Using Popcorn Time – often called the ‘free Netflix for pirated movies’ – is a lot better than downloading a movie from a torrent site.
This is because it comes with an integrated media player. You can watch a movie directly. No need to search across torrent sites, look for seeds-peers ratio, or wait for the entire file to download. Simply search the title – movie or TV/web show – and Popcorn Time will stream it in seconds.
But with all that convenience, there is the danger of exposing your IP address and location. When you use Popcorn Time, you are effectively downloading via a P2P network, usually through third-party trackers. This is as good as downloading from uTorrent or qBittorrent where the connection is not secure. Contrary to popular belief, Popcorn Time does not provide free VPN protection.
Using Popcorn Time with a VPN is highly recommended. Let’s find out why, and what the top VPNs are.
Here are the best VPNs for Popcorn Time:
How Does Popcorn Time Work?
Popcorn Time is a popular torrent streaming tool that combines the power of torrenting and a media player. It uses the BitTorrent protocol to download movie files via torrent trackers. The good part is that it simultaneously plays the file in its built-in video player. Users can choose films, TV shows, and web shows across categories, all of which are displayed as visual tiles with HD posters.
Popcorn Time is called the Netflix of pirated movies because of its vivid layout, ease of streaming, and large collection. Just search the desired title and Popcorn Time will find the torrent, download it, and start streaming it. Because it depends on the BitTorrent protocol, it behaves like other torrent clients such as uTorrent. When it downloads a movie, it effectively also uploads it to the torrent swarm. This makes the legality of using Popcorn Time questionable, even more so depending upon your region.
We highly recommend using a reliable VPN when you are dealing with BitTorrent. Watching a movie on Popcorn Time without VPN can put you at risk emerging from possible copyright infringement. It’s best to stay away from copyright strikes of that kind, which can lead to painful and expensive litigation.
Top 5 VPNs for Popcorn Time
The best VPN for Popcorn Time is the one that you already know and use. If you are new to VPNs, here are our top five 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 for torrenting, ensuring better connectivity and speed.
NordVPN boasts of over 5,500 servers and ensures optimized speed for Popcorn Time viewing. It uses its proprietary NordLynx protocol to protect you from copyright strikers. In our periodic tests, we have found that NordVPN is the inarguably best VPN for Popcorn Time.
It also has a kill switch that will ensure that you are always connected to Popcorn Time via its server. In case NordVPN detects a problem with its secure connection, it will automatically shut off the Internet. This feature provides a foolproof system for Popcorn Time, protecting you the moment you start the tool. Other critical NordVPN functions include a no-logs policy and availability across OSes.
Verdict: Go for it for all-around protection, great P2P connectivity and speed, and a user-friendly interface.
Surfshark also offers a large number of servers and excellent speed for torrenting. We like that it carries out independent audits of its VPN infrastructure and servers to detect any security lapse and ensure user safety. This is a rare exercise in the VPN community and one that needs to be appreciated. What other VPN do you know that audits itself to ensure customer safety?
Surfshark is more affordable than NordVPN if you choose a long-term plan. Its kill switch and multi-hop features will come in handy for your torrenting needs without burning a hole in your pocket. The only gripe we have is the lack of port forwarding, which is where PIA VPN fares better (see below).
Although, Surfshark makes up for its drawbacks by offering flexible subscription plans. For instance, it has a monthly plan that you can use to test the product and switch to another provider if you’re not satisfied. But if you take our word, Surfshark a great and cheaper VPN for Popcorn Time.
Verdict: Choose Surfshark for Popcorn Time if you are looking for a cheap VPN with a lot of power.
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 diverse server network 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 only drawback with ExpressVPN is that kill switch is not available on some operating systems. This can be a deal-breaker for some users.
Verdict: Buy ExpressVPN if you plan to watch a lot of movies on Popcorn Time and other streaming sites.
Private Internet Access
Next on our list is Private Internet Access (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 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 your best VPN for Popcorn Time.
- Supports WireGuard on all platforms
- Currently WG is in Beta testing phase
- No Traffic or Request logs
- Can be used with 10 devices simultaneously
- Unlimited Bandwidth and good speeds
- 3200+ Servers in 29 Countries
- 30-day money-back guarantee
If the above four VPNs for Popcorn Time look expensive, we recommend IPVanish. A low-cost VPN with strong support for torrenting, it’s an underdog in the online security realm. But that does not mean it compromises the quality of protection it gives you, thanks to its 256-bit encryption. And in case you feel vulnerable, you can exercise its 30-day money guarantee and opt for another provider. (Surfshark comes a close second if you are on a budget.)
IPVanish is an ideal choice for beginner users who are new to both Popcorn Time and VPNs. For one, it is far better than the built-in VPN that Popcorn Time forces you to use. Secondly, it lets you control your connection by offering over 1,600 servers spread across 75 locations.
Verdict: Low on budget? Get IPVanish for Popcorn Time and protect your privacy at an affordable price.
Do I Need a VPN for Popcorn Time?
The short answer is yes. A VPN makes your connection to Popcorn Time anonymous.
Using Popcorn Time without VPN is not recommended due to the obvious risk of exposing your IP address and your location. The tool essentially downloads and streams pirated movies from different torrent sites. This is an offense in many parts of the world. Plus, the rising scrutiny on Popcorn Time users from authorities in the US and other countries makes the case for a Popcorn Time VPN stronger.
Popcorn Time’s legality is debatable. This makes its users vulnerable to copyright strikes from their ISPs and law enforcement agencies. Ever since it was launched in 2014, it has been mired in controversy. And you don’t want to be caught in the crosshairs. You may be accused of committing piracy by agencies such as DMCA and MPAA.
The rationale that you are only watching the movie and not publicizing it does not hold here. As you know, the BitTorrent protocol depends on peering, which means that you are both downloading and uploading at the same time. You may be breaking a copyright rule when downloading that latest episode of Money Heist. And it applies to Popcorn Time too.
Even if you live in a liberal country with lax copyright rules and efficient privacy laws, we recommend using a VPN. Because sometimes it’s not just about avoiding a court subpoena. You also want to protect your system from cyber-attacks such as malware and ransomware. The right VPN with the right set of functions and features will be the shield that you want. To state the obvious, a free VPN is not recommended.
Does Popcorn Time Have a Built-In VPN?
No. Popcorn has a built-in VPN option but it is both paid and unreliable.
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 current real version of Popcorn Time is actually a fork, which is sponsored by VPN.ht. The same VPN provider offers the paid built-in VPN to Popcorn Time users.
If you have ever used freemium software, you would know that using an affiliated service is never a good idea. Especially when your privacy is on the line.
Moreover, Reddit users have regularly complained about VPN.ht, where they have not been able to log in or reset their password.
Is Popcorn Time Safe Without VPN?
No. 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 protection between your computer and the BitTorrent trackers (Popcorn Time’s servers). It also makes your connection anonymous so that you can stream movies and shows without worries.
How to Bypass Popcorn Time VPN Warning?
Perhaps the biggest demerit of Popcorn Time is its annoying VPN warnings. The prompts welcome you across the tool – at the startup, before and while streaming a movie, and while managing your bookmarks – it’s everywhere.
Fortunately, you can turn off the Popcorn Time VPN warning through three simple steps:
- 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 2020), there is no way to remove all the warnings. You will have to revert to an older version or use a fork (alternative). We recommend only using the real Popcorn Time at popcorn-time.tw to avoid falling prey to fakes and scams.
Note – In some Popcorn Time forks, forced disabling of the Safe Watch VPN variant has reportedly caused issues with the streaming.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Popcorn Time and VPNs.
Is Popcorn Time safe?
Yes. Popcorn Time is a torrent client with an integrated media player. It is safer to use Popcorn Time to stream movies and shows than to download manually from a torrent site. However, a VPN is recommended for Popcorn Time as a layer of protection.
Is Popcorn Time free?
Yes. Popcorn Time is a free, open-source tool.
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 or a surveillance agency detects that you are downloading and streaming copyrighted movies via the tool, you may be sent a court letter. Such a scenario depends on your country’s copyright laws too.
What is the fastest VPN for Popcorn Time?
What is the best VPN for Popcorn Time for across OSes like Windows and Android?
We recommend NordVPN which supports Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS (Apple).
How to set up VPN with Popcorn Time?
Purchase and install a VPN software on your device. Activate it and select a server of your choice. Set up other features such as kill switch before opening Popcorn Time. Search for your desired title and enjoy the streaming.
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.
Will a free VPN be enough with Popcorn Time?
No. Free VPNs do a poor job at hiding your IP address and encrypting your connection. We recommend using only reliable and known VPNs for Popcorn Time like NordVPN, PIA, Surfshark, and IPVanish.
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 Surfshark.