7 Best VPNs for Popcorn Time in 2023 (Tested for Fast Streaming)
- Popcorn Time is a free and simple torrent streaming app with an integrated media player. It uses the BitTorrent protocol to download pirated movies and TV shows and stream them simultaneously.
- In many countries, it’s illegal to stream pirated content using Popcorn Time. To avoid exposing your online identity via IP addresses, a VPN is recommended.
- Using a VPN with Popcorn Time hides your IP address from public torrent trackers and encrypts your connections. This offers good protection against surveillance from copyright holders. NordVPN, Surfshark, and AtlasVPN are the top 3 VPNs for Popcorn Time.
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7 Best VPNs for Popcorn Time – Our Shortlist
- NordVPN – Overall best VPN app for Popcorn Time
- Surfshark – Cheaper VPN for occasional users
- AtlasVPN – Budget Popcorn Time VPN
- PrivateVPN – High-speed connections for buffering-free streaming
- ExpressVPN – Good VPN service with a strong server network
- CyberGhost – Feature-rich for all torrenting purposes
- Private Internet Access – New-age company that offers excellent protection
How We Selected and Tested the Best Popcorn Time VPN
Popcorn Time works on the BitTorrent protocol. So, any VPN that is highly rated for torrenting is also a good bet for free Popcorn Time or torrent streaming in general.
As VPN experts, we selected these VPN apps based on specific functions and security features. For instance, the biggest parameter we judged these VPNs on is the availability of P2P servers. The VPN’s server network should have dedicated servers that allow fast torrenting. This will ensure that Popcorn Time runs optimally and you don’t experience buffering.
The number of server locations also matters. At the time of writing, NordVPN had over 5,500 VPN servers. This ensures that you have a lot of options to switch server locations to get the best speed and protection.
We also tested the VPNs for security features such as a kill switch and port forwarding. A kill switch shuts down your internet connection if the VPN connection is dropped whereas port forwarding ensures faster downloads.
Split-tunneling, IP, and DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy are also critical parameters to examine a VPN’s efficacy with Popcorn Time. In total, we tested these VPNs on 10 major parameters as listed below:
- Number of total VPN server locations (at least 1,000)
- Number of countries supported (at least 50)
- Availability of P2P servers
- Torrenting speed (at least 2 Mbps)
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Strict no-logs policy
- Money-back guarantee
- Cost (not more than $10 per month)
- Support for major OSes like Windows, iOS, Mac, Android, and Linux
- Features like kill switch and split-tunneling
To state the obvious, free VPNs were not considered for this article. I never recommend free VPN services for any kind of online protection.
In case you want to do your due diligence before picking the best VPN software for Popcorn Time, use the above 10 parameters.
I tried all the 7 VPN clients that we’ve reviewed below on my Windows computer. One quality that is common among them is the amount of downtime. I faced zero downtime while using the VPNs with Popcorn Time. This was an important quality because it prevented buffering and ensured that I had a seamless watch.
7 Best VPNs for Popcorn Time – List with Detailed Reviews
The best VPN for Popcorn Time is a VPN that you already know of and use. In case you are new to VPNs, here are my top seven picks.
NordVPN is our #1 VPN choice for Popcorn Time because of its Specialty Servers meant for P2P connections. This feature connects you to the best available server location for torrenting, ensuring better speed.
NordVPN boasts over 5,500 servers and ensures buffering-free viewing. Its proprietary NordLynx VPN protocol masks your real IP address and encrypts your Popcorn Time connection. This offers effective protection from copyright strikers like MPA. In our tests with 10 parameters, NordVPN was ranked the best VPN for Popcorn Time.
Its app also has a kill switch to protect against potential VPN disruptions (which is very rare for NordVPN, in my experience). Other critical NordVPN functions include a strict no-logs policy and compatibility across OSes.
Verdict: Go with NordVPN for all-around protection, fast torrent speed, and a user-friendly interface.
- Thousands of lightning-fast and well-optimized servers
- Unblocks all the major streaming sites
- Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
- Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
- Ad blocker and malware protection features
- Robust security features and military-grade encryption to protect you from DDoS attacks and other online threats
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Only 6 simultaneous connections
- No free trial
Surfshark also offers a large number of servers (3,200+) and excellent speed for torrenting. I like that it regularly audits its VPN infrastructure and servers to ensure user security and compliance. This is a rare feat in the VPN community and one that needs to be appreciated. Early in 2023, it passed its biggest no-logs audit yet by Deloitte.
Surfshark is affordable compared to NordVPN if you choose a long-term plan. Its kill switch and VPN multi-hop features will come in handy for Popcorn Time should you need to switch locations for better leeching. The only gripe I have is the lack of port forwarding, which is where NordVPN trumps Surfshark.
However, Surfshark makes up for its drawbacks by offering flexible subscription plans. For instance, it has a monthly trial plan (30-day risk-free refund policy) that you can use to test the product. If you’re not satisfied, you can switch to another provider.
But if you take my word, Surfshark is the best and cheapest VPN for Popcorn Time. You don’t get a better VPN for less than $3 a month (if you buy the 24-month plan).
Verdict: Choose Surfshark if you are looking for an affordable VPN service with a lot of power.
- A very affordable VPN provider
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Ad-blocking feature
- Unblocks streaming platforms
- Ad blocker and malware protection features
- A fast and light WireGuard protocol
- Allows split-tunneling and has a multi-hop VPN feature
- No-log policy and robust security features
- GPS spoofing on Android devices
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No free version
- Does not allow P2P seeding
AtlasVPN’s support for WireGuard protocol is what makes it an ideal Popcorn Time VPN. Along with protection, you also need high-speed VPN connections to avoid buffering. In my tests, AtlasVPN gave me speeds of upwards of 10 Mbps in the United States. This is as good as NordVPN and Surfshark.
AtlasVPN offers unlimited simultaneous connections and comes at a price point similar to that of Surfshark, but lacks in the number of servers and locations. At the time of testing, AtlasVPN had about 700 servers spread across 30 countries. I know this beats one of our major testing parameters. But we still included it because of a good kill switch, effective leak protection, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It also has the best free VPN client.
Verdict: Choose AtlasVPN if you are on a budget (about $4 a month) and only watch Popcorn Time occasionally. It’s better than free VPNs.
- Very affordable plans and it has a free version
- Fast Speeds
- Helpful against an ISP throttling your connection
- Unlimited device support
- WireGuard protocol, DNS leak protection, and strong security features
- Unblocks streaming services
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Limited Linux app
- Based in the US
- Not so many servers
Just like AtlasVPN, PrivateVPN also supports WireGuard and offers lightning-fast torrent downloads. In one of our tests, it crossed 31 Mbps speed in the US, which makes it the fastest VPN for Popcorn Time on this list.
With over 200 servers in 60+ countries, it’s a strong contender for all things torrenting. The option to choose between AES-256- and AES-128-bit encryption is good so that you can tweak things around for faster downloads. This is helpful if you need to watch that latest Marvel flick in 4K resolution.
PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, has a zero-logging policy, and allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. All of these make it a better choice if you have more than one device running Popcorn Time.
Verdict: Buy PrivateVPN if you want fast VPN connections at the cost of limited servers.
- Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
- Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
- Unblocks most streaming platforms
- Zero-logging policy
- Free Static IP servers
- A fast and light WireGuard protocol
- 10 simultaneous connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Not as many servers as other VPN providers
- No split-tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth and a zero-logs policy are what make ExpressVPN a crowd favorite. It is priced on the heavy side (compared to Surfshark) but it has a truly large server network (3,000+) to justify it. This means you can pick and choose between locations to optimize your P2P connection.
The USP of ExpressVPN is its feature that suggests the best nearby servers for torrenting. Since you don’t know what torrent or trackers Popcorn Time is using to download the movie files, it is best to let the VPN provider choose the server for you. This ensures optimized connection and negligible speed suppression.
The drawbacks with ExpressVPN are that the kill switch is not available on some operating systems and it’s costlier than most. In the US, it costs more than $8 a month if you buy an annual plan. These can be a deal-breaker for some users.
Verdict: Buy ExpressVPN if you plan to watch Popcorn Time and use paid streaming services a lot.
- Works with streaming
- Supports torrenting
- No-logs policy
- TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
- Premium security features
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Expensive subscription plans
- Only 5 simultaneous connections
With nearly 6,000 servers, CyberGhost is inarguably the best VPN for the prolific Popcorn Time user. The more servers it has, the better it is to optimize your Popcorn Time connection.
Its support for WireGuard and a strict no-logs policy favors Popcorn Time as you’re less likely to be served a subpoena. Unlike Surfshark, there is a third-party audit so I cannot take its no-logs policy very seriously. Still, for what it’s worth, CyberGhost makes up with its cheaper subscription plans and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
During our tests, we found that Surfshark’s VPN servers offer slow connection speeds. The speed range of 1-3 Mbps is a major drawback for Popcorn Time as you’re bound to face buffering.
Verdict – CyberGhost is a winner in terms of servers and functions, but slow speeds are an issue.
- Good for streaming and torrenting
- WireGuard protocol available
- No Logs
- Offers Dedicated IP option
- Free browser extension
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- No third-party audits
- Messy app’s interface
7. Private Internet Access (PIA)
Next on our list is PIA, a VPN application that puts torrenting first. Two things that help it stand apart are the port forwarding feature and torrent friendliness. Each server offered by PIA is optimized for P2P downloads and uploads, giving you an ideal ecosystem for Popcorn Time.
The charm of PIA rests in its ability to bypass private trackers and restricted P2P platforms. If your idea of the perfect torrenting VPN is to both use Popcorn Time and download manually, go with PIA. Its extensive server network (80+ countries) and robust security infrastructure will ensure that your connection always stays private.
Verdict: If you can trade excellent privacy for some speed reduction, PIA is the best yet cheap VPN for Popcorn Time after CyberGhost.
- Thousands of servers
- Great for torrenting and P2P
- Strong security and encryption
- Block ads, trackers, and malware
- 10 simultaneous device connections
- Anonymous payment methods
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Based in the US
- Not all streaming services can be unblocked
What is Popcorn Time? – How It Works and Its Need For a VPN
Popcorn Time is a free streaming app that uses torrents to download movies and TV shows. It’s a plug-and-play streaming app and comes with an integrated media player. Simply search a title – movie, TV show, web series – and Popcorn Time will download and start streaming it in seconds.
Using Popcorn Time – often dubbed the ‘Netflix for Pirates’ – is a lot easier than downloading a movie from a torrent site. First of all, you don’t have to sign up.
You don’t have to search across torrent sites, look for seeds-to-peers ratio, or even wait for the entire file to download. With PopcornTime, everything happens in the background. Moreover, it does not even retain the downloaded file once you’ve finished watching Popcorn Time. It’s automatically deleted.
This makes Popcorn Time an ideal software to have for your daily dose of free entertainment. At its peak in 2015, WIRED reported that the software app had 100,000 downloads per day. If you ask me, it’s better than alternatives like Webtor.io and WebTorrent.
How Does Popcorn Time Work?
Popcorn Time works using the BitTorrent protocol to download movies and TV shows through torrent files. When you search for a movie, the app looks for it across P2P websites. You can select the source depending upon availability and seeds-to-peers ratio, and start watching.
The best part of how Popcorn Time works is that it simultaneously plays the torrent file in its built-in video player. You can choose films, TV shows, and web shows across categories, all of which are displayed as visual tiles with high-definition posters.
Popcorn Time is also known as peer-to-peer YouTube because of its clean interface, vivid layout, and ease of streaming. New releases are available as soon as they are out on torrents.
Why Do You Need a VPN for Popcorn Time?
You should always use Popcorn Time with a VPN to avoid exposing your IP address and web location. When you use Popcorn Time, you are downloading via the BitTorrent protocol using public trackers. This is as good as downloading via uTorrent or any other BitTorrent client where your IP address and location are publicly visible as a peer. Using Popcorn Time without a VPN can land you in legal trouble for committing piracy.
A VPN makes your connection to Popcorn Time anonymous. It hides your IP address and encrypts your connection. These two actions make you almost anonymous and also help protect you from copyright laws. Contrary to popular belief, the app does not provide free VPN protection. Some forks may provide VPN protection for a fee.
Is Popcorn Time Illegal?
Popcorn Time’s legality is debatable. This makes its users vulnerable to copyright strikes from their ISPs and law enforcement agencies. As a Popcorn Time user, you may be accused of committing piracy.
The rationale that you are only watching Popcorn Time and not distributing it does not hold here. Since free Popcorn Time depends on the BitTorrent protocol, it behaves similarly to other torrent clients such as uTorrent. When it downloads a movie, it effectively also uploads it to the torrent swarm. In that case, you are seeding the content while streaming it. (This is why it’s also sometimes mockingly called a leeching app.)
This makes the legality of using Popcorn Time questionable, even more so depending upon your region. Even if you live in a liberal country with lax copyright rules and efficient privacy laws, I recommend using a reliable VPN with Popcorn Time.
Watching a movie on Popcorn Time without VPN can put you at risk of possible copyright infringement. It’s best to stay away from copyright strikes of that kind, which can lead to painful and expensive litigation.
Pro Tip – As a PopcornTime user since 2014, I also recommend using a strong antivirus program along with a VPN. This will protect your device and data from potential malware and virus attacks that are common in the BitTorrent network.
VPNs to Avoid with Popcorn Time
Here’s a list of Popcorn Time VPNs you should avoid, no matter what:
- Any free VPN – free VPNs do not provide any kind of protection
- Hola! – Residential IP network that does not provide any encryption
- Any corporate VPN – their high latency will lead to buffering in Popcorn Time
As I’ve mentioned in the review above if you still had to go with the best free VPN, consider AtlasVPN’s free offering.
How to Use Popcorn Time With VPN?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Popcorn Time with a VPN:
- Purchase, download, and install your choice of VPN software. (I recommend NordVPN.)
- Run the VPN and choose a nearby server.
- Access free Popcorn Time only from its official GitHub repository.
- Install it on your device.
- Run Popcorn Time after ensuring that the VPN is switched on.
- Browse the software and start streaming.
If your VPN client has an automatic kill switch, switch it on when using Popcorn Time.
Additional Tips While Using Popcorn Time and VPN
- Ensure an antivirus program is constantly running while using Popcorn Time.
- Never download unknown PopcornTime forks.
- Do not click on splash screens that may pop up on Popcorn Time.
- Close the app via Task Manager to shut it off completely.
Where Can You Download Popcorn Time From?
After extensive research, I recommend downloading Popcorn Time only from its GitHub page. Here you can also find the APK file for Android, its API and SDK (if you’re a developer), and miscellaneous files. At the time of writing, the software was last updated in September 2022.
Popcorn Time’s official site was taken down by its developers in 2014. Since then, several forks (variations or modified versions) have popped up. The most reliable fork also shut down in 2022.
Some of these forks faced clampdowns from law enforcement and other anti-piracy bodies. The domain of a popular free Popcorn Time fork – popcorntime.io – was seized and redirected to the Motion Picture Association website. (Go on, try it!)
POPCORNTIME.IO NOW REDIRECTS TO THE MPA WEBSITE
Many other Popcorn Time forks were flagged for their malware content.
How to Set Up Popcorn Time on Android, iOS, and Other Devices?
Simply download the relevant setup file from Popcorn Time’s official GitHub page and install it on your device. As of March 2023, the following OSes are supported:
- Windows – 32-bit and 64-bit
- Mac OS
Note: The app is not available on Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Does Popcorn Time Have Its Own VPN Service?
No, Popcorn Time does not have a built-in VPN. Instead, it advertises a paid VPN. I do not recommend buying that VPN as it’s unreliable and does not satisfy many of our 10 VPN-testing parameters.
In 2014, a company called Kebrum used to provide VPN protection to Popcorn Time users. However, it was discontinued later when the tool ran into trouble with the MPAA and US law authorities. The last version (which shut down in 2022) was a fork, which was sponsored by VPN.ht. The company advertised the paid VPN to Popcorn Time users.
Many Reddit users have complained about VPN.ht, where they have not been able to log in or reset their password.
Is It Dangerous to Use Popcorn Time Without VPN?
Yes. Its connection is not secure. Watching Popcorn Time without VPN is like using a computer without an antivirus program. You think you can avoid a virus attack but there is no guarantee that you won’t be attacked. The same is true for Popcorn Time, which depends on BitTorrent swarms to download and stream content.
A VPN acts as a protective layer between your computer and the BitTorrent trackers (Popcorn Time’s servers). It also makes your connection nearly anonymous so that you can stream movies and shows without worrying.
How to Bypass Popcorn Time VPN Warning?
Perhaps the biggest demerit of Popcorn Time is its annoying VPN warnings. The prompts are everywhere – at the startup, before and while streaming a movie, and while managing your bookmarks.
Fortunately, you can turn off the Popcorn Time VPN warning. Here’s how:
- Open Popcorn Time.
- Go to Settings (gear icon).
- Under Downloads, uncheck the box that says ‘Alert me before downloading if my VPN is turned off’.
However, in the latest stable version (released in September 2022), there is no way to remove all the warnings. You will have to revert to an older version or use a fork (alternative).
Note – In some Popcorn Time forks, forced disabling of the Safe Watch VPN variant has reportedly caused issues with the streaming service. This is why I recommend not using any random forks.
What Has Replaced Popcorn Time? What Are the Alternatives?
When the last remaining Popcorn Time fork shut down in 2022, its developers said they were doing so due to low usage. The number of monthly users was also dwindling and Popcorn Time was falling in popularity.
As a group that’s been monitoring online piracy for years, we think Popcorn Time’s demise is also due to alternatives and competitors. It’s not a new technology as torrent-streaming apps have always existed. Popcorn Time just made it extremely simple to stream pirated movies.
If you’re looking for Popcorn Time alternatives, these are the ones currently available to download:
- Cloudstream – Android-only torrent streaming app that requires addons
- Stremio – Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Sign-up and Torrentio addon required
- Putlocker.sb – Very similar to Popcorn app and largely web-based. Used by YTS.mx
- Webtor.io – A popular web-only alternative to Popcorn Time
- WebTorrent – Created by the developer of YouTube Instant
You might wonder about the need for so much caution in using a simple streaming app like Popcorn Time. You can still use Popcorn app without a VPN, but you’ll constantly be at risk of surveillance. Since it uses the BitTorrent protocol, it’s better to be wise and use it with a VPN than stream unprotected.
This exercise should not be that difficult if you already use a VPN. Just ensure that it’s switched on when you stream on Popcorn Time. Ideally, if you ask me, a VPN should always be switched on no matter what.
In case you’re new to VPNs, I hope this guide helps you set up Popcorn Time safely on your computer or smartphone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Popcorn Time VPNs
Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Popcorn Time and VPNs.
Is Popcorn Time safe?
Yes. Popcorn Time is a torrent streaming app with a clean and easy-to-use media player. It is safer to use PopcornTime to stream movies and TV shows than to download manually from a torrent site. However, you should always use a VPN with Popcorn Time.
Is Popcorn Time free?
Yes. Popcorn Time is a free, open-source software.
What is the safest Popcorn Time fork to download?
The Popcorn Time version available on its official GitHub page is the safest fork.
Why did the official Popcorn Time shut down?
The original Popcorn Time which was launched in 2014 shut down within a few weeks. It was due to pressure from the movie industry and law enforcement agencies in the US. Subsequent forks were also seized and forced to shut down. According to TorrentFreak, the latest Popcorn Time fork shut down in January 2022 due to a lack of use and more competition.
What are the domains of Popcorn Time forks?
Popcorn Time forks were (or still are) available in the following domains:
- popcorntime.app (the most recent official site)
Popcorn-Time.to used to be one of the leading forks.
Can I get in trouble for using Popcorn Time?
If you stream copyrighted content and use Popcorn Time without VPN, you may land in trouble. If your ISP detects that you are downloading and streaming copyrighted movies via the Popcorn app, you may be sent a court letter. This will also depend on your country’s copyright laws.
How can I watch Popcorn Time without buffering?
Use a high-speed VPN like PrivateVPN or NordVPN to avoid buffering.
What is the fastest VPN for Popcorn Time?
NordVPN, Surfshark, and AtlasVPN are the fastest VPNs for Popcorn Time.
Which VPN is best for Popcorn Time?
I recommend NordVPN, AtlasVPN, and PrivateVPN as the best for Popcorn Time.
What is the best VPN for Popcorn Time across OSes like Windows and Android?
I recommend NordVPN as the all-rounder best VPN application for Popcorn Time as it supports Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS (Apple).
How to set up VPN with Popcorn Time?
- Buy and install VPN software on your device.
- Activate it and select a server of your choice.
- Set up security features such as the kill switch before opening Popcorn Time.
- Search for your desired title and start streaming.
How can I know or test if a VPN is working with Popcorn Time?
After switching on the VPN, use any of our recommended VPN testing methods to check if it’s working. For a quick test, simply check if your IP address has changed. If it has, your VPN is likely working.
Is Popcorn Time legal in my country?
It entirely depends on your country’s jurisdiction and its copyright laws. For example, watching a copyrighted Hollywood movie on Popcorn Time is illegal in the United States. The same is not explicitly illegal in Sweden. You can check with a legal counsel if you are unsure.
Is it legal to use VPN on Popcorn Time?
Yes, it is completely legal to use VPN with Popcorn Time. However, consuming copyrighted content may be considered illegal in some countries.
Can I use free VPNs for Popcorn Time?
Yes, you can use free VPN services with Popcorn Time but it’s not recommended. Free VPNs will do a poor job at hiding IP addresses and encrypting your internet traffic. I recommend using only reliable and known VPNs for Popcorn Time like NordVPN, PIA, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.
What’s the best free VPN for Popcorn Time?
Free VPNs are not recommended but if you had to use a free version, go with AtlasVPN’s free VPN client.
My ISP has warned me about using Popcorn Time. What should I do?
A law enforcement agency or DMCA likely alerted your ISP about your Popcorn Time usage. You may either stop using the tool to avoid further complaints or use a reliable VPN such as NordVPN or AtlasVPN.
Does Popcorn Time give you viruses?
Some Popcorn Time may infect your device with viruses or malware. I recommend installing a strong antivirus program on all your devices where you use Popcorn Time. Web-based torrent streaming services are more likely to infect your system.
How to stream Popcorn Time faster?
To speed up Popcorn Time streaming, use a fast VPN like PrivateVPN. You can also choose a nearby VPN server, switch to 128-bit AES encryption, and take advantage of P2P servers. Doing these will ensure that Popcorn Time runs faster.
VPN Expert, BEng in Network Engineering