If you are looking for ways to protect your privacy while torrenting, you will likely have come across both Peerblock and VPNs. Both try to protect your privacy in very different ways and with varying levels of effectiveness.
However, are any of these solutions actually an effective way to make torrenting safer and keep your browsing private?
In this article, we will investigate Peerblock vs VPN and try to find out which one is best for your needs.
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What Exactly Is Peerblock, Does It Work?
When you download files using torrent software you connect to many different peers to download your data. As such, many different IP addresses will be able to connect to your computer. Not all of them may necessarily be ones that you want to give access to your computer!
Peerblock is a fairly simple piece of software - aimed at torrent users, that blocks incoming connections from certain IP address while downloading.
The idea behind this is that the IP addresses that are being blocked are either malicious, or come from an organisation such as a government, or a torrent monitoring agency that is trying to track what you are downloading. The data base of IPs are stored in Peerblock
In theory, this is a good idea. If all unwanted connections were blocked, you would be able to torrent safely and without the chance of anyone spying on what you are downloading.
This sounds good in practice, but there are caveats...
Firstly, while Peerbox no doubt blocks some unwanted IP addresses, it almost certainly does not block them all. There are many ways that companies, agencies or unscrupulous users can change an IP address and as such if they wanted to spy on you, it would not be hard for them to circumnavigate an IP blacklist.
In fact, not only will Peerblock likely be letting in malicious IPs, the fact that so many IPs are blocked also means that you are likely to get slower downloads as legitimate IPs are potentially blocked from connecting.
Basically, when using Peerblock you should assume two things. Firstly, that while malicious IPs are getting blocking, they aren’t blocking all malicious IPs and secondly, that because of the high number of IPs that are blocked, you will potentially end up with slower download speeds.
Is A VPN Different?
While both a VPN and a Peerbox can be used to make torrenting safer, they are completely different things.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a piece of software that routes your internet traffic via an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server. This VPN server can be anywhere in the world and it will make it seem as if you are browsing from this network and using the VPN server’s IP address. As well as this, a VPN will encrypt all data that passes between the VPN and the VPN server.
VPNs can either be downloaded onto an individual computer to reroute traffic from that computer or, if you have a compatible router, installed on your router to reroute all traffic that goes through the router (this makes it easy for everyone within your home to use the VPN).
The part of a VPN that makes torrenting safer is the fact that it encrypts your connection and routes your traffic through a private network. This hides your IP address (the public IP that is assigned to you by your ISP), which should make it much harder for people tracking torrents to see that you are downloading torrents.
A VPN has many other uses, including the fact that this rerouting of your connection can allow you to access censored or geo-locked web content, and the fact that the encrypting of your data can make you safer when browsing on public networks.
However, back to using a VPN for torrenting. While it may seem like a perfect solution, it should be noted that many VPNs don’t even let you download torrents (P2P networks) while connected to their VPN.
As well as this, while a VPN will hide your IP address, if the VPN keeps logs (which many do), it could still be possible for an organisation to gain access to these logs and find out what has been viewed on their network.
A final thing that differentiates VPNs is that good VPNs are not free (avoid free VPNs - they are often a hotspot for malware). We also strongly recommend using a VPN with a NAT firewall, this stops malicious hackers from having open access to your device as the IP address your device uses will be a public IP (NAT firewall will make it private and unseen to the public).
VPNs usually cost around 5 to 10 dollars a month, depending on the features required. Peerblock is downloaded for free...
Great video explanation of VPNs
Peerblock vs VPN: Is A VPN Better Than Peerblock?
Obviously, as both pieces of software do different things, it really depends on what you are after.
Which is better at blocking unsafe IPs?
Peerblock is the clear winner here. A VPN will do nothing to block unsafe IP addresses (that you have knowingly or unknowingly allowed in - or if you do not have a NAT firewall on your VPN)) from your computer, while that is Peerblock’s main job. Of course, it is almost certain that Peerblock will also be letting in some malicious IPs as well, but there could be an advantage to reducing this number.
Which is better at hiding my IP address?
A VPN is the clear winner here as actually, Peerblock does not make any attempt to hide your IP address. While blocking certain IPs may give you slightly more privacy online there is no way to know that Peerblock is blocking all IPs.
A VPN on the other hand will hide your IP address by only showing the IP of the private VPN server address your connection is being routed through.
Which has more uses?
A VPN has many uses and is a well-regarded piece of software that can keep you safer while browsing the internet. Keeping you safer while torrenting is only one of the uses of a VPN. Accessing geo-blocked content and encrypting your data are two other such uses.
Which will keep me safe while torrenting?
It should be noted that while a VPN will potentially keep you more private when torrenting, there is essentially no way to guarantee that you will remain completely anonymous. Even when the VPN provider doesn't keep logs.
You may not want to hear this, but the only way you can guarantee that you aren’t putting yourself at risk from torrenting, is not to do it at all!
Thanks for reading our article on Peerblocks vs VPN. Hopefully, you will now understand the benefits and downsides to both.
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