VPN with Port Forwarding (works with torrents)
Oliver Bradshaw | Last Updated:
Technical VPN Analyst
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are used to secure an internet connection by masking your IP address so that prying eyes, such as government agencies, hackers, and any other restricted websites, cannot trace your online activities.
For example, you can live in Melbourne, Australia, but a VPN will make it look like you’re in Texas, United States. In other words, by masking your IP address, you’ll be hiding your torrenting and other online activities.
VPNs are best for people who want to protect their sensitive information. And that’s why most of the VPN services come with robust encryptions and firewalls and could block the connections you badly need. However, port forwarding will ensure you bypass all these challenges.
Unfortunately, only a few VPN services allow port forwarding, which boosts your performance when seeding torrents. In a nutshell, port forwarding allows you to enhance your speeds, add extra security layers, and customise your applications and network.
What’s Port Forwarding?
A port refers to a number determining data transmission on the internet. In other words, port numbers are responsible for deciding internet traffic roads and preventing conflicts. For example, port 21 is responsible for (File Transfer Protocol) FTP requests. That said, ports are essential, especially for your internet security. Blocking any of them means blocking all your internet traffic directed to that specific port.
So port forwarding is the process of remapping ports between local and remote computing devices. In other words, it’s meant to redirect data that’s been assigned to a specific port to another port. So it’s possible to open different network paths with other ports. Finally, port forwarding can help with boosting internet traffic speeds, improving your overall browsing and torrenting experience.
How Port Forwarding Work
When accessing any website from your computing device, your packet data containing your information is sent on the internet. This information will have your final request—your final destination, which should include your port number.
Usually, your internet router will recognise the port and send the packet data to the appropriate destination. However, there will be a signal interception, which rewrites the port number when port forwarding is used. Once that happens, it will send your data to where the new port number is pointing.
In a nutshell, port forwarding is often used to restrict unwanted server access, find new paths, increase download speeds, and hide your most sensitive information.
Dynamic vs. Static Port Forwarding
There are two distinctions of port forwarding—dynamic and static port forwarding. As the name suggests, Static retains the same port number, while dynamic port forwarding alternates the port numbers each time you use them. That said, dynamic ports establish new numbers every time a new connection is established.
Static ports are the best to use because you wouldn’t need to change your port number settings each time you’re connected. Static port forwarding is best for torrenting because there’s no need for new connections or to change your settings each time you’re connected to the internet.
The advantage of dynamic ports is that they allow users to recycle any unused ports. However, they’ll not be ideal if you want to gain remote access when surfing the internet.
Why Aren’t VPNs Offering Port Forwarding?
Most VPN services aren’t offering port forwarding because of security concerns. And this explains why most VPN companies use NAT firewalls to prevent unwanted connections. However, port forwarding allows you to bypass those firewalls, which makes you vulnerable. This is why most VPN services don’t allow port forwarding, as they could be dangerous.
While NAT firewalls provide you with additional security, they can sometimes block your direly need connections. For example, you may realise that you can’t connect to your favourite streaming service once you connect to a VPN service. And this is because there’s a firewall blocking your connection. Besides blocking your connections, port forwarding could also interrupt your P2P connections and slow your download speeds.
With all the risks associated with port forwarding, most VPN services do not offer or include it in their VPN perks. Even worse, people realised that there was a way VPN services could leak users’ IP addresses due to Port Fail. The good news, though, is that eliminating Port Fail is relatively straightforward, but there’s no guarantee that all VPN service providers have eliminated the Port Fail vulnerability.
Port Forwarding and Torrenting
The most significant port forwarding vulnerability is torrenting. Most torrenting sites rely on seeding—which is the connection between people to download torrent files. In other words, seeding is critical to torrenting anything.
Using a VPN may restrict your connections and limit you from contributing to the upload rates required. However, you can get around this problem through port forwarding. So instead of the VPN service limiting your connections, port forwarding will forward your connections to your torrent client. The only disadvantage of this is that it allows your connections to bypass the NAT firewall.
Do I Need Port Forwarding?
That said, some torrenting sites will restrict you from downloading files unless you can get involved in the upload rate. If you aren’t involved in the upload rate, then port forwarding should be the least of your concerns. Besides, the only way torrenting would be limited is when your VPN service provider doesn’t offer P2P traffic support entirely. In such cases, you’ll need to have a VPN service that supports port forwarding.
So how does port forwarding improve your upload or download speeds? Port forwarding comes with many advantages—for example, it could significantly enhance your upload and download speeds if adequately used. Torrent apps rely on at least a single user with a publicly accessible port—active node. Because the torrent client can always communicate only with active nodes, it won’t do so with regular torrent users—who usually stay as passive nodes.
You increase the number of users you can connect to when you enable your port forwarding. And when this is done, your download and upload speeds are significantly increased. In other words, enabling your port forwarding allows you to connect to many users and download your files from many nodes simultaneously.
Here’s another way to understand why port forwarding is essential: without enabling your ports, your torrent clients will be forced to start connecting with the other clients. In other words, enabling your port makes it easier for your clients to find you and allow more connections.
But before you choose a VPN service that supports port forwarding, make sure that it offers instructions on how you can enable it. In most cases, you should find where you can enable it from the settings. However, the VP service provider could only offer port forwarding on specific servers, so it’s important to inquire before splashing the cash.
Best Port Forwarding VPNs
- Supported Devices:
NordVPN is a security service with several features—with the most essential being port forwarding. This feature allows you to connect your computer or other devices to various ports on Nord’s servers and bypass restrictions on multiple websites and services.
NordVPN allows users to block intrusive ads and keep them from visiting malicious websites—earning it a good reputation. Furthermore, NordVPN provides fast internet speeds without any data caps or throttling policies that restrict bandwidth usage.
This Panama-based VPN service provider also comes with a kill switch to keep you safe whenever your VPN connection goes down. Besides, the kill switch functionality will automatically halt your downloads and close all apps you’re accessing using a VPN.
Although NordVPN performs better on Windows, it’s still a viable option on your Mac—making it a versatile choice regardless of the device you’re using. What’s more, NordVPN comes with excellent speeds because Wireguard is perceived faster than OpenVPN.
- Features port forwarding
- It has over 5200 servers globally
- It features an ad-blocking
- NordVPN comes with a military-standard encryption
- It has a strict no-logs policy
- NordVPN is ideal for streaming and supports P2P
- NordVPN is not part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes surveillance alliances and will never be forced to hand over your data to the government.
- You can connect many devices simultaneously—up to six
- NordVPN employs the gold standard of AES-256 bit encryption for enhanced security
- NordVPN lacks split tunnelling
- Static IP addresses—meaning that your IP address will remain the same every time you connect to NordVPN servers.
- NordVPN has excellent customer service—featuring email support, live chat, FAQ database and a phone support
- Supported Devices:
Shurfshark is one of the best VPN services for port forwarding with open P2P traffic support and fast connections, making it an excellent universal service. This incredible VPN service provider is safe to use as it comes with several advanced security features that regular VPN services don’t offer.
Surfshark is fast, so you’ll never experience any slow speeds as you surf the internet. Furthermore, the customer service is excellent—with a live chat option featuring various languages at any time.
This British Virgin Islands-based VPN company also allows you to access various streaming services, such as Netflix libraries from over 30 different countries. All you have to do is connect to a VPN—setting the United States as your location.
However, Surfshark also comes with some downsides. First, Surfshark’s plans are way costly for most VPN users. And secondly, it has few network servers, so you’ll be limited to choosing from the few available.
All the same, Surfshark provides an all-you-need bundle that includes all of its features and easy-to-use apps with enhanced security features like IP leak protection and an internet kill switch.
- It has over 3200 global servers
- Surfshark features AdBlock
- It comes with a robust and secure encryption
- Surfshark features a kill-switch functionality
- It comes with a secured internet protocol
- Surfshark has a strict no-logs policy
- It’s an excellent option for streaming services
- All new customers get a 30-day money-back guarantee
- You can stream from your best streaming services, such as Netflix using Surfshark and torrenting on your favourite torrenting sites
- Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, so it will never be forced to surrender our data to the US federal government
- It features a tunnel-splitting feature to allow users to connect to a private server from work while connected to a public Wi-Fi network
- Surfshark doesn’t include phone support, though customers with any questions or concerns can still live chat with the customer support team
Most VPN service providers don’t support port forwarding because of security reasons. But because the web ecosystem has people ready to share information, port forwarding is unavoidable for a couple of applications. Private Internet Access supports port forwarding and many other features, such as P2P traffic, and offers excellent speeds—so it is our best.