SUMMARY: Private Internet Access (PIA) is a safe and trustworthy VPN that allows unrestricted torrenting and P2P file-sharing on all of its servers, but its poor performance means there are better torrenting VPNs to choose from.
- Supports torrenting on all 17,087 servers
- Fast torrenting speeds
- Industry-standard AES-256 encryption
- Automatic kill switch in all applications
- Supports port forwarding
- SOCKS5 and proxy support
- Non privacy-friendly jurisdiction
- Port forwarding unavailable on US servers
Our latest test results show that Private Internet Access is the best premium VPN for torrenting.
PIA easily passed all of our torrenting security and performance tests. It has a zero-logs policy, AES-256 encryption, leak prevention, and a kill switch. It is also one of the few VPNs to allow port forwarding, which can greatly improve your torrenting speeds.
PIA supports SOCKS5 and all popular bittorrent clients. It offers native compatibility with third-party proxy services too, though we recommend you avoid these where possible.
P2P traffic is supported across an enormous network of over 17,087 servers in 84 countries. That means you’re not limited to P2P-optimized servers – you can connect to any server you like and start downloading.
The sheer size of that network also means you should never be too far from a VPN server. The closer you are to your nearest PIA server, the faster your speeds will be.
In the following section, we’ll explain PIA’s torrenting strengths and weaknesses in detail.
Is PIA Private Enough for Safe Torrenting?
PIA is based in the United States, a key member of the Five Eyes international intelligence-sharing agreement. The US PATRIOT Act, effective since October 26, 2001, gives federal agencies sweeping powers to force businesses to disclose user data.
Torrenting copyrighted material is illegal in the US, and it is also one of the worst possible jurisdictions for a VPN. For torrenters, it means state authorities have the right to ask PIA to disclose user activity information if compelled to do so by copyright owners or copyright trolls.
PIA does not collect or store any data about your usage of the VPN.
A zero-logs policy is an important requirement for a VPN for P2P networking. For example, Avast SecureLine is not recommended for torrenting due to the provider’s invasive logging policy.
There have been several real-world cases which demonstrate PIA is a trustworthy VPN:
- In 2016, the FBI subpoenaed PIA to provide data belonging to a user suspected of making terrorist threats. However, since the company does not collect any user logs, it had no data to provide.
- The same year, Russian authorities seized PIA’s servers but could not find any user activity data or personally identifiable information. PIA responded by removing all its servers located in Russia.
PIA has an excellent real-world track record when it comes to user privacy and security. PIA is a VPN provider you can trust, especially for torrenting.
PIA’s Ownership: Kape Technologies
In November 2019, Private Internet Access was acquired by Kape Technologies – a move which garnered some controversy. The bulk of this controversy surrounds the company’s past activities when it was known as Crossrider.
Crossrider was the target of serious backlash after it was found bundling a PUP (potentially unwanted program) with other software. Once installed, this PUP would serve unwanted advertisements via user’s web browsers.
Crossider shut its ad platforms in 2016, and re-branded to Kape Technologies in 2018. Since then, it has focused solely on promoting privacy and security software globally. The company now operates four trustworthy VPN services, including ExpressVPN and PIA.
PIA still upholds its industry-leading standards of privacy and security, including its no-log policy and open-source software. Put simply, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest its ownership poses any threat to user privacy.
An Excellent Suite of Security Features
Security is what PIA does best. Every application includes support for the unbroken AES-256 encryption standard and the OpenVPN protocol. This means anyone trying to intercept your torrenting traffic will be unable to read it – including your ISP.
We tested PIA’s built-in IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection and found no leaks on desktop or mobile. We detected WebRTC leaks when using the Firefox extension, but this will not affect your torrenting.
You can customize your encryption settings directly in the PIA app.
The kill switch (formerly referred to in-app as the Network Lock) effectively blocks all internet traffic if your connection to the VPN server unexpectedly drops. This is particularly important for protecting your torrenting activity if there is a service outage or a connection failure.
PIA’s Torrenting Speeds Are Fast
Torrenting bitrate is determined by many factors – the most important being the number of peers you are connected to and the upload speeds of those peers. However, the VPN service you choose can also have an impact on performance.
PIA supports P2P traffic on all its servers, and our tests have found it to be one of the fastest VPNs for torrenting.
In our latest torrenting speed tests, our torrenting bitrate dropped from 10.0MiB/s to 9.6MiB/s when using PIA. We were able to download the file almost as quickly as without any VPN connection.
Port Forwarding Specifically for P2P
Port forwarding increases the number of peers you can connect to in a torrent swarm. This potentially improves your torrenting bitrate when both downloading and uploading data.
Port forwarding on PIA is as simple as checking a toggle inside the app.
PIA is one of the few VPN services to offer port forwarding. The feature is available on PIA for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.
Port forwarding is especially important if you want to upload or ‘seed’ torrents as quickly as possible. Seeding without properly forwarded ports is a lot slower.
However, port forwarding on PIA is not available when you’re connected to servers in the US. If you live in the US then you’ll need to make a choice between port forwarding and connecting to a nearby server, as both will affect your upload speeds. If you need both, Mullvad is a secure VPN that also supports port forwarding.