Private Internet Access (better known as PIA) is one of the oldest and most popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers around. With its huge portfolio of servers across the world, reliable customer support, and general ease of use, PIA scores highly in most areas. But how does the Private Internet Access torrenting performance compare to its rivals?

Torrenting is an area where VPNs can often slip behind. Sometimes they decide to block P2P downloading for legal reasons. Sometimes they prefer to divert torrenters to a few servers in order to maintain high speeds for everyone else. And even superfast, reliable VPNs can fail the torrenting test. Let’s see how PIA does.

The basics: Is Private Internet Access torrent friendly?

On the PIA front page, the company focuses on its privacy protection, ability to beat censorship and filters, and ease of configuration. But torrenting is nowhere to be seen. That’s not uncommon with VPNs, who often allow torrenting but don’t make it a major selling point.

But if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will see “P2P support” under the VPN’s list of features, and that’s an excellent sign. However, when you search the PIA “Knowledge Base”, there’s very little information about their policy on torrenting or about how to properly set it up for use with popular torrent clients (see below for our quick guides about Private Internet Access qBittorrent and uTorrent setups).

Nevertheless, it’s clear that PIA torrenting is a possibility, so you don’t need to worry.

What features make PIA torrenting a good idea?

features, Private Internet Access

There are also a number of features, which make Private Internet Access torrent friendly:

  • Strong protocols

PIA supports industry leading protocols like OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec.

  • Excellent encryption

PIA offers a choice of 128 or 256-Bit AES encryption, both of which experts consider to be very secure. You can also choose 128-Bit AES without data authentication to boost speeds or go for the “all speed no safety” option which does away with encryption altogether.

  • Plenty of servers

Private Internet Access offers more than 3,300 servers, so finding a fast connection shouldn’t be too hard. However, these servers are located in just 17 countries, which may cause some people to struggle to find an option near them. That also means speeds will be worse in some parts of the world (particularly in Asia).

  • Zero logging

According to the privacy policy, PIA keeps zero logs, which will reassure torrenters.

  • Try before you buy

Thanks to the PIA day money-back guarantee, you can test it out, getting a feel for the VPN’s torrenting speeds before making a final decision.

  • Unlimited bandwidth

All paid packages have unrestricted download quotas, so you won’t suddenly run into throttling in the middle of a download.

  • A wide range of platforms

The PIA client is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, while there are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

All of these features can boost torrenting performance or make using the PIA client more convenient. But are there any drawbacks to consider before downloading the Private Internet Access client?

Probably. One important fact about PIA torrenting is that the VPN is based in the United States, which has a very hostile approach towards copyright violations. The PIA privacy policy states that the company will “comply with all valid subpoena requests”, but they also assure users that they will challenge any invalid requests. Users will be glad to hear that PIA’s no-logging policy has been tested in court and held up admirably.

Have there been any customer complaints about Private Internet Access torrenting?

Another issue is simply performance. If Private Internet Access torrent speeds aren’t up to par, there’s no point sticking around. You may as well move to a VPN that prioritizes P2P downloads. The picture, in this case, can be seen as mixed.

Some users have reported regular disconnections and possible DNS leaks when torrenting with PIA, although others have responded that disconnects are very rare when routing connections via the PIA Socks5 proxy. So that could be a good idea for torrenters. And the Kill Switch function also provides a safeguard against leaks, so it’s not a fatal flaw.

Discussions on Reddit have featured supporters and critics of PIA. Some users have complained about “extremely slow” speeds, while others have pointed to simple technical fixes to resolve similar issues. The overall picture seems to be that PIA can work well as a torrenting VPN, but that you need to get P2P client setups right. So let’s run through some ideas about how to create fast, reliable Private Internet Access uTorrent and qBittorrent configurations.

How to set up the Socks5 proxy for torrenting with major P2P clients

While there are many different torrenting clients around, qBittorrent and uTorrent are the two that have attracted the most attention among PIA users. It’s worth dealing with them separately to give you some pointers, as both require a little tinkering before the VPN works perfectly. We would like to note that it is not necessary to set up Socks5 on your torrent client for protection – simply being connected to a VPN server is enough for most.

Configuring a Private Internet Access qBittorrent Socks5 setup

Setting up a Private Interest Access qBittorrent Socks5 configuration is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Load up the qBittorrent client.
  2. Head to the Tools menu, then choose “Options” and “Connection.”
  3. Under the “Type” field, write: Socks5.
  4. Under the “Host” type: proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com.
  5. Specify the Port as 1080.
  6. Enter your PIA username and password.
  7. Before pressing “Apply”, make sure that the “Disable connections not supported by proxies” and “Use proxy for peer-to-peer connections” options are selected.

Configuring a Private Internet Access uTorrent Socks5 setup

To get the best out of uTorrent with PIA, you’ll need to set up the VPN’s Socks5 proxy on the torrent client. Here’s how to do so:

  1. Open your uTorrent client.
  2. Head to the Settings menu, then choose “Preferences” and “Connection.”
  3. In the “Type” field enter the following: Socks5.
  4. Now, in the “Proxy” field, enter: proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com.
  5. Set the “Port” as 1080.
  6. Before you leave this menu, remember to flag the following boxes: “Authentication”, “Use proxy for hostname lookups”, “Use proxy for peer-to-peer connections”, “Disable all local DNS lookups”, “Disable features that leak identifying information” and “Disable connections unsupported by the proxy.”
  7. You’ll also need to enter your username and password for Private Internet Access. Then you’re good to go.

General ideas about optimizing PIA for torrenting

If you follow these Private Internet Access qBittorrent and uTorrent guides, you should be extra safe. However, if performance is slow when you start downloading files, there may be some options to consider.

Firstly, think about contacting PIA’s customer service. P2P downloads are clearly listed on their website as a key feature of the software, so they are committed to helping you achieve the best possible speeds.

Alternatively, you could try enabling port forwarding to see if that resolves the problem. To do so, follow these simple steps:

  1. Make sure that you have disconnected from the Private Internet Access servers.
  2. Choose the “Settings” menu in the VPN client, then select “Advanced”.
  3. At the right-hand side, there should be an option marked “Port Forwarding”. Choose “Enable”, then save your settings.
  4. When you reconnect to the VPN, you’ll be assigned a specific port. To find the number, hover your mouse cursor above the VPN’s system tray icon until a 5-digit code appears. Note it down or commit it to memory.
  5. Open your torrent client and head to the settings menu. Find the connection settings and enter the port number in the appropriate field.

Disclaimer: we can’t advise this course of action because it makes you less secure – your torrent traffic becomes easier to trace back to you.

If you still encounter poor speeds, try disabling the UTP protocol in your P2P client, reduce the number of “global connections” (if available), or ditch PIA and try another VPN provider. It may be that you are too far away from a good server to make the prospect of Private Internet Access torrenting viable.

Conclusion: Is PIA torrenting a good idea?

Superficially, Private Internet Access is an excellent option for P2P downloaders.

It’s fast, easy to use, and has strong security features. And you can easily configure the right Private Internet Access uTorrent or qBittorrent Socks5 setup as well. So what’s not to like?

As we’ve seen, the experience of Private Internet Access torrent users has varied. Some people give up on PIA after months of slow torrent speeds, even after trying the solutions offered by their support team. But many find it absolutely fine. The only way to tell for sure is by download the VPN and give it a try. You can always cancel within 7 days (so keep that time limit in mind!).

Then there’s the American location. Although there’s no doubt that PIA torrenting works well in most cases, many torrenters will prefer to avoid a US-based VPN for security reasons. And with other torrent-friendly VPNs in neutral jurisdictions like Panama or Switzerland, that’s easy to do.

Recommended reads:

Private Internet Access Review

Best VPNs for Torrenting