VPNs are used to establish a more secure connection to the internet. They “mask” your home IP address so final internet destinations cannot trace them. For example, you can live in Los Angeles but a VPN can make it look like you are browsing from Paris, New York, or Amsterdam. By masking your IP address, you add an extra layer of anonymity to your internet browsing, which also helps hide your torrenting too.
VPNs are often used to protect sensitive information. They have strong encryption and firewalls that may block connections users want. Luckily, port forwarding exists to get around these issues.
Only a few VPNs allow port forwarding which can help you to increase the performance, especially when seeding torrents. It would allow you to reach better speeds, customize your network, apps, and add an extra layer of security. Let’s take a look at what port forwarding is.
Here are 5 VPNs that allow Port Forwarding:
What Is Port Forwarding?
A port is a specific number that determines how data is transmitted and received over the internet. Port numbers determine distinct “roads” for internet traffic, which prevents conflicts. An example is port 21, which is conventionally assigned to data for FTP requests. Ports are important for internet security. Blocking a single port will block all internet traffic directed to that port.
Port forwarding is a method that remaps ports between remote and local computing devices. It redirects internet data assigned to one port to a different port. This method can be used to open different paths to your network. Port forwarding might improve performance and internet traffic speed to a device.
How Does Port Forwarding Work?
Here is a quick description of how port forwarding works. When you access a website from your computer, you send packets of data that contain information about your request over the web. These packets contain information about the request’s final destination including a port number.
Normally, a network router recognizes the port and sends the packet to the right destination. When Port forwarding is used, this signal is intercepted and the application rewrites the port number. The data is then sent to the destination where the new port number points.
Port forwarding is used to block unwanted access to servers, hide sensitive information, and open new paths to increase download speeds.
Static Vs Dynamic Port Forwarding
Port forwarding can involve static or dynamic ports. Static ports keep the same port number while dynamic port forwarding changes port numbers every time they are used. Dynamic ports establish a new number every time a new connection is made.
Static ports are probably the most convenient as you don’t have to constantly change port number settings. Port forwarding through static ports is generally better for torrenting. This is because new connections do not have to be established all the time and you don’t have to change your settings.
Dynamic ports, on the other hand, can be beneficial as it allows to use and recycle unused ports. Yet, using dynamic ports is problematic when you want to have remote access.
Why Don’t Many VPNs Offer Port Forwarding?
The main reason why is security concerns. VPN providers use NAT firewalls to block unwanted connections. Port forwarding allows you to circumvent those firewall rules, which decreases security and privacy. This is why many VPNs don’t allow port forwarding as it can allow dangerous connections to access the network.
NAT firewalls are a powerful form of protection. However, sometimes they block the connections that the VPN users might want to have. For example, after connecting to a VPN you might find that you cannot download videos from your favorite site due to the firewall blocking it. This can also cause some interruptions in P2P connections too. It can prevent you from connecting to the peers and limit the download speeds.
Only a few VPNs offer a Port Forwarding feature. This is because it opens up users to risky connections that are otherwise blocked. Back in 2015, people figured out that VPN providers had one big flaw, called “Port Fail.” This vulnerability meant that VPNs could sometimes leak users’ real IP addresses. Fortunately, getting rid of port fails is a relatively easy fix, but there is no guarantee that a VPN provider has eliminated that vulnerability.
Port Forwarding and Torrenting
One activity that VPN firewalls can potentially interfere with is torrenting. Torrenting relies on seeding – connecting to people who want to download your files. Seeding is necessary for people to be able to torrent anything at all.
VPNs may limit your connections to the peers and make you unable to contribute to the upload rate. Port forwarding is a way to get around this limitation. It allows the connections from many users and forwards them to the torrent client. The downside of this is that it allows connections to pass the NAT firewall.
Do you need port forwarding?
If you are not interested in contributing to the upload rate, then you don’t have to worry about port forwarding too much. The only way that torrenting on a VPN would be impossible is if a VPN provider does not support P2P traffic at all. That being said, some torrenting platforms will not allow you to download files unless you contribute to the upload rate. In those cases, a VPN with port forwarding might be necessary.
Port forwarding can increase your torrent download/upload speeds though if used properly. Here is how: Torrent applications rely on at least one peer being there (user) with a publicly accessible port (also called an active node). Most regular torrent users stay as a passive node and the torrent client can usually only communicate with active nodes.
When you enable port forwarding you increase the number of peers you can connect to. This greatly increases download/seeding speeds. In other words, opening up port forwarding allows you to connect with more peers, so you can download from a larger number of nodes at once.
Here is another way of putting the point: without any open ports, your torrent client has to start each connection to other clients. Opening up port forwarding allows other clients to find you, so you can get more connections.
The VPN provider that allows for port forwarding usually gives instructions on how to enable it. Most of the time, you can enable it and specify ports in the VPN’s user settings area. The VPN provider may only provide port forwarding on specific servers.
5 Best VPNs That Allow Port Forwarding
Private Internet Access is a robust VPN provider that allows port forwarding. The feature can be accessed from the settings tab. Once the port is configured, it will automatically connect to the one you specified.
PIA has more than 3200+ servers in 66 locations across 46 countries. The service allows 10 connected devices at once and advanced security options. They offer applications for all major platforms including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and even Linux.
Private Internet Access also includes an automatic kill-switch that drops the port forwarding if the VPN connection is lost. This feature is designed to prevent unauthorized access to encryption channels.
This is a torrent-friendly VPN. They have full P2P support and it’s not limited to specific servers, as is the case with a lot of VPN providers.
All plans are very affordable and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Allows Port Forwarding setup on specific servers
- Supports Torrenting and P2P traffic
- 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
PrivateVPN is a great choice for a VPN with the port forwarding feature. It is a provider that prides itself on security and privacy. The service is easy to use and high-performing, suited for both casual users and those serious about internet privacy.
Port forwarding with PrivateVPN is easy. When you connect to a server, you can see a random port number right above the disconnect button. You can then manually change the number to whatever port you want. The process is simple and very straightforward. Port forwarding has no bandwidth limits and the strong security keeps your activity hidden.
This VPN keeps no-logs, offers torrenting support, a good security infrastructure, and can be used to increase speeds from streaming networks, such as Netflix. They have over 150+ servers in 43 countries with multiple locations in several countries.
PrivateVPN has fast connection speeds despite its relatively small network. It also has a neat connection guard that cuts off applications and internet access if the VPN connection drops for any reason. This keeps unwanted traffic out of the encryption tunnel.
Best of all it comes with IPv6 and DNS leak protection which greatly reduces the risk of port fail attacks. The “stealth blocker” hides the fact that you are using a VPN so you can access networks with tough blocks.
Lastly, PrivateVPNs servers are very reasonably priced. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, and they have a free 7-day trial you can get by requesting one through customer support.
PureVPN is a Honk Kong-based VPN provider that has a huge network of servers, strong security options, and good connection speeds. In 2018 it became a no-log certified VPN provider which means they do not keep any records on any of your activities while connected to their VPN service.
It allows for port forwarding so can open and forward any UDP/TCP port from basically any device, and use port forwarding to configure secure ports for torrenting or online gaming.
PureVPN has cross-platform support for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It is also compatible with Linux and other smart devices like Amazon Fire TV. They have over 2,000 servers spread out across 140 countries.
The service has a profile dedicated specifically to torrenting that connects to special servers. P2P connections are fast, secure, and protect your real IP address from unauthorized viewing.
PureVPN is a simple to use VPN service that provides port forwarding. All its plans are pretty cheap compared with other VPN providers and they all have a 31-day money-back guarantee.
TorGuard is a VPN service that is a great choice for torrent leechers and seeders who need fast upload and download speeds. It prioritizes P2P sharing traffic, which makes it somewhat a rarity among VPN providers.
This VPN provider supports port forwarding for ports above 2048 and only through OpenVPN. They do not support port forwarding through PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP protocols.
The setup to activate port forwarding can be a bit tricky, particularly for anyone looking for their first VPN. You first have to request port forwarding access from the Management Action toolbar. Once your request is processed, you will get an email with instructions on how to open your ports. Once you get it set up though, the static ports work smoothly for seeding and leeching.
The basic TorGuard plan allows you to connect up to 5 devices on the VPN network and you can add more devices for $1 per month.
TorGuard also offers add-ons such as dedicated IP addresses, DDoS protection, and access to the company’s 100 Gbit network. This VPN also supports several VPN protocols, including popular “Stealth” protocols that hide the fact you are using a VPN.
Perfect Privacy is a Swiss-based VPN provider that has 39 locations in over 20 countries throughout the world. Perfect Privacy does not have a large server network but gives users a list of unusual features such as multi-step VPN passing, tracker blocking, anti-phishing software, and IPv6 support on the majority of their servers.
You can access port forwarding services from the Settings table, where you can also select your VPN encryption method. Perfect privacy allows you to set up a table of port forwarding rules and you can route signals through multiple port sequences. You can add new custom ports with the “Add” button and configure ports for torrent clients. Setting up static ports takes just a few minutes and very little technical know-how.
Perfect Privacy’s port forwarding services are server-specific, which means you will only be able to use it on those servers. There are also options for automatic port forwarding which will automatically forward signals to a specified port. This feature is extremely useful if you do a lot of torrenting or other services that require P2P connections.
We should also mention that Perfect Privacy is keenly aware of Port Fail vulnerabilities, and they claim that all users are protected. This is why they allow for multiple IP addresses and client-side firewalls to block access from the client’s real IP address to port forwardings.
Not so many VPN providers allow for Port Forwarding due to security reasons. However, given that a large part of the internet ecosystem depends on people sharing information with each other, port forwarding can be a necessity for certain applications. One of the best VPNs that offer this feature is Private Internet Access. It openly supports P2P traffic and is a fast and reliable VPN service. Its port forwarding is easy to configure and the apps come with additional security features such as IP leak protection and an internet kill switch.