Broadband internet in Australia faces a unique set of challenges (being an island and all).
And things get even trickier if you’re going to be downloading torrents frequently or want to access US-based streaming catalogs like Netflix & Hulu.
Not only are internet providers cracking down on these uses (especially torrents) but Aussies frequently deal with slow speeds, throttling and lower video resolution while streaming.
Who this guide is for:
This article will show you the benefits of using a VPN for torrenting & streaming from Australia and how to pick the right service (hint: choose one that respects privacy).
You’ll also learn how to set everything up for easy access to your favorite content.
Why use a VPN?
Internet users worldwide (and especially Australia) are flocking to VPNs for 2 reasons:
- Privacy: Keep what you do online private from prying eyes (including your internet/wireless provider.
- Access: By connecting through VPN servers located in different countries, you can access and enjoy content that might be restricted in Australia. Examples include accessing Netflix’s global catalog (which is different in every country) or using blocked torrent websites.
How to choose a VPN: what’s Important?
Here are the criteria we deem most important when choosing a VPN for Australia. And we factor in different use cases as well.
Here’s what you should care about:
- Logging Policy – do they take your privacy seriously
- Use-case/Features – does it perform the function you require
- Speed – is it fast enough for quick downloads and HD streaming
- Price – is it a good value
VPNs ranked by use-case
The best VPNs for Torrenting in Australia
If you’re going to be downloading torrents at least semi-frequently, you definitely want a torrent-friendly provider (so you don’t risk getting your account banned).
All of these recommended VPNs are: Non-logging and specifically allow torrenting.
Logging Policy: no logs | Speeds: fastest | Torrenting: allowed
IPVanish is consistently one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, especially on Australian servers. They’ve got a zero-log policy, included socks proxy, and excellent software for all majors OS’s (including FireTV/Firestick).
Australian server locations: IPVanish has 3 server locations in Oceania (2 in Australia, 1 in New Zealand).
Pricing: As low as $6.49/month (7-day refund policy)
2. Private Internet Access
Logging Policy: no logs | Speeds: fast | Torrenting: allowed
PIA’s speeds are not quite as fast as IPVanish’s on average, but still quite good (we’ve tested upwards of 100 mbps on nearby servers.
Australian Servers: PIA has a massive server cluster located in Melbourne, Australia.
Pricing: From $3.49/month (7-day refund policy)
IS TORRENTING LEGAL IN AUSTRALIA?
Bittorrent is, and always has been, a fully legal technology. Bittorrent is simply an efficient method for sharing large files between multiple peers. Torrent technology is even used by massive companies such as Facebook, and Blizzard (creators of ‘World of Warcraft’).
Just like any powerful piece of technology, Bittorrent is legal, but can potentially be used for illegal purposes (i.e. the downloading of copyrighted material). The legality of specific torrent files, varies greatly based on the country you’re in, and some countries even allow the downloading of copyrighted files, or works of art for ‘personal use.’
Australia (like most developed nations) has strong intellectual property laws protecting the rights of content holders, so it isn’t legal to download any content that you don’t hold the rights to. Fortunately there are a bunch of places to find 100% legal torrents.
How to unblock torrent sites
In recent years, Australian ISPs have been pressured to block access to major Torrent indexing sites, including The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents (which recently shut down), Torrentz, ISOHunt and others.
This pressure stems largely from the controversial Copyright Amendment Act of 2015. Specifically, section 115 allows Australia to prevent ‘Carriage Services’ (Internet Providers) from linking to or making content available from sites in other countries that may provide access to illegal content.
This legislation will likely affect the torrent policies of all major Australian ISPs, including Telstra, iiNet, Optus, Spirit, Skymesh etc…
Update December 2016: It’s official, ISP-based blocking of many popular torrent sites (including the PirateBay) will likely be in place by January 1, 2017. Over 50 Australian internet providers will be co-operating in the nationwide site-blocking effort.
Your ISP will likely use one/all of these technological blocking methods:
- DNS Filtering
- IP Address blocking/redirecting
- URL-based blocking
Any of these methods can easily be defeated by:
- Encrypting your traffic and…
- Using private DNS servers (included with high-quality VPN subscriptions).
Torrent Throttling in Australia
Instead of outright blocking torrent sites (blocks can easily be circumvented with a simple web proxy, Tor, or VPN anyway) many ISPs may opt to throttle torrent traffic instead.
Since your internet provider has complete access to your data stream (it all flows through their servers) they can easily see whether you’re using the bittorrent protocol, and slow your torrent traffic to a crawl.
Speed loss from torrent throttling can be dramatic, and some users have reported speeds below 100kbps (0.1Mbps) on high speed broadband connections.
Fortunately, you can easily prevent torrent throttling by using a strong encryption service like a VPN (don’t worry, this article will show you how it works).
VPNs for Netflix / Kodi / Unblocking content
These VPNs are some of the few that have been able to circumvent the vpn-blocking technology of services like Netflix in Hulu. Cyberghost and NordVPN claim to unlock access to as many as 50 such services (though a subscription is still required).
FireTV app: Yes | Unblocked Services: Hulu, Netflix, Hbo, 50+ others
Cyberghost totally revamped their service last year, with a better UI, faster download speeds, new FireTV app, and great VPN software. Currently, Cyberghost can unblock more than 50 global streaming services. Priced at $2.75/month, it’s definitely the best value.
Australian servers: Cyberghost has servers located in both Australia and New Zealand
Best Offer from $2.75/month
30-day 100% refund guarantee
FireTV app: yes | Unblocked Services: Hulu, Netflix, BBC, 30+ others
NordVPN is a zero-log VPN service based out of Panama. Their able to unblock most US-based streaming services like Netflix/Hulu as well as a few European ones (BBC, Bein).
The one caveat is their unblocking technology only works on the desktop (Mac/Windows) or Mobile (iOS/Android) apps. It won’t work on the Firestick or if you use manual (non-app) configurations.
30-day 100% refund guarantee
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Feel free to add your own in the comments below: