Note: If your school only blocks torrents, but doesn’t block VPNs, you may want to refer to The Best VPN to Torrent at School guide.
College WiFi networks tend to block a number of websites such as Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Imgur, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. Since piracy is illegal, torrenting is also not allowed on college WiFi connections.
While many schools only block torrenting ports to ensure their students do not abuse the network, certain schools additionally block VPN services that can lift Internet restrictions and provide access to BitTorrent content.
Schools block VPN services using the following techniques:
- Ports that VPN protocols use (OpenVPN: 1194) are blocked by the firewall, but HTTP/HTTPS ports are open
- School implemented expensive traffic filtering that can detect encryption tools: Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Considering that DPI is quite advanced and expensive most schools block VPN ports (like port 1194 that OpenVPN uses). Regular browsing requires at least port 53 for DNS requests, port 443 for HTTPS websites (encrypted traffic) and port 80 for HTTP websites (unencrypted traffic).
For this reason port 443, 80 and 53 are always open. While ports that OpenVPN, IPsec, L2TP, PPTP and BitTorrent clients are using are blocked.
An easy workaround is to choose a VPN provider that allows OpenVPN port forwarding to port 443 because encrypted HTTPS traffic uses it by default. Even though mobile devices do not support this feature, VPN providers that we listed below offer port forwarding in their desktop software (Windows and Mac). Once port forwarding is setup, uTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze and other torrenting apps will use port 443 to download and upload files.
Alternatively, SSTP can be used without port forwarding because it is the only encryption protocol that runs on port 443 by default. SSTP is a secure alternative to OpenVPN, but it only works on Windows. For this reason, SSTP is not an option for Mac users.
However, should the school invest into an advanced firewall that can detect encrypted traffic, a simple port forwarding can no longer bypass it. Deep Packet Inspection method is commonly used by restrictive governments like China and Iran. The firewall that uses DPI can distinguish regular browsing (HTTPs traffic) from OpenVPN data and selectively block the latter.
The most effective way to bypass DPI is to “scramble” OpenVPN data or to mask OpenVPN to make it look like regular HTTPS traffic. Chameleon (VyprVPN), StealthVPN (TorGuard) and SoftEther (Hide.Me) are custom encryption protocols specifically designed to hide VPN traffic and make it completely undetectable. More info on this in The Best VPN for China guide.
Once you’re connected to VPN servers that store no information about you, everything that you do online is encrypted and anonymized. Considering that VPN encrypts all incoming and outgoing data and replaces your real IP address with an IP address that belongs to a VPN provider, neither copyright infringement agencies nor your school can monitor your torrenting activities.
The best VPN providers to torrent on networks that block VPNs should not only have a network optimized for the best download speed, but should also provide tools that can bypass even the most advanced firewalls. Therefore, the list below includes some of the best VPN providers that offer 443 port forwarding and custom encryption tools that completely hide your VPN traffic from strict college firewalls.
ANNUAL PRICE: 3.49 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 11.95 USD
ANNUAL PRICE: 2.19 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 11.95 USD
PIA is a leading no logs VPN provider with a massive amount of servers (over 3,000) that deliver excellent speeds and a very reliable service. PIA VPN does a great job protecting users’ privacy from surveillance, cyber attacks and other online threats. PIA offers an easy to install VPN app for all devices with advanced features that secure VPN connection from unexpected data leaks. For faster streaming and torrenting PIA software offers switching between different connection types and ports. To read a full PIA review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 2.45 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.99 USD
Romania based CyberGhost is a no logs VPN provider with over 3,500 high speed VPN servers. CyberGhost offers streaming servers to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer as well as secure torrenting servers. For faster streaming and torrenting CyberGhost VPN allows switching between TCP/UDP protocols. VPN provider offers desktop and mobile apps with built-in advanced security features such as automatic kill switch, DNS & IP leaks, anti-fingerprinting and tracking protection, an ad-blocker and anti-malware. To read a full CyberGhost review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 6.67 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.95 USD
ExpressVPN has one of the largest and fastest infrastructures with over 2,000 servers in 94 countries. Ultra fast ExpressVPN network supports gigabit Internet connection which makes it a perfect choice for ultra high speed streaming and torrenting. Besides, ExpressVPN aligns itself as one of the Internet’s leading advocates for net neutrality, for a democratic and open internet. Considering they have a no logs policy, accept Bitcoin and are located on the Caribbean Island, they are a great choice for privacy oriented customers who want to protect their data from surveillance, bypass censorship and access restricted materials. To read a full ExpressVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.49 USD/mo [promocode]
MONTHLY PRICE: 8.99 USD
Offering over 3,000 servers in 50 countries, all mainstream protocols and 5 simultaneous connections, TorGuard rightfully earned its place as a top VPN provider. No logs TorGuard offers a reliable, fast and secure VPN connection. Their SOCKS5 proxy is an excellent feature for high speed multimedia streaming and torrenting as it integrates with the main BitTorrent applications. TorGuard native apps offer advanced security features like Kill Switch to ensure no data leaks, even when the connection drops, and port forwarding to custom TCP/UDP ports. TorGuard’s StealthVPN protocol is an effective tool to bypass strict firewalls and VPN blocking. To read a full TorGuard review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 1.99 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 8.88 USD
No logs Trust.Zone is a Seychelles based VPN provider with user privacy as their foremost priority. Since Trust.Zone is a VPN service launched by one of the largest torrenting websites ExtraTorrent, it’s no wonder they are one of the best providers for p2p file sharing. Their apps have DNS, WebRTC leaks protection, Kill Switch and port-forwarding features. To read a full Trust.Zone review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.50 EUR/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 7 EUR
AirVPN is an Italian VPN provider created by privacy activists whose main goal is data protection. AirVPN has over 200 servers in 23 countries that have Perfect Forward Secrecy through Diffie-Hellman key exchange DHE. Essentially key negotiation is performed every 60 minutes to avoid data breach if the key is compromised. AirVPN offers OpenVPN dynamic port forwarding on 80 TCP/UDP, 443 TCP/UDP and 53 TCP/UDP. Additionally, AirVPN offers OpenVPN over SSH and OpenVPN over SSL that mask OpenVPN and make the use of encryption tools invisible to some of the most advanced firewalls. To read a full AirVPN review click HERE.
MONTHLY PRICE: 10 USD
ANNUAL PRICE: 5.83 USD/mo
StrongVPN is a no logs VPN provider offering OpenVPN, IPsec, PPTP and L2TP protocols along with OpenVPN obfuscation tools in order to bypass restrictions in countries like China, Iran, Syria. With almost 500 servers in 21 countries StrongVPN offers an impeccable speed for streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Pandora, Amazon Video and many other services as well as torrenting. To read a full StrongVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.99 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 9.95 USD
Based in Malaysia, Hide.me is one the most secure and fastest VPN providers offering ultra fast VPN servers that provide gigabit Internet connection. Hide.Me VPN is extremely reliable and very fast which makes it a perfect choice for security oriented users who would like to enjoy uninterrupted streaming and browsing experience. Hide.Me offers incredibly convenient custom apps for all devices with a number of advanced security features for maximum protection. Hide.me is a no logs company that has custom software with a built-in protection against IP and data leaks, obfuscation tools to bypass strict firewalls, dynamic TCP/UDP port-forwarding (UPnP) and SOCKS5 proxy that is especially useful for torrenting. To read a full Hide.me review click HERE.