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Originally Posted On: https://www.alwaysvpn.com/guides/torrent-sites-to-avoid
If you’ve ever tried to torrent movies, shows, music, or games, you’ve likely come across some unsavory sites. From unrelenting pop-up ads to suspicious auto-executing scripts, torrenting sites are some of the most notoriously malicious places on the internet.
At times, it may be easy to spot weird sites or sketchy downloads, but it’s not always a simple endeavor. The first step you should take to protect yourself while torrenting is installing a VPN – check our Best VPN for Torrenting page for a good breakdown. A good torrenting VPN (AVPN recommends Surfshark) will encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, while also blocking malware attacks. Take a moment to read through our guide for torrent sites to avoid and additional tips to protect yourself while torrenting.
Disclaimer: AlwaysVPN does not condone illegal file sharing or copyright infringement. Many of the files exchanged via P2P are indeed copyrighted even though P2P file sharing technology is legal. Uploading these copyrighted files can put you at risk of a civil lawsuit. While these lawsuits are often class-action cases, some have been targeted at individual users in an attempt to make an example of them.
Protect Yourself – Beware of Bad Torrent Sites
You should always be vigilant (and take the necessary precautions) when visiting torrent sites, downloading torrents, or seeding. While bad actors can be potentially lurking on any torrent site, some sites are worse offenders than others. To steer clear of obvious threats, avoid these sites:
As one of the original torrenting sites, KickassTorrents is an internet legend. However, the current site is not the same as its namesake, as the original site’s management shut it down a year or so ago. Malicious actors have likely taken over the brand name in an attempt to trick users.
When visiting SUMOtorrent, a prompt instructs the user to download a proprietary torrent client. There are plenty of trusted 3rd-party torrent clients that can be used on virtually any other torrent site. SUMOtorrent forces the use of their torrent client – this is highly suspicious. Any torrent site that forces the user to download specific software shouldn’t be trusted.
The easiest way to stop data theft and protect yourself while torrenting is through the use of a VPN.
This site used to duplicate the very popular (and reputable) 1337x, attracting millions of users month over month. Duplicate sites like these should always be viewed with suspicion. While it no longer mirrors 1337x’s site, TorrentGalaxy overwhelms users with ads. While all torrent sites run ads, there is a distinct difference between placed ads and rampant and aggressive pop-ups. A torrent site with unrelenting ads is a strong sign of malicious activity.
With over 10 years of service, TorrentFunk is a fairly old site that was once a respected and reliable torrenting site. Unfortunately, it’s now full of unwanted links, pop-ups, and banner ads that are aggressive and intrusive, likely equipped with malware.
Like TorrentFunk, iDope used to be a great source for quality torrents. However, it’s best to avoid this site. In recent years the original site was taken down and replaced with a version full of intrusive ads and link prompts.
PassThePopcorn & Demonoid
These commonly listed sites are invite-only, requiring a login and password to use. There’s nothing wrong with invite-only sites, but these sites haven’t allowed new users in years. While there isn’t anything inherently bad about either, they have been listed to save prospective users time as it is nearly impossible to gain access.
Tips to Stay Safe & Avoid Fake Torrent Sites
Avoiding bad actors while torrenting requires more than just choosing a trusted site. Anyone else seeding the same file as you on P2P sites can read your data.
The easiest way to stop data theft and protect yourself while torrenting is through the use of a VPN. This will encrypt your traffic and hide your IP, while also providing built-in malware blockers. Traffic encryption and IP masking are important steps to take while torrenting, as it prevents ISPs (or anyone else) from monitoring your browsing behavior.
For a torrenting VPN We recommend Surfshark. In addition to the above features it supports secure P2P file sharing, is compatible with almost any torrent client, and has a “NoBorders Mode” allowing users to easily circumvent censorship firewalls.
Take control of your torrenting with Surfshark
If you want to look further into torrenting with VPNs, check out our VPN must-have feature breakdown. That being said, there are a few more key steps you can take to protect yourself when torrenting.
Check Files for Malware
When you find a torrent file, be sure to check the file type. Check for malicious elements in any .zip, .rar, or .tar files. User should ignore WMA/WMV file types. WMA/WMV are outdated and dangerous due to their unsupported nature.
Lastly, be extremely cautious of any .exe files. On most software or game torrents .exe files are likely benign. With programs like these, .exe files are used to initiate program installation on a machine. However, if you find a .exe file in a music or movie file, it is guaranteed to be malicious.
Choose a Good Torrent Client
While it is important to choose a safe torrent site, using a trusted torrent client is just as crucial. Reputable services like uTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, or qBittorrent will provide additional protection against attacks.
Use a Privacy-Focused Search Engine
An unfortunate consequence of this is the indexing of copycat torrent sites or low-traffic malicious sites in place of legitimate sites. Avoid this trouble by using a privacy-focused search engine like DuckDuckGo, StartPage, Ecosia, or Mojeek.
Check each Torrent
If you are using a trust-worthy torrent site, many popular torrents will likely be verified in some way – unverified torrents are likely malicious. Check for torrent verification, read user comments, and seed-to-leech ratio, along with the torrent uploader’s reputation.
Install an Antivirus Tool
It goes without saying, but quality antivirus software is massively important in protecting your machine while torrenting. Popular brands like Norton or McAfee have longstanding antivirus products. BitDefender is a newer but very popular choice. We encourage you to do your own research, as there are lots of antivirus services out there, each with their own benefits.
Antivirus software continuously monitors and scans the machine along with any downloaded files. Before malware can cause damage, a good antivirus will isolate and/or remove it from the machine.
Torrenting represents a great option for those who cannot afford (or simply don’t want to pay) for music, movies, games, and software. If you choose to torrent, make sure you take the necessary precautions, use the best torrent sites, have a VPN for torrenting installed, and follow the above safety tips. In combination, these steps will almost certainly keep you safe, secure, and private throughout your torrenting experience.