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Does Private Internet Access Offer SOCKS5 Proxy?

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Private Internet Access offers SOCKS5 proxy on every pricing tier. 

Hence, users can enjoy the faster speeds of a proxy, get the privacy benefits, and bypass the encryption load typical of a VPN.

I’ve extensively tested the PIA SOCKS5 proxy, and it lives up to its name on torrent clients like qBittorrent, uTorrent, and BitTorrent. You can even set it up on some gaming servers to get the additional speed boost with privacy.

Keep reading to learn how to set up the PIA SOCKS5 proxy for any occasion.

How to Enable PIA's SOCKS5 Proxy?

You can only enable PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy via the provider’s PC (Windows and Mac) apps, as it’s not available for mobile platforms yet.

Here’s how to do so:

  1. Get your PIA subscription. You can grab these deals to save money.
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  1. Download and install the PIA app for your PC.
    1. I recommend logging into your PIA online account and clicking “Downloads” to get your preferred app.
pia downloads tab
  1. Scroll to the bottom of the “Downloads” section to copy your SOCKS5 proxy username and password. These are different from your PIA username and password.
  2. Launch the PIA VPN app and log in with your username and password.
pia log in
  1. Click the three dots icon, then “Settings.”
pia settings menu
  1. Click “Protocols” and toggle “OpenVPN.” This is the only PIA protocol that supports SOCKS5 proxies.
pia vpn protocols
  1. Click “Multi-Hop,” then check the “Multi-hop and Obfuscation” box.
pia multi-hop feature
  1. Click “SOCKS5 Proxy.” A pop-up window should appear.
  2. Fill in the details, then click “OK.” You can find out how to get the SOCKS5 IP address in the section below.
pia socks5 proxy
  1. Once saved, configure your preferred third-party app with the SOCKS5 IP address and port details. The screenshot below shows where the settings go in qBittorrent, for example.
qbittorrent connection options
  1. Where allowed, use authentication for your SOCKS5 proxy. Enter the unique username and password you copied in step 3 above.
qbittorrent authentication set up
  1. Apply the changes and enjoy speed + privacy on your SOCKS5 proxy network.

How to Setup PIA SOCKS5 Proxy via VPN App?

Instead of copying the PIA SOCKS5 proxy details to use on third-party apps, you can set it up to work via the VPN.

This makes it easier to use SOCKS5 directly with apps that don’t have the internal setup option or if you don’t want to go tweaking many things.

Follow these steps to make it happen:

  1. Get your PIA subscription (get discounts).
  2. Repeat steps 2-6 from above.
  3. Return to the VPN homepage and connect to a server. You can click the big power button to choose the fastest server.
  1. Alternatively, click the chosen VPN server location to open the location list. Then, click a preferred server.
  1. Click the big power button to connect to your preferred location.
  2. Go to PIA settings again, then repeat steps 7-9 from above.
  3. Go to the VPN homepage and reconnect for the changes to take effect.
reconnect pia to apply settings
  1. Once successfully reconnected, the VPN routes your traffic through a SOCKS5 proxy server.

How to Obtain the Correct SOCKS5 IP Address for PIA?

PIA requires you to set up your SOCKS5 proxy in its app with the correct server IP address and port number. That way, it can validate that proxy port to use with your torrent clients, games, or other applications.

However, you can’t enter any random IP address and be done with it. 

Hence, follow these steps to find the correct IP address:

  1. Search for your device’s terminal. I’ll search for “CMD” since I use a Windows PC for this guide.
windows cmd search
  1. Click “Run as administrator.”
  2. Enter “ping proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com” without the quotation marks. Then, press the Enter key.
running windows cmd as administrator
  1. You should get an IP address associated with the proxy server. Copy this to set up your app.

PIA VPN vs. SOCKS5 Proxy: 8 Differences

The Private Internet Access VPN service and SOCKS5 proxy settings may be housed inside one app, but they don’t offer the same full-breadth functionality.

For instance, the VPN service is slightly (not noticeably) slower than SOCKS5, but it may make a difference on some networks.

That’s why I’ve provided a comparison table below to help you understand what you get on SOCKS5 compared to the full-blown VPN service.

Encryption X
Speed Faster Fast
Ease of Setup Low High
Privacy High Higher
IP Masking
App compatibility Some apps, e.g., torrent apps, games All apps and programs
Device compatibility PC only PC and smartphones
Torrent seeding X Yes, with port forwarding

PIA SOCKS5 Proxy Not Working? 5 Fixes

I’ve run into situations where PIA SOCKS5 proxies may not work.

If that happens, here are some fixes to common issues you may experience.

Wait It Out

PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy servers sometimes stop working, even if they were working just a moment ago. In these cases, the only thing you can do is wait for them to come back.

You can also contact support in the meantime, but they’ll also confirm that the servers are down and they’re working on it.

I know this is less than ideal. Fortunately, the main VPN service ALWAYS works whenever SOCKS5 is unavailable. So, you’re not totally without an option.

Change IP Address

An overwhelmed SOCKS5 proxy server may misbehave, drop your connections, or spring up other issues. Luckily, PIA has multiple SOCKS5 proxy servers.

You can get unique proxy IPs by connecting to a PIA server before pinging its SOCKS5 address for your IP address.

For instance, here’s the usual SOCKS5 proxy server I use without connecting to a PIA server:

running windows cmd as administrator

But once I connected to its France server, I got another IP address to set in the app:

pia connected to france server

Note that this SOCKS5 IP address differs from the region’s VPN-assigned IP address.

Modify Third-Party App Settings

PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy may not be the problem, but the app you’re setting it up with. 

Given that you can use SOCKS5 proxies with torrenting, media aggregating, and gaming programs, among others, it’s best to be familiar with the proper settings.

qbittorrent proxy server options

For example, qBittorrent users should disable the option to “Use proxy for hostname lookups” if the app isn’t working on the proxy setup.

Speak With Customer Support

If nothing else works, speaking with the PIA customer support is the next port of call.

Thankfully, the service has a 24/7 live chat service ready to troubleshoot problems like this.

Try an Alternative VPN

Private Internet Access SOCKS5 proxy is excellent when it works. 

But most times, it may be down on many servers and require digging to find which one it works with.

That’s less than ideal for a top provider like this. That’s why I tested other VPNs and found that PrivateVPN (get deals) offers a better SOCKS5 network and is easier to set up.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Check my comprehensive guide to setting up a SOCKS5 proxy via PrivateVPN; you’ll see it’s easier.

If you’re skeptical, test PrivateVPN risk-free for 30 days to see how its SOCKS5 proxy offering compares.

Interesting Reads:

Faster Speeds With Decent Privacy

Private Internet Access lets you enjoy the speed and privacy promise of a reliable SOCKS5 proxy server. While it doesn’t hide details of your internet activities from your ISP or network admin, your IP address is changed to ensure anonymity.

However, PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy is often unavailable, making it less dependable. 

If that bothers you, switch to PrivateVPN with these HUGE deals and get 30 days to test it risk-free.

But if you’d rather weather the storm with PIA, save more with these discount offers while they last.

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