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What Is A P2P VPN?

What Is A P2P VPN?

Updated: 08-18-2021

P2P VPN refers to a VPN service that offers servers that are compatible with peer-to-peer networks. A P2P VPN will provide strong encryption, a legitimate no logs policy, and no bandwidth limits.

P2P networks have independent working user machines to download or upload files from any specific server. As a result, such a network is considered to be a more convenient and faster way of file sharing. The speed of file sharing increases due to multiple user machines uploading your file in small bits from various locations. 

However, many countries have stringent laws concerning P2P file sharing. Sometimes, users may download illegal copyrighted files such as videos, software, and music using P2P networks, which gives this system a negative reputation. Some Internet Service Providers will even send you a notice when their systems detect torrenting activity from your account.

Fortunately, a P2P VPN helps you torrent effectively. Any P2P VPN provides special servers allowing you to torrent without worrying about the restrictions imposed on P2P file sharing. A P2P VPN offers bandwidth throttling when constantly torrenting large files and secures your privacy through obfuscation (the act of making something unclear, unintelligible or obscure).

Throttling refers to the intentional speeding or slowing of internet speeds by an ISP. For example, if you reach your monthly data cap, your ISP will slow down your internet speed until the next billing cycle. This explains why your computer's connection may be slow even if the computer itself has no hardware or software issues.

It is advisable first to understand how a P2P VPN works before opting for one. It would also be best to differentiate between providers who offer genuine P2P services and those who don't. This article explains the following: 

  • Benefits of P2P
  • Sharing 
  • Risks of P2P sharing  
  • How using a VPN makes P2P sharing much secure 
  • P2P-friendly VPNS
  • P2P FAQS 

What Are the Benefits of P2P Sharing?

Multiple PCs from a peer-to-peer (P2P) network are connected to share resources amongst themselves with no apparent separate server. The connection can be ad hoc, whereby the computers are connected via a USB connection for file transfer. The network can also be a permanent infrastructure investment in small offices linking multiple devices through wiring.

Even though P2P sharing has its own challenges, it also comes with some benefits, which include: 

  • Public distribution of freely accessible data, e.g., open-source software, public domain videos, scientific data, or large government information sets.
  • Internal sharing of corporate data in large amounts.
  • Providing updates for software to massive user bases.  

P2P networks operate on a grand scale with specific applications and protocols to create direct relationships with internet users. These networks were first adopted in the 80s when offices began using freestanding PCs.

These freestanding PCs had storage capacity and onboard applications for receiving desktop deployment without necessarily creating links. 

As the networks developed, many users felt liberated from having dedicated PCs on their desktops.

The floppy disks became very popular for sharing files from these independent terminals. With the development of wireless connections, all these approaches were considered old-fashioned. The most notable benefits of using P2P sharing are as follows: 

Network Independence: A single computer's failure does not disrupt the entire system since the network relies on a decentralized system for information distribution, with each terminal functioning independently. If one computer crashes in certain circumstances, the rest of the network does not experience any disruption. The only problem with this situation is that the files in the failed computer are inaccessible. 

Cost-Effectiveness: This option lets you avoid server starting and maintenance costs since the network requires no server. Authorized users are allowed to access the connected computers using personal or specific assigned devices. Significantly, this reduces the costs of operations, especially in large organizations, as individual workstations communicate with each designated network automatically. Also, workers become more productive since they can instantly access files without transferring them from one station to another. 

No Network Operating System: Peer-to-peer networks require no network operating system for correct functionality as the setup is independently structured. Each computer owns an independent server to store individual users' files while facilitating access to local files, which are kept under different profiles.

You can connect each system to the internet or a cloud-based system without an operating system for network management. This way, users produce more while the companies reduce technology and staffing costs.

Easy To Set Up: P2P networks have easier setups and implementations than client-server networks; thus, the system requires no advanced knowledge to operate. The user only needs to know how to interconnect the terminals close to the station for full P2P functionality.

With everything happening at the user terminal, peer-to-peer networks require less technical staff than other connections. Every person sets their permissions to the files they would like to share with the entire network. Although creating a non-shareable independent system is possible, the structure requires no network technicians and system administrators for help desk services and ongoing maintenance.

Flexibility: You can retrieve files with P2P networks at any time without internet interruption in the process. You won't have to start the downloading process all over even if any stoppage, e.g., sudden terminal shutdown, occurs. The download resumes after your device is back online or reconnected to the entire system. 

Easy to Locate Files: P2P networks have several online sources and websites to provide massive high-quality content libraries accessible at any time. P2P sharing makes it easier for project collaboration and feedback.

Faster Downloads: The internet speed does not necessarily impact your file downloading time, as this time depends on how many terminals are acting as seeds for the P2P network. Some torrenting can be faster even when the connections are slow, unlike in the traditional method. This is much possible as you receive small bits of information from various computers instead of a single storage location. 

Accessibility: It has a user-friendly search mechanism, making it easier to access files. You can locate the content you want to stream, view, or access in the provided search bar. Also, you can identify other files which are related to the subject you are searching for.

The online content library of P2P networks is ever growing since sharing files is much easier to follow. With an active data connection, you can access the files you need to stay productive. 

Risks of Using P2P File Sharing

Prone To Malware: You may install malicious code when attempting to verify the trustworthiness of the files' source using P2P applications. An online attacker could use these applications to transmit malicious codes by incorporating viruses, worms, spyware, or Trojan horses. These codes infect your computer after downloading the files.

Identity Theft: You may expose your sensitive information by allowing other users to access your personal information without your consent. Even though you believe in providing your personal information to a trusted person or organization, some unauthorized personnel may still succeed in accessing your private documents or sensitive corporate data. It may be challenging to know the number of people accessing your information once the information is exposed to unauthorized people, thus increasing your identity theft risk.  

This option is also susceptible to attacks when some applications request you to open specific firewall ports for file transmission. If approved, this request grants malicious individuals access to your computer. The attackers will then take advantage of the vulnerabilities existing in the P2P application to attack your computer.

Network Interruptions: This happens mostly when downloading files, causing a significant amount of network traffic. The downloads sometimes limit the availability of some programs on your device or your access to the internet. 

Legal Issues: Some P2P applications share files, including pirated software, copyrighted material, or pornography, which could land users in trouble with law enforcement authorities. By downloading these files even unknowingly, you may be fined or suffer other legal repercussions. If your computer uses a company network to expose customer information, you will be held responsible. 

Copyright Infringement: This is probably the most considerable risk accompanied by online P2P file sharing. Copyright issues are common when sharing music files and other media forms like movies, e-books, and software. The majority of the media P2P networks upload and download is either copyrighted by the creator, author, or production company.

Sending or receiving copyrighted files without payment or the owner's permission is breaking copyright laws. Depending on your location, copyright infringement may attract hefty fines or, even worse, imprisonment.

How To Stay Safe When P2P File Sharing 

P2P file sharing makes everybody's life much easier, but only if they follow the necessary steps for protecting their online privacy. The tips below can keep you safe while using P2P networks: 

Always be cautious to ensure that you are safe when using P2P sharing. You should always be aware of any information you intend to send across this network, including those you want to download. Avoid sending sensitive information like your name, age, date of birth, or address, through a P2P file-sharing network and downloading files you do not recognize.

Never share illegal or pirated content, given that the legal implications involving the download of pirated content could be severe. Even an accidental upload or download can lead to a legal lawsuit against you. Therefore, it's best to avoid downloading or sharing any copyright-protected content.

Install reliable antivirus software since some P2P programs hide or download malware to your computer, allowing attackers to monitor and access your online activities. Before using a P2P file-sharing program, install a good security program with antivirus and anti-spyware protection.

After a successive installation:

  1. Set the antivirus software and the operating system for automatic updates.
  2. Permanently delete any file flagged as problematic by the antivirus software, backup files on CDs, DVDs, or external drives to retain information if your computer crashes.
  3. Before opening or playing a downloaded file, scan it using the security software.

Disabling or changing your firewall settings may weaken your computer's security. After a successful P2P program installation, carefully understand the exact folders that will be made public. Since P2P programs are primarily designed for file sharing, they may even share unintended files, folders, and subfolders after installation. For example, setting the shared folder haphazardly may expose your complex drive information, including emails, health records, tax returns, photos, and other personal documents.

Never save personal information, files, or subfolders in the shared or download folders. Additionally, P2P program security problems may lead to attacks since some malware are designed to illegally access your personal information by changing the folders designated for sharing. 

Permanently close your connection. Closing a file-sharing program window by clicking the "x" button does not permanently close your network connection, and other users can still access your shared files. This increases your security risk and slows down your computer's performance.

If not downloading files, close the entire program by double-clicking on the file-sharing program; on the file menu, choose Exit. Some P2P programs will automatically open each time you turn your computer on, and changing these settings might be of great help to you. 

Consider creating separate user accounts with unlimited rights if various users have access to your computer. Since only the administrator can install software, this option prevents installing the software you may not want. It can also block some users from accessing or sharing folders and subfolders for other users. A password is used for protecting the administrator account to prevent anyone from disabling your security settings.

Talk with family members about P2P file-sharing by asking whether they have exchanged games, videos, music, or other materials recently. Explain to them the security risks associated with P2P sharing. If using a P2P network is essential to them, then show them how to do it correctly.

Kids are always advised to seek parental guidance first before downloading the software or exchanging files. 

Understand the P2P file-sharing policies; P2P software may weaken a computer's security, exposing sensitive information. Some offices may have rules on P2P file-sharing usage, and it is worth knowing such rules.

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to ensure safety when using P2P file-sharing services. A VPN is an ideal tool for keeping your identity anonymous to governments, hackers, and ISPs. 

How Does a VPN Secure P2P File Sharing?

First, a VPN service will encrypt your data, rendering it unreadable by anyone. P2P file sharing is much more effective with a VPN because of the added privacy and security. Even if some of your data is accessible, your ISP or the government can't decrypt it or link it to a specific P2P file sharing.

Also, the VPN service will mask your actual IP address by linking your sent data to your provider's static IP address. When that happens, tracing your online activities will be extremely difficult.

Important VPN Features You Need

The following are some vital VPN features you should consider for a P2P VPN:  

Secure Encryption: An ideal VPN provider will encrypt your data so that no one views it without having a specific password. A VPN with secure encryption is the best for P2P file-sharing since nobody can even prove your online activities. 

Zero-Logging: Logging is when an ISP or a VPN service tracks and saves your online activities. Great VPNs don't log data to make it almost impossible for third parties to access records of your online activities.

No Bandwidth Limits: Most free VPNs shut or slow down your connection when you reach a specific download limit. Great VPNs have no bandwidth limits so that you can download the content you desire no matter the size.

Large Server Network Size: Some VPN providers have servers in one country, slowing down the P2P connectionsN. The best VPNs will have servers in various countries for faster connectivity regardless of the location of your P2P network. 

P2P Friendly VPNs 

NordVPN 

Speed is a significant consideration when using P2P networks to share files. NordVPN offers connectivity without bandwidth limits to prevent throttling.

With NordLynx, NordVPN provides some of the fastest speeds worldwide. This VPN provider has various specialized P2P servers located in different countries worldwide for a great file-sharing experience.

The servers are fully optimized for secure file downloading, providing one of the safest and fastest VPN experiences regardless of the user's location. 

If you have issues with your VPN connection, you can utilize the automatic Kill Switch feature to prevent your IP address from being exposed. The switch will either shut the selected apps down or disable your internet connection.

Additionally, a NordVPN will protect your downloaded files and all your online activities with state-of-the-art encryption. This software doesn't keep records of your online activities, ensuring that your ISP or anyone sniffing around won't know that you are using a P2P network.

P2P file sharing is one of the existing astounding technologies which ease the mass distribution of digital content over the internet, although it is primarily associated with spreading pirated content. Using P2P networks to download and upload pirated content is a primary concern many agencies face, and it is always advisable to use this option for the right legal reasons.

If you are concerned about your privacy and safety when using a P2P file-sharing tool, getting a VPN is a great place to start.

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