Is Popcorn Time Safe To Use Without VPN? Here’s What We Think

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are becoming quite popular. They are used for a variety of functions and are also integrated with various apps. In most cases, VPNs provide protection and other perks for the apps that they cover. However, it might not be ideal to use a VPN with some apps in some limited situations. 

This article looks at Popcorn Time, a movie-streaming platform that uses the P2P (peer-to-peer) torrenting system. Then, we consider whether you are best served using Popcorn Time without a VPN or not.

At the end of this review, you should be able to conclude one way or another regarding the effectiveness of integrating a VPN with Popcorn Time.

What Is Popcorn Time?

Popcorn Time is an app that uses a version of the BitTorrent client to download/stream videos. It comes integrated with a media player and allows users to stream high-quality videos regardless of the type of device they use. Its streaming prowess makes it a viable alternative to various streaming platforms.

Popcorn Time has attained a level of popularity because of its ‘seeming’ free nature. Unlike streaming platforms where users have to pay for subscription plans, you will not have the same problem when you use Popcorn Time. The P2P technology also means that access to TV shows, anime, cartoons, and the likes is easy because users share these contents themselves, moving them speedily and efficiently.

Due to the peculiar situation where Popcorn Time utilizes P2P platforms, there are a host of challenges users face with it. Firstly, there is the legality of downloading content using torrenting systems the way Popcorn Time does. Furthermore, there may be important security challenges you could experience when you use this system. We will consider these in full subsequently.

Is Popcorn Time Legal and Safe?

There is some gray area when it comes to the legality of using Popcorn Time to stream videos and shows. Of its own, downloading and installing the Popcorn Time app is not illegal. However, you could run into difficulties when you use it to access videos. 

Some of the contents freely shared on the platform are subject to copyright laws. Failing to utilize the appropriate channels to share them opens you up to liabilities. This is because you are depriving the legal owners of the funds they would have generated if you paid for a subscription and are viewing the videos on Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc. The owners of the copyrighted contents could sue you. Following the laws of various jurisdictions, a suit brought this way could actually be successful.

On safety, it is mostly safe to download and install the Popcorn Time software on whatever device you use. It is important, however, that you source the software from a reputable and reliable website. Due to the popularity of Popcorn Time, there are several software that are less than ideal. Using any one of them could open you up to an infestation of malware. Thus, you have to make sure that you download the software from the appropriate source.

How To Use Popcorn Time Without a VPN

Generally, it might not be a great idea to use Popcorn Time to download or stream videos without some form of protection. Of the different pathways you could pursue, installing and using a VPN with the Popcorn Time app is the most efficient way to stay safe online. However, this is not to say that it is impossible to use Popcorn Time without a VPN’s protection. Here are some of the ways you could use Popcorn Time while maintaining a semblance of safety.

Update Your Software Patches

It is always advisable to update your device’s software regularly. This stems from the logic that if the software is being updated, it is to catch errors in the previous versions. When you do not do the updates when necessary, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to exploitation from anyone. To make things easier, you may want to toggle your settings to have the updates occur automatically.

Avoid Ads

Ads are often the vehicles that transport malware such as ransomware. Thus, you should always treat ads with skepticism. When you are using Popcorn Time without a VPN, you may want to avoid clicking any ads the entire time. Furthermore, you could explore the option of downloading adware blockers.

Separate Files Downloaded from Popcorn Time

You may also want to separate files downloaded from Popcorn Time from the rest of the files on your device. The idea here is to prevent any possible malware in the files from corrupting the rest of the ones on your device. Isolating the malware isn’t a sure-fire way of protecting your device from attacks, but it is a good place to start.

Why You Need a VPN for Popcorn Time

A VPN is primarily designed to secure your data. It creates a virtual tunnel through which your internet network gets routed. While your traffic moves, it gets encrypted. This makes it that even if it gets intercepted, either by malicious entities or the government or even your Internet Service Provider, you will remain safe. A VPN also provides the average user with several other perks. However, specifically for use with Popcorn Time, why is it necessary to get VPN coverage?

1. Bypassing Copyright Issues

There is virtually no difference between using Popcorn Time and torrenting. By this logic, when you use Popcorn Time, you get exposed to the challenges that come with torrenting. One of such is copyright issues/violations. As mentioned elsewhere, Popcorn Time allows you to access illegal downloads or streams of video content. This is a crime in many countries. If the copyright holders decide to sue, you may be in trouble.

How does a VPN help here? A VPN masks your real identity. It swaps out your IP address with the one that it provides. Thus, while you torrent, your ISP will not be aware of your activities. Furthermore, even if the copyright owner were to discover your activities, you will still remain safe. Finally, the non-compromise of your data means that such an individual will have no one to sue.

2. Maintaining Security

One other striking problem with using torrent clients like BitTorrent is the potential exposure to bad actors. When you use P2P file-sharing systems, everyone on the shared network can access your data. This is the compromise users have to make to utilize the benefit of the system. This arrangement generally works on good faith. However, it is not possible to hold random persons to such standards of integrity. Hence, a hacker could infiltrate the network and access your data while streaming content with Popcorn Time.

However, that will not be the case if you use a VPN. A typical VPN comes fitted with a slew of security features that keep you safe. The commonest is the AES 256-bit encryption system various providers employ. This is virtually uncrackable. Hence, when you get on a VPN service that utilizes this, you are in no danger of data exposure. Even if some hacker accesses your data, it will be encrypted and hence useless to them.

3. Getting Around ISP Blocks

Some Internet Service Providers do not support torrenting or even heavy streaming. They monitor their users, and when they find them carrying out any of the two activities, they throttle their speeds. Eventually frustrated, such users then abandon the whole endeavor altogether.

Again, when you use a VPN, even your Internet Service provider will be unaware of what you are doing online. Hence, you will not be in danger of targeted throttling, regardless of how much streaming you do on Popcorn time.

4. Unblocking Geo-restrictions

One other thing a VPN helps you do is bypass geo-restrictions. You may have noticed that on certain platforms, you are barred from accessing content meant for users outside of your location. For instance, if you are in the United States, you cannot access Netflix Japan or vice versa. When you use a VPN, you kiss this challenge goodbye.

VPN providers usually provide servers in various global locations. Different providers have different servers for the various countries they are present in. When you connect to any of the servers, you automatically acquire an IP address compatible with that location. Thus, following our analogy, if you need to access Netflix Japan from the United States, you can just connect to a VPN provider’s server in Japan. This will give you a Japanese IP address, enabling you to access the content you seek.

How To Use a VPN for Popcorn Time

If you do choose to go with using a VPN for Popcorn Time, you will need to set it up. But, not to worry, the process of setting up and integrating a VPN with Popcorn Time is rather straightforward. Here are the steps below:

1. Subscribe to a reputable VPN plan

You may be tempted to go along with a free VPN provider. However, there are inherent challenges with doing so. For instance, free VPN providers may lack the necessary facilities to keep you safe. Hence, pay for the subscription plan of a reputable VPN and get started.

2. Download and install the VPN’s app for your device

You can download it straight from the VPN provider’s website or maybe from your device’s app store. Downloading third-party extensions might not be so ideal. There is no big deal with installation; you need to just follow the prompts that’ll pop up to complete your setup.

3. Download and install the Popcorn Time software if you do not have it already. 

Bear in mind that there are several variants available. Unfortunately, some of them are not so secure. The best, it appears, at the moment, is the Popcorn Time.app.

4. Start streaming content.

Considerations To Have When Choosing a VPN for Popcorn Time

VPNs are numerous these days. Each service has its unique strengths and weaknesses, as well as the features it favors above others. For use with Popcorn Time, what features should you prioritize?

1. Security

You need to make sure that whatever provider you choose has the features that can keep you safe as you stream on Popcorn Time. As you can tell by now, you need to be protected first from the content’s copyright owner, your ISP, and even bad actors. Thus, you may want to confirm that the provider in question has great security features. Some of these features include the AES 256-bit encryption model, a kill switch, support for split tunneling, etc.

2. Speed

Speed is indispensable while streaming. How seamless the process will be for you will depend, to a large extent, on how fast your network is. VPNs sometimes slow down your internet speed. However, do confirm that the speed difference is not that great.

3. Server Strength

This is an important consideration, especially if you are looking to unblock content in specific regions. For each location you want to access, the provider needs to have servers in such locations.

Conclusion

Popcorn Time garners a lot of popularity because it grants hassle-free access to users looking to stream video content. Some of its advantages include the absence of subscription fees to access videos on the platform and the ease of locating rare finds. However, using Popcorn Time to stream videos could expose you to some dangers if you do not find a way to stay protected. Of course, it is possible to use Popcorn Time without a VPN. But if you do so, the security fallout might just outweigh whatever benefits you think you’ll obtain.