It seems like older television cable network and on-demand content services are losing a lot of ground to free digital alternatives. These days, as long as you have an IP address and a moderately fast Internet connection, you can watch just about any content your heart desires. If you’re a movie buff, video junkie, or gobble up episodes of dramas like Girl Scout cookies, then I’ve got some good news for you. You don’t have to pay money for the content you consume.
After all, why pay money for something that you can get for free? If you weren’t already aware, there are a growing number of free content services and media services like Kodi and Popcorn Time. Kodi is outside the scope of this discussion, but you may want to look into it if you haven’t already heard of it. At any rate, Popcorn Time will help deliver all of your favorite movies and video content by streaming them straight to your device…for free!
So What Exactly Is Popcorn Time?
If you already know what Popcorn Time is or have used it, feel free to skip this section. For those of you who haven’t, you’re in for a treat. The most basic for Popcorn Time is a Bit Torrent client that comes preloaded and jam-packed with loads of extra features, such as various media players to stream video and audio content.
Also understand that there have been numerous versions, which are sometimes called forks, of Popcorn Time. New projects and developments are always underway in the free software community, and Popcorn Time has had to adapt to a lot of changes in the industry.
The Popcorn Time client is similar to a Smart TV in the sense that it organizes different sources of content into channels. For instance, you can use the client to stream Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and other forms of content straight to your computer or device. But here’s where it improves upon standard streaming clients: it can even stream multimedia content directly from P2P connections and torrents.
Once Popcorn Time had officially launched, it grew wildly and aggregated a massive user base. But popularity can be a double-edged sword, and despite their massive success, all their fame garnered some unwanted attention from authorities and copyright enforcement groups.
In 2014, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) forced the developers to stop publishing their code and to remove access to Popcorn Time by taking the software down for good.
Modern Popcorn Time
So that’s it, huh? Just a short, sad story about a free streaming multimedia player that bit the dust, right? Of course not! Many of you know that Popcorn Time is still available for use and download today, despite the MPAA’s best efforts.
One of the brilliant qualities of open source software is that anyone can pick it up, change the code a bit, and redistribute it for free. With so many different forks of Popcorn Time floating around the Internet, the MPAA couldn’t possibly hope to stamp all of them out forever.
Also, some of the original developers went on to work another project that’s extremely similar to the original Popcorn Time, which is called the Butter Project. And developers are constantly trying to improve the software as much as possible.
Last August, in 2015, it seems that the Popcorn Time fork that was adopted as ‘standard’ was popcorntime.io, though you can hunt around for others at your own discretion.
Where Is Popcorn Time Headed?
Look, I’m not going to lie to you – no one really knows how long Popcorn Time is going to stick around. When and if it bites the dust, however, it’s not likely going to be due to the MPAA or other authoritative organization.
The fact remains that all types of software have some quantifiable, finite lifespan. Remember the days of Kazaa, Napster, and LimeWire? These technologies eventually phased out for various reasons, but one of the largest reasons is arguably the advent of superior P2P technologies like Bit Torrent (in addition to heavy pressure from regulatory agencies and the RIAA).
For now, however, it seems that Popcorn Time is here to stay – for the near future and perhaps a bit a longer, at the very least. But even if they do get shut down again, you can always just use one of the different versions/forks
As you might imagine, legal disputes can take ages, and they cost a lot of time and money. In the time it takes for any legal action to actually take place, agile developers could easily come out with an entirely different media client, making any legal efforts a moot point.
VPN’s and Popcorn Time
So, you’ve downloaded Popcorn Time and are ready to download all the media your heart desires – without restraint, right? Well, not exactly. The problem with IP based streaming media is that it can be blocked extremely easily.
Furthermore, you may not want outsiders seeing that your downloading files from Bit Torrent or other similar sources. Copyright law changes just about every year, and it’s hard keeping up with it.
While I don’t condone breaking the law, I think most people would agree that they have a right to privacy. People don’t want the government, their local ISP, or hackers watching what they do online.
And furthermore, downloading torrents can be downright dangerous, because it advertises your IP address to everyone in the swarm. And if you weren’t aware, it’s generally a bad idea to display your IP address to hoards of strangers on the Internet, who could come from all over the world.
To solve these problems, you should take precautions by using a VPN tunnel when downloading torrent files. A VPN will encrypt your data, so no one – not even your ISP – can see what you are downloading. Furthermore, a VPN tunnel will make you anonymous.
There won’t be any record of you downloading the files via Bit Torrent because the VPN server will swap your IP address with another one (which is also called making), which means there won’t be an audit trail back to your machine. Lastly, since VPN tunnels can mask your IP address and spoof your geographic location, they can help unlock geo-restricted content.
Some services like Hulu, Netflix, and others limit their content to specific geographic regions due to copyright laws, licensing agreements, and governmental transmission regulations. But a VPN tunnel will circumvent all of those problems. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the best VPN tunnels for Popcorn Time.
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular choices and a clear leader in the VPN industry. They do cost a little more than the average provider, but you can get their service for as little as $8.32 per month. And they permit their users to have up to 3 simultaneous connections per account, so you can secure multiple devices.
To date, they operate servers in 78 countries around the world, and they’re located in all the most popular countries and locations. Essentially, you won’t have any trouble reaching the country where your favorite content is hosted. Though they do lack a free trial, ExpressVPN has a generous 30-day money back guarantee, so you’ll have an entire month to test their service risk-free.
Private Internet Access VPN
PIA VPN is a great choice for Popcorn Time, especially if you want to unlock geo-restricted content. They take a different approach to the design of their server network than most other providers.
Instead of trying to spread themselves thin and operate servers in as many countries as possible, they only have servers in 24 countries. But their IP address and server concentration within those few countries is immense. Because they have so many IP addresses, it’s incredibly challenging for a streaming content provider like Hulu to block all of their addresses.
Furthermore, they’re incredibly cheap. You can get their service for as little as $3.33 per month, and they permit as many as 5 simultaneous connections per account. Their client also has a built-in DNS leak protection mechanism, so your ISP won’t be able to see your DNS requests for Bit Torrent sites.
PureVPN is also a good choice for Popcorn Time users, though they take the opposite approach to placing their servers as PIA VPN. Instead, they spread themselves pretty thin, and today have servers in 140 countries around the world. They likely operate servers in more countries than any other personal home-use VPN provider.
And they’re pretty inexpensive, too. You can get their service for as little as $4.16 per month, and they too permit as many as 5 simultaneous connections. However, PureVPN, ExpressVPN, and PIA VPN are all US-based firms, which is bad if you distrust domestic US digital services because of NSA wiretapping. I really wish they had a free trial, but instead they have a 7-day money back guarantee, which isn’t very long – but it’ll get the job done.
TorGuard is a great solution for Popcorn Time users who want a VPN service that isn’t based in the US. They are based in Panama and have some really unique and interesting features of their service.
While most of their competitors only have a 1Gb network backbone, TorGuard charges a premium for their special 10Gb network that is only available for their servers that are located in the US.
Right now they operate approximately 1200 servers in about 42 countries, though that will change over time – especially as they grow and bolster their network of services. You can get their VPN for as little as $5.00 per month, and they too allow up to 5 simultaneous connections.
Last but not least is VyprVPN, who is also based outside of the United States. Unfortunately, their standard plan only allows 2 simultaneous connections, though they do offer a free trial of their service. However, the free trial does have a data cap, but their software is fully featured.
It includes a per-application tunnel routing feature in addition to a VPN kill-switch. And they aren’t exorbitantly expensive either. You can purchase the Pro version of their service for only $6.25 per month. Last but not least, note that they operate about 700 servers in 50 countries scattered around the globe.
I love free content, though it isn’t as accessible as it once was. Lucky for me, there are free tools and software like Kodi and Popcorn Time that help me aggregate all my digital media onto one platform for free.
Also, I highly urge you to use a VPN tunnel; it may be necessary to unblock geo-restricted content, but more than that, it’s especially critical to help protect you online. The last thing you want to do it for some nefarious creep seeding a file you’re downloading to see your IP address and carry out an attack.
A VPN tunnel will help ensure your security, privacy, and anonymity while downloading torrented media. If you’re unsure how well a VPN tunnel will work with your Popcorn Time installation, I’d recommend taking advantage of the free trials or money back guarantees. You can test it out for free, so you don’t have to commit to buying a service up front.
If you want to find out more about VPNs in general, how to find the right VPN for your needs, and which are the best VPNs, check out our in-depth guide here.