Is uTorrent not working with VPN services? Nah, more like the other way around. You see, if your uTorrent client is dropping trackers like crazy or slowing down to a crawl the moment you flip the VPN switch on, that’s probably by design.
Most conventional VPN options on the market haven’t been playing nicely with uTorrent and P2P traffic in general for the better part of the last decade, as a matter of fact.
The good news is that yes, there’s a great chance you can get uTorrent to work with your virtual private network of choice. The bad news? Getting there may be an exercise in patience.
Why uTorrent isn’t working with your VPN
Getting this mess sorted starts with your VPN. You see, while they probably couldn’t care less what you’re doing with their service (so long as it’s legal and they can plausibly deny it), the nature of this business makes most VPN businesses international. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of any given VPN company having some servers in countries that openly discriminate against P2P protocols.
Note that the list of those countries includes some rather familiar names such as Australia, South Korea, India, Mexico, and Brazil… oh, and also the U.S.
Of course, VPN firms abide by all applicable laws, so in cases like the one described above, their global server footprints include locations that throttle peer-to-peer sharing speeds or even flat-out refuse bandwidth to anything even remotely related to torrents.
The trick to living with this state of affairs is to know how to identify such servers and then make sure you aren’t connecting to them whenever you’re taking part in P2P sharing.
Which is why everything starts with your VPN. Anyone in this business that isn’t totally shady should already be running a detailed FAQ page on the subject of torrenting files using their flavor of virtual private networks.
Such consumer-friendly practices have been embraced by the likes of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, TorGuard, and many others VPN providers. If you’re having trouble finding relevant information from your provider, contact their customer support directly.
Your number one priority in this phase is ensuring uTorrent is aware of your VPN preferences and has what it needs to navigate that complex network of secure communications.
Most common VPN fixes for uTorrent
Have you forgotten to configure the uTorrent client with your VPN in mind? Don’t worry, this can (and does) happen to everyone.
Let’s start by launching uTorrent and clicking on the Options item near the top-left corner of its interface. On the dropdown menu, go to Preferences, then find the Connection card just below the top of the windowed list that appeared.
Here’s where you need to type in the details of your VPN services; the relevant fields are found in the Proxy Server section, consisting of Type, Proxy, and Port. All of the relevant information should have already been provided to you when you started using the VPN in question.
The Proxy field tends to hide the answer of why your uTorrent instance isn’t working over VPN. If it contains a default address or one that you previously used without checking whether it’s torrent-friendly, chances are that uTorrent is desperately trying to enforce P2P protocols over servers that simply don’t support them.
How do you know which one of your provider’s many options to pick? That’s usually easy: take a look at their server lists, they tend to prominently feature any node specifically optimized for torrenting. You should be able to find them inside whatever VPN client you’re using.
Assuming that’s said and done and uTorrent still isn’t behaving or is performing poorly (i.e. you’re seeing glacial file sharing speeds), the next step is disabling the client’s DHT Network. As cool as the math behind this clever service is, many VPN infrastructures simply aren’t good at leveraging it, or are outright prevented from doing so in some jurisdictions.
So, see that you uncheck the following boxes: Enable DHT Network, Enable DHT For New Torrents, Enable Local Peer Discovery, and Enable Peer Exchange.
Keep in mind: you get what you (don’t) pay for
Of course, there will always be that subsection of VPN providers who outright block all peer-to-peer traffic. While understandably controversial among folks who rely on both VPNs and torrenting tech, the practice is nowadays largely an exception, not a rule.
In fact, a VPN service that indiscriminately cripples P2P connection attempts is as close as you can get to seeing a giant red flag being waved. Well, in this industry, at least.
Here’s a protip: if your provider doesn’t allow P2P traffic, ask yourself what’s larger – your monthly VPN expenses or that Mocha you picked up at Starbucks just as you were heading to work this morning?
What’s that? You’re using a free VPN? Wrong. They’re using you.
Seriously, torrent traffic is no joke and it’s unlikely a VPN provider with any business sense would want to invest in dedicated P2P servers if even their most loyal customers weren’t willing to part with more than pocket change for the privilege of using them.
In other words, if you’re a power user in the segment of torrenting, do yourself a favor and take that into account while deciding on which VPN service to rely on.
With that little rant now being off our chest, it needs to be clarified that some VPN companies truly have their hands tied, especially when it comes to globally recognizable apps like uTorrent… and you actually have Uncle Sam to thank for that.
Of course, we’re referring to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The infamous piece of legislation effectively prevents companies from supporting file sharing programs on any gateway sites hosted within the United States, or merely even by firms with stateside HQs.
As annoying as that may be, it’s a good reminder of why we’re investing significant effort into staying anonymous online in the first place. After all, if copyright lawyers already made sure regulatory overreach taints our Internet experience for their benefit, it would be hard to trust them and their legislating friends to judge whether any particular instance of the ingenious technology that is the P2P protocol is of the right and proper variety.
“uTorrent not working with a VPN” was written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.