PIA VPN has many happy followers who use it for torrenting. We couldn't ignore that and we tested everything in this service that is relevant for BitTorrent. Below is our review with all our test results and opinion about this VPN software.
UPDATE: We no longer recommend PIA VPN. They were acquired by KAPE industries and we do not feel comfortable recommending their service anymore. The review below is outdated, from the times that preceded this acquisition. We are writing an updated review that we will publish here soon.
Safety and Privacy
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.
Does Private Internet Access Save Logs?
Private Internet Access has a no-logging policy, and it's very clear in their terms that they don't collect any user information.
The user has the option to choose between UDP and TCP from the OpenVPN protocol. UDP is usually the best balance between speed and security.
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.
The interface of the PIA application is very different from what we saw in other VPNs. The difference is that the app is customizable. The user has the power to choose what to see in the main VPN window. Have a look at the following image:
As you can see, we chose the “map view”, the “VPN IP”, the “quick connect” and “quick settings”. But you can customize it however you want. There are more options available, such as a performance graph, data usage, and more.
This is quite original, and we hope more VPN providers start doing the same thing. Such ability makes the software very easy to use. You can access everything from the main window, without the need to go deep into menus and options.
Features and Options
Although the software has advanced features, they did a great job organizing them. Beginner users will have no problem in managing every option. Each feature has a brief description so that users know what they are doing. Let's take a look at some important tools, with our personal recommendation on what to enable and disable.
The VPN Kill Switch doesn't need an introduction. If you download torrents, then there is a big chance you heard about this option. It's a must-have feature for anonymous file sharing, one of the most important details. It will interrupt your Internet connection if the VPN disconnects for some reason. That's a safe way of ensuring that your real IP doesn't leak while you are not protected.
PIA DNS is the equivalent to the DNS leak protection feature in other VPNs. It means that all the DNS requests will be routed through PIA, assuring that there are no leaks. In other words, they use their own private DNS servers. We recommend enabling this option to avoid any risks of leakage.
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.
It's possible to turn on Port Forwarding on some server locations. Sometimes, port forwarding may be useful for torrenting, but it reduces privacy. So, we recommend you to keep it disabled for maximum protection.
PIA has around 3300 servers, in 29 countries. Those locations 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.
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 on a phone every day.
The number of simultaneous connections is one of the highest in the market. You can have a total of 5 devices connected to Private Internet Access at the same time. That will be handy in case you want to protect several devices simultaneously.
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.
Torrent Speed Test
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 the impact on speed. But even with such high protection settings, we were able to get very good results:
We were happy to see great speeds on many servers. Even servers located on different continents gave us very good results. And of course, having fast servers in torrent-friendly locations is a big advantage for Private Internet Access.
As it happens with most VPNs, the longer plans have better discounts. The 2-year plan is 2.97 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 30 days, which is enough time to test the service and decide if you are happy with it.
What we like about PIA
- Advanced 256 bit encryption
- Ability to select the level of encryption
- Doesn't save logs
- Important features, such as a kill switch
- Shared ID addresses
- Customizable Display
- PIA MACE is an original and useful feature
- A good amount of servers
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Extremely simple and easy to use
- 30 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.
Should You Torrent With PIA VPN?
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 ability to customize both the security level and which tools are displayed on the main window is a big plus.
The torrenting performance was very good. PIA provided fast and secure downloads. Considering the advanced features at this price, we have no doubts in recommending this software to both beginner and advanced users.