Putlocker: How Safe Is It To Use?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Putlocker is a locked cabinet where shot-put throwers keep their puts but inevitably nothing is that straightforward. The original Putlocker appeared in 2011 as a file-sharing site dedicated to indexing films and other entertainment available for free streaming.
Five years later, it was closed down on the basis that it was hosting copyrighted content without the necessary permission. It wasn’t the first of its kind, however, and was preceded by Megaupload. Putlocker gained widespread popularity after the closure of Megaupload in 2012.
Despite being considered a major piracy threat by the Motion Picture Association of America, Putlocker and its equivalents remain a popular way of streaming entertainment without paying for it. Presenting a cost-effective alternative to Netflix and other similar sites, it’s become a popular alternative to cable as well. The big question is: is Putlocker safe or does using it have legal consequences?
Is Putlocker Safe?
Side-stepping the legal implications of using Putlocker for a moment, let’s take a look at the other potential dangers of using a site like Putlocker. Currently, there are a few Putlocker URLs still in operation but a visit to one could compromise the integrity of your device.
Back in 2011, sites like Putlocker were pretty reliable and honestly provided links to online content for its users to stream. Since the closure of the original site, however, Putlocker isn’t safe. These days such index sites are more focused on generating revenues with push notifications, fake ads, redirects, and pop-ups than really enhancing its users’ lives with the latest entertainment.
One of the problems with Putlocker is that users must accept notifications to use the site to its full potential. Dismissing that option results in a seemingly endless series of advertising and redirects any of which could send you to a malicious site and cause havoc with your device.
If you visit a Putlocker site, accept the notifications, and see a video seemingly waiting to start, chances are, you’re a sitting duck simply waiting for the malware to finish infecting your device. One of the problems with sites that list links to other sites is that there’s no way of knowing if that link is safe or harmful. You may get to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones, or you may just end up with a Trojan galloping around in your operating system.
There are a few precautions you can take to reduce your exposure to malicious links, malware, and other cyber threats while using Putlocker. For instance, you can block notifications on Putlocker in your browser, thereby reducing the potential for infection. This is a straightforward process but won’t necessarily mean you stay safe on Putlocker.
How to Stay Safe on Putlocker
Cybersecurity tools are hot property at the moment and look set to escalate as they attempt to keep up with cybercrime. Competition is fierce when it comes to online protection, which is good news for consumers, and especially for those daring enough to brave the muddy waters of Putlocker.
Is Putlocker safe? Definitely not and when entering a site that could land you on the wrong side of the law or infect your device with malware requires a fair amount of pluck and some serious cybersecurity tools. Let’s take a look at what you should have in your Putlocker protection toolbox:
Avoid the Advert Chopping Block
The first tool to consider if you want to stay safe on Putlocker is an ad-blocker. These are available as free stand-alone tools or part of a cybersecurity bundle.
While AdBlock Plus is a popular free ad blocker that is as transparent and reliable as only an open-source program can be, some of the most effective tools for preventing unwanted ads and reducing the threat of malicious links are those produced by VPN companies. The best antivirus software often includes some level of blocking, with many providing these as browser extensions.
One of the longest standing cybersecurity companies in the world, Norton has a downloadable ad blocker available for iOS, for example, while Avast’s online security browser extension includes advanced settings for blocking everything from social networks to adverts and analytics tracking.
Browse in Safer Pastures
Your chosen web browser can also enhance your online security. Although Google Chrome is considered one of the most secure popular web browsers of 2019, Mozilla has taken secure browsing to a new level with its mobile app, Firefox Focus.
With advanced privacy settings, including the capacity to block adverts, analytics trackers, and social trackers, Firefox Focus offers the perfect balance between a high-speed browser and an effective adblocker.
When it comes to Putlocker and other similar sites, however, neither a secure browser nor an advanced ad blocker is enough to keep you safe. Mired in copyright issues and defined as a piracy site, Putlocker is blocked by internet service providers in many different countries. In other words, if you’re any of the US ISPs that rely on Cogent Communications for their basic infrastructure, you won’t be able to access many of the Putlocker mirror sites or indexing pages… unless you use a VPN, that is.
A VPN, or virtual private network, offers a way of effectively blindfolding your ISP so it can’t see what you’re doing or where you’re going online. A VPN creates a network that you connect to but, after that, all your traffic is encrypted so your ISP has no idea if you’re streaming pirated content or simply doing a little online shopping.
As a VPN will then create a new IP for you, none of your online activity can be traced back to your original IP address, giving you complete anonymity.
The Benefits of Using a VPN on Putlocker
The best VPNs for streaming videos online, like the impressive ExpressVPN for example, protect you in the event of you accidentally streaming copyrighted content on Putlocker. While we’re not advocating using any VPN for illegal activity, using ExpressVPN is a reliable comfort blanket that will shield you in the event of an accidental click or an innocuous-looking link that turns out to be a pirated movie.
While there are free VPNs available, most of these are insufficient when it comes to staying safe on Putlocker. Not only do free VPNs often come with data limits that make streaming anything virtually impossible, but many are also vulnerable to DNS leaks and unstable connections that could expose you and your activity.
ExpressVPN not only offers some of the best connections speeds but it also has an artillery of additional security measures designed to keep you safe. Its strict no-logging policy means that not even the servers or ExpressVPN technicians can trace your activity back to your original IP address as that address is never logged or stored.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN uses zero-knowledge architecture to protect its users. No ExpressVPN server saves data to a hard drive, using RAM only, which means all data is erased each time the server reboots.
While ExpressVPN doesn’t have an ad blocking feature as such, its use of AES 256 encryption means that no one will be able to track your online activities and use that information to send you targeted advertising.
Other leading VPN providers use the same cutting-edge encryption but have chosen to incorporate an ad blocking feature to prevent interruptions and reduce the amount of data consumed. Surfshark and NordVPN are both reliable VPNs capable of producing high-speed connections while blocking out auto-play ads, pop-ups, and malicious websites.
Is Putlocker Legal?
We’ve already answered the questions, “Is Putlocker safe?” so now it’s time to consider the legality of the site. Copyright is becoming an increasingly hot topic as the internet allows content to travel the world seemingly unchecked.
With the internet’s ability to evolve much faster than the law, sites like Putlocker find themselves in a murky grey area of the law. While legal in itself, Putlocker has little control over where its content comes from, meaning it may well contain content that infringes on international copyright laws.
Even within the grey area, there are murkier sections that make the legality and safety of Putlocker even more ambiguous. For instance, if you bought a DVD of the latest John Wick movie (does anyone still do that?!) but then use Putlocker to watch it, does that put you on the wrong or the right side of the law? Theoretically, you’ve purchased the rights to the movie already and therefore have the right to watch the content. On the other hand, the link on Putlocker takes you to content that has been obtained illegally, placing you on the wrong side of the law.
It’s confusing, to say the least, and it’s made even more so by the fact that it’s unclear whether the person uploading pirated content is responsible for it, or whether that legal obligation falls to the individual downloading it.
At one stage, many believed that streaming was unprotected by copyright legislation as it didn’t involve actually owning the content, only watching it. This was something of a false sense of security and has since been roundly rejected. If you’re watching it and not paying for it, “you are depriving industry of the revenue it needs to fund the next generation of TV programs, films, and sporting events”.
Not only that, in many instances, the money generated from advertising revenue as a result of you using a site like Putlocker finds its way straight to the pockets of organized crime syndicates. That’s not something you want on your conscience, even if piracy manages to fly beneath your moral radar.
How to Stream Movies Safely for Free
If you’ve never heard of Netflix, HBO, or Amazon Prime, you must be living under a rock somewhere. These streaming sites dominate the world of online entertainment, giving users access to thousands of movie titles and series. While none of these comes free of charge, it is possible to make the most of their free trial periods and avoid the perils of Putlocker – at least for a little while.
Netflix offers a one-month free trial to all new users, which means 30 days of binge-watching Breaking Bad, Orange Is the New Black and Billy on the Street. Once you’ve had your free fill of Netflix, you can move onto HBO and get another 30 days to watch the much-anticipated HBO original, Us, some older classics including Big, starring Tom Hanks, and a swathe of new series, including His Dark Materials, with James McAvoy.
Not wishing to be left behind, Amazon Prime also has a 30-day free trial, as does Hulu while Crunchyroll is a little less generous with its 14-day free trial. That’s nearly five months of free viewing, not to mention the capacity on most of these streaming sites to download certain content and watch it later.
It may not be a permanent answer to your streaming prayers, but it’s a start and for those who are concerned about the fact that Putlocker isn’t safe, it’s a potentially appealing alternative.
Alternatives to Putlocker
If you’re under the impression that you might find a free alternative to Putlocker that keeps you safe and only gives you access to legal content, think again. There is no file-sharing site listing indices of entertainment content links that doesn’t put you in jeopardy. Any site you choose to visit could infect you with malware or leave you facing a hefty fine for contravening copyright laws.
Having done our big brotherly act and warned you of the potential risks, let’s take a look at some of the sites that have gained popularity in the wake of Putlocker’s legal conundrum.
- SolarMovie – inviting interface and plenty of content
- Fmovies – a selection of high-quality movies available for both streaming and downloading
- Popcorn Time – a popular free streaming site with an integrated multimedia player and extensive content
- Los Movies – international content with subtitles
- 1337x – one of the most popular torrent sites
It simply isn’t possible to stay safe on Putlocker without taking the necessary precautions of using an ad blocker and a VPN. While antivirus software can go some way to keeping viruses at bay, it will do little to prevent you from being tracked or hiding your online activities from your ISP.
With ISPs blocking certain content, especially if it is suspected of contravening copyright laws, entering a blacklisted site like Putlocker could send up red flags and smoke signals to your ISP as well as the copyright trolls. What’s more, some ISPs will throttle your bandwidth when they detect that you’re engaged in streaming.
For these reasons, a VPN is not only the best way to stay safe on Putlocker, but it’s also the best way of achieving ultimate streaming speeds. As a VPN hides all your online activity from your ISP, you’ll get better speeds even when streaming on legitimate sites like Netflix, as well as getting extra protection on less dependable sites like Putlocker.
Accessing any site that offers free movie streaming is dangerous. Not only could you be accessing illegal content and earn yourself a criminal record, but you could also expose yourself and your device to dangerous malware infections.
Given that Putlocker isn’t safe, the best way to proceed is to avoid it altogether. If you do decide to take the plunge, however, make sure you’ve got some decent diving gear on, preferably in the form of ExpressVPN.