PIA for Torrenting: Is It Safe for Torrents in 2021?

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PIA is often recommended as a great torrenting VPN, but just how good is PIA for torrenting? We’ll take a look at how well this provider performs in this in-depth guide. We’ll also answer some FAQs at the end.

Does PIA Allow Torrenting?

Yes, Private Internet Access allows P2P traffic on all their servers (29,000+). The service also allows seeding, though their support reps mentioned there’s a chance it will only work if you enable port forwarding (PIA supports it on all servers except the US ones).

Is PIA Good for Torrenting?

Yes – here’s what makes torrenting with PIA worth it:

  • Great P2P support – PIA is one of the only VPNs to support P2P traffic on all their servers.
  • Kill switch – This feature prevents any data from being leaked if your VPN connection randomly drops. You can set the kill switch to trigger if the connection randomly drops or if you’re not connected to a server (you can only go online while connected to the VPN).
  • Good download speeds – PIA has decent download speeds, mostly thanks to their WireGuard integration. It’s not the fastest torrenting VPN, though.
  • SOCKS5 proxy – You can use a SOCKS5 proxy to get faster download speeds. You can also route your VPN connection through it.
  • Port forwarding – Port forwarding is integrated into the app. Enable it, and PIA will automatically tell you which port to use when you connect to its server.
  • Powerful security – PIA protects your data with end-to-end 128 and 256-bit AES encryption and the ChaCha20 cipher. Their servers run on RAM memory only, so every restart wipes all data stored on them. 
  • No-logs policy – This VPN doesn’t monitor what you do while connected to it. PIA has legal court documents proving they don’t store any user data. They also open-sourced all their apps, meaning anyone can audit the code.
  • Excellent leak protection – You’re safe from IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. The apps automatically block WebRTC and IPv6 traffic and route your traffic through PIA’s DNS servers.
  • Split-tunneling – Choose which traffic goes through the VPN server, and which traffic goes through your ISP’s network. You can optimize your VPN speeds by only routing torrent client traffic through PIA’s network.
  • Ad blocker – PIA MACE can get rid of some ads (no the ones in torrent clients, though) and block connections to malware-infected torrent sites.
  • Works with all torrent clients – You don’t need to install additional software since PIA is compatible with the most popular torrent clients (Vuze, uTorrent, qBittorrent, Deluge, etc.).
PIA Logo Horizontal
  • Allows Port Forwarding setup on specific servers
  • Supports Torrenting and P2P traffic
  • No Traffic or Request logs
  • Can be used with 10 devices simultaneously
  • Unlimited Bandwidth and good speeds
  • 3200+ Servers in 29 Countries
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

 

PIA Torrenting Speed Tests

We tested PIA on uTorrent and qBittorrent using a 20.00 GB file, the WireGuard protocol, and four servers (Canada, Japan, Spain, and Romania). Our tester is from Romania. His original download speeds and ETAs are as follows: 28-29 MiB/s and 15-20 minute ETA (qBittorrent) and 15 MB/s and 20-minute ETA (uTorrent).

qBittorrent

uTorrent

Speed

ETA

Speed

ETA

Canada server

3-4 MB/s

15-20 min

2 MB/s

2 h 30 min

Japan server

490-550 KB/s

11-12 h

1 MB/s

7-8 h

Spain server

2 MB/s

2-3 h

3-4 MB/s

2 h

Romania server

3-4 MB/s

1 h

2-3 MB/s

2-3 h

Here are the average download speeds:

  • Canada – 3-4 MiB/s and a 15-20 minute ETA (qBittorrent), and 2 MB/s and a 2 hour and 30 minutes ETA (uTorrent).
  • Japan – 490-550 KiB/s and an 11-12 hour ETA (qBittorrent), and 1 MB/s and a 7-8 hour ETA (uTorrent).
  • Spain – 2 MiB/s and a 2-3 hour ETA (qBittorrent), and 3-4 MB/s and a 2-hour ETA (uTorrent).
  • Romania – 3-4 MiB/s and 1-hour ETA (qBittorrent), and 2-3 MB/s and a 2-3 hour ETA (uTorrent).

We also tested the OpenVPN protocol using the Romanian server. The speeds were much better on qBittorrent with it: 8-9 MiB/s and a 30-minute ETA. However, the uTorrent speeds were pretty slow: 350 kB/s and an 18-hour ETA.

Finally, we checked the SOCKS5 proxy speeds. We expected them to be fast since there’s no encryption, but they were similar to the speeds on the Spanish server: around 2 MiB/s and 2-hour ETA (qBittorrent), and 3 MB/s and a 2-hour ETA (uTorrent). We also had trouble using the SOCKS5 proxy – our torrents stalled multiple times. According to PIA’s support reps, that can happen sometimes. To fix it, you just need to keep reconfiguring the proxy (change ports and reconnect) until it works.

Overall, Private Internet Access torrenting speeds aren’t the best on the market, but they get the job done if you’re patient. Experiment with different servers and torrent clients to see which ones offer the best speeds.

Pro Tip: Always download torrents that have a lot of seeders. If there are more leechers, your download speeds will always be slow no matter how fast the VPN is.

How Good Is PIA for Torrenting? Let’s Check Reddit

Reddit is a good place to find (some) unbiased opinions about VPNs. We checked r/VPNTorrents and other subreddits to see what people think of PIA.

In general, Redditors like PIA as a torrenting VPN. They like that it’s easy to use, it has fast speeds (sometimes), and it offers great security.

Some Redditors don’t like that Kape Technologies (the company that owns CyberGhost VPN and Zenmate VPN) bought PIA’s parent company. However, that doesn’t make PIA less secure. They continue operating independently, and are still a 100% no-logs VPN.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Torrenting with PIA?

Yes, the main issue is that Private Internet Access has slow torrenting (at least compared to other VPNs). The download speeds aren’t very bad, but they are noticeably slower. According to our tests NordVPN is much faster than PIA.

Some Reddit users have also complained about getting DMCA notices. However, most Redditors who mentioned that eventually admitted they didn’t enable the kill switch or DNS leak protection (route traffic through PIA DNS servers). 

They also used the SOCKS5 proxy with Deluge. Apparently, Deluge might leak non-proxied IPs if you use proxy settings (we can’t say if this still happens at the moment). Also, the SOCKS5 proxy doesn’t have a kill switch, so it’s more likely to leak data (unless you bind the torrent client to the VPN).

They probably experienced traffic, DNS, and/or IPv6 leaks, so it’s not surprising they received DMCA notices.

How to Use PIA for Torrenting

  1. Sign up for PIA.
  2. Download and install the provider’s app.
  3. Run the app and connect to a server (try the closest one to you).
  4. Download whatever you want on your torrent client.

PIA qBittorrent SOCKS5 Proxy Guide

First, log in to your PIA account dashboard, go to Downloads, and click Re-generate in the SOCKS section under VPN Settings.

Next, open qBittorrent, and go to Tools > Options > Connection. Under Proxy Server, choose SOCKS5 from the Type dropdown menu.

Use this host proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com and this port 1080. Make sure the following options are enabled:

  • Use proxy for peer connections
  • Use proxy only for torrents

Check the Authentication box and paste the username and password you got when you clicked Re-generate.

Finally, go to BitTorrent and change Encryption mode to Require encryption.

PIA uTorrent SOCKS5 Proxy Guide

Follow the instructions from the first paragraph in the previous section to generate your username and password.

When you’re done, open uTorrent, and go to Options > Preferences > Connection. Set Proxy server to Socks5. Use proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com as the host and 1080 as the port. Paste the PIA-generated username and password in the appropriate fields. Make sure all these options are enabled:

  • Authentication
  • Use proxy for hostname lookups
  • Use proxy for peer-to-peer connections
  • Disable all local DNS lookups
  • Disable features that leak identifying information
  • Disable connections unsupported by the proxy

To finish up, go to BitTorrent. Under Protocol Encryption, set Outgoing to Forced.

FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using Private Internet Access for torrenting:

What’s the Best PIA Server for Torrenting?

We asked PIA’s support team, and they said you should use the nearest server. The closer a VPN server is to you, the faster download speeds you’ll get because your device will exchange data with the VPN server quicker.

Can You Use PIA’s SOCKS5 Proxy and VPN Simultaneously?

Yes. To do that, you have to go to the Proxy section inside the app and enable the SOCKS5 Proxy option. If it’s greyed out, go to Connection and switch from WireGuard to OpenVPN (this connection method only works over OpenVPN). For the server’s IP, you’ll have to use the ping command with nl-proxy.privateinternetaccess.com to find it. Set the port to 1080, and use the account dashboard to generate your username and password.

Using the SOCKS5 + VPN connection method offers more privacy because your IP is hidden behind two PIA IP addresses. Also, you get encryption while using a proxy. However, we don’t think it’s worth it because it can decrease your download speeds.

Can You Speed Up Private Internet Access’ Slow Torrenting?

PIA doesn’t have the best torrenting speeds, but you can improve them a bit. Just do this:

  • Use a server in your own country or a neighboring country.
  • Use the WireGuard protocol.
  • Torrent over wired connections instead of WiFi.
  • Change the encryption from AES-256 to AES-128.
  • Use split-tunneling to only route torrenting traffic.
  • Enable port forwarding to connect to more peers.
  • Disable uTP in your torrent client.
  • Uninstall the TAP driver and install an older build (here’s a useful guide).
  • Enable the Use Small Packets option.

Will PIA’s SOCKS5 Proxy Encrypt Your Traffic?

No, like any other proxy, it can’t secure your data. It can only hide your IP address. To also get encryption, you’ll have to use the torrent client’s encryption (not ideal since it will lower the number of peers you can connect to). Alternatively, you’ll have to use the VPN + SOCKS5 connection method (also not ideal because it’s slower).

We personally recommend sticking to PIA’s VPN. It’s relatively fast, and it offers excellent security and leak protection.

Should You Bind Your Torrent Client to PIA?

You don’t need to do that because PIA has a reliable kill switch. You can avoid accidental leaks by setting the kill switch to the Always mode. That way, you won’t even be able to go online unless you’re connected to a PIA server.


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