from my Internet Service Provider?

Yes, the VPN encrypts your Internet traffic, including the data exchanged during torrenting, making it difficult for your ISP to see the specific content being shared. However, even though the VPN masks your traffic, it doesn’t change the legality of it.

How Does P2P File-Sharing Work?

P2P sharing works by enabling direct sharing of files between individual users without relying on a central server. The peer-to-peer network enables users to connect with each other to download files from several sources directly from their computers.

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