When you torrent on clearnet, your IP is visible to other peers. Malicious actors might act as peers to de-anonymize you. Some people use VPNs to remain anonymous, but they cost money, and you can’t be sure how trustworthy your VPN provider is. I2P is a free anonymity network that works well with file transfers, that’s a good alternative to VPNs.

(Disclaimer: You should only download legal content. Use this article at your own risk. This article doesn’t encourage illegal behaviour. You are responsible for everything you do.)

I2P is still in beta, it might have bugs, so be careful with it.

  1. Download and install I2P. On Windows, if you have trouble starting I2P, try installing it as a service.

    You’ll probably want the Java version, because it comes with a built-in BitTorrent client. You can use I2PD too, but you’ll have to set up your torrent client yourself. For the Java version you’ll have to install Java too.

  2. Install the browser bundle, or make a fresh profile in Firefox for I2P, where you install NoScript, HTTPS Everywhere and maybe some other privacy add-ons. Configure Firefox to use as proxy. You should disable JavaScript (in NoScript or in your Firefox settings).

  3. You can control I2P through, the I2P Router Console. It takes a few minutes for I2P to start up. You’ll want to set the bandwidth used by I2P to something close to your internet bandwidth. In your physical router and your software firewall you should port-forward the ports used by your I2P installation; you can check the ports in your Network Configuration. If you can’t reach some eepsites, you should add some additional subscriptions to your Addressbook.

  4. I2P has a torrent client that automatically, securely routes your traffic through the I2P network. You can reach I2PSnark with the Torrents button in your router console. Under Configuration you can set where you want to download your files, and if you want to autostart your torrents when I2P starts.

  5. Torrents hosted on clearnet trackers (usually) don’t work inside I2P. You can only connect to peers who also run I2P. You can find some trackers at the bottom of I2PSnark’s configuration page. Or you can search somewhere else. The I2P community is pretty active on Irc2P, the IRC network inside I2P; download HexChat, review the settings, remove any information about you or your computer, and join

    Postman’s tracker is probably the most popular; you can search for torrents, or you can sort by swarm size to find popular ones.

  6. If you found something you want to download, copy its magnet link into I2PSnark. It’ll start connecting with other peers, start downloading and uploading pieces. Be patient, it’ll take some minutes for the torrents to start.

I2P is pretty slow, not many people use it yet, and you might not find some files you want on I2P trackers. But it’s the future of free anonymous file sharing. The more people who use it, the better it becomes.