Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting in 2022?

Justin Oyaro

By Justin Oyaro . 4 August 2022

Cybersecurity Expert

Shanika W.

Fact-Checked this

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a fully-fledged VPN service that advocates for user privacy and online security.

It packs nifty features and functionalities that give it an edge over many VPN providers. This VPN is also suitable for many online tasks and offers user-friendly apps.

In this guide, we will find out if PIA VPN is a good choice for torrenting. I’ll take you through its torrent-friendly features and show you how to torrent safely with PIA VPN.

Highlights

Private Internet Access VPN is an excellent service for torrenting and protecting your P2P traffic. This VPN covers all the bases of torrenting through:

  • Military-grade AES-256-bit encryption
  • Court-proven no-log policy
  • P2P support
  • Torrent-specific features
  • Fast Next-gen servers
  • Leak protection and kill switch

Torrenting and its Risks

Torrenting involves getting content (downloading) and seeding the content (uploading) to and from the peer-to-peer network (BitTorrent network).

Torrenting itself is allowed almost everywhere as a means of getting content quickly from the internet. However, it is frowned upon since it is associated with piracy.

In most cases, content owners will allow you to use their material for personal use, and others do not condone the distribution of their material without proper licensing.

I find this a grey area since you might not know if the content you’re torrenting is associated with piracy. You might be on the wrong side without your knowledge.

Some of the risks associated with torrenting include:

Privacy risks

Peers in the BitTorrent network can see each other’s public IP addresses when they are in the same swam.

Thus, a malicious peer or hacker can use this information to propagate further attacks. The public IP address can also be used to reveal the identity of a user.

Internet Service Providers (ISP) use this technique to know when someone is torrenting. This is how they know whose connection to throttle.

Copyright infringement

Piracy is a serious crime that can amount to jail time or hefty fines. Copyright owners usually work with ISPs to sniff out users who torrent copyrighted material.

ISPs gladly take this job since it is a win-win for them. They get paid by the copyright owners while stopping torrenting activities – torrenting takes up a lot of bandwidth, which is costly.

In other cases, copyright owners use copyright trolls to go after individuals who torrent copyrighted content.

They get your public IP from the swarm and subpoena the associated ISP for your details. Most of them use harassing techniques to coerce you to pay up.

Cybersecurity threats

Getting content from the internet is always risky; torrents provide an excellent venue for lurking cyber threats.
A malware-laden torrent can infect your device with viruses, worms, and even worse, ransomware.

Additionally, some torrent links/websites may open up pop-ups and ads malicious individuals use for phishing scams.

Since a VPN may not help you much against these cyber threats, I recommend using a reputable antivirus. Also, practice cybersecurity awareness at all times when torrenting.

Reasons Why PIA VPN is a Good Choice for Torrenting

Private Internet Access offers an arsenal of features for torrenting safely and securely. This VPN service provides protection and also enhances your torrenting experience.

Being one of the best VPNs for torrenting, PIA VPN is compatible with most torrenting clients such as uTorrent, qBittorent, and many more.
Here is why PIA VPN is suitable for torrenting:

P2P Support

Private Internet Access supports P2P traffic on its vast network of Next-gen servers. Although PIA doesn’t mention it explicitly, customer support gives this information freely.

I have tested several servers in most regions. The servers offer unlimited bandwidth and fast speeds and no throttling whatsoever.

Ultra-fast Speeds

The Next-gen servers offer blazing speeds suitable for torrenting. I recommend the bare-metal servers. Geo-located servers are a bit slow with a little difference.

Remote servers tend to be slow. Additionally, it is better to connect to the nearest server if you are looking for speed. PIA VPN also offers unlimited server-switching.

Note: Torrenting speeds are drastically affected by the number of peers and their seeding speeds.

A small number of peers with slow seeding speeds results to slow downloads for other peers.

PIA VPN speeds are also suitable for online gaming. Some servers are optimized for streaming, allowing you to watch content from platforms like Netflix.

Read our guide on how to unblock Netflix for more info.

Kill Switch and Strong Encryption

Online security is essential for torrenting. PIA VPN uses strong AES-256 encryptions to protect my torrenting activities and connections from prying eyes.

This prevents my ISP from knowing that I am torrenting. Thus, my ISP won’t throttle my internet connection.

To buff up the security, PIA VPN uses a VPN kill switch to prevent traffic from leaving the VPN tunnel when the VPN connection drops temporarily.

PIA offers an advanced kill switch if you want to take this up a notch. It blocks any traffic, even when the VPN is off. You will only access the internet when the VPN is on.

SOCKS5 Proxy

PIA VPN provides a SOCKS5 proxy which you can use in various torrenting clients. This proxy offers faster speeds than the VPN connection because it doesn’t offer encryption.

Using the proxy alone will only change your torrenting IP address. However, your torrenting activities will be visible to your ISP and other prying eyes.

Use this proxy if your ISP has no problem with torrenting and you have no interest in protecting your torrenting activities.

Port Forwarding

Port forwarding boosts the overall torrenting performance. That is, it allows direct connection to other peers and thus increases the number of seeders.

In my experience, port forwarding increases my download speeds. Additionally, I can connect to many peers without worrying about my downloads getting stuck.

Regarding security, you don’t have to worry about a thing. PIA VPN offers port forwarding right through its apps. Also, the app selects the port for you; you don’t have to configure it.

No Logs Policy

Besides security, logs are a concern when it comes to torrenting. This is the proof authorities need to know what you have been doing online. Good thing; they won’t get any from PIA.

Private Internet Access is a no-log VPN service; it doesn’t keep any logs. This policy allows the VPN to offer maximum privacy regarding your data.

PIA VPN has defended its no-log policy twice in a court of law to prove this claim.

Even though its jurisdiction is a member of the 5 Eyes Alliance, PIA VPN ensures they have nothing to give in case they are coerced. You cannot give what you don’t have.

If a particular jurisdiction (where a server is located) demands PIA VPN to log user data, it will shut down its operation in that country. It did so in Russia.

Additionally, PIA VPN is not concerned with mandatory data retention laws. These laws apply to Public Communications Network, and PIA VPN identifies as a private network.

Torrenting Safely and Securely Using PIA VPN

You can compromise your online security and privacy even with the right VPN for torrenting such as Private Internet Access.

I will take you through the best practices of torrenting safely and securely with PIA VPN to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Use the best security and privacy settings

Optimal security settings ensure you have impeccable online privacy and security. No one will know what you are doing or your IP address from the torrent swarm.

PIA VPN offers security options you can activate or tweak to achieve optimal security. You can access these options on the PIA VPN app Settings panel. Here is what you should use:

Protocol: WireGuard or OpenVPN. If you choose OpenVPN, use AES-256(GCM) option under data encryption.

Privacy: Enable kill switch. You can also use an advanced kill switch. Enable PIA MACE to block ads on torrenting websites. However, you can’t block ads in the torrenting client.

Enable port forwarding

As explained earlier, port forwarding will increase your torrenting performance. The increase is sometimes not visible, especially if your torrent swarm has many peers with good speeds.

Check whether the VPN is leaking. Go to Settings > Network and click on Request Port Forwarding to enable port forwarding. A tick means it is activated.

Before engaging in torrenting or online activities, you should check if the VPN works correctly. Even though PIA provides leak protection, it is better to be safe.

A VPN leak will expose your real IP and DNS address to the torrent swarm and to any service you use. This will significantly compromise your online privacy.

To check for leaks, proceed as follows:

  • Disconnect your PIA VPN app, and go to either DNS leak test or IP leak test site. Note your actual IP address as revealed on the site.
  • Connect to your preferred PIA VPN server and repeat the same test above.

Suppose you get the same IP address and your VPN connection leaks. Change to another server and try again.

If you get the same results, re-install the VPN and try again. You can also contact customer support.

Download safe torrents

Not all torrents will offer the content you want. Some will come with malware and pose a risk to your system. Others will waste your bandwidth.

To avoid being a victim of bad torrents, always check what other users say regarding the torrent. You can get the comments under the torrent link or the magnetic link.

Some torrent websites show how good or bad a torrent is. They also show the health of the torrent (number of peers currently sharing it).

Optional: SOCKS5 with a VPN

PIA VPN allows you to use the SOCKS5 proxy within the VPN app. This combination is usually for obfuscation. It is on the multi-hop section under settings.

In this combination, the SOCKS5 traffic is routed through a VPN server. Essentially, torrent traffic will be encrypted and routed via two IP addresses – multi-hop.

However, I found out that this combination reduces torrenting speeds by a significant percentage. If you don’t have high-speed internet, torrenting will be a painful experience.

Only use this option if you want to unblock torrents where the regular VPN has failed. It is also great for privacy and security.

What PIA VPN Users Are Saying About Torrenting

On this topic across various forums such as Reddit, many users agree that Private Internet Access is a good choice for Torrenting.

Even though they don’t like that it is based in the US, most users concur that its features are superior, and the court-proven no-log policy instills confidence.

The takeaway from the discussion in these forums is that no VPN is perfect for torrenting, but PIA offers the best service.

The users also recommend not to use port forwarding if you want to connect to US servers. This is because port forwarding is not available on the US servers. I verified this information.

Solving PIA VPN Torrenting Problems

At times, PIA VPN and your torrent client won’t play nice with each other sooner or later. You will start noticing speed drops while torrenting or some problems with torrenting while on the VPN.

Ironically, PIA VPN customer support won’t help if the issue is related to your torrent client. They only deal with VPN issues.

Nonetheless, here is a list of possible solutions that I found helpful if you get yourself in such a situation.

  • Ensure your internet connection is working correctly. You can test it using other devices.
  • Restart your devices and ensure your torrent client and PIA VPN are up-to-date. Also, check if your firewall/antivirus allows VPN and torrent connections. Something might have changed.
  • Tweak VPN settings such as protocols, port forwarding, DNS, and try changing VPN servers.
  • Try using another torrent client or downloading a different torrent from another torrent site. Check if there are enough seeders.
  • If you still face a problem, try torrenting using Private Internet Access on another device. This will help you determine if the problem is PIA or your device.

Wrap Up

Private Internet Access is a good VPN for torrenting. It packs all features required for torrenting, such as impeccable security and privacy, P2P support, port forwarding, and SOCKS5 proxy, and it is compatible with torrenting clients.

Besides torrenting, the overall VPN service can be used for streaming – optimized streaming servers, gaming, and speed-intensive tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some people found answers to these questions helpful

Is PIA VPN compatible with uTorrent?

Yes. Private Internet Access VPN is compatible with uTorrent and many other torrenting clients such as qBittorrent. You should be able to torrent safely and securely using any torrenting client with PIA VPN.


Can PIA be trusted?

PIA VPN is safe, and it offers excellent security and privacy. Even though it is based in the US, there’s nothing to worry about; your privacy is intact. PIA VPN offers a no-logs VPN service, which has been proven in a court of law.


Why is Private Internet Access so slow?

Generally, PIA VPN servers offer the fastest speeds in almost every location. If you are experiencing slow speeds, connect to the nearest server. You can also use the WireGuard protocol; it’s a bit faster.


Can I use SOCKS5 without PIA VPN?

Yes. PIA VPN offers a SOCKS5 proxy which you can use in your torrenting client. However, your torrenting traffic will not be encrypted since it is a proxy. Nonetheless, you will enjoy faster speeds.


Is PIA VPN worth my money?

Private Internet Access offers excellent value for your money. The VPN service packs security and privacy-oriented features, a no-log policy, a vast server network, you can stream Netflix and torrent content, and finally, up to 10 simultaneous connections.


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