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PeerBlock vs. VPN (What Works Best for Torrenting?)

PeerBlock VS VPN

If you’re into torrenting, and are worried about getting in trouble because of it, you’ve likely heard people talking about how using a VPN or PeerBlock can help you with that.

But when it comes to PeerBlock vs. VPN, which option works best?

The main difference between PeerBlock and VPN is that PeerBlock works like a firewall, and you can use the software to block various IP addresses from connecting to you, and VPN is an online service that hides your IP address and online traffic.

Here’s everything you need to know about that.

What Is PeerBlock and How Does It Work?

PeerBlock is basically an open-source firewall that people use when downloading torrents. Its main appeal is the fact that it can block IP addresses.

So, you can pretty much use PeerBlock to block IP addresses from malicious peers, government surveillance agencies, copyright and torrent monitoring agencies, and ISPs (not your own, of course).

The idea is to block any unwanted connections to keep your torrenting traffic safe.

What Is a VPN and How Does It Work?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it’s an online service you can use to hide your IP address, and encrypt your Internet traffic.

VPNs have many uses (like bypassing geo-blocks and securing data on public WiFi), but we’ll be focusing on using VPNs for torrenting in this article to make the PeerBlock vs. VPN comparison fair and relevant.

Overall, many people use VPNs to make sure they don’t suffer IP leaks when torrenting, and that nobody can see they’re downloading torrents.

PeerBlock vs. VPN – Why Should You Use a VPN for Torrenting Instead?

Here are the eight main reasons a VPN is much more suitable for torrenting than PeerBlock:

1. PeerBlock Can Ironically Block the Wrong IP Addresses Too

People who use PeerBlock rely on IP lists to block peers and organizations. However, PeerBlock can often go overboard, and end up blocking IP addresses from peers that aren’t malicious, and are actually necessary for a smooth torrenting experience.

Allegedly, the service blocks around 25% of the total number of worldwide IPv4 addresses, which means a little over one billion addresses.

Peerblock vs VPN

If that really is true, it means PeerBlock can prevent you from connecting to peers to download files, resulting in low download speeds. It can also stop peers from connecting to you, which lowers your upload speeds.

That kind of defeats the purpose of torrenting files. Plus, if you get your torrents from a private torrenting community, the low upload speeds are gonna be a problem since they will harm your seed rate. If it gets low enough, you might get kicked off the website.

Oh, and besides that, websites might load slower since the service will likely block many of their source points.

Sure, you could use the whitelist feature to allow the right IP addresses through, but that means you need to go through all of them individually, and add them to the list. That sounds like a lot of unnecessary effort.

2. A VPN Hides Your Internet Traffic

One of the things a VPN does is encrypt your online traffic. That means nobody can monitor it to see what you’re doing on the Internet – not the government, not your ISP, and certainly no torrent monitoring agency.

If they try to do that, they’ll just see pure gibberish.

So, that means:

  • Your ISP can’t forward your information to copyright agencies if they catch you downloading torrents. 
  • Your ISP can’t terminate your service for downloading torrents if that’s a breach of their ToS.
  • Copyright and torrent monitoring agencies can’t threaten you with DMCA notices, or try to extort money from you by threatening to sue you.
  • ISPs can’t throttle your bandwidth, which can potentially reduce your download and upload speeds (even more than PeerBlock already does).

PeerBlock, on the other hand, offers zero encryption. So it definitely won’t secure your torrent traffic against surveillance. Plus, it can’t really block your ISP to keep them from monitoring you traffic – you get your Internet from them, after all.

3. A VPN Makes Sure Nobody Can See Your Real IP Address

While PeerBlock might be able to block unwanted IP addresses, it can’t hide your own IP address to keep it safe.

What does that mean for you?

Two things:

  1. If a copyright/torrent monitoring agency or government surveillance agency manages to avoid the PeerBlock ban (which they can, as you’ll soon see) or doesn’t get blocked at all, they’ll have an easy time finding you real IP address.
  2. Every single member of the Swarm (the total number of uploaders and seeders on a torrent) will be able to see your real IP address.

Why should it concern you that anyone can see your IP address?

Simple – because your IP address can leak a lot of your information:

  • What country you are from.
  • What city you are from.
  • Who your ISP provider is.
  • What your ZIP code is.

If you use a VPN, though, nobody can see your IP address. The moment you connect to a VPN server, the service replaces your address with the server’s IP address.

4. Organizations Blocked By PeerBlock Can Circumvent It

Okay, let’s say you use PeerBlock to block a copyright agency.

Great. Now what stops them from just using a different IP address to evade that ban, and track you?

Peerblock vs VPN

That’s all they need to do, and PeerBlock becomes pointless. Some agencies base their entire living on tracking torrent users. Just because you block their IP address doesn’t mean they’ll go out of business.

Sure, the service can block the new IP address too, but you either have to do it on your own (which means keeping track of every single IP address change in the world), or you have to rely on the person(s) who created the IP block list to update it every hour (if not more often).

5. PeerBlock Can’t Block All IP Addresses Anyway

No matter how huge a PeerBlock IP block list is, it can’t realistically contain every single malicious, copyright/torrent monitoring agency, or government surveillance agency IP address there is.

Yes, PeerBlock can also block IP address ranges, not only individual IP addresses, but that’s still not enough.

Keep in mind there are currently over four billion IP addresses in the world – and that’s just counting the IPv4 addresses. The number of IPv6 addresses could theoretically go up to 340 undecillion (basically 340 billion billion billion billion).

If the rumours are true, PeerBlock might have managed to block a little over one billion IPv4 addresses, but there’s just no way it could keep up with all the other IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

Even if PeerBlock would be able to somehow block all IP addresses in existence, how would that help you? You wouldn’t be able to get any peers at all when you’d want to torrent.

6. PeerBlock Hasn’t Received Updates in a Long Time

While the devs have been maintaining I-Blocklist (the place where you can get blocklists for PeerBlock), they haven’t been doing the same with PeerBlock.

It seems that the last update for the software was back in 2014. Since then, there have been no improvements.

VPNs (the good ones, at least), however, get updates regularly to make sure there is no potential bug or issue that might ruin your torrenting experience.

7. PeerBlock Only Works on Windows

This is more of a minor issue, but it’s still a problem nonetheless.

As it stands, you can only use PeerBlock on Windows platforms. If you don’t own a Windows device, you’re out of luck.

Peerblock vs VPN

VPNs, on the other hand, normally work on Windows operating systems, alongside other platforms like macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

And judging by the lack of updates, you can’t really expect PeerBlock to get a release on other platforms.

8. You Can Actually Replace PeerBlock With a Torrent Client

All you need to do is download and install the Transmission torrent client, head to “Edit>Preferences>Privacy,” and hit “Enable blocklist.”

You now have similar functionality to PeerBlock on a torrent client. Just add the recommended blocklist (here’s the link) or a different one, and you’ll block unwanted IP addresses.

The list we linked is actually just a compilation of all the lists offered by I-Blocklist, so it’s even more convenient than PeerBlock where you need to add blocklists separately.

With a VPN, it’s not as simple since you’re gonna have to set up your own service, which can be pretty difficult if you’re not very tech savvy.

“Well At Least PeerBlock Is Free to Use”

True – but only to a certain point.

If you want to get some of the more “premium” IP block lists, you’ll need to buy a subscription. And if you want to enjoy an up-to-date list, you’ll have to pay for it – unless you want to  keep re-installing PeerBlock on and on since that’s the only way to get an updated list without paying for it.

Price-wise, the VPN vs. PeerBlock debate is in favor of PeerBlock since it’d only cost you around $10/year. Though you can’t really expect such a service to block absolutely all “malicious” addresses for such a small price. That’s just unrealistic.

While a VPN will cost you a bit more than that, all the extra perks you get to enjoy make it a much better option.

And you can’t really put a price on your privacy. Well, your ISP can if you don’t use a VPN.

Oh, and while VPNs can also function on the free-to-use model, they aren’t worth the risk.

What to Keep in Mind About Using a VPN for Torrenting

Even though a VPN is a much better option than PeerBlock if you want to download torrents, you still need to make sure you pick the right service.

For starters, you need to choose a VPN that supports P2P traffic on its servers. Not all VPN providers allow P2P traffic, and those who don’t will block torrenting websites. Most providers will normally have some servers that are dedicated to P2P traffic.

Besides that, you also need to make sure the provider has a no-log policy. You definitely don’t want a VPN provider logging your online activities. If their HQ is in a country where the authorities can force them to hand over user data, that can spell trouble for you.

Peerblock vs VPN

Lastly, you should check if the VPN provider offers a Kill Switch. While it’s not a mandatory feature, it definitely comes in handy. Basically, if your connection to the VPN server ever goes down, the VPN will cut your online access. That way, you don’t need to worry about your ISP (or anyone else) seeing what you’re doing.

Other features that are a must include:

Can’t You Use PeerBlock Together With a VPN?

True, it doesn’t really need to be PeerBlock vs. VPN when it can actually be PeerBlock and a VPN.

So you can use them both if you really want to block a few specific IP addresses on top of securing your Internet traffic and data. There really shouldn’t be any conflicts, and it shouldn’t slow down your speeds.

However, you could just as easily use the Transmission torrent client with a VPN as well. It’s much more convenient than PeerBlock, after all.

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PeerBlock vs. VPN – The Bottom Line

PeerBlock works like a firewall, and you can use the software to block various IP addresses from connecting to you. The idea is to prevent copyright and torrent monitoring agencies from seeing that you torrent files.

A VPN is an online service that hides your online traffic and IP address. You can use it to do many things – one of which is securing your torrent traffic.

So then, PeerBlock vs. VPN – which is the better option?

A VPN, simply put. There are plenty of reasons why, but these are the main ones:

  • A VPN hides your IP address. PeerBlock doesn’t.
  • VPNs encrypt your Internet traffic, while PeerBlock doesn’t offer any security.
  • Copyright/Torrent monitoring agencies and government surveillance agencies can’t really crack VPN traffic if it’s secure enough. They can easily circumvent PeerBlock by switching IP addresses, however.

DISCLAIMER: We here at CactusVPN don’t encourage illegal piracy and copyright infringement. However, we do understand that many people can only get access to the things they need (school books, work files and software, movies and video games, etc.) by using torrents.

Posted on in VPN
Tim has been writing content and copy for a living for over 4 years, and has been covering VPN, Internet privacy, and cybersecurity topics for more than 2 years. He enjoys staying up-to-date with the latest in Internet privacy news, and helping people find new ways to secure their online rights.