Private/Anonymous Downloading Overview

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There are many resources on this wiki regarding private/anonymous downloading and they are referenced at the end of this article. To fully understand the various implications of different solutions requires expending some effort to work through the material, but for those that want a quick overview a good place to start is here.

There are basically two ways to achieve some protection of your privacy when downloading

  • Pay for a VPN (or use a free one, but in general you get what you pay for)
  • Use an anonymizing network such as I2P

Using a VPN

Virtual Private Networks are generally operated by companies and consist of a number of servers through which your internet traffic is routed. Rather than communication from your computer going directly to the destination computer, it passes first through a VPN server and from there onto the destination. This obfuscates your network traffic: your ISP only sees (encrypted) traffic being send to the VPN server; the destination only sees traffic coming from the VPN server, not your computer.

Many VPNs claim not to keep records of where you traffic is going - if they do keep logs then it is possible for someone to piece things together to figure out where your network traffic is going.

VPNs tend to provide good connection speeds because your traffic is only being routed through one VPN server and you are paying them to be able to provide network capacity for your connections.

Setting up a VPN

  • Find a VPN provider and sign up
  • Connect the VPN on your computer
  • Start Vuze and either run some downloads and allow Vuze to automatically discover the VPN binding or manually configure this - this can help avoid accidentally routing traffic without the VPN should it disconnect

Using I2P

The 'Invisible Internet Project' is a decentralized system where communication from your computer is encrypted and sent via several other computers before reaching its destination.

Unlike a VPN, everyone who participates in using I2P becomes responsible for also being one of the computers involved in relaying messages for other users. Consequently the network throughput will be limited by the amount of bandwidth that the users of the network can dedicate. As an example, if a 10K message is sent through a total of 6 computers on the way to its destination then this will use 6*10K - 60K - of the network's capacity. Put it another way, if you want to download at 10K/sec then you should dedicate 60K/sec to do so...

Due to the decentralized nature of the network (no dedicated servers have access to network traffic), and the fact that messages pass through multiple computers, using I2P is most likely to be more secure than using a VPN.

Note however that I2P is still an experimental network, check out their website for details.

Downloading with I2P

  • Ensure Vuze is configured to always show the 'torrent options' dialog by setting Tools->Options->Files: When opening a torrent show options dialog -> every time
  • When adding a new torrent hit the 'Privacy' button on the options dialog - this adds the torrent to Vuze in a 'stopped' state so you can configure its networks before starting downloading
  • Go to the torrent's 'Privacy View' and decide whether you want to download it anonymously (set the slider to 'anonymous only') or not - check for I2P peers if you want help deciding
  • Start the torrent

Links

The Privacy View is a library sub-view that shows privacy settings for downloads

See the I2P Overview for an overview of I2P configuration

Proxies and VPNs contains some details about VPNs and proxies

Tor Overview talks about 'The Onion Router', another overlay network that isn't P2P friendly but none-the-less useful