Is Popcorn Time Safe? How VPNs Can Protect Your Privacy

Protecting yourself from getting in trouble is easy

Popcorn Time is a great way to stream videos and movies to your PC or tablet. But as the streaming app increases in popularity it’s clear that Popcorn Time should be used with a VPN.

Is Popcorn Time safe to use? How does a VPN make a difference to whether this streaming software can be considered safe or not? And if you’re using a VPN with Popcorn Time, should you use the built-in option, a free VPN, or a paid VPN subscription?

Is Popcorn Time Safe?

While Popcorn Time has increased in popularity over the years, the Popcorn Time streaming client should not be used without a VPN. It’s little more than a BitTorrent client with a friendly and easy-to-use user interface.

BitTorrent clients can be complicated. They’re essentially downloader apps, like those popular in the early 2000s—rows of files downloading to your computer (or seeding).

Should you use a VPN with Popcorn Time?

BitTorrent has other challenges. Most people don’t know where to find torrent files to download. And unless you know how to navigate your device’s file manager, it’s easy to misplace the data.

This is where the Popcorn Time BitTorrent client comes in. Shipping with a build-in media player, this multi-platform app lets you select a file to watch and enjoy it right away. There’s no looking for links to download and little waiting.

Popcorn Time has been around for several years, in various forms. It offers an easy-to-use interface for finding what you want to watch, streaming it to your device via sequential downloading of files from the BitTorrent network. This keeps the downloads relatively lightweight (as opposed to the load of parallel downloading) leaving resources for encoding video files.

Because of its banning in several countries, Popcorn Time’s code has been “forked”. In other words, developers continue the project since the original app was abandoned. Popcorn Time is an open source project—you can find more about by visiting the Popcorn Time GitHub repository.

While BitTorrent technology isn’t illegal, downloading copyright-protected material is in most regions. Popcorn Time’s legality is deeply questionable, which is why it is unsafe to use the software without running a VPN.

Installing Popcorn Time on Your Smartphone

Various versions of Popcorn Time are available, for Windows, macOS, Linux (32-bit and 64-bit), Android, and iOS. This means that you can watch it whether you’re on the go or kicking back at home. Popcorn Time’s desktop clients can be installed via the download links on the website at

For Android and iOS, install the app via the website. For Android, simply download the APK, copy it to your device, and install, making sure to disable security briefly. On iOS, download to your computer, connect your iPhone or iPad to the PC, and run the installer.

Why You Need a VPN for Popcorn Time

As noted above, it is vital that you use Popcorn Time with a VPN. Without a VPN, Popcorn Time cannot stream any video files; if it can, your use of the BitTorrent network will be observed by your ISP.

If you’re detected viewing illegally obtained video content, you’ll be faced with a letter from your ISP. Repeated offences mean that legal representatives for the copyright holders themselves might get involved—if your ISP hasn’t disconnected you already.

The privacy and encryption a VPN adds means that you can use Popcorn Time anonymously. You’ll have a new IP address (via the VPN server), the websites and services you use will be undetected, and the data exchanged encrypted. Governments and ISPs cannot block or restrict access to a service if accessed via a VPN.

Using Popcorn Time without a VPN is unwise. While the software will run, and even display what is available, it likely won’t stream any video. As such, signing up to a VPN for use with Popcorn Time is the smart solution.

Does Popcorn Time Have a Built-In VPN?

A useful feature of Popcorn Time is the included free VPN software. This means that in theory, you don’t need a third-party VPN. However, in practice this isn’t quite as good as it sounds.

Popcorn Time has an expensive VPN built in

The VPN pop-up you see in Popcorn Time costs a lot more than almost all other VPNs on the market. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the reliability and support behind it that big names like ExpressVPN guarantee.

When signing up to a VPN, confidence in the competence of the service is as important as privacy. Popcorn Time has made its name as a peer-to-peer torrent and video streaming service, not as an overpriced VPN.

So, for the best VPN experience, avoid the built-in Popcorn Time VPN. Unfortunately, it offers various nag screens, even when you’re using a VPN of your own choice.

Choosing the Best VPN for Popcorn Time

It’s vital to use a VPN with Popcorn Time. This should be a service designed to encrypt and hide your connection to a P2P network. But what is the best VPN for use with Popcorn Time?

Many of the VPNs we’ve reviewed are suitable for Popcorn Time. If a VPN can handle P2P and BitTorrent files, then you should be good to go. However, some services have put in place measures to block certain uses, even over P2P.

If you’re looking for suggestions, consider:

How to Use Popcorn Time With a VPN

Using a VPN with Popcorn Time

When using a suitable VPN with Popcorn Time, you need to be sure of a few things first:

  • Both the VPN and Popcorn Time software should be up to date
  • Launch the VPN client before launching Popcorn Time
  • Where appropriate, connect to a Torrent-friendly VPN server
  • Only once the VPN connection is established should a video file be selected to view

Ensuring that the VPN is active before using Popcorn Time will ensure privacy. Similarly, keeping both apps updated (when prompted) will guarantee they successfully work together.

Be Sure to Use a VPN With Popcorn Time

Using a VPN when accessing Popcorn Time is vital. Without it, you’re likely to find your internet access restricted, if not cancelled altogether.

A VPN will slow your connection slightly, but by choosing a faster VPN service (such as those listed above) you can minimize this issue.

It’s wise to avoid using the Popcorn Time built-in VPN as it is expensive and unreliable. While using a third-party VPN will result in nag screens in Popcorn Time, a VPN of your own choice will encrypt all internet activity, not just within Popcorn Time.

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