When torrenting, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your identity is protected and it is safe. In this article, we take a look at PeerBlock, one of the products on the market that claims to make downloading torrents safer. Additionally, we compare Peerblock vs VPN.
What is Peerblock and how does it work?
Peerblock is software that is available for free and BitTorrent and P2P users often use it to make downloads anonymous by preventing peer connections from specific IP addresses.
The software enables users to select blocklists provided by 3rd party. The thought behind this is that if you’re able to identify specific IP addresses that are undesirable, such as those being used by monitoring agencies, governments, or malicious users, who may sell the data to third parties, these connections can be blocked, supposedly making torrents downloading safer.
Is Peerblock good for torrenting?
Downloading torrents may be dangerous: your activity may be tracked, your computer may get infected with malware, spyware, ransomware. That is why you need to learn how to torrent safely.
Using Peerblock is a good idea, but it is not enough. There are a number of shortcomings when using Peerblock.
Data is not encrypted
Peerblock does not encrypt data, which means your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will have full access to your data stream and will be able to monitor what you’re doing.
They can see which websites are being visited and which protocols are being used, including BitTorrent.
It is not possible to block all undesirable IP addresses
Peerblock uses blocklists that contain different types of IP ranges. Some ranges belong to the government, some to research institutions, etc. The reality is however that blocking every potentially malicious peer means you’ll have to block all IP addresses available, as you can never be certain who is using which IP, especially which IP addresses are used to monitor torrent activity. This would leave you with no peers to connect to.
Peerblock blocks too many IP addresses
If the 3 most popular blocklists available for Peerguard are used, more than 1.1 billion IP addresses would be blocked. This is more than 25% of all available IPv4 addresses globally.
As a vast number of these peers will actually not be undesirable or malicious, users are left with a relatively small number of peers to choose from, reducing download speeds substantially.
Peerblock vs VPN
Peerblock is clearly not an alternative for a VPN. It is more a complementary solution.
VPNs hide internet traffic
A VPN encrypts online traffic meaning it can’t be monitored to see what is being done on the Internet – not by any torrent monitoring agency, ISP, or government.
PeerBlock does however not offer any encryption, meaning your torrent traffic is not secure against surveillance. It can also not block ISPs to prevent them from monitoring traffic.
A VPN hides your real IP address
Although PeerBlock blocks unwanted IP addresses, it does not hide your own IP address to keep it safe.
On the other hand, VPNs replace your address with the server’s IP address the moment you connect to the service.
Peerblock can be circumvented
If you, for example, use PeerBlock to block a copyright agency, there is nothing stopping them from simply using a different IP address to evade that ban, and then tracking you.
PeerBlock hasn’t been updated regularly
The last update for PeerBlock was apparently done in 2014 and there have been no improvements since.
The good VPNs, however, are updated regularly ensure there are no potential bugs or issues that may ruin your torrenting experience.
There are several alternatives to PeerBlock available:
A VPN is a far better option than PeerBlock.
Using a VPN while downloading torrent is, in my opinion, a must. Even though they come with a price (as there are no good free VPN services that you can use for torrenting), the benefits are far more important. Here is a list of recommended torrent VPN providers.
As VPNs hide the user’s real IP address, they don’t have to always worry about hackers and cybercriminals finding personal information. (Don’t forget to check your torrent IP while downloading in order to make sure your VPN is running properly.)
Simplewall is an open-source firewall that blocks incoming and outgoing and traffic based on the user configuration.
It is more lightweight than Peerblock and offers better capabilities for network monitoring, even blocking Windows spying and telemetry by default.
BeeThink IP Blocker
BeeThink IP Blocker is a firewall that is user-friendly and offers more control over the IP addresses to be blocked compared to PeerBlock.
In theory, Peerblock sounds like a good option to make downloading torrents safe, as it will prevent undesirable IP addresses from connecting to you and then being able to see what you’re doing online.
In practice, however, Peerblock has many flaws that in reality makes the software unsuitable for its intended purpose. There are a number of alternatives to PeerBlock available that will, in fact, help you make torrenting safer by preventing monitoring agencies from being able to see what you’re doing online.
Of these, using a VPN is probably the best and safest option (see the arguments presented above in the Peerblock vs VPN section) as it encrypts your data and hides your IP address.