Should you use Private Internet Access VPN for your torrent downloading? Oh, yes indeed.
Private Internet Access – or PIA, for short – is one of the most popular VPNs in the business. But does it live up to the hype? And more importantly, is it any good for torrenting?
We’ll answer all those questions and more in this detailed Private Internet Access torrenting review.
[+] 'Private Internet Access for Torrenting' contents (select to expand)
Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?
Here’s a quick overview of some of PIA’s best features. We’ll go into more detail on each feature below.
Comes with a 30-day full money-back guarantee.
Is Private Internet Access Safe for Torrenting?
You should never torrent without a VPN. And here are the main reasons why Private Internet Access is one of the best torrenting VPNs.
No Logs Policy
Almost all VPNs claim they don’t keep logs, but they’re not always telling the truth. Fortunately, in PIA’s case, we know they’re legit, because it’s been proven in court that they don’t keep logs; not just once – but twice!
And a provider that doesn’t keep logs is one of the main things you should look for in a torrenting VPN, since it eliminates one of the only weaknesses a VPN has when using P2P.
The last thing you want in the middle of a torrenting session is a dropped VPN connection which suddenly leaves your real IP address and unencrypted activities exposed for the whole world (and your ISP) to see.
But between software limitations and user error, it’s simply not possible to eliminate connection drops completely.
That’s where the “kill switch” comes in. If your PIA connection drops, it’ll “kill” your internet connection too, so that your torrents don’t keep downloading while you’re unprotected.
Split tunneling allows you to run some apps, like your torrent client, through your VPN, while running other apps – like, say, your web browser – outside of the VPN connection, all at the same time.
This is good for three reasons.
For one, the apps that aren’t running through the VPN won’t suffer the normal slowdown that usually comes with a VPN.
And two, it adds another layer of obfuscation to your activity, since you can do things like check your email and torrent at the same time, but on two different IP addresses.
Lastly, split tunneling helps you avoid annoying CATCHAs and from being redirected to incorrect country-specific websites.
While a VPN is a great tool for torrenting, not all VPNs allow P2P traffic. And there are others that prefer a kind of grey area, where they allow the traffic but don’t advertise the fact.
Fortunately, PIA is quite open in their support for P2P file-sharing. They say so right on the front page!
DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection
DNS and IPv6 Leaks are another nuisance to be aware of when using a VPN, especially when torrenting.
But no worries here, since PIA not only offers built-in leak protection for both DNS and IPv6, it’s been independently verified as completely leak free.
One way a VPN keeps you safe when torrenting is by encrypting your traffic so that nosy third-parties, like your internet service provider (ISP), can’t see what you’re doing or downloading.
Of course, there are different levels of encryption, and you should always aim for a torrenting VPN that provides AES-256 bit encryption, since it’s pretty much unbreakable.
PIA does have 256-bit encryption – but it takes it a step further, by allowing you to set your encryption levels, choosing between 256-bit, 128-bit, and even no encryption (as well as some variations at each level), so you can quickly switch between maximum protection and maximum speed, depending on what you’re doing online at the time.
For torrenting, we’d recommend keeping encryption at AES-256, since the speed losses are minimal with excellent safety, but it’s nice to have the choice.
Wireguard (and OpenVPN) Protocol
Along with OpenVPN, which is the industry-standard protocol and uses the 256-bit encryption discussed above, PIA is also one of the first torrenting VPNs to implement the new Wireguard protocol.
With its streamlined code, advanced cryptography, and kernel-layer functionality, many see Wireguard as the future of VPN protocols.
What does that mean for you? Well, it's both more secure and faster than older protocols, which is great news for torrent users.
The privacy community are big fans of open source software. Why? Because by opening up their code to public scrutiny, developers show that they have nothing to hide.
That’s why it’s such a big security plus that PIA’s has open sourced their desktop client in recent years, and they have plans on fully opening up their Android app in the near future.
Free SOCKS Proxy
In some ways, a SOCKS5 proxy is a lot like a VPN, but it doesn’t have nearly as many security features, like encryption.
So, when it comes to torrenting, we always recommend using a VPN, but there are situations where a proxy can be nice to have – and fortunately, it comes free with all PIA subscriptions.
Bitcoin and Gift Card Payments Accepted
It’s easy to pay with a credit card or PayPal when signing up for PIA. And for most people, this is just fine.
However, folks who are serious about their privacy and security may want to take it a step further by using a more private payment option, like Bitcoin or a gift card, both of which PIA accepts.
Private Internet Access provides all the features you’d want for safe torrenting and then some, making it one of the most secure torrenting VPNs on the market.
Is Private Internet Access Fast for Torrenting?
Private Internet Access will drastically improve your safety when torrenting. But what’s the catch?
Well, like all VPNs, you will experience some decrease in internet speeds when connecting through a VPN. However, not all VPNs are created equal in this regard, with some causing big drops in speed, while others are barely noticeable.
AV-TEST rated PIA second in performance for both normal and torrenting speeds. Plus, PIA’s security features are far better than the #1 performer in that study.
So, we ran PIA through some speed tests, and we were pretty pleased with the results.
As you can see, there was a small drop off in speed – but it wasn’t that significant. And we weren’t all that close to the server we were using.
Which leads us to our next point: the speeds you get when using a VPN have a lot to do with the server you’re using, from its location to the number of people currently using it. So, it’s important to choose a torrenting VPN with a good server network if you want the best speeds.
On one hand, PIA has a large number of total servers, at over 17,000+. On the other hand, these servers are spread among fewer countries (84) than some of its competitors, like NordVPN.
PIA is one of the fastest torrenting VPNs you can get, with a large (but not the largest) network of servers to choose from.
Is Private Internet Access Easy to Use?
Using a VPN ain’t rocket science. And PIA is one of the easiest-to-use VPNs we’ve tried. Here are some reasons why.
Sleek, Customizable App
PIA’s newly updated app is nice to look at and nicer to use. It’s made even more unique by the customization options available to you.
Choose from a dark or light theme, rearrange the display, and even pick between updated and classic tray icons. That’s on top of some of the security options we detailed above.
Even with a torrenting VPN protecting your IP address and encrypting your traffic, there are still two minor annoyances associated with major torrent engines: ads and viruses.
Fortunately, the Private Internet Access app comes with its “MACE” feature built-in, which serves as an excellent ad, tracker, AND malware blocker.
What you’d usually have to rely on multiple browser extensions to do, PIA handles on its own. And without bogging down your browser with bulky add-ons.
The Private Internet Access app offers multiple ways to connect, all of them easy. You can allow the app to choose a server for you automatically or choose from a list arranged by country, and from there it just takes a single click to be connected.
Support for Multiple Languages
Not only does the PIA app offer support for multiple major languages, from English to German to Russian, it even includes a handful of less common languages, like Polish and Thai.
Signing up with PIA is quick and easy. You just enter your name, email address, and payment info, and boom, you’re ready to go.
From there, just download and install the app, and your new torrenting VPN is up and running.
Good Support Team
We didn’t have much interaction with support – because we didn’t have reason to. But when we did reach out with questions, the response times were good. PIA even offers live chat support, which is a big plus.
Private Internet Access is really easy to use, even if you’ve never used a VPN before.
Private Internet Access Torrenting Tips
1. Always enable the kill switch, especially before torrenting.
As we highlighted above, a kill switch is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe when torrenting. So, you know, make sure to turn it on. We recommend setting it to ‘Always’.
2. Configure your encryption for maximum security.
PIA’s app gives you the ability to set your encryption level, which allows you to choose between more speed versus more security – and they have a handy guide here for each setup.
However, for torrenting, we’d recommend sticking with the maximum security level, since it’ll keep you much safer, while sacrificing only a small amount of speed. For this, you’ll want:
- Connection type: TCP
- Data encryption: AES-256 (GCM)
- Data authentication: GCM
- Handshake: RSA-4096
You can generally leave the other settings as they are, though advanced users may want to un-check the box for “Try Alternate Settings”.
3. Choose the right server.
In our experience, PIA does a good job of picking a server for you, but if you’d like to choose your own, look for a server that’s geographically close to you. The PIA app will even let you know the ping for each server, if you’re not sure.
Or you can manually choose a server in a more torrenting-friendly country.
4. Using PIA’s SOCK5 proxy is faster but less secure.
You might see other sites touting a proxy as an alternative to a VPN for torrenting. And in some cases, that’s an option. But while a proxy will give you better download speeds, you sacrifice a lot of security in the process, making it a sub-optimal choice.
You can read our in-depth comparison between proxies and VPNs.
If you really need that extra speed, it’s actually easier to simply turn off the encryption (set to ‘None’ in the ‘Connection’ section of the PIA app) for the VPN. Or set it to a lower setting, like AES-128. Then simply turn it back on when you want more security.
Private Internet Access Plans & Prices
Private Internet Access keeps things simple, offering a single plan type. But they offer some sick discounts for long-term subscriptions.
For a limited time, PIA VPN is now only $2.03/mo. Act now!
It’s really hard to beat $2.03 per month for a fully-featured torrenting VPN like PIA.
They also accept both Bitcoin and major gift cards, for more private payment options. Plus, there’s a 30-day money back guarantee.
Private Internet Access is one of the cheapest torrent VPNs on the market, with plenty of bang for your buck.
Private Internet Access Apps
Private Internet Access provides native apps for:
- Mac OS
...all of which are quick and easy to install.
PIA also offers first-party extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers.
More Private Internet Access Uses
There are many more uses for VPNs than just torrenting. In fact, they’re pretty versatile. Here are just a few of the other things you can use them for.
Whether you’re in a country that blocks certain websites or you simply want to access another country’s version of a site, PIA can help.
Unfortunately, PIA has been less effective at bypassing the VPN blocks employed by streaming sites like Netflix, so it may not be the best suited VPN for streamers who, for example, want to switch between Netflix US and Netflix UK at will.
Protect Yourself on Public Wi-Fi
If you’re in the habit of using public or free Wi-Fi, whether it’s at your favorite coffee shop, a busy airport terminal, or shopping mall, you should be aware of the risks involved.
But if you’re using a good VPN, you can still use public Wi-Fi in relative safety, since the encryption and other security features will keep you protected from all but the most dedicated hackers.
Avoid Ad Tracking and Profiling
At this point, it’s no secret that many major companies, from social media giants to online retailers, are constantly collecting your data, ranging from what you buy to the websites you visit, and using this to create detailed, invasive profiles about your life and habits.
If this sounds as creepy to you as it does to us, you’ll want a good VPN, like PIA, to protect yourself.
Private Internet Access Alternatives
It never hurts to be an informed shopper, so here are some of the top alternatives to PIA, along with a brief comparison, to help you make the right choice for your needs.
What NordVPN does better than PIA: More Servers, Advanced Security Features
What PIA does better than NordVPN: Cheaper, Port Forwarding, No Logs Proven in Court
Conclusion: Both NordVPN and PIA bring so much to the table, from security to price, that it’s hard to choose between them. Either one will make a great torrenting VPN.
What ExpressVPN does better than PIA: More Countries, Faster Speeds
What PIA does better than ExpressVPN: Cheaper, Allows More Simultaneous Devices
Conclusion: ExpressVPN is a very good torrenting VPN that offers servers in way more countries than PIA; but it’s also double the price for half the number of connections.
What Mullvad does better than PIA: Less Personal Info Required, Cash Payments, Wireguard servers
What Private Internet Access does better than Mullvad: Cheaper, More servers
Conclusion: Mullvad is arguably a little more secure than PIA. For instance, you can create a totally new account each month, with minimal personal info needed. However, Mullvad is more expensive, slower, and has much fewer total servers than PIA.
What PureVPN does better than PIA: Cheaper, More Countries
What PIA does better than PureVPN: More devices, More Total Servers, More Proven as a No-Log VPN
Conclusion: PureVPN is cheaper overall, with servers in more countries; but its reputation is a bit so-so for logging. PIA is cheaper per device, since it offers double the amount of connections per account, and it has more servers in total.
What IPVanish does better than PIA: Servers in More Countries
What PIA does better than IPVanish: Cheaper, Faster, More Secure, More Trustworthy, Anonymous Payments
Conclusion: Unlike PIA, IPVanish’s no-logs claims have NOT held up in court. Plus, it’s more expensive. PIA is the obvious choice here.
PIA Torrent VPN Rundown
What makes Private Internet Access one of the best VPNs for torrenting?
Comes with a 30-day full money-back guarantee.
With great security features, a proven track record, and very affordable prices, Private Internet Access is without a question one of the best torrenting VPNs around.