How To Use qBittorrent Anonymously

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Dec 25, 2020
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QBittorrent is one of the best open-source torrent clients available. It’s extremely popular, and is extremely functional yet lightweight (barely uses any system resources).
This guide will teach you how to use QBittorrent anonymously, so you can download torrents privately.
Like all major torrent clients, QBittorrent is vulnerable to the built-in privacy weaknesses of the BitTorrent protocol.
Because whether you realize it or not:
Your downloads are traceable, your IP-address is public, and your torrents are unencrypted.
This means that your entire download history can potentially be monitored by not only your ISP, but also 3rd party torrent-monitoring companies.

This guide, will teach you step-by-step:
The best and easiest way to completely anonymize your torrent downloads using QBittorrent.

Why you should care about torrent privacy?
Bittorrent is an amazingly efficient way to distribute large files quickly, but it has massive built-in privacy leaks that can easily expose your entire download history if you don’t plug them.
There two primary security vulnerabilities:
  1. Your IP address is publicly visible in every swarm
  2. Downloads are not encrypted (your ISP can see/record/throttle your torrent downloads)
Let’s look at these leaks individually.

Leak #1: IP Address is visible to everyone

This is the most dangerous leak, and the greatest threat to your privacy when downloading torrents.
In order for peers to connect to each other, the tracker provides a list off all IP addresses seeding/downloading that particular torrent. If you don’t take steps to hide your torrent IP address, your real, traceable IP will be visible to anyone.
Here’s how easy it is to view the IP’s of anyone sharing a torrent with you:

1634772820179.png


Not only can you see the full IP address of all connected peers, you can also see what port# their using, torrent client, and how much of the file they’ve downloaded already.
Even scarier, there are literally dozens of companies and organizations that monitor and harvest IP data from massive numbers of torrent swarms. Some will even show you what torrent activity they’ve tracked to your IP address.
Fortunately, you can hide your ‘real’ IP address from torrent peers
This is best done by using a torrent-friendly VPN service, which will replace your visible IP address with one of their own. Some VPN services own thousands of anonymous IP-addresses you can use.

Leak #2: Your internet provider (ISP) can see your download & web history

By default, bittorrent data is transferred in plaintext (unencrypted). This means that your ISP can:
See that you’re visiting torrent websites
See what files you’re downloading/sharing
Throttle (Slow down), or block your torrent bandwidth.

Solution: By using torrent Encryption, you can prevent your ISP from monitoring or slowing your torrent downloads. In fact, if you use strong VPN Encryption, your ISP will have no idea what you’re doing online or what files you download.
Alternatively, you can use QBittorrent’s (less-effective) built-in encryption capability which is a free method to encrypt your torrent downloads. However, the protection this method provides is not as powerful or secure as what you’ll get from a VPN.


THE 2 TOOLS FOR ANONYMOUS QBITTORRENT DOWNLOADS

There are two tools you can use to effectively hide your torrent activity QBittorrent. These are:
- Non-logging VPN service
- SOCKS proxy (without logs)

Each technology has its own advantages, but overall a VPN is the best choice for most users.

Here’s why we should prefer a VPN:

- Stronger encryption
- Easier to setup and use
- more server locations and available IP addresses
- Works flawlessly with magnet links (some proxies don’t).

Several torrent-friendly VPNs actually include SOCKS Proxy service at no extra charge, so you can get the best of both worlds without paying for 2 different services.
Are there any free options?
The short answer is NO for VPNs and ‘Yes, but…’ for proxies.
There are some free VPNs out there, even 1 that claims to be free and non-logging, but here’s the catch. All of these free VPN’s specifically block torrents on their network. They only allow torrents if you upgrade to a paid plan. Read our guide to free torrent VPNs for more info.
As far as proxy services go, you can definitely find some free SOCKS proxies on the internet, and these can in fact be used with Qbittorrent using the instructions later in this guide.
Free proxies will have several limitations however:
-Almost 100% of them keep logs (this means your downloads are not anonymous)
-Beware of ‘Transparent’ proxies (this means your real IP address gets passed on by proxy server and is still visible)
-Slow Speeds/Unreliable (Most free proxy servers are crowded, meaning speeds will be slow. Also, servers frequently go down and uptime under 50% is not uncommon.
-Torrents Blocked – And finally, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that many free proxy servers actively block commonly used torrent ports.

How to use a VPN with QBittorrent
Using a VPN with Qbittorrent is the easiest way to quickly anonymize your torrents. It takes less than 5 minutes to signup, download, and connect to a VPN service.
Important: you should always use a torrent-friendly VPN that keeps no logs.

How a VPN will benefit you:
The VPN will encrypt 100% of the data transferred to/from your computer, including your web browser and Qbittorrent software. Websites and torrent peers will not know your true IP address, they will see the temporary IP address assigned to you by the VPN server.

Here’s how to do it:
Step #1: Sign up for a non-logging VPN service
There are now hundreds of VPN services, claiming to the fastest, best, or most private. In truth, only a small handful have proven trustworthy over the years.
- Private Internet Access (PIA) or NordVPN as a great starting point.

Step #2: Download, Install, and Connect to a VPN Server
Installation takes less than 1 minute. To connect to a server (using PIA) just right click on the tray icon and choose a server location. Choose a non-us location (Netherlands works well).

Step #3: Verify your IP address has changed
As an added safety precaution, you can use a free tool like IPleak.net to verify that your IP address has change before launching Qbittorrent.
Here’s my screenshot after connecting to a Netherlands VPN server:


1634773575100.png


Yes, it’s seriously that easy. All BitTorrent and web browser activity will now be routed through your new IP address. Torrent peers will now see your new virtual IP address instead of your real one.

Step #4: Activate Kill-switch and leak protection (optional)
Most VPN software includes a kill-switch feature which will instantly shut down all internet activity if the VPN disconnects. This will help keep your real IP address hidden from torrent peers in the event the VPN fails. You should also turn on IPv6 and DNS leak protection if available.
IPv6, DNS, and Kill-switch leak protection in PIA’s software

Step #5: Open QBittorrent and download torrents
Once you’ve verified your browser IP address, you can safely open Qbittorrent and start torrenting. Later in this guide we’ll show you how to check the IP address of your torrent software (just in case). You can also read this guide.


How to use a Proxy with QBittorrent
How to use a SOCKS proxy with QBittorrent. Here are some important things you should know before we get started:
-A proxy will hide your IP address but won’t encrypt your traffic
-Only use a SOCKS proxy. HTTP(s) proxies do not work for peer connections and will expose your real IP address.
-Several top VPNs include a SOCKS5 proxy, so you don’t need to buy a separate subscription. Options include: PIA, NordVPN & IPVanish.
Using a Proxy with Qbittorrent has several advantages vs a VPN:
-Proxy speeds are generally slightly faster than a VPN (no encryption)
-Your torrent IP address will be different than your web broswer IP (the proxy is only used for torrents)

The downsides of using ONLY a proxy is that your torrent traffic won’t be encrypted. This could open you to throttling by your ISP. You can use QBittorrent’s built-in encryption option but that option will reduce your available # of peers.
Also, some proxy services have trouble processing magnet links, so you may need to download the actual .torrent file instead of using magnets.

QBittorrent Proxy Setup
Step #1: Choose a non-logging proxy service
In order to configure QBittorrent’s proxy settings, you will need a torrent-friendly proxy service.
Here are some top choices:
-Private Internet Access – VPN + Proxy service in every plan, fast speeds, and named best torrent VPN of the year.
-NordVPN – VPN + proxy service on all plans. Zero-log privacy on all servers in more than 50 countries. Torrents are allowed on all servers. 10 p2p-optimized SOCKS proxy locations.
-Hide.me – VPN + Proxy service in every plan. Over 30 SOCKS proxy server locations. No logs, torrent-friendly. On the downside, it’s triple the price of Private Internet Access

If you’re not sure which to choose: just go with Private Internet Access. It’s the best deal, has fast speeds, and will meet the needs of 95% of users.
You can also check out this comparison of Torguard vs. Private Internet Access.
Alright, now that you’ve got yourself a proxy to use, let’s get to the step-by-step setup instructions:

Step #2: Open QBittorrent Proxy Settings
To access the proxy settings in QBittorrent you need to go to Tools > Options > Connection (tab)
You can also open the options menu by hitting ‘Alt + O’
One you click on the ‘Connection’ icon on the left side of the option menu, you’ll see this:

1634772913720.png


Don’t worry if your settings don’t look exactly like this right now. We’re going to be changing the settings anyway. The sections we’ll be changing are marked with a green dot.
Also marked is the ‘Connection’ tab on the left side, so you know how to access this menu.
We’ll go through the sections one-at-a-time.

Step #3: Listening Port
This is port# that Qbittorrent will use to listen for new peer connections. If you don’t enable uPnP or NAT port mapping, then you will have to manually setup port forwarding on your router to get good peer connections.

Recommended setup here is:
  • Port # for incoming connections: Choose any, or hit random to pick a random port
  • Use uPnp/NAT PMP: Check this box. It will automatically forward the chosen port through your router
  • Use a different port each startup: Optional. We recommend enabling this as long as everything runs smoothly.
So the ideal settings look like this:

1634772950171.png


Step #4: Proxy Settings
The exact proxy settings you use will change based on which proxy service you choose.
If you choose a different proxy service, just consult their documentation/support team for the proper settings. The settings that will change:
  • Host: The address of the proxy server
  • Port: The port # your proxy service uses
  • Authentication: Enable this if your proxy service requires a login/password to access (most do)
  • Username/password: These are the login details provided by your proxy provider.
Next up, complete proxy setup guides for Private Internet Access and Torguard:

Proxy settings for Private Internet Access

Qbittorrent proxy settings (PIA)
Private Internet Access gives subscribers full access to their high-speed proxy server located in the Netherlands. There is one extra step required, however. You have to generate a separate username/password combo for the proxy.

To get your proxy login/password
After signing up for PIA, log into you’re control panel on their website. Once logged in to your account, scroll down toward the bottom and you’ll see a section that looks like this:

1634773080191.png


Just click the ‘Regenerate Username/Password’ button to get your login details. We’ll use them a bit later on, so leave the window open for easy copy + paste.

QBittorrent Settings:
Change your settings to exactly match these:
  • Type: SOCKS5
  • Host: proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com
  • Port: 1080
The full settings will look like the image below. Make sure to check the same boxes as shown.

1634773146467.png


Enter your Username/Password in the proper fields:
That’s it, your proxy is all set up. Make sure to restart Qbittorrent for the settings to take effect.


QBittorrent proxy settings: Torguard
Here are the correct proxy settings if you’re a Torguard subscriber.
Type: SOCKS5
Host: proxy.torguard.org
Port: 1080/1085/1090 (you can use any of these. If 1080 doesn’t work, try another. Some ISPs block 1080.
Username: Provided by torguard in your account panel
Password: Provided by torguard

so the full settings should look like this:
1634773201644.png

That’s it, your setup is complete. Make sure to restart QBittorrent