PIA for Torrenting: Real-Life Performance Tests

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Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the best VPN services for torrenting, thanks to its massive server network, port forwarding capabilities, SOCKS5 proxy support, and airtight security.

But don’t just take my word for it!

Instead, read my article, where I’ll discuss why PIA is great for torrenting and perform real-life tests to gauge PIA’s max torrent speed, average speed, and download time.

Let’s get torrenting!

Does PIA Allow Torrenting?

Private Internet Access website

Private Internet Access allows torrenting on all 31,000+ servers (last known number) and supports several features that make torrenting faster and easier, like port forwarding and the SOCKS5 proxy.

Plus, with military-grade 256-bit encryption and a trusted no-logging policy, your P2P activities are guaranteed to stay private, no matter your location.

Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?

PIA VPN is an excellent choice for torrenting.

It has all the necessary features to make your P2P activities as fast, secure, and easy as possible.

For example, you’ll get a massive server network, easy port forwarding, SOCKS5 proxy support, military-grade encryption, and a trusted no-logging policy.

Let’s take a closer look.

Massive Server Network

Finding a VPN with a massive server network is like finding a trustworthy torrent site with a huge content library – difficult yet rewarding.

After all, the more servers you have to choose from, the more likely you are to get the best torrent speeds (by connecting to nearby servers).

PIA’s last server count is over 31,000 – that’s the biggest server network I’ve seen from a VPN. 

And while you’ll no longer find the official number on the VPN provider’s website, one peek in the app confirms there are still many options to choose from.

On top of that, 78 countries are covered (including the US, the UK, and most of Europe), making it easy to find a nearby server for the best speeds.

Security & Privacy

Security and privacy are two of the most important things for safe torrenting, especially as your IP is visible to anyone on the same peer network as you.

Worse, you never know what you’re downloading – even if the torrent is marked “safe” or “trusted.”

On top of that, you’re probably using the P2P network to torrent copyrighted material…which is illegal in most countries.

So, finding a VPN with airtight security and privacy is paramount.

Luckily, PIA delivers.

First, you’ll get 256-bit AES encryption, ensuring your connection stays secure at all times.

And thanks to PIA’s kill switch, your real IP won’t get leaked if your VPN connection drops.

private internet access (pia) vpn kill switch

There’s also PIA’s private DNS, super-secure protocols (WireGuard and OpenVPN), and MultiHop feature that lets you add an extra layer of encryption to your P2P activities by rerouting your traffic through the Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxy.

private internet access (pia) multi-hop

Plus, the VPN’s malware and adblocker, MACE, can help identify untrustworthy torrent sites before you get the chance to click “download magnet link.”

private internet access (pia) mace

As for privacy, PIA operates a trusted no-logging policy, meaning your ISP and government (and copyright trolls) won’t have a clue that you’re torrenting (or what you’re torrenting), even if they demand your logs from the VPN provider.

Fast Speeds

PIA might not be the fastest VPN I’ve ever tested, but its speeds are still ultra-fast.

In fact, thanks to its port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy support, its torrent speeds are better than most.

How do I know this?

Because I performed a series of torrent tests!

I’ll discuss my testing process and results at the end of this guide.

But as a preview, I’m overly satisfied.

My average torrent speed was fast, my max speed was faster, and my 9.4 GB download finished in just 18 minutes.

Easy Port Forwarding

If you’re an avid torrenter, you probably know how port forwarding can give you better torrent speeds.

Well, as promised, PIA has a one-click solution for port forwarding, making it one of the easiest port forwarding features I’ve used.

It’s a matter of going into settings and checking a box.

After, a random port is assigned to you when you connect to a server.

PIA also offers manual configuration for port forwarding scripts that give you more options, but I find the built-in feature easier and more convenient.  

Either way, port forwarding is supported on most of PIA’s servers, save for US and Bulgaria.

If you’re hoping for steps on how to use PIA’s built-in port forwarding feature, I’ll explain everything in the next section (“How to Use Private Internet Access for Torrenting?”).

I’ll also discuss my torrent test results with port forwarding in a later section – so keep reading!

SOCKS5 Proxy

Although not as user-friendly as its port forwarding feature, Private Internet Access VPN also supports the SOCKS5 proxy.

This used to be an in-app option.

However, PIA merged its built-in SOCKS5 proxy with its MultiHop feature in a recent update.

Luckily, you can still enjoy faster P2P speeds with the SOCKS5 proxy without resorting to MultiHop, though it requires logging in to your Client Control Panel and generating a username and password.

But don’t worry – I’ll discuss step-by-step instructions in the next section.

Plus, if you keep reading, you’ll find my torrent test results with the SOCKS5 proxy a bit later!

How to Use Private Internet Access for Torrenting?

In the next section, I’ll discuss the three most popular methods for using Private Internet Access for torrenting: the basic setup, the port forwarding setup, and the SOCKS5 proxy setup.

I’ll use qBittorrent as my torrent client in all three setups for brevity’s sake.

However, the instructions are similar for most mainstream torrent clients.

Let’s get to it!

Method 1: Basic Setup (Built-In Port Forwarding)

Here are step-by-step instructions to download torrents with PIA using the basic setup method:

  1. Purchase a PIA subscription, download and install the app, and open it.
  1. Click the three dots in the upper-right corner and select “Settings.”
  1. Click “Network.”
  2. Check the box next to “Request Port Forwarding.”
private internet access (pia) dns
  1. Exit out of the settings.
  2. Connect to a server that supports port forwarding (any server that’s not faded out).
  1. Verify port forwarding is enabled by locating the port next to your new IP.
  1. Open qBittorrent and navigate to a trusted torrent site.
  2. Download the magnet link or torrent file.
rust torrent file
  1. Enjoy a fast, secure P2P experience with PIA!

Method 2: Port Forwarding (In qBittorrent)

Here are step-by-step instructions for torrenting with PIA using the port forwarding method:

  1. Follow steps 1-7 in the above method.
  2. Open qBittorrent, click “Tools,” and then “Options.”
qbittorrent options
  1. Under “Connection,” put the port displayed in the PIA app in the box next to “Port used for incoming connections.”
qbittorrent port forwarding connection
  1. Ensure “Use UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding from my router” is unchecked.
port forwarding protocol
  1. Click “OK” and restart qBittorrent.
  2. Follow steps 8-10 in the above method.

Method 3: SOCKS5 Proxy

Here are step-by-step instructions for torrenting with PIA using the SOCKS5 proxy method:

  1. Purchase a PIA subscription.
  1. Log in to PIA’s Client Control Panel using your PIA login credentials.
private internet access (pia) account log in
  1. Click “Downloads” and scroll all the way down.
private internet access (pia) downloads
  1. Under “VPN Settings,” click “Generate” or “Re-Generate” next to “SOCKS.”
socks5 generate credentials
  1. Open qBittorrent, click “Tools,” and then “Options.”
qbittorrent options
  1. Under “Connection,” locate “Proxy Server” and select “SOCKS5” as the “Type.”
  2. Next to “Host,” enter PIA’s SOCKS5 address: proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com.
  3. The “Port” should be 1080.
  4. Check the box next to “Authentication” and type in your credentials from step 4.
  5. Click “OK” and restart qBittorrent.
qbittorrent proxy server settings
  1. Navigate to a trusted torrent site and download the magnet link or torrent file.
  2. Enjoy a fast, secure P2P experience with PIA!

What Are the Best PIA Settings for Torrenting?

If you want the best speeds when torrenting with PIA, there are several steps you can take.

In no particular order, here are the most prominent ones:

  • Ensure you’re using the faster WireGuard protocol instead of OpenVPN.
private internet access (pia) wireguard
  • However, if you decide to use OpenVPN, change “Data Encryption” to “AES-256.”
pia openvpn data encryption
  • Avoid MultiHop and obfuscation settings, as they negatively impact torrent speeds.
  • Ensure PIA MACE is enabled so you don’t end up on untrustworthy torrent sites.
private internet access (pia) mace
  • Under “Network,” ensure “PIA DNS” is selected for the best P2P privacy.
pia dns
  • If you plan to utilize port forwarding, ensure “Request Port Forwarding” is checked.
request port forwarding
  • Under “Privacy,” ensure the “VPN Kill Switch” is enabled.
vpn kill switch
  • Finally, connect to the nearest server for the best speeds.

PIA Torrent Tests

When gauging a VPN’s compatibility for a specific use, I always perform a set of tests to ensure I’m getting the complete picture.

So, I put Private Internet Access through a series of torrent tests.

Specifically, I tested:

  • Average download speed
  • Max download speed
  • Download completion time

Additionally, for the most thorough results, I took the above criteria from:

  • A set of tests without port forwarding or SOCKS5 proxy enabled
  • A set of tests with port forwarding enabled in the PIA app
  • A set of tests with port forwarding enabled in the PIA app and qBittorrent
  • A set of tests using PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy in qBittorrent

Furthermore, for the first three sets of tests, I used the two server locations with the lowest displayed ping:

  • Slovakia
  • Germany

At first, I also planned to test PIA’s torrent speeds with WireGuard and OpenVPN.

However, after a couple of trial runs, it was clear WireGuard is the better option.

So, to keep things as quick as possible, I forwent testing both protocols in favor of using WireGuard.

Here are the steps I took during each test:

  1. I set up PIA and enabled any necessary features.
  2. After connecting to one of the two servers, I downloaded the latest Rust update from ThePirateBay (the same torrent for every test – 9.4 GB total).
rust torrent file
  1. I waited for the file to download. Then, I took the average download speed, max download speed, and completion time and marked it down.
  2. I repeated the same steps for the second server and then again for the other tests.
Now that you have the details, let’s look at the results!

PIA Torrent Test Results

Overall, I’m satisfied with my PIA torrent test results.

The fastest torrent method was using PIA with port forwarding enabled in the app and qBittorrent.

My average download speed was 8.6 MiB/s, my max download speed was 14.1 MiB/s, and my download finished in 18 minutes.

(This was using the Slovakia server.)

torrenting on qbittorrent with private internet access (pia)

However, I created a table showcasing all of my results for the best comparison.

Just keep the following in mind when viewing:

  • Without PIA, my average download speed was 6 MiB/s, my max was 14.8 MiB/s, and my download finished in 14 minutes.
  • Test 1 is without port forwarding or SOCKS5 enabled.
  • Test 2 is with port forwarding enabled in the PIA app.
  • Test 3 is with port forwarding enabled in the PIA app and qBittorrent.
  • SOCKS5 Proxy is with PIA’s SOCKS5 enabled in qBittorrent.

Here’s the table:

Tests & Locations: Average Download Speed: Max Download Speed: Download Completion Time:
Test 1 (Slovakia) 7.3 MiB/s 11.0 MiB/s 22 minutes
Test 1 (Germany) 5.4 MiB/s 10.4 MiB/s 24 minutes
Test 2 (Slovakia) 8.2 MiB/s 13.7 MiB/s 20 minutes
Test 2 (Germany) 6.7 MiB/s 12.9 MiB/s 24 minutes
Test 3 (Slovakia) 8.6 MiB/s 14.1 MiB/s 18 minutes
Test 3 (Germany) 6.5 MiB/s 12.1 MiB/s 23 minutes
SOCKS5 Proxy (NL) 8.3 MiB/s 14.3 MiB/s 19 minutes

In the end, PIA performed the fastest with port forwarding enabled in the app and qBittorrent.

However, the SOCKS5 proxy connection was close behind.

So, either method is a great choice for torrenting with PIA!

Read Also: Best VPN With Socks5 Proxies

PIA Not Working With Torrents? (Troubleshooting)

If Private Internet Access isn’t working for torrenting, try these troubleshooting steps (in no particular order):

  1. Do the basics – ensure you’re connected to the internet, restart your device, VPN, torrent client, router, etc.
  2. Ensure PIA, your torrent client, and your device are up-to-date.
  3. Switch protocols. So, if you’re using WireGuard, disconnect from the VPN server, switch to OpenVPN UDP, and reconnect.
  4. Switch torrent clients (for example, from qBittorrent to Bittorrent).
  5. Check that your firewall and/or antivirus aren’t blocking PIA or your torrent client.
  6. If you’re using IP Binding, ensure your torrent client is set to the most recent PIA update (the network name might’ve changed).
  7. Try resetting your torrent client to default settings.
  8. Ensure the torrent file you’re downloading has enough seeders.
  9. Try flushing your DNS.
  10. If port forwarding isn’t enabled, enable it and try again.

Contact PIA’s customer support for additional troubleshooting steps if you’re still having difficulties.

FAQ

PIA is one of the safest VPNs for torrenting, thanks to its myriad of airtight security features (including 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch) and trusted no-logging policy.

This means there are zero worries of IP leaks or data leaks (to your ISP, government, or cyber criminals on the same peer network as you) when you torrent with PIA.

You can even use the SOCKS5 proxy with its MultiHop feature for added security during P2P activities!

Private Internet Access allows seeding.

Plus, thanks to its kill switch, you can seed without the worry of your IP leaking if your VPN unexpectedly disconnects.

This is essential, considering your IP is visible to anyone on the same peer network as you.

You’ll also enjoy PIA’s fast upload speeds while seeding.

The best PIA servers for torrenting depend on your location.

I always recommend connecting to the nearest server.

However, the PIA app also shows what servers have the lowest latency.

So, try your nearest server and a few low-latency servers for the best results.

Additionally, ensure you’re using the WireGuard protocol, and that port forwarding is enabled in the app and your torrent client.

PIA’s torrent speeds are some of the best I’ve seen.

When I tested the VPN with port forwarding enabled in the app and qBittorrent, I had an average download speed of 8.6 MiB/s, max of 14.1 MiB/s, and my download finished in 18 minutes.

So, while any settings are sure to get you good speeds, I recommend enabling port forwarding, using the WireGuard protocol, and connecting to the nearest server for the best speeds.

There are a few drawbacks to torrenting with PIA.

For example, not all of its servers support port forwarding, including in the US.

So, if you’re in the US and you want the best speeds for torrenting, port forwarding isn’t an option.

Additionally, while PIA’s torrent speeds are great, they’re not the absolute best.

PIA also lacks an app kill switch, so you can’t set your torrent client to close if your VPN disconnects.

And, finally, the VPN provider’s no-logging policy isn’t verified by a third-party audit.

Conclusion

By now, it’s clear that Private Internet Access is a great choice for torrenting.

You’ll get unlimited bandwidth, the best security features to keep your identity and data private, super-fast speeds for the fastest downloads and uploads, and several torrenting features to improve your overall experience.

Ready to test PIA yourself?

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