Private Internet Access for Torrenting

Private Internet Access has many happy followers who use it to download files in safety. We couldn't ignore that and we tested everything in this service. The results were quite good and we immediately included PIA on our list of best VPNs for torrenting and P2P. Let's take a look at the details...

Safety and Privacy

Private Internet Access has a no logging policy, it's very clear in their terms that they don't collect any user information. In the past, an intelligence agency contacted them, requesting information about a user. PIA VPN had nothing to give them, no logging information at all (you can read more details here). This gives their users a peace of mind that is rare in the online world.
 
The user has the option to choose between the main protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. As we always say, we use OpenVPN and it's the only protocol we recommend.
 
Their security is very interesting, it's possible to choose the levels of protection. The greatest encryption available is AES-256. The data authentication goes up to SHA-256. And the handshake can go up to a maximum of RSA 4096, which is way above the normal protection. We have to say we are impressed. Not only with the fact that the encryption is high, but also because the user can customize it.

These are the Private Internet Access recommendations on which encryption settings to choose:

Naturally, the highest security level comes with a bit of speed loss. To make the speed tests, we always chose the top protection levels, and the speeds were still very good.
 
Like all the VPNs we recommend, PIA VPN uses shared IP addresses. That means that the users have the same IPs, and one single IP cannot be traced to a single user.

Connecting to a VPN Server

The main difference from most VPNs is that Private Internet Access is managed from the Notification Area. This area is at the bottom right of your screen, and it looks like this:

The red icon means the VPN is not running. Right click on it to see the options.
 
The first time you use the VPN, make sure you go to "Settings" and then "Advanced". On that menu, you can choose your encryption and the features you want to enable. In our Features chapter, we talked in detail about each one of these options. And in the Security chapter, we talked more about which encryption levels to choose.
 
You only have to go through this process once, and then make sure you press save. After that, every time you connect to the VPN, you only have to choose the server location where you want to connect. To do that, right click on the icon and choose the country. Each country has many servers available. When you select a country, you will be connected to the fastest server available in that location.
 
And that's it, a couple of seconds later and you have a VPN connection.

Features and Options

One of the things we like is the simplicity of the software. Although it has advanced features, they did a great job in organizing them, making it easy to use. Beginner users will have no problem in managing every option. Each feature has a brief description and also a link for an extended explanation. This way the users know what they are doing. Let's take a look at each tool, with our personal recommendation on what to enable and disable.

It's possible to turn on Port Forwarding on servers located in CA Toronto, CA North York, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany, Romania and Israel. Sometimes, port forwarding may be useful for torrenting, but it reduces privacy. So, we recommend you to keep it disabled for maximum protection.
 
PIA MACE is a new addition. It's their own ad/tracker/malware blocker. There are several blockers available for browsers. Some for ads, some for trackers, some for malware, and some all in one. With the PIA MACE enabled, there is no need for those browser extensions. This update is very convenient and useful. It's a rare thing for a VPN to have a blocker like this. If you don't like to see those painful online ads, then this option might be for you.
 
The VPN Kill Switch doesn't need an introduction. If you download torrents, then there is a big chance you heard about this option. In case you didn't, check our page about the Kill Switch. It's a must have feature for anonymous file sharing, one of the most important details. We performed several tests, and the PIA VPN Kill Switch worked fine every single time, without any problems. We recommend having this option always enabled.
 
The DNS leak protection is also an important tool. All the DNS requests will be routed through the VPN, assuring that there are no leaks. They use their own private DNS servers. We recommend enabling this option to avoid any risks of leakage.
 
IPv6 leak protection has the aim of disabling IPv6 traffic when you connect to the VPN, to avoid leaks. Disabling IPv6 can be done manually, but it's always nice to have an automatic option, for user's convenience.
 
Use small packets improves stability in some networks where there are issues. It's very rare that this option is needed, so we advise using it only if needed.
 
Enabling debug mode saves the performance details of the VPN application (in a local log file). If you experience issues, you can send that file to their support team and they will identify the problem. We never experienced any problems with this software and we don't see the need to enable it. But there is nothing to lose, if you want to play it safe, you can turn it on.

Server Locations

PIA has a total of 3250 servers, in 25 countries. Those countries are spread through all continents. That way, every user in the world will find a good option nearby to connect to. It's also important to mention that they allow torrent traffic on every server.

Compatibility

The VPN is compatible with the main platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux.

We tried the Android and iOS Apps as well and they are very pleasant, quite similar to the Desktop version. They have the same features, even the Kill Switch, which is great, you don't see that feature in a phone every day. For more details about the Android app, check here. Or check out the iOS app, if that is your case.

The number of simultaneous connections is one of the highest of the market. Vou can have a total of 5 devices connected to Private Internet Access at the same time.

Security Tests

DNS Leak Test: All the results were clean in our several tests. The DNS leak Prevention did not allow any leak at all.

IP Test: The results were always as expected, the IP was the one assigned to us by the VPN in every test.

Torrent IP Test: Our real IP was never leaked when downloading a torrent file. The IP was always the same as we got before, the one from PIA VPN.

Speed Tests

The speed was recently improved and we enjoyed to see how fast they have become. Keep in mind that we tested this provider with the highest encryption, 256 bits. And naturally, the higher the level of protection, the higher impact on speed. But even with such high protection, we were able to get very good results:

Download speed without vpn
Without VPN
PIA download speed test
Connected to Private Internet Access (OpenVPN protocol)

Torrent Speed Tests

P2P test without a vpn
Without VPN
torrenting with Private Internet Access
Connected to Private Internet Access (OpenVPN protocol)

We were happy to see great speeds on many servers. Even servers located in different continents gave us very good speeds. And of course, having fast servers in torrent friendly locations is a big advantage for Private Internet Access.

Price

As it happens with most VPNs, the annual plan has the biggest discount. The annual plan is 3.33 dollars per month, and it's one of the lowest prices in the market. The major payment methods are available, such as Credit Card, Bitcoin and Paypal.

Regarding the trial period, there is a money back guarantee of 7 days, which is enough of time to test the service decide whether to continue using the VPN or asking for the money back.

What we like about Private Internet Access

  • Advanced 256 bit encryption
  • Ability to select level of encryption
  • Doesn't save logs
  • Important features, such as a kill switch
  • Shared ID addresses
  • PIA MACE is an original and useful feature
  • Impressive number of servers
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Extremely simple and easy to use
  • 7 days money back guarantee

What could be improved

Although this VPN provider is very complete, we have a couple of suggestions to make it even better:

  • It would be nice to have a few more countries available.
  • They are fast replying to emails, but live chat support would be a nice addition.

Conclusion

It is not every day that we see a VPN service with such advanced options, and at the same time so easy to manage. The torrenting performance was very good, providing fast and secure downloads. The price is also one of the best things about this software. It's a fact that VPN providers make a bigger discount for the annual plans, but this one still surprised us. Considering the quality that Private Internet Access offers, their yearly subscription is a great deal. We recommend this software to both beginner and advanced users.