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

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

Is PopcornTime Safe?

While PopcornTime has increased in popularity over the years, the PopcornTime 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).

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 PopcornTime BitTorrent client comes in. Shipping with a built-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.

PopcornTime 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, PopcornTime’s code has been “forked”. In other words, developers continue the project since the original app was abandoned. PopcornTime is an open-source project—you can find more about by visiting the PopcornTime GitHub repository.

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

Installing PopcornTime on Your Smartphone

Various versions of PopcornTime 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. PopcornTime’s desktop clients can be installed via the download links on the website at GetPopcornTime.is.

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 PopcornTime

As noted above, it is vital that you use PopcornTime with a VPN. Without a VPN, PopcornTime 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 offenses 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 PopcornTime 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 PopcornTime 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 for a VPN for use with PopcornTime is the smart solution.

Does PopcornTime Have a Built-In VPN?

A useful feature of PopcornTime 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.

The VPN pop-up you see in PopcornTime 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 for a VPN, confidence in the competence of the service is as important as privacy. PopcornTime 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 PopcornTime VPN. Unfortunately, it offers various nag screens, even when you’re using a VPN of your own choice.

(Note: It is possible to use a free VPN to stream safely, just make sure you know about the pitfalls.)

Choosing the Best VPN for PopcornTime

It’s vital to use a VPN with PopcornTime. 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 PopcornTime?

Many of the VPNs we’ve reviewed are suitable for PopcornTime. 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:

  • ExpressVPN
  • Surfshark
  • ZenMate
  • CyberGhost
  • NordVPN

How to Use PopcornTime With a VPN

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

  • Both the VPN and PopcornTime software should be up to date
  • Launch the VPN client before launching PopcornTime
  • 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 PopcornTime will ensure privacy. Similarly, keeping both apps updated (when prompted) will guarantee they successfully work together.

Be Sure to Use a VPN With PopcornTime

Using a VPN when accessing PopcornTime is vital. Without it, you’re likely to find your internet access restricted, if not canceled 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 PopcornTime built-in VPN as it is expensive and unreliable. While using a third-party VPN will result in nag screens in PopcornTime, a VPN of your own choice will encrypt all internet activity, not just within PopcornTime.

To understand the security issues with other popular streaming apps, read our analysis of the safety of Mobdro and the safety of MoviesJoy.

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