I’ve tested hundreds of VPNs over the years, so I know firsthand that some are better than others. And because of that experience, I can confidently say the best VPN with port forwarding is Private Internet Access!
However, if dedicated P2P support is your priority, then TorGuard might be an attractive alternative. Or, if you’re focused more on security, ExpressVPN is a great choice.
Keep reading for more details!
Top 3 VPNs With Port Forwarding
Offering the best premium security, the only reason ExpressVPN doesn’t win top place is because its apps don’t support port forwarding. To benefit from this provider’s superior service, you need to use your router.
With the largest server network in the industry, a proven no-logs policy, and full P2P support, Private Internet Access isn’t just the most popular choice for port forwarding – it’s arguably the best.
Standing out from its competitors by being the only VPN to prioritize P2P sharing traffic, TorGuard isn’t just one of the best. It’s also one of the few supporting port forwarding and the WireGuard protocol while being ideal for advanced users.
All of the providers listed in this guide are P2P-friendly and offer port-forwarding in varying degrees. Not only does this mean your torrent speeds might increase, but your online applications will also be remotely accessible from anywhere in the world!
Are you itching to find out more? Join me in this guide as I discuss my research and conclusions!
Which Top-Rated VPNs with Port Forwarding Did I Review?
Not many VPN services offer port forwarding, but it’s an important feature – especially when torrenting. For this reason, I took the time to research, test, and review the 5 best VPNs with port forwarding.
Here’s a quick look at them:
Why Does Private Internet Access Win First Place?
PIA’s massive server network, full P2P support, and proven track record with its no-logs policy make the VPN provider a clear winner. The app is also easy to use – especially for port forwarding.
Private Internet Access – Top Choice VPN with Port Forwarding
Private Internet Access (PIA for short) stands out from the crowd as a VPN with port forwarding thanks to its massive server network. At the time of writing, the provider boasts more than 35,400 servers in 78 countries!
Best of all, every server is P2P-friendly – and the port forwarding feature is easy to use.
Just install the user-friendly app after purchasing a subscription and open the settings menu. From here, navigate to “Network” and fill in the box “Request Port Forwarding.”
Then, click “Connection” and choose your protocol and a port.
Depending on your OS and protocol (WireGuard and OpenVPN UDP are the best for torrenting), you’ll have the full range of ports to choose from: 53, 80, 110, 443, 500, 501, 502, 1194, 1197, 1198, 8080, and 9201.
But there’s a catch.
Port forwarding is only allowed on servers outside of the US. This means US torrenters will need to sacrifice some speed to benefit from the feature.
Nevertheless, PIA remains my first choice for the best VPN with port forwarding!
TorGuard – Great for Advanced Users
TorGuard is one of the best VPN services for torrenters, especially for maintaining a great seed-to-leech ratio with excellent upload and download speeds. It’s also one of the only VPN providers that prioritize P2P support.
Naturally, this includes a port forwarding feature. The feature is supported through protocols OpenVPN, WireGuard, and OpenConnect.
However, I don’t recommend TorGuard as a beginner VPN – especially if port forwarding is a priority. This is because the setup for this feature is trickier than most, making it better for advanced users.
To begin, purchase a subscription, install the app, and then hover over the blue toolbar and click “My Services.”
Next, click on “Manage.”
From here, request access to the port forwarding feature.
TorGuard will send you an email with detailed instructions on opening your ports once your request is approved.
Another downside to an otherwise great VPN with port forwarding is you can only use ports above 2048. And while they do offer 24/7 support, there’s no live chat – only email (though they do respond quickly).
ExpressVPN – Premium Security
ExpressVPN is one of my favorite VPNs.
And while I’m happy they qualify as one of the best VPNs with port forwarding, they make the feature harder to benefit from than TorGuard does.
Instead of requesting special access, ExpressVPN requires you to install its software on your router. This is the only way you can use the VPN with port forwarding, as it isn’t available through any of the user-friendly apps.
This also means you need to use one of ExpressVPN’s recommended routers, which can drive the initial price up by $100 to $300.
If you decide to purchase a supported router, you can then follow the step-by-step guide for installing the ExpressVPN router app (if it isn’t preinstalled).
After the app is installed, you can use the router dashboard to set up the port forwarding.
Fortunately, your router counts as one of the five simultaneous connections allowed by ExpressVPN, so any extra devices connected to the router aren’t counted as additional connections.
The biggest advantage, however, is the fact ExpressVPN offers premium security features. As an example, all 3,000+ servers use their TrustedServer technology!
And other than the initial setup, using ExpressVPN is easy. But if you get stuck during the process, their live support team is available 24/7 to help you.
PureVPN – Best Value for Money
If your budget is tight, but you still want a great VPN with port forwarding, then look no further than PureVPN.
The only catch is you need to purchase the port forwarding feature as an add-on. Luckily, PureVPN’s prices are so low – including for the add-on – that it’s still an excellent budget-friendly option.
This is especially true if you take advantage of the 7-day free trial or our exclusive discount!
Better yet, the PureVPN app is compatible with all device types – and all of the 6,500+ servers are P2P-friendly.
It’s worth mentioning the provider previously gave user data to the FBI during a 2017 case but has cleaned up their act since. This includes adding essential security features to their service!
They also revised their (now certified) no-logs policy – so your data is safe with them.
IVPN – Best Open-Source VPN with Port Forwarding
IVPN is a provider that surprised me for all of the right reasons. Not only is it an open-source VPN with port-forwarding, but it takes user privacy to a new level.
For starters, instead of signing up with an email address, you generate an Account ID, which is used as a payment reference and to log in.
You can also pay anonymously with cash, Bitcoin, or Monero (another cryptocurrency). It’s only if you choose to pay by credit card or PayPal that you start providing personally identifiable information (PII).
More importantly, utilizing the port forwarding feature is as easy as enabling it in your client dashboard (on the website) and using the displayed port code. You only need to enable it again if you haven’t connected to the VPN in 14 days or more.
Nevertheless, there are some downsides to IVPN.
First, you need to use IVPN Pro if you want access to the port forwarding feature at all. But you’ll also get the Multi-hop feature, and your multiple device connections limit goes from 2 to 7.
Second, port forwarding is only available through the OpenVPN protocol on servers outside of the US.
Third, as of the time of writing, there are only 77 servers available. However, IVPN displays the server load, so you can always connect to a fast server.
So, if you want a budget-friendly VPN with increased anonymity and open-source code you can personally inspect before subscribing, IVPN is a strong contender.
How Do I Use a VPN With Port Forwarding?
Depending on which VPN provider you choose, using port forwarding can be a simple or complicated process. I already covered the specifics in my short reviews above, but these are the general steps you need to follow:
- Choose a VPN with port forwarding (like PIA) and purchase a subscription.
- Install the VPN app on your device.
- Log in to your VPN account and follow the provider’s guide for enabling the port forwarding feature (described in the mini-reviews above).
- Connect to a VPN server that meets your torrenting, gaming, or streaming needs (etc.) with port forwarding.
What to Look For In a VPN With Port Forwarding For Torrenting?
I’ve done most of the work for you by sharing my personal top 5 best VPNs with port forwarding. But what works best for me isn’t necessarily what works best for you!
So, when you’re deciding which VPN with port forwarding to use, keep the following things in mind:
- Does the VPN provide all the security features you’re looking for? At the minimum, this should include a strict (preferably certified through independent audits) no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, and the best VPN protocols (OpenVPN is my recommendation).
- Is the port forwarding feature easy to enable and use? If you’re okay with sacrificing convenience for better security, then ask yourself if the additional security is worth the extra hassle based on your threat modeling.
- What limits are there to using the port forwarding feature? For example, are you okay with not being able to use servers located in the US?
- Does the VPN support P2P connections? If so, what limits are there, and will those limits affect your user experience?
- How fast are the VPN’s server speeds? Are you willing to sacrifice speed for security? How many servers are offered, and in how many countries and locations?
- If you need help, how available is the VPN provider’s support team? Do they offer live chat support, and is it available 24/7? If there’s no live chat support, are they still quick to respond?
- Based on all of the above, does the VPN offer good value for money and fit your budget?
Don’t forget to use my exclusive discount links above to make your money stretch a little further!
How Does Port Forwarding Work?
To understand how port forwarding works, I need to explain what it is.
Computers and servers use ports to determine how and where data is sent and received online. It works like a country’s customs office: if you want to send a package to someone in another country, it must go through their customs first.
In the same way, online data needs to pass through a specific port before arriving at its destination. The NAT firewall installed on routers and most servers act like the customs officers, either allowing or denying the data to be received.
Port forwarding acts like a smuggler’s cove. Instead of being stopped by the customs officers (the NAT firewall), the data is sent through the specified ports and can still be received.
This is also why most VPN providers don’t offer port forwarding. Although there are some excellent use cases for port forwarding, such as LAN gaming and torrenting, the fact it punches through the NAT firewall means it’s often considered too risky to allow.
Static vs. Dynamic Port Forwarding
You can use two types of ports when port forwarding with a VPN – static and dynamic. Using static ports for port forwarding means the ports don’t change, whereas dynamic ports change with every new connection.
Each type has its advantages, and depending on your intended use for port forwarding with a VPN, one might be better than the other.
For example, if you use a dedicated ExpressVPN router for port forwarding, you’re better off using static ports. This way, you aren’t forced to update the port settings with every new connection.
This is also advantageous when using port forwarding to torrent.
That said, many VPN providers opt for dynamic ports, as it allows them to reuse and reallocate unused ports. Dynamic ports also increase your range of available ports and are useful in bypassing restrictions, such as firewalls.
This is especially helpful when firewall filters are set to block specific ports.
Why Use Port Forwarding While Torrenting?
VPN server firewalls sometimes interfere with torrenting.
This is why you’ll see providers advertising P2P-friendly or P2P-optimized servers. Sometimes, these are only a select few servers in the provider’s network. In rare cases, all of their servers might be P2P-friendly.
These P2P-friendly servers are set up so that the firewall doesn’t interfere with your torrents. However, it can still happen.
In some cases, the VPN might allow you to download files on a P2P connection but limit or prevent you from uploading.
However, P2P file-sharing relies on being able to seed as well as leech, and some platforms might even ban your account if you’re leeching without seeding.
Port forwarding ensures you can download and upload without NAT firewalls getting in the way.
In theory, opening more ports can also help you connect to more peers and improve your upload/download speeds. However, there’s no sure-fire way to be sure this works.
Is Port Forwarding Legal?
Yes, port forwarding is legal. But that doesn’t mean providers aren’t allowed to prevent port forwarding on their servers.
What Is Port Forwarding?
Port forwarding is a method used to tell your router to send data through a specific port to your device’s dedicated IP, which is different from your network IP. This also allows you to send and receive data that the network firewall usually blocks.
Does Port Forwarding Work With VPN?
Port forwarding works with VPNs – provided the VPN provider offers support for it. If support is offered, the way a VPN provider implements port forwarding might differ from one to the next. For example, PIA offers an easy setup for the feature, whereas ExpressVPN only offers support through dedicated routers.
Why Don’t All VPNs Offer Port Forwarding?
Most VPNs don’t offer port forwarding because they’re worried it isn’t secure enough. Providers like NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost VPN believe that allowing users to skip through their network firewalls makes their servers (and users) vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Can You Get Hacked Through Port Forwarding?
You cannot be hacked directly through port forwarding. However, if you’re opening ports to a vulnerable application through port forwarding, hackers might be able to access your data using exploits. Certain ports are also (sometimes) associated with malicious applications. For example, 1337 is widely used with various types of malware, while 4444 is Metasploit’s default port setting.
Is It Dangerous to Port Forward?
Port forwarding is not dangerous. However, VPNs that offer port forwarding are at risk of port fail attacks. During a port fail attack, your real IP address is leaked. However, this can happen even if port forwarding isn’t enabled on your device. You can verify if a VPN provider is protected against port fail attacks by checking its website, terms of service or contacting its support team.
Is Port Forwarding For Gaming Safe?
Yes, port forwarding for gaming is safe. However, if you’re using port forwarding for a specific game and you exit out of that game, the port will still be open and listening. This means the port can be utilized by other software. To stay safe, close any ports that are not currently in use.
Is Port Forwarding Safer Than UPnP?
Yes, port forwarding is safer than UPnP, as UPnP allows ports to be opened by applications on demand. This means malicious applications can abuse UPnP to open ports for cyberattacks. In contrast, port forwarding only allows access to ports specifically opened by users.
Does Port Forwarding Improve Torrenting Speeds?
Port forwarding can improve your torrenting speeds – at least in theory. By opening more ports, you might have access to more peers on the network. However, there’s no way to be sure this works, though many Reddit users swear by it.
Do I Need to Use Port Forwarding While Torrenting?
You don’t need to use port forwarding while torrenting if your VPN provider has P2P-friendly servers. However, if you want to try improving your torrent speeds, it might be worth using port forwarding – though there’s no guarantee it works that way.
Does NordVPN Allow Port Forwarding?
No, NordVPN does not allow port forwarding.
Does ExpressVPN Allow Port Forwarding?
ExpressVPN allows port forwarding through supported routers. It does not offer port forwarding directly through its apps. If you need port forwarding on a specific device, you’re better off using PIA.
Does Surfshark Allow Port Forwarding?
No, Surfshark does not allow port forwarding.
Is There an Alternative to Port Forwarding?
Using a VPN is a safe alternative to port forwarding in general. There are also third party programs that offer an alternative to port forwarding, such as Hamachi (a tool used to create your own virtual private network).
In my opinion, Private Internet Access is the best VPN with port forwarding for torrenting. Not only is it budget-friendly and secure, but using the port forwarding feature is easy!
Why not give PIA a try? Take advantage of this exclusive discount deal and get started today!
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